It’s that time of year again, the time when you need to panic buy a gift for that friend/ loved one/ coworker/ stranger, and you just don’t know what to do.
Buying comics as a gift is always a daunting proposition. What will they like? What will they hate? What do they already have? Well, never fear valiant readers, your old pal Uncle Mac is here with the first in a series of holiday gift guides to help you impress that special nerd in your life.
While future guides will focus on my usual indie fare, I wanted to start off with a list of more mainstream titles for those who are buying for people whose tastes you might not know as well.
To that end, I have five great trades from DC Comics for you to check out, and I’m calling these “indie lite” because while they’re all from DC, they are all outside the mainstream continuity.
So let’s dig in to the list and see what we have!
First up, an old classic that is getting fresh attention, it’s Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol.
Here’s the blurb: The new Doom Patrol puts itself back together after nearly being destroyed, and things start to get a lot weirder for everybody. The Chief leads Robotman, the recently formed Rebis and new member Crazy Jane against the Scissormen, part of a dangerous philosophical location that has escaped into our world and is threatening to engulf reality itself.
Collecting Grant Morrison’s definitive run, which launched his career as one of the comic industry’s most innovative and creative writers!
One of the best things the DCEU has produced, the 3rd season of Doom Patrol just wrapped on HBO Max, and it’s going to be a while before we have new episodes, so why not help that special nerd in your life fill the void in their soul with this complete Doom Patrol Omnibus?
Collecting all 1200 pages of Morrison’s run, this Omni is a must have for fans of the show and fans of amazing comics alike. This is also a great way for people to catch up on all the weird and wild adventures madness their hearts desire while waiting for Season 4 to be announce. This collection is a must for any comic book fan, and currently is on sale on Amazon for under $100! So pick it up today, and watch the joy in your friend’s eyes when they see this monster trade will now be theirs!
Up next, one of my favorite books of 2020, Green Lantern Earth One, Vol 1 and 2
Here’s the blurb: Hal Jordan yearns for the thrill of discovery, but the days when astronaut and adventure were synonymous are long gone. His gig prospecting asteroids for Ferris Galactic is less than fulfilling–but at least he’s not on Earth, where technology and culture have stagnated.
When Jordan finds a powerful ring, he also finds a destiny to live up to. There are worlds beyond his own, unlike anything he ever imagined. But revelation comes with a price: the Green Lantern Corps has fallen, wiped out by ruthless killing machines known as Manhunters. The odds against reinstating the Corps are nearly impossible… but doing the impossible is exactly what Hal Jordan was trained to do!
Like a lot of DC fans, I had assumed that the Earth One line was dead after 2016. The line had struggled to find main stream readership, and after a small push, it seemed like it was dead.
Then suddenly we went from famine to feast, with 4 new titles announced in less than 4 years. It looked like Earth One was getting a second wind, and honestly, I am here for that!
The premise was great, letting top tier authors write stories about classic DC characters, completely free from the confines of established continuity. While the results have been a bit mixed, Green Lantern is definitely among the best titles in the line.
Author and illustrator Gabriel Hardman has created a brand new mythology for Hal Jordan that manages to both be completely fresh and new, while also paying homage to what everything we love about the character.
The best part? You don’t need to know anything about the Green Lanterns to enjoy it. Oh sure, knowing about their history does add a bit of spice and zest, but anyone could pick Green Lantern Earth One up cold and have a good time reading it.
Volume 3 is hopefully not too far off on the horizon, so pick up the first two volumes now. This book is perfect for the comic book or the sci fi fan in your life.
And speaking of reinvention, up next is a dramatic retelling of a hidden side of the DC Universe. That’s right, it’s The Other History of the DC Universe by John Ridley.
Here’s the blurb: Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, Let It Fall) examines the mythology of the DC Universe in this compelling new graphic novel! Reframing iconic moments of DC history and charting a previously unexplored sociopolitical thread as seen through the prism of DC Super Heroes who come from historically disenfranchised groups, John Ridley goes where no other has gone before!
This unique new series presents its story as prose by Ridley married with beautifully realized color illustrations from a selection of exciting illustrators and comics artists.
Extensively researched and masterfully executed, THE OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE promises to be an experience unlike any other. You may think you know the history of the DC Universe…but the truth is far more complex. THE OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE isn’t about saving the world–it’s about having the strength to simply be who you are.
Now, to be clear, this isn’t really a comic, as much as it is an illustrated story. Each volume of this 5 volume series is collected here in an oversized format, beautifully illustrated with bold splash pages and some awesome retro artwork that is sure to impress new and old comic fans alike.
This dramatic retelling of the history of DC comics shines a light on several minority members of the DC Universe, and recontextualizes a lot of the events that occurred in DC’s history through the lens of race, gender, and orientation. It’s a fascinating and unique look at a part of comics that we don’t often see much attention given to, and is the perfect gift for any comic fan, but particularly good for those who struggle sometimes to find themselves represented in comics today. A great read, and a timely one at that. If that sounds like someone you know, pick them up a copy of The Other History of the DC Universe this holiday season, and let them know they are seen!
Up next, one of the most shamefully overlooked books of 2020, it’s Wonder Woman: Dead Earth.
Here’s the blurb: When Diana awakens from a centuries-long sleep, she discovers Earth has been reduced to a nuclear wasteland. Now she’s marooned in a dark and dangerous future, protecting the last human city from titanic monsters and struggling to uncover the secret of this dead Earth…and how she may be responsible for it.
In the newest title from DC’s critically acclaimed Black Label line, Daniel Warren Johnson, the celebrated creator of Murder Falcon and Extremity, mixes sci-fi and fantasy into a harrowing postapocalyptic vision of Wonder Woman unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Collects the full four issue miniseries along with behind-the-scenes artwork.
Diana has gotten a real push in recent years, especially after her first movie gained as much praise (and made DC as much money) as it did. As such, we have been blessed with a fresh flood of new WW titles as of late, and this book was her first foray into the Black Label line.
Honestly, Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is one of my favourite books in the entire series so far. The art is dark and gritty, reflecting the sorrow and hardship that the rag tag group of survivors now faces. The story is dark and disturbing, with horrifying revelations around every corner, and tragedy heaped upon tragedy on every page.
In short, it’s a perfect Christmas story!
Alright, I kid a little, but honestly this book is fantastic. This is Diana the warrior all the way, but a warrior who still remains true to the core of the character. I highly recommend this for that special WW fan in your life. Wonder Woman Dead Earth is exactly the kind of story that only Wonder Woman could be a part of, and we need more of that!
And finally, no list of the best that DC comics has to offer would be complete without a little Harley Quinn, and if you’re going to gift someone a Harley Quinn book this Christmas, you might as well give them the single best Harley Quinn book ever written. That’s right, it’s time for DC Black Label’s Harleen.
Here’s the blurb: It’s been months since Dr. Harleen Quinzel began interviewing criminals at Arkham Asylum, and she’s having strange dreams about one of them in particular: The Joker. What starts off as nightmares will soon evolve into fantasies. Despite warnings from the Dark Knight himself, she’s utterly fascinated by this man who seems the perfect expression of her theory; who says all the things she needs to hear; who seems to know her better than she knows herself. Harleen is a bold new reimagining of the origin of one of DC’s most beloved characters, as envisioned by writer/artist Stjepan Sejic. Collects Harleen #1-3.
I’m not exaggerating when I say Harleen is the single best Harley Quinn comic ever written. A brilliant retelling of her origin, this book delves deep into what it is that makes Harley Quinn tick in a way that few other stories have dared to look before. Harleen should have been the template for Harley’s first film. Harleen should be the officially recognized origin story for the character. Harleen should be in the homes of every single person on the planet!
Seriously, if you have a Harley fan in your life, this beautiful hardcover collection of the three issue series is an absolute must. Even if they have all the original issues, like I do, even if they have all the variants to the original issues, like I do, they will want this book, like I do!
And even if they are not the biggest Harley fan in the world, Harleen is still one of the best comics DC has put out in years, and definitely the single best comic to come out of the entire Black Label series, so do your friends a favour and buy this book. And while you’re at it, get one for yourself as well!
So there you go folks, five strong recommendations for the comic fan in your life. And if you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten path, come back next week for my Holiday Gift Guide to Indie Comic trades!
Until then, stay safe!