Biff Bam Pop’s Holiday Gift Guide 2021 – Comic Book Compilations Part 2

Yesterday, this particular column listed a number of comic book compilations – hardcover and softcover – that would make for great gift giving this holiday season.

That trend continues today with a final, expansive list of four-colour tomes in various sizes and price points. Surely, you’ll find the perfect gift for that special reader in your life, so let’s get to the highlights, and then race to your LCS or bookstore to pick any or all of these up!

DC Through The ’80s: The Experiments (DC Comics)

DC Through The ’80s: The End of Eras (DC Comics)

These two hardcover books are part of a trilogy (the third one has yet to be solicited but goes by the working title “The Heroes”) from DC Comics that highlights a decade of immense change for the comic book industry.

These books, then, not only contain some of the best, most entertaining pieces of comic book storytelling ever published, but they are also a time capsule retrospective that narrates a change in pop culture: the end of the Bronze Age of comics and the beginning of a gritty, darker, more realistic (sometimes more fantastical) and certainly more literary age of comic book storytelling. It was also a time that really shone a spotlight on writers and artists, stretching their talents and pushing the boundaries of the medium, demanding the cultural relevance that comic books had never seen up to then.

Curated by writer, editor, one-time President of DC Comics and industry legend, Paul Levitz, in DC Through The ’80s  you’ll find the stories that made the publishing company breakout during that decade, compiling single, important, and near mythic publications like Sandman #8, Watchmen #1, Nathaniel Dusk #1, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2, Secret Origins #48, Detective Comics #500, Superman #423 and so many other gems. It includes the luminous works of Alan Moore, Gene Colon, Curt Swan, Howard Chaykin, Mike Grell, Tony DeZuniga, Joe Kubert, Kevin Maguire, Keith Giffen, Barbara Slate, Brian Bolland Frank Miller, George Perez and so many, many more favourites!  

I can’t gush enough! There’s so much of comic books and storytelling to love here. The two volumes of DC Through The ’80s will make a perfect gift for any reader, historian or comic book fan, regardless of age.  

Far Sector (DC Comics)

Written by Hugo Award-winning novelist N.K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season, the City We Became, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms) and fantastically illustrated by Jamal Campbell (Titans United, Cloak and Dagger, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), Far Sector is a Green Lantern story unlike all others.

Primarily, it is a murder mystery in the deepest depths of space featuring a rookie galactic cop in Green Lantern, Jo Mullein. The difference here is that Jo must unravel the first murder in 500 years, deep in the furthest sector of known space that she alone patrols. In this far sector, as a functioning society, citizens have had their full range of feelings erased. But surely brutal murder requires some form of emotion?!

Twenty billion suspects…and only one hope to solve this thriller. Far Sector weaves societal progress and politics within a sci-fi police mystery and makes for a hugely grandiose and enthralling romp for new and old readers alike, that has many pundits raving.  

This standalone twelve issue softcover compilation of the Far Sector series is must gift for fans of science fiction, the Green lantern Corps, or deep-rooted mysteries!

Enigma: The Definitive Edition (Dark Horse Comics/Berger Books)

Step out of routine and meaninglessness and step into the world of Enigma!

Originally published as a monthly miniseries for Vertigo Comics in the early 1990’s, Enigma was a groundbreaking work for writer Peter Milligan (Shade The Changing Man, X-Statix, Hellblazer) and amazing artist, Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy, MPH, Star Wars) wo would go on to become a fan favourite and highly-sought illustrator.  

Still, Enigma is a deep, multilayered tale of outrageous superheroes and villains, come to life from through the childhood history of a common man’s present-day boredom. It’s a groundbreaking story of self-discovery and sexual awakening, where truth and meaning for life is found in the crazed joys and pains of imaginative escape.

And here, it’s compiled in hardcover format for the first time with extra pages of background development, art, sketches, and scene notes. A perfect gift for fans of post-modern comic books, fine art and the important stories that tell us who we are – and who we really need to be.  

The Art of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s Stardust: An Informal History By Charles Vess (Titan Books)

Speaking of art, what would any comic book gift guide list be without a nod and an all-encompassing embrace of the visual art form?

And as admirers, the artist Charles Vess is one of our favourites.

The behind-the-scenes hardcover The Art of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s Stardust: An Informal History details the artistic endeavour and process behind comicdom’s award-winning story, Stardust (also made into a wonderfully fun film, by the way). From personal archives, the delightful drawings and stunning paintings of Vess that make up Stardust are brought to the fore in a way never before experienced. Here is the artist’s process from the seed of an idea to the final work, brought to life in an oversized format that includes works from before they were adjusted to fit Neil Gaiman’s text in their original publication.

Walking through countrysides and mountaintops full of faeries, elves, pirates, giants and monsters, The Art of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s Stardust: An Informal History pulls back the curtain and widens the screen for any lover of art or the mythmaking that is comic book storytelling.  

Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1 (Marvel Comics)

Let’s go for broke, shall we?

If there’s a sci-fi horror lover in your life, you can’t go wrong with this hardcover omnibus compilation book. Just be aware that it’ll set you back over $100 – but what cost love during the holiday season, right?

In space, we can all hear you squee!

Marvel Comics appropriated the Aliens franchise from Dark Horse Comics nearly two years ago and the Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1 collects much of the original Dark Horse publications featuring everyone’s favourite xenomorph, from its late 1980s comic book debut in Dark Horse Comics Presents and all the ensuing miniseries through the early 1990s. It’s a deliciously horrific delight featuring the works of some of the comic industry’s greatest talents.

Marvel Comics has gone on to publish their own, original, Aliens comics since taking over the franchise and we’ve been gleefully following them here at this site. As “Volume 1” indicates in the title of this particular omnibus, certainly even more deep-space mayhem will ensue in the not-too-distant future.

Still, Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1 lays fine, detailed groundwork for any fan of horror or science fiction, and always with a socio-political bent. Excited screams follow.   

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