Last week, we started you off on a hunt to find that perfect tome for the comic book reader in your life. If you didn’t find what you were looking for, however improbable that may have been, fear not! We’ve got you covered with another selection of choice comic book works from a bevy of outstanding talent – all books that were released this year for eager readers and fans of the medium.
Here you’ll find enthralling tales that run from science fiction to fantasy and superheroes to human struggles.
But the holiday season waits for no one, and time is ticking. Let’s get to it!
Aztec Ace: The Complete Collection H/C
Earlier this year, the weekly The Wednesday Run column featured the 528-page hardcover compilation of Aztec Ace: The Complete Collection. You can read that piece (see link above) for a more in-depth look at the cult classic comic book series from the mid-1980s.
In short, Aztec Ace is a sci-fi, crime-noir treasure trove of pop culture references and adventure via the heroic protagonist, Caza (Ace), a hard-boiled, time-hopping detective. His main mission is to smooth out time paradoxes created by his archenemy, Nine-Crocodile.
It’s a crazy romp, for sure, but it’s also a worthwhile one. Aztec Ace was one of those indie comics that began to show the storytelling breadth of the comic book medium, at a time when the medium really took a toehold on the pop culture mainstream. Created and written by industry luminary Doug Moench and illustrated by a host of talents that include Dan Day, Nestor Redondo and Tom Yates, hall of famers, every one of them, Aztec Ace: The Complete Collection makes for a wonderful gift for any comic book historian, sci-fi and fantasy lover, or excited reader looking to dive into a book that smashes through the envelope of the comic book medium!
Catwoman Of East End Omnibus
For those that love their superheroes (and supervillains) and crime comic books, you won’t find any better than this year’s release of the hardcover compilation, Catwoman of East End Omnibus. Running at 1,064 pages, this hefty tome captures the entire Ed Brubaker run on the character, originally published within the pages of the monthly Detective Comics and Catwoman series. A writer famous for his crime and noir stories, Brubaker is famously joined by the dear, fan favourite, Darwyn Cooke on art duties, who passed nearly seven years ago but who’s wonderfully eternal legacy lives on.
Here is the story of Catwoman, Selina Kyle, setting up shop in the East End of Gotham, up to her old tricks, and getting entangled with a serial killer, organized crime and, of course, the Gotham City Police Department. Batman can’t be far behind.
But this is most definitely a solo-starring Catwoman’s story – and it’s a riveting, enthralling tale of a beautiful villain-turned-rogue that readers can’t help but root for. And the art, like all of Cooke’s work, is some of the best stuff you’ll ever see – regardless of medium.
Catwoman of East End Omnibus makes for a perfectly weighty gem wrapped up under the tree this holiday season. Catnip for comic book lovers everywhere!
I first read Chivalry within the pages of the anthology of author Neil Gaiman’s short stories, Smoke and Mirrors, back in 1990. It was a fantastical and fun story then. Perhaps even more so now.
Moving away from words that produce images in your mind, this 72-page hardcover version of Chivalry is published by Dark Horse Comics and wonderfully illustrated for the graphic novel format by long-time Gaiman collaborator, Colleen Doran. Her work here as visual director is stunning, bringing a painterly and detailed richness to the narrative, allowing the reader a deeper dive into the life of an elderly window, who just so happens to buy the Holy Grail at a second-hand shop. Soon, she’s visited by an ancient knight who woos her with a variety of old relics in hope of a desperate trade.
Chivalry is a folk tale, steeped in Arthurian legend, featuring twenty-first century desires and frailties and drama. It would make for a wonderful visual gift this holiday season for a friend or loved one who enjoys fantasy and mythology.
Ducks: Two Years In The Oil Sands
If you live in eastern Canada, and specifically in the province of Ontario, you’ll have seen a recent advertising campaign asking residents to move out to the western province of Alberta in order to find work and an exciting life.
Alberta, you see, has an economy that ebbs and flows chiefly with the price of oil alongside the financial community that services that particular industry. Over the last few years, the province has come out of lean times and requires a workforce to grow and drive efficiencies – and so they’re currently luring people from other parts of the country to fill vacant spaces with the promise of high-paying wages.
The high and low tides of Alberta have seemingly always been such, and acclaimed storytelling Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant) recollects her own experience, moving from a tight community of the east coast of Canada to the promise of Alberta’s black gold opportunities in order to pay off her student loans in short order. Amidst the backdrop of natural beauty, wildlife, friendship and the excitement of adventure, the Alberta oil sands also present a harsh reality full of troubled people and everyday trauma.
Ducks: Two Years In The Oil Sands is a humanistic study of hope, expectation, and a loss of innocence from the perspective of one of Canada’s most beloved and accomplished visual storytellers – a perfect gift this holiday season.