2014 All-Comic Holiday Gift Guide
It’s that time of year again, when the snow slowly trickles downward and the world slows itself to an introspective halt before the clock turns a dial forward. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to all. Friends, family and loved one gathered around the hearth. All of that crap. But, let’s face it, this holiday season, like every year, we will all be merciless lemmings jumping off the cliff of consumerism! Wooo! With that in mind, we here at All-Comic have put together a list of particularly great gifts for the comic-loving weirdo in your life, bless their soul. Everything you see below can be purchased first and foremost from your fine local comic shop, who should always be supported year round, but if that isn’t an option there are several retail outlets ready to accept your hard earned cash, particularly the fine folks at InStockTrades who offer virtually everything for 40% off retail price. Let’s unwrap these goodies!
Saga: Deluxe Edition Hardcover Volume 1 (Image, $49.99 msrp)
Chances are, barring any sub-rock living, you’re familiar with the modern masterpiece that is Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staple’s Saga. This book bleeds Eisner awards for good reason: it’s that damn good. If you or your intended gift-recipient already own the three trades this book collects or the single issues or the digital copies, it doesn’t matter. This deluxe edition is a must-purchase that presents the seminal eighteen issues plus a hearty helping of additional material including sketches and script pages, packaged in a beautiful 500 page hardcover. In the midst of an intergalactic conflict, two new parents from opposite sides learn on the job how to raise a child under the most bizarre circumstances. The overused description of “Romeo & Juliet meets Star Wars” does not do this series proper justice because it is so much more than just genre-mashing; it’s a stunning, poetic, genre-smashing experience that is unabashedly unique in every way.
Punk Rock Jesus: Deluxe Edition Hardcover (Vertigo, $39.99 msrp)
Look, a little blasphemy mixed into a holy celebration never hurt anyone. Okay, maybe a couple of times. But, this is a collection that deserves its own celebration anyway. Sean Murphy is an artistic force of nature that delivers his first solo project that features a cloned Jesus Christ raised on a live reality television show that’s under fire from politicians, activists and even it’s own producers. Collecting the entire six-issue mini-series with plenty of extras in 360 pages, Punk Rock Jesus is a wholly original work that showcases the immense, sketch-heavy style of Murphy on every page. It’s a bold, philosophical and exuberant work and Murphy’s passion is evident with every pen stroke.
Afterlife with Archie TP Volume 1: Escape From Riverdale (Archie, $17.99 msrp)
Did you or a loved one miss out on one of the smartest, most atmospheric comics to hit the shelves in decades? What the hell is wrong with you idiots! Just kidding, just kidding. What sounds like a very ill-advised joke is in actuality a tremendous horror comic that cannot be missed. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa absolutely nails the premise of a zombie-infested Riverdale and injects genuine heart-wrenching moments of despair, hope and fear as Archie and the gang are forced to grow up and fight for survival against their former friends, who now crave brains more than any delicious chocolate malt. Not convinced? You could skip over every word (but, you know, probably don’t do that) and still get your money’s worth because of the unparalleled artistic talents of Francesco Francavilla. Every page of this book should be hung in a museum as Francavilla manages to capture that distinct Archie feel while simultaneously transforming it into an object of grotesque beauty. It is a colossal mic-drop of comic book storytelling that fans of horror, Archie and hell, stories in general, need to own.
Thor: God of Thunder HC Volume 1 (Marvel, $34.99 msrp)
Speaking of blasphemy, try this one on for size: Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s inaugural eleven issues of Thor is on the level of Walt Simonson’s heralded run. That’s right, I said it. If there’s one word that needs to be violently taken away from the internet from overuse, it’s “epic” and yet, there is simply no more apt word to describe Thor: God of Thunder. Travelling to the far reaches of the cosmos and across time itself, Aaron and Ribic paint a brutal, metal-as-all-get-out tale of a villain that strives to kill Gods. And it turns out, he’s really good at it. Young Thor, Old King Thor and our modern-day Thor battle throughout the ages against Gorr the God Butcher to prevent him from realizing his life’s mission via a weapon of mass deity destruction: the Godbomb. Ribic’s realistic painted pages are a wonder to behold and Aaron’s script is thunderingly impactful. This 272 page collection is presented in oversized format, perfectly allowing the glory that is this run to smash you in the face harder than Mjolnir itself.
X-O Manowar: Deluxe Edition Hardcover Volume 1 (Valiant, $39.99 msrp)
It’s as though Valiant said, “Hey, how much awesome are we allowed to put into one book? How much? Fuck it, we’re going to do this anyway.” Collecting the first fourteen issues of their flagship title, this deluxe hardcover is a perfect purchase for catching up with a book everyone should be reading. Now, I’m sure you remember my reviews of the material ( Volume 1 and Volume 2) but to refresh your memory, they were both 5-star books. I’m not just handing out stars willy-nilly, the story is a legitimately awe-inspiring venture of one man’s violent thirst for vengeance and peace. Robert Venditti, Cary Nord and Lee Garbett remind us all why this character demands attention and this gorgeous 384-page hardcover is the perfect way to jump into the awesomeness that is the Valiant universe.
Batman: The Complete Television Series Blu-Ray Box Set (Warner Home Video, $269.97 msrp)
I could throw out a “Holy _____, Batman” joke or a “POW!BAM!WHIZ” comment, but I respect your intelligence too much to subject us all to that. Instead, let’s focus our attention on the fact that for the first time ever, the seminal Batman television show is finally available to purchase after decades of legal mumbo-jumbo. Fandom has also finally turned a corner in judging this show not for supposedly ruining the perception of what comics are, but for judging it on its own merits as a fun celebration of Batman. This box set is thirteen discs of remastered Batusi dancing exuberance. All 120 episodes are here as are over three hours of bonus material, but wait…there’s also a freaking toy batmobile in this thing! This is the big ticket item that is (not “should be”,but “has to be”) on every comic fan’s list this year.
Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Artist Edition (IDW, $125.00 msrp)
IDW delights in torturing your wallet. Ever since they debuted their grandiose Artist Editions, comic collectors have been powerless to resist emptying their bank accounts in order to marvel at their majesty. And of all the ones released thus far, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is perhaps the most impossible to pass on. With a style that is incomparable to any through the annals of comic book history, this book is an opportunity to see the master at work. Collecting the first five Hellboy in Hell issues and a bevy of additional stories selected by Mignola himself, this is the closest you can get to owning the original art.
Moon Knight TP Volume 1: From the Dead (Marvel, $17.99)
“From the Dead” is right. Yeesh, if there was one character that could never quite stick with audiences, it’s Moon Knight. But then Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire decided to team-up and prove everyone wrong by bringing us a Moon Knight comic that’s going to be talked about for years. Marc Spector is back and so are his fractured personalities as Moon Knight returns to the streets of New York to continue his Egyptian God-fueled vigilantism. And he punches ghosts, which should sell you on this book immediately. Ellis’ wit is razor sharp as his imagination runs rampant through this six issue run, but the artistic duo of Shalvey and Bellaire steals the show with innovate designs and contrast-laden layouts. It’s a rich and rewarding read for longtime Moon Knight fans (I guess they exist?) and for those fervently enjoying the current high quality Marvel NOW! offerings.
Shamanism (Humanoids Inc., $24.95 msrp)
Nearly indescribably beautiful and unimaginably engrossing, Shamanism is an ideal gift for anyone who wonders how powerful stories can be. It’s an acid-trip of a tale, one that Igor Baranko weaves masterfully from start to finish as further detailed in this review, Shamanism. Have friends or relatives who aren’t big into comics, but love the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Italo Calvino? Know anyone who loves superhero comics, but is starting to get bored by their repetitive nature? Boom, problem solved. This is a one-size-fits-all graphic novel that’s one part love story, one part history re-write, one part mythological examination and like ten parts head-spinning, time traveling adventure.
Hopefully, this gift guide provided some great ideas for how to perpetuate the consumerist inanity of…..I mean, for how to spread that Holiday Joy. Everything listed above is guaranteed (well, not legally guaranteed, but chill out) to bring a smile to the comic fan in your life this year. Or just buy them Legos. Everyone likes Legos. Happy Shopping!