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2118239-superman_batman_christmasHello again, friends. The holidays are upon us and it’s the giving season once more. Comics are a tricky business at this time of year. There’s always a deluge of books to chose from when buying for yourself and buying for someone else is always a difficult task, especially if you’re not quite as knowledgable as your intended recipient.

Happy HolidaysWell, worry not! Here are nine more excellent comics you may not have thought of. This selection should be generally accessible at your Local Comic Shop or easily located online and attempts to appeal to most, if not all, readers without rehashing the same tired best-sellers list.

It’s worth mentioning that there are tons of excellent comics that I simply haven’t gotten around to reading, but I wanted to feel confident that you were getting the best I could recommend and, as such, only comics I have personal experience with are featured here. I’ve tried to give a pretty wide range of comics, but, if you feel like your interests or the interests of the intended recipient aren’t adequately represented here, feel free to let me know in comments and I’ll try to see if I can’t come up with something.

You can also check out either of my other gift guides for more suggestions.

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Jean-Paul Valley is one of my favorite characters in comics by a long margin. Created in anticipation of the “Knightfall” crossover trilogy that saw him take over as Batman for a year, Azrael became a hated symbol of 90s grimdark. But Jean-Paul is so much more than that. In fact, Jean-Paul was not only a refutation of Dark Age thinking but became an active example of the alternative. Over his ten-year story, Jean Paul became a unique and interesting character, examining concepts as varied as non-violence, childhood abandonment, addiction, toxic masculinity, and elective family.

Jean-Paul is a very special character in my mind, and yet he doesn’t have a lot of fans. So, if you’ll indulge me a bit, I’d like to take you on a tour of Jean-Paul’s world. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll make a few new fans and you’ll walk away with a new character to nerd out over. If not, we can at least make fun of this character’s weird history together. So come with me and let’s take a walk.

With “Knightquest: The Crusade” Jean-Paul truly became the star of his story for the first time. “Knightquest” would see Jean-Paul struggle with his programming and his own morality as he learned what it meant to be the Dark Knight.
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Jean-Paul Valley is one of my favorite characters in comics by a long margin. Created in anticipation of the “Knightfall” crossover trilogy that saw him take over as Batman for a year, Azrael became a hated symbol of 90s grimdark. But Jean-Paul is so much more than that. In fact, Jean-Paul was not only a refutation of Dark Age thinking but became an active example of the alternative. Over his ten-year story, Jean Paul became a unique and interesting character, examining concepts as varied as non-violence, childhood abandonment, addiction, toxic masculinity, and elective family.

Jean-Paul is a very special character in my mind, and yet he doesn’t have a lot of fans. So, if you’ll indulge me a bit, I’d like to take you on a tour of Jean-Paul’s world. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll make a few new fans and you’ll walk away with a new character to nerd out over. If not, we can at least make fun of this character’s weird history together. So come with me and let’s take a walk.

While many summaries of Batman: Sword of Azrael end with Batman offering to bring Jean-Paul into the Bat-Family, the miniseries was very vague about Jean-Paul’s future. It wasn’t until Batman #488 that we saw what became of him. View full article »

Sword of Azrael 1 Gatefold CoverJean-Paul Valley is one of my favorite characters in comics by a long margin. Created in anticipation of the “Knightfall” crossover trilogy that saw him take over as Batman for a year, Azrael became a hated symbol of 90s grimdark. But Jean-Paul is so much more than that. In fact, Jean-Paul was not only a refutation of Dark Age thinking but became an active example of the alternative. Over his ten-year story, Jean Paul became a unique and interesting character, examining concepts as varied as non-violence, childhood abandonment, addiction, toxic masculinity, and elective family.

Jean-Paul is a very special character in my mind, and yet he doesn’t have a lot of fans. So, if you’ll indulge me a bit, I’d like to take you on a tour of Jean-Paul’s world. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll make a few new fans and you’ll walk away with a new character to nerd out over. If not, we can at least make fun of this character’s weird history together. So come with me and let’s take a walk.

This week we’re going to take a look at where things started for Jean-Paul, the 1992 mini-series Batman: Sword of Azrael. As in many superhero origin stories, the Jean-Paul of Sword of Azrael isn’t fully formed yet. However, Denny O’Neil’s vision for the character is definitely present and, perhaps more than it knew, Sword of Azrael lays the foundation of the character. View full article »

Grayson 5

It feels as though there’s been a shift in how new talents come to public attention in comics. For a long time creators would break their teeth on some brilliant indie series or put in their time at DC or Marvel before they hit that first story they were born to tell, sometimes both. But in recent days, a sea of new writers have made strong and seemingly immediate impressions on the comics landscape.

Tom King is one of these new voices. Though he’s actually written quite a few comics before and even published an acclaimed novel, King was not necessarily a familiar name when he was announced as the co-writer of DC’s Grayson. Just a little more than a year later, Grayson has become a hit, King’s unique reinvention of the Omega Men has proven popular enough to flat-out reverse a cancelation, and he’s got upcoming series from Marvel and Vertigo.

As if proving yourself beloved, literary, and properly appreciative of Dick Grayson’s butt wasn’t enough, I had the good fortune to meet King at New York Comic Con where I discovered that he’s also not only a huge nerd but an incredibly kind and thoughtful creator.

Voice strained from four days of non-stop comic madness, King still took the time to give us a fantastic interview, covering topics as wide as religion, personal evolution, diversity, and comics history. View full article »

Right at the beginning, when I started doing interviews for this site, there were a few creators I just knew I had to try to speak to. But I didn’t want to focus too much on Batman and I wanted to make sure I was asking questions that they wanted to answer and that you’d want to hear answered. Long story short, it’s two years later and somehow I still hadn’t talked to James Tynion IV!

It feels like it goes without saying at this point but James Tynion is a core player in the modern comics industry. It’s technically accurate to say that he’s a future superstar, as I suspect he’ll be an essential writer for years to come, but that ignores that he’s already made it, overseeing both of the Batman Eternal weekly series, each one the core of comics’ most profitable brand.

But perhaps what’s most interesting about Tynion is that he’s not just writing a main Batman title, he’s also filling in the corners of DC’s universe and turning out multiple independent books that are wonderfully experimental and real. He manages to give the impression of a seasoned professional and the up-and-coming rebel out for his job. His work at Boom! has been a huge part of their success in establishing themselves as the place for fresh creator-owned comics.

As such, Tynion was rather busy this year at New York Comic Con, but I was able to find a few minutes to talk to him about his plans for The Woods and what we can expect from Batman and Robin Eternal. View full article »

BrendenFletcherThe funny thing about Black Canary is that, while I consider her one of my favorite DC superheroes, I haven’t read that much featuring her, relatively. Part of that is how good Greg Weisman has been to her in animation, but the bigger issue is that, in the modern age, Black Canary has very rarely had a spotlight. Birds of Prey was an extremely significant series for her, but fans of the character have often had to kind of piece her together from numerous supporting roles. So needless to say, when I heard that DC was finally giving Black Canary a solo series, from one of the writers of the acclaimed ‘Batgirl of Burnside’ no less, I was on board immediately.

As the common thread between two of DC’s biggest new hits, Brenden Fletcher has clearly defined himself as a part of a reformation hitting Big 2 comics. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than the fact that the DC You relaunch was referred to as the ‘Batgirling’ of DC by numerous sources. Fletcher’s comics have made a name for themselves by being fun, welcoming, and clever without giving up the qualities that have traditionally defined DC’s output.

His position at the forefront of this new wave of DC comics has made Fletcher a popular and sought after figure, though being present, interesting, and charming on numerous DC panels likely hasn’t hurt him any either. I was luckily able to snag a few minutes of his time at SENYC this year to talk about what it’s like being one of DC’s most prolific writers, his strategies for communicating the tone he and his co-writers are looking for, and the future of Black Canary. Unfortunately, in the rush to set up this interview, we never actually got properly introduced, so that’s where we’ll begin…

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Ewing Comics are for EveryoneA veteran of the British comics scene, Al Ewing has kind of conquered America over the last few years. With series like Iron Man: Fatal Frontier, Mighty Avengers, and Loki: Agent of Asgard, Ewing has made his mark on Marvel and distinguished himself through his humor and thoughtful examinations of complex issues like identity, class, and race. Loki, in particular, struck me immediately, and I knew that I had to talk to this writer if the opportunity presented itself. Thankfully it did at C2E2 this year and Mr. Ewing gave some wonderful insight into his views on storytelling, heroism, and plenty more. View full article »

A few months ago Marvel made big news by announcing a new Avengers title written by and starring all women.

A couple of weeks ago, The New Yorker published this. Many were, rightly, upset by the dismissive and shaming tone of the article, but I couldn’t quite put into words what bothered me so about it, so I stayed quiet and let those with more to say handle the matter, eventually including one of the writers, G. Willow Wilson.

Yesterday A-Force was released and, curious, I went back and reread Lepore’s article to see if it made any more sense in context. The result was a two-hour twitter rant that, to my surprise, articulated my frustration with the piece and just kept growing.

I honestly expected this to be a short twitter rant but it effectively became a blog post I wrote nearly on autopilot. Twitter isn’t really the best place for such things, but I actually was happy with how it turned out, as well as with the positive response it received, so, for the sake of reader convenience, below you can find an adapted and clarified version of my rant. View full article »

Cullen Bunn’s name certainly wasn’t foreign to me over the last few years, but I think it was about the time that he launched Fearless Defenders that I really started noticing him; adorable archeological lesbian romances and Dani Moonstar being a badass will do that. I kind of missed the boat with that title but his name stuck with me and when I heard Marvel was giving Magneto his own series, I was definitely intrigued. Magneto #1 got a rare A- from me and hooked me on the series just as Bunn was announced on a new Godzilla series featuring my favorite kaiju, Biollante. Within a month it seemed like Bunn was everywhere.

Mixing a comic writer’s restraint with a novelist’s lyricism, I found Bunn to be a writer who never gives you exactly what you expect. A Magneto series that’s actually a crime comic, a new take on an old horror standby, an all-ages title from the man who wrote Army of Darkness, there’s always an angle. It gives the impression of a man whose mind is always churning and his output certainly supports that. So when it was announced that he would be taking on two DC A-Listers, I knew it was getting past time we gave you nice people a look behind the curtain, after all Magneto is consistently one of our best read reviews.

Mr. Bunn was kind enough to talk with us and to give some intriguing and honest answers about what’s to come for his impressive slate of comics and what elements of a story grab his interest. View full article »