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Well it’s gift-giving season again, the happiest season of all. Unfortunately, all that happiness can get kind of stressful. Well fear not, dear readers, whether you’re hoping to take advantage of time off, looking for something to spend your grandma’s check on, or looking to buy the comic fan in your life something a little more nuanced than Amazon’s best sellers, I’m here to help make your life a little less stressful.

Happy HolidaysBelow I’ve assembled ten of my favorite collected comics that should be easy to find. I’ve tried to provide a selection that will hopefully appeal to most, if not all, readers. 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, many of them are missing from this list. If you feel like your interests 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.

I hope this is helpful to you and, as my friends at FOX News say: Happy Holidays.

 

Name: Saga vol. 1

Saga 1Part space-opera, part fantasy, part romance, part war story, Saga defies simple labels. Amid the backdrop of an intergalactic civil war, two star-crossed lovers, Alana and Marko, fall in love and are forced to flee to protect their hybrid baby, a dangerous symbol to both sides. The story is rich, the art is gorgeous, and the characters are brought to life with a consummate grace and talent that is nothing short of astounding. Though frank discussion of sex and unapologetic depiction of the naked form probably means that you won’t be getting this for the kids, Saga can appeal to a wide range of demographics. Even better, the first trade is only $10.00. Just be ready when the price returns to normal on volume 2, because you will be hooked.

Grab it if you liked: Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Defiance

 

 

Name: Sword of Sorcery vol. 1: Amethyst

Sword of Sorcery vol 1One of DC’s more interesting experiments in their New 52 line, Sword of Sorcery rebooted Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld for a more fantasy-laden world. This volume contains the entirety of the short but sweet run. There’s also the truly excellent Beowulf backups and the follow-up issue from DC Universe Presents. Though it’s tempting to gender the two series, both are solid fantasy. Those who like optimist fantasy will find that Amethyst is hardly fluffy and Beowulf tempers its post-apocalyptic trappings with a cast of characters who no longer remember civilization, avoiding morose nostalgia. There are other fantasy comics that are probably just as good, but Sword of Sorcery vol. 1 is an impressive sampler.

Grab it if you liked: The Hobbit, Berserk, Tamora Pierce, The Hunger Games, Frozen

 

 

Name: Thor

Thor JMSI can’t tell you how lowly I thought of Marvel’s mythological inaccurate thunder god when I picked up this book, but I can tell you how thoroughly blown away I was when I put it down. A grounded high-concept comic with gorgeous art and an excellent arc, JMS’ Thor is a fantastic run of comics. Old fans and new readers alike will find plenty to love here; a noble Thor, a colorful supporting cast, and – yes – even a superbly realized Loki. Though the omnibus might be hard to track down, all three volumes should be easily available. Feel free to test the waters with just one, but volume 2 is where things really get crazy.

Grab it if you liked: All-Star Superman, Thor: The Dark World, American Gods

 

 

Name: Watchmen

watchmenThis quintessential maxi-series changed comics forever with its world-weary heroes, complex symbolism, and fleshed out world. Watchmen is probably a little overrated, but only because it’s reached such legendary status. Each read will reveal new connections and secrets. Watchmen is a classic, not only because of its content but because of Alan Moore’s excellent usage of the comic form. Whether you’ve been putting it off or someone on your gift list would like comics but turns up their nose at them, Watchmen will make a great gift.

Grab it if you liked: Alternate History, The Da Vinci Code, The Dark Knight Rises

 

 

Name: Supurbia

Supurbia vol 1Though it’s marketed as the Real Housewives of the JLA, Supurbia is so much more. Especially in its second season, Supurbia becomes a full and wonderful superhero world of its own, asking questions about love, marriage, family, and heroism. What happens when a corporate Superhero begins an affair with his sidekick? How does a superhero’s wife deal with the knowledge that he may never come home? Who do you date when you’re the man who has everything?

If Empowered is an examination of love and sex in a superhero environment, Supurbia is its opposite number; a look at family, loving or otherwise.

Grab it if you liked: Invincible, Empowered, The Incredibles

 

 

Name: Transformers: More than Meets the Eye

MTMTE vol 1The Transformers have not always done well with the public. The fact that any official Transformers media is essentially a gigantic advertisement doesn’t help, and I doubt that Michael Bay’s masterpieces have done much to convince people of their literary merit. But despite it all, the Transformers fandom is strong and dedicated, able to see past the consumerism to the depth and adventure possessed by the original Marvel Comics or Beast Wars.

And when you turn over the reins to a particularly talented member of that community, you get Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. Free to examine the causes, rather than the action, of the Autobot-Decepticon War, James Roberts has turned this series into a sleeper hit. Even if you’ve never cared for them, but especially if you’ve ever had a soft spot for those wacky Cybertronians, this is a must read.

It’s also worth mentioning that Roberts’ first solo work for IDW is also available as the much beloved Last Stand of the Wreckers. For all the love it’s received I found Wreckers a little hard to get into, so I’m recommending this series instead, as it features a few more recognizable characters and something of a clearer purpose. Both are excellent, but I’d imagine that a Transformers novice might do better with MTMTE.

Grab it if you liked: Beast Wars, Star Trek, Gargoyles

 

 

Name: WolverineWolverine hc

If you thought that Wolverine fighting ninja was an awesome concept, you’d best pick this one up. The basis for this summer’s “The Wolverine”, Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s original mini-series is an infinitely stronger and clearer vision of a man who believes himself beyond honor or redemption. The hardcover also contains the subsequent arc of Claremont’s acclaimed Uncanny X-Men run, which features some of Rogue’s first action with the team as well as an early appearance of the Silver Samurai.

Grab it if you liked: The Wolverine, New Teen Titans, Daredevil

 

 

Name: Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil

Shazam! The Monster Society of EvilIn a long ago time when children were the comic industry’s target audience, he was the most popular hero in the world. He’s come a long way since then, but under the pen of BONE’s Jeff Smith, Captain Marvel returns to his roots for an amazing all-ages take on his origins.

At its worst All-Ages is code for ‘children’s’, but that’s really not so here. Shazam!: Monster Society of Evil is an excellent Captain Marvel reboot that credits its readers with intelligence and depth, no matter their age. The only ones who may not appreciate this lovely little comic are some teenagers, who may aspire to more ‘mature’ superheroes. Nevertheless, I expect that even they’ll find something to love if given a few years to grow into themselves.

With Captain Marvel riding high on his “Young Justice” appearances (and possibly “Injustice: Gods Among Us”, depending on your parenting style), there’s no better time to make a new fan of the Big Red Cheese.

Grab it if you liked: Young Justice, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Max Fleischer’s Superman

 

 

Name: Young Justice vol. 2: Training Day

Young Justice Training DayIf you haven’t seen Cartoon Network’s “Young Justice” yet, do yourself a favor and correct that, but whether you’re a die-hard fan or have barely heard of it, the tie-in series is great comics.

Some of you may be curious why I recommended the second volume of this series. With no disrespect to the extremely talented Art Baltazar, his first few stories can’t match the care and fluidity of supplementary tales from series creator and animation cult favorite Greg Weisman.

Weisman’s involvement ensures that this series is far more than the cash grab that many tie-in series can become. Each of these stories fits perfectly into the timeline of the “Young Justice” universe. Fans of Artemis and the League of Shadows will find plenty to be excited about in this volume and Weisman’s cleverness and heart make these issues and those that follow valuable additions to an engrossing world.

The Young Justice series easily stands on its own, but I especially recommend it for those who are looking for something a little lighter than Marvel or DC’s ‘in continuity’ line. The series’ connection to the TV show ensures that it’s free from the somewhat intimidating stranglehold of modern comics continuity, as well as the often unnecessary gore and violence that you’ll find in many comics. They also don’t exactly break the bank, so feel free to load up.

Grab it if you liked: Young Justice, Captain Atom, The Avengers, Gargoyles

 

 

Name: March (Book One)

march coverI’ve already said a lot about March, but some stories bear repeating. Pulled from the life of Congressman John Lewis, this first volume in a planned trilogy is an artfully realized look at racism and its effect on a young man in his own words. Powerfully rendered by Nate Powell, March is the brainchild of Andrew Aydin, a staffer for Congressman Lewis and a long-time comic fan. Between his enthusiasm and the Congressman’s ever optimistic spirit they craft an honest and ultimately hopeful script that can be read, and likely will be read differently, by people of all ages.

Only time will tell how March will be remembered, but it’s already a very special and meaningful graphic novel to me. If you’re looking for a great autobiography, an educational comic, or just something that can put the drive for justice in your heart, March is well worth it.

Grab it if you liked: Maus, The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, Persepolis

 

 

One last thing. Though I’ve supplied links to the Amazon descriptions, I would urge you to support your local comic shop. Comicbookresources.com has a Find A Comic Shop tool right on their home page. Half the reason I know any of this is because of the lovely people who have worked in the stores I’ve frequented. They’re usually lovely people who may be able to give you some more great ideas.

That’s it for now. Happy holidays and may this year and the next be filled with excellent stories.

happy hanukkah Flash