Comic Book Gift Guide 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hard to believe 2014 is almost over, but we've arrived again at the time for the Collected Editions top trade paperback and graphic novel gifts for you and your loved ones this holiday season. A lot of books that I'm really excited about this year, nice collections of really strong work.

And it wouldn't be a Collected Editions gift list if I didn't offer some pairing suggestions that'll make you a hit for the holidays and also come with free shipping. Win-win!

Don't miss my 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists for more great ideas. Shop easy!

Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More

This “Volume 1” is actually the first volume of Marvel’s newly-relaunched Captain Marvel series, which had two previous volumes also with writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist David Lopez. But this new first volume is, as they say, a great place to jump in to the adventures of one of Marvel’s most popular heroines, recently announced for her own movie in the next couple years. And fans of Marvel’s cinematic universe who may not necessarily be comics readers should feel comfortable with this one, which features appearances by the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Pair with Greg Rucka’s Lazarus for free shipping right off the bat; or with other Marvel titles Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight; or with Hellblazer Vol. 1, Fun Home, and a Golden Book and get three or four books plus free shipping.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal

Collected Editions contributor Doug Glassman recommends this one for readers old and also young, saying “Kamala Khan is one of the most realistic teenagers in comics.” In the spirit of books like Ultimate Spider-Man and Blue Beetle, this one would be right for the young adult reader on your gift list and established comics fan alike.

Pair with Captain Marvel and Moon Knight for a Marvel gift basket, or with Teen Titans: Earth One and the deluxe Superman for All Seasons to make an all-ages comics gift for under $50.

Moon Knight Vol. 1: From the Dead

Another of Doug’s recommendations, which he recently reviewed and called one of "the best comic of the year." Not only is the new Marvel NOW! rendition of cult favorite Moon Knight written by legendary comics creator Warren Ellis, but as one of Marvel’s prominent Jewish superheroes, Doug says this makes a great Hanukkah gift (“even,” he adds, “if Moon Knight is possessed by an Egyptian god”). A psychedelic, supernatural superhero comic, consider this one if it’s been under your favorite comics fan’s radar.

Pair with the other Marvel books for free shipping, or add in the weirdness of Prophet: Remission, the reality of Fun Home, and a couple Golden Books to get five titles with free shipping.

Prophet Vol. 1: Remission

Prophet is Image Comics’s unlikely revival of a 1990s Rob Liefeld character that used to interact with Youngblood. The new series by Brandon Graham, with art by Simon Roy, is a futuristic tale of alien civilizations that Graham has said has a Conan-like spirit. Doug recommends it “because not only is it unique, but I also want to figure out what the hell is going on and might want to start up a reading group.”

Pair this one with Wake for sci-fi fun; add any other book to that (Saga is another space adventure, and you can’t go wrong with a Star Wars book) for free shipping.

Archer & Armstrong Deluxe Edition Book 1

Just as Image recently revived a couple of their ‘90s properties with modern-day sensibilities, so too did Valiant Comics, now Valiant Entertainment. If you or your favorite comics fan have been hearing good things about Valiant’s new (old) universe in the run up to Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt’s The Valiant miniseries, this deluxe collection of the buddy action comedy Archer & Armstrong is a good place to start (one a cult assassin, one his immortal target, teamed up against the mystic cult masters). The deluxe edition collects the first three trades of the series.

Pair with Fun Home and you’re already at free shipping; basically anything on this list plus Archer & Armstrong will net you the shipping gratis.

Saga Deluxe Vol. 1

Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s space opera is ribald, hilarious, suspenseful, and heartfelt — it’s a Rated R Star Wars that can’t be missed. I’ve mentioned Saga on these gift lists before, but the new deluxe edition just released collects the first three trades of the series. If your favorite comics fan is the kind to laugh off the nursing baby on the deluxe cover, Saga is a book sure to please.

As with Archer & Armstrong, anything you pair Saga with on this list (or anything else that you pair with Saga) will earn free shipping. Lazarus plus Saga, in my opinion, equals some good reading.

Lazarus Book 1

I suggested the first trade paperback of Lazarus last year, having just enjoyed immensely Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s introductory collection. But I’d be remiss, having now also enjoyed the second trade, if I didn’t mention this new edition, just released, which collects both the first and second trades into one stellar hardcover. Rucka and Lark are part of the noted team behind Gotham Central, and Rucka brings his talent both for strong characterization and strong female protagonists to this tale of family politics and invincible ninjas. I’ve described it as a post-apocalyptic Downton Abbey, and I’m sticking with that.

Lazarus and Saga, as I’ve mentioned, would be a blockbuster gift combination with free shipping, but you could also pair Lazarus with The Wake and get free shipping or with the first volume of John Constantine, Hellblazer. Lazarus plus Ms. Marvel is also an affordable free shipping package.

The Wake

I recently reviewed Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s The Wake, a Vertigo miniseries that translates seamlessly to hardcover “graphic novel” format. Wake starts out as a monster movie horror story, but it transforms as it goes into speculative, uplifting sci-fi of the kind you might expect from a Robert Heinlein book or a Steven Spielberg movie. There’s nothing you have to read before this and no series to commit to, so this is a perfect gateway for a sci-fi but not necessarily comics fan.

Pair with Fun Home and Prophet Vol. 1: Remission for three books with free shipping. The strong female protagonists in Lazarus and Wake would also make a good pairing and net you free shipping.

John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol. 1: Original Sins

Send your brickbats now; yes, I have never read an issue of the original Hellblazer series. But with Constantine on TV, I recognize it’s well beyond time I started, and maybe you and yours, too. This recent reissue collects the first nine issues of the book plus John Constantine’s early Swamp Thing appearances, so you can get in on the ground floor with it.

The comics horror of Hellblazer would pair well with The Wake, plus two Golden Books or a copy of Fun Home and you’d have free shipping to go!


Richard McGuire’s short comic Here, published in the late 1980s in Raw magazine, challenged the genre through a nonlinear depiction of a certain corner of a house from the dawn of time to the far future. Now, 25 years later, McGuire has expanded Here into a full-length, full-color graphic novel, still in study of one location throughout time. Here will be released early next month, so your favorite fan of the comics genre is sure not to have it yet, and this seems sure to become an integral part of any collection.

Pair Here with Fun Home for two “serious” graphic novels with free shipping, or pair anything else on this list with Here also to get free shipping.

Fun Home

Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir Fun Home deserves to be on every gift list this year after the South Carolina legislature cut the College of Charleston’s funding in response to their assigning Fun Home for freshman reading (though this is hardly the first attempt to ban the book). Controversies aside, Fun Home is a well-written memoir and a coming of age story dealing with sexuality and gender. For your comics fan who might only read superheroes, or a non-comics fan who reads “serious” fiction, Fun Home is a window into the greater possibilities of graphic novels.

Fun Home is also the cheapest book on this list, so it pairs well when you need a little extra for free shipping. Consider Fun Home, Prophet Vol. 1: Remission, Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal, and Hellblazer Vol. 1, and get a great, varied package of four comics with shipping free.

Teen Titans: Earth One Vol. 1

We’re a couple weeks away from the official release of Jeff Lemire’s Teen Titans: Earth One, but these self-contained Earth One books have consistently made great gifts. Also, it’s written by Lemire, who’s knocked it out of the park on Animal Man, Green Arrow, and Justice League Dark, so there’s no reason to think he won’t do the same here. For a potential comics fan who can’t handle all the continuity (and might be already familiar with the Titans from their animated incarnations), this is a safe bet.

Pair with DC’s Superman For All Seasons deluxe edition for free shipping straightaway, or go for Titans, Fun Home, Prophet: Remission, and some Golden Books for a good comics package.

Superman for All Seasons Deluxe Edition

Before Superman: Earth One, before the New 52, one of my favorite “young Clark Kent” stories was Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s heartfelt Superman for All Seasons. Time and again this is the book I’ve given to non-comics reading friends and family, because it’s an enjoyable, approachable, and just plain good Superman story. Superman for All Seasons has been out for a while, but this deluxe edition arrives just in time for the holidays, and the larger deluxe format should be impressive all wrapped up.

Superman For All Seasons can pair with just about any book on this list for free shipping. Consider again Superman for All Seasons and Teen Titans: Earth One, or even Superman for All Seasons and one of the Saga or Lazarus collections.

• Absolute Batman: Haunted Knight

Also by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Absolute Batman: Haunted Knight is the perfect gift for your fan of Loeb and Sale’s Batman: Long Halloween and Dark Victory. This new Absolute edition serves as both prelude and epilogue to those well-known books — it collects the Loeb/Sale Batman holiday specials that preceded and inspired Long Halloween, but then also the Catwoman: When in Rome miniseries that followed Long Halloween and Dark Victory. A Loeb/Sale Batman collection isn’t complete without it.

This book will run you a bit, but the good news is that it ships free on its own, and anything else you pair with it gets to ride along for no extra dough.

Star Wars: Darth Maul, Son of Dathomir
Star Wars: A New Dawn

Admittedly I’m on a bit of a Star Wars kick lately, watching the new Star Wars Rebels and also the final "Lost Missions" episodes of Clone Wars. So, these “cartoon-verse,” canon Star Wars books have me excited — the Darth Maul, Son of Dathomir collection, written from unproduced Clone Wars scripts, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, a prose novel that serves as a prequel to Rebels. If you’ve got a Star Wars fan at home (or you’re trying to create one), these two books plus anything else on this list will guarantee free shipping and the Force to be with you.

DC Super Friends: Big Heroes!
DC Super Friends: Flower Power!
DC Super Friends: Superman!
DC Super Friends: Batman!
Mighty Avengers

Every year I scope out a couple of low-priced children’s books to add to this list, and lately the superhero-themed Golden Books have been a great bargain. From a practical standpoint, these are great filler if you just need a couple extra dollars to put you at free shipping, not to mention they make a great gift for your favorite young reader or you can donate them to your local Goodwill to make someone else's holidays a little brighter.

That’s my list for 2014. Please tell me what you’re getting, too. (Special thanks to contributor Doug Glassman of ‘80s Marvel Rocks! for his suggestions.) It’s the ninth year of Collected Editions, and thanks to everyone who visits, comments, and participates on our Facebook page — it wouldn’t be the same without you. Happy holidays!

(Lots of bloggers have affiliate links like the ones above, and when you do your holiday shopping after clicking these links, the blogger gets a few cents. This year, if you’re buying gifts online, consider clicking on someone’s link before you buy — when I buy online, I always try to click through a blog before I do. There are lots of hard-working bloggers out there [see blogroll], and this is a great, easy way to support them. Thanks!)
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1 comment:

  1. It would be remiss of me, as a renowned cheapskate, to not mention that Barnes and Noble's "Buy 2 Get 1 Free For Marvel and DC Trades" is back. So you can, for instance, buy the Captain and Ms. Marvel trades and get a free Moon Knight trade. I just wish they could expand this to other companies--a nearby BN has some Star Wars omnibuses that I've been eyeing.