Comic Book Gift Guide 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

With the holidays just around the corner (and stores starting to gear up earlier and earlier), I've started to think about what I want on my gift list and maybe what you might want, too. Here's my annual Collected Editions top trade paperback and graphic novel gifts recommendations, the books I (and contributor Doug Glassman) find noteworthy or interesting coming out about this time or that might make good gifts.

And as you peruse these potential presents, I've organized some gift packages for you of books that go together and net you free shipping, to maybe make some buying for your favorite comics fan a little easier.

For additional ideas don't miss my 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists for more gifting suggestions.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Mini-Comic Collection

If you ever enjoyed the toy-advertising juggernaut that was Masters of the Universe, then you no doubt also read the mini-comics that came with each figure. As the cartoon couldn’t always keep pace with the wide and wacky universe of He-Man figures, sometimes the mini-comics were the only place to see the newest characters in action. This is a heavy, hardcover collection at over 1,000 pages; no question you’ll have the power of Grayskull giving this as a gift this year.

Pair the He-Man book with any two of the Star Wars titles for free shipping and a package sure to please any child of the 1980s.

Star Wars Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes
Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1
Star Wars: Princess Leia
Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire
Star Wars: Kanan: The Last Padawan Vol. 1

Sales reports have shown Marvel killing it with their new Star Wars series, and with The Force Awakens arriving just before Christmas, no doubt Star Wars will be the hot commodity this holiday season. And Marvel’s got a book for every Star Wars fan — in the classic era there’s Star Wars, Darth Vader (both of which are set to cross-over soon), and Princess Leia; for a young or old Rebels fan, there’s the Kanan: The Last Padawan book; and then fan-favorite Greg Rucka has the lead-in title to the new movie, Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire. All five of these make an impressive package and come in at just over $50 with free shipping.

Multiversity Deluxe Edition
Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition

Among DC Comics’s big releases for the holiday season is a deluxe (oversized) edition of Grant Morrison’s acclaimed Multiversity miniseries. This includes all the issues, the Multiversity Guidebook, and art including by Morrison’s All-Star Superman collaborator Frank Quitely and Batgirl’s Cameron Stewart. Taking place on a variety of alternate Earths, an encyclopedic knowledge of DC Comics isn’t necessary to enjoy this book, but a love of Morrison’s mind-bending superheroics is; this is a must-have for any Morrison fan’s shelf.

And whereas Multiversity deals with alternate realities, Convergence was DC Comics’s much-anticipated summer event that brought together decades worth of DC’s mainstream continuities in one grand mash-up. No true DC fan will want to have missed Convergence, and it arrives too with eight (count ‘em, eight!) companion collections, so you might just get your holiday shopping done with Convergence alone.

If that’s not enough, this holiday season also finally sees the release of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Overture deluxe collection, almost two years after the first issue came out, with art by Batwoman’s JH Williams. More than the origin of the Sandman and how he came to be imprisoned at the start of the lauded series, Overture is an equally winding, multiversal tale, surely right for any fantasy fan.

Multiversity pairs with either of these other DC Comics collections to earn free shipping.

Killing and Dying

Killing and Dying is a graphic novel work of short stories by Optic Nerve’s Adrian Tomine, interconnected and set against the backdrop of modern America. Your favorite comics fan likely needs no reminder that the medium is for more than just superheroes, but this work of comics literature would be a great gift as something different or a good gateway perhaps for someone you’re trying to get into comics.

Pair Killing and Dying with Southern Bastards for two realistic graphic novels that expand the definition of comics.

Southern Bastards Deluxe Hardcover Volume 1

A great jumping-on point to Jason Aaron’s Image series Southern Bastards arrives with this deluxe hardcover collection of the first two paperbacks. Called a “seminal southern-fried crime series,” Southern Bastards involves a small Alabama town run by a high school coach and crime boss, and the sheriff’s son who opposes him. Southern Bastard’s Jason Aaron is also the writer of Marvel’s Star Wars; combine these two maybe with one or two of the children's books suggested below to keep or give away, and all of that will add up to free shipping.

Bitch Planet Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine

Acclaimed Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick presents Bitch Planet, turning the sci-fi women exploitation genre on its head. Definitely for the grown-up reader in your life (Doug calls it “Orange is the New Black … in spaaaace!”) this is another boundary-pushing Image series for fans of Saga or Sex Criminals.

Value priced, Bitch Planet can ride along with Southern Bastards and Killing and Dying for free shipping, or pair with Jessica Jones, Princess Leia, and DC Super Friends: Flower Power (a kid's book featuring Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Poison Ivy) for a gift set with woman power.

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1

Netflix’s Daredevil series was a tad intense for me and I’m concerned Jessica Jones will be even harder to watch … but I’ll still be binging as soon as November 20 rolls around! The series is based heavily on Brian Michael Bendis’s Marvel MAX series Alias, conveniently collected, and if you’ve got a Marvel TV fan with a stronger disposition than mine, they’ll no doubt enjoy this look at the original material.Jessica Jones matches the mature themes of Bitch Planet, and add in SHIELD for your favorite Marvel TV fan.

SHIELD Vol. 1: Perfect Bullets

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, despite lack of stellar ratings, is a show not easily dismissed, having grown in its second season and already offering surprises in its third. Popular writer Mark Waid heads this new series of SHIELD characters set in the ongoing Marvel universe, with emphasis on Agent Phil Coulson. For a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who hasn’t quite gotten in to the comics yet, this might be a good starting point.

The first volume of SHIELD and the first Jessica Jones collection would be a nice package for your fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in all its iterations.

Squadron Supreme

Marvel’s bringing back Squadron Supreme in 2016 in a series spotlighting all the multi-dimensional iterations of this team, originally featuring analogues of DC Comics heroes. If you’ve seen copies of Marvel’s Secret Wars around the house, or for fans of Authority, Watchmen, or Kingdom Come, Doug recommends this collection of the 1980s Squadron Supreme miniseries as the Squadron takes control of the government.

Pair old Marvel and new, Squadron Supreme and SHIELD, for an accessible Marvel package and free shipping.

Complete Peanuts 1995-1998 Gift Box Set

If your favorite comics fan has already Peanutized themselves, that’s probably a hint they’re looking forward to the new “3-D” Peanuts movie. The animators have taken pains to adhere to the spirit of Charles Schultz; meanwhile Fantagraphics continues their collections series of every Peanuts strip ever published. No knock against the earliest material, but these later volumes — including the just-released box set of Vols. 23 and 24 — collect the more modern material that will be familiar to most fans (and moviegoers). There’s just one more volume after this to collect the final 1999-2000 strips.

Add Peanuts to any other item on this list and shipping is, well, peanuts (free, even)!

Jem and the Holograms: Showtime

The new Jem movie seemed to please essentially no one, but if you’ve got a young reader in your life whose interest was piqued, IDW has just released the first collection of their well-received ongoing series. Author Kelly Thompson is also writing the popular Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps for Marvel.

For a younger reader, pair perhaps with the main Star Wars book, and then for much younger readers one or two of the DC or Marvel kid's books (like the Wonder Woman/Batgirl DC Super Friends: Flower Power or Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War).

Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem

A Hanukkah present for your grown-up comics reader — or for any horror fan who’s surely familiar with 30 Days of Night’s Steve Niles — Breath of Bones collects the three-issue Dark Horse miniseries. It’s the traditional Jewish folktale of the Golem, but set against World War II and with Niles’s inimitable sensibilities.

Fans of mature titles might also enjoy Jessica Jones, Bitch Planet, and Southern Bastards.

Grendel vs. the Shadow

A heavy dose of noir when Matt Wagner’s Grendel time travels to the 1930s and faces off against the Shadow. It’s an atmospheric period piece that would appeal, for instance, to fans of Boardwalk Empire, not to mention that it heralds Wagner’s return to the Grendel character he created. Doug calls it “an artistic triumph, very accessible to new readers for both franchises.”Grendel vs. the Shadow pairs with Southern Bastards for free shipping and a whole lot of atmosphere.

Gundam SEED: Astray Vol. 1

Doug’s manga suggestion is Gundam SEED: Astray, a spin-off of the popular Gundam series and featuring a top-secret mechanized suit. If you’re dipping your toes into manga or trying to encourage someone else to, consider Gundam SEED, and also check out the first in Doug’s “introduction to manga” “Entry Plug” series. Doug says, “I’ll be covering more Gundam stories in future ‘Entry Plug’ articles, and if you’re not up for spending a lot on the $30 Gundam: Origin hardcovers, you might want to try this inexpensive action romp.”

DC Super Friends: Flower Power
DC Super Friends: Flying High
DC Super Friends: Battle in Space!
Spider-Man: Spidey’s New Costume
Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War

It’s a Collected Editions tradition to include low-priced children’s books on this list; there’s always some fun ones out there (Flower Power teams Wonder Woman and Batgirl against Poison Ivy, and who can resist Kree-Skrull War for kids?!). For some of the collection pairings listed above, one of these kids' books is a cheap way to put you at free shipping, but you’re also encouraged to donate them to your local library or Goodwill to get the next generation of comics readers started too.

And now it's your turn! What are some of the best collections of 2015? What else is on your wish list for the holidays? (Special thanks to contributor Doug Glassman of '80s Marvel Rocks! for his suggestions.)

I'm so glad to have spent another year with you at Collected Editions! This site would not exist without everyone who stops by and participates. Thanks to all of you for making this so fun.

(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. I think the recently published Robin: Reborn would be a great addition to your gift guide. It collects the issues of Batman and Detective Comics where Tim Drake takes on the mantle of the new Robin. It also includes the original 5 issue Robin mini-series. The collection was printed on high gloss paper and has a cover gallery, along with sketches of proposed Robin costumes for Tim Drake. Great writing by Chuck Dixon and Alan Grant. Gorgeous art by Norm Breyfogle and Tom Lyle. I know the creators get royalties, and with Mr. Breyfogle recovering from a stroke, he could definitely use the boost in income buying this book would provide.

    1. Excellent suggestion -- I know I loved those issues when they first came out. I hadn't had a chance to look at the collection yet and I'm glad to hear about the good paper and extras; I'm curious about the other proposed costumes. (Can't remember if those costume sketches were in one of the original Robin collections or not.)

    2. I'd also say those stories aren't for young readers necessarily, but they're probably OK for pre-teen or teen (some on-screen violence but nothing like you'd see these days and probably tame in comparison to Twilight, etc.).

    3. I am not sure about the sketches either, since i don't have the original collection of the 5 issue mini series, but i do remember seeing them online. There is also a reprint of the poster (i believe by Neal Adams, not 100% sure) that was originally a fold out in the original minis-series issue 1. the reprint is just standard comic size, but still a cool extra.
      I agree with the age, pre-teen or teen for sure.

  2. It's a real shame, but Marvel have just announced, in the February solicitations, a Squadron Supreme omnibus containing all the original team's major appearances up to the Ultimate Power mini series.

    1. Yeah, I saw that. I'm not a big advocate for omnibuses if they collect material that can easily be found in trade form but I know other readers enjoy the format.

  3. God, those Star Wars books even SOUND so disgustingly, cynically safe. I'm already over Disney Star Wars.

    I do want that Southern Bastards HC though.

    1. Not a fan of the relaunch, I take it. I'll be reviewing those Star Wars books not too long from now and we'll see how it goes. Also planning to review Southern Bastards.

    2. I could go on for hours about Star Wars - and I thought about doing a blog post doing just that, but decided against it - but the short version is that the franchise as it stands right now feels like the safest, most pandering thing ever. Comics stick to to post New Hope exclusively, everything about the new film screams "yeah, we want to do A New Hope again", so on. It's hard to explain, but the franchise as it stands right now feels like, instead of going for an evergreen, for-everyone feel, it's targeted squarely to people who saw the originals in theaters.

      I'm sad I have no interest in the main book, because I'm a total homer for Jason Aaron, but man, I don't know.