Comic Book Gift Guide 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The weather is colder, the holidays are nigh upon us, and once again it's time for the Collected Editions blog's picks for the top trade paperback collections and graphic novel presents you can give as a gift for your favorite comic book fan. (See the 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists for more suggestions, too!)

And of course, I've built this list to help you get free shipping on all your gifts (nothing worse than cutting into your holiday budget with shipping!).

I think I've got a fun list this year with lots of variety for every readers' interest -- and of course, everyone appreciates additional suggestions in the comments.

* Avengers Prime
* Avengers Forever
* Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide
* Marvel Adventures Avengers: Captain America
* The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection

You might've heard there's a little thing called the Avengers movie coming next year, so Avengers gifts are bound to go over well this holiday season. As crowdsourced from the Collected Editions Facebook page, our suggestions for Avengers collections include Avengers Prime, a story focusing on Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor that's controversial because it contains more talking than action, but might be interesting for fans of the "Big Three"; Avengers Forever, by popular Avengers writers Roger Stern and Kurt Busiek, is a continuity-heavy story of Avengers joined together from different eras -- most likely meant for the educated fan, but might pique the curiosity of a newcomer, too (comes with free shipping on its own, so you could pair it with the Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide).

Though set in Marvel's Ultimate universe, The Ultimates is a back-to-basics, no-nonsense recreation of the Avengers by Mark Millar with breathtaking art by Bryan Hitch. For a fan new to the Avengers, this is a book with no previous knowledge required. And for the younger fan, Marvel Adventures Avengers: Captain America is one in a series of young readers Marvel graphic novels. This might be a nice follow-up for a young fan of the movies; there's Iron Man, Spider-Man, and plenty other entries into this series as well.

* Batman: Noel
* Batman: Arkham City (graphic novel)
* Batman: The Black Mirror

Between the new Arkham City video game and the new Dark Knight Rises movie coming out next year, DC Comics has a slew of Batman books coming out for the holidays. Their biggest push is Batman: Noel, a graphic novel written and drawn by Lee Bermejo and based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Bermejo drew the Joker and Lex Luthor books that we listed for the holidays in past years, and it seems his holiday work is becoming something of a tradition.

Speaking of Arkham City, you can pair Noel with the Batman: Arkham City graphic novel by popular Batman writer Paul Dini, and get both for just over $25 with free shipping. Also getting good reviews is Scott Synder's Batman: The Black Mirror, a classic mystery starring former Robin Dick Grayson as Batman -- pair Black Mirror with either of the other Batman books for free shipping.

* Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
* Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes
* Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

I love to give books about comics out to my comics-reading friends as stocking stuffers, and there's just hundreds of them out there. Hot this year, of course, is writer Grant Morrison's tome on all things comics, Supergods. For free shipping, I'd like to suggest pairing it with either of two books by comics-website writers that I like, Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes edited by GeniusboyFiremelon's Tim Callahan, and also Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed by Brian Cronin of the Comics Legends Revealed column on Comic Book Resources.

* The Spirit: A Pop-up Graphic Novel

Writer and artist Will Eisner is considered the father of the modern graphic novel, essentially, and what better gift for a graphic novel fan than a pop-up Will Eisner graphic novel (because you can never have too many pop-up comic books!). The Spirit: A Pop-up Graphic Novel collects Eisner's last two Spirit issues re-designed as a pop-up book -- and any other item on this list will qualify for free shipping with this collection (or if you hurry, I think there's still some bargain copies available!).

* Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm

ABC's mystery series Castle seems to be popular with comics fans (at least that's what I see on my Twitter feed), and an episode last September even featured a graphic novel starring fictional writer Richard Castle's character Derrick Storm. That graphic novel, Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm, was actually published by Marvel and ought be a must-have for any fan of the show. Pair with Stuffed! and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (see both below) and get three graphic novels somewhat off the beaten path for just over $25 with free shipping.

* Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
* Tintin in America

Admittedly I'm not all that familiar with The Adventures of Tintin, the European comic (and television series, and radio broadcast, and so on), but I imagine everyone's going to be when Tintin comes to theaters next month. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets is the very first black and white collection, available in hardcover and paperback -- pair the hardcover with Marvel Adventures: Captain America as a gift for your favorite young reader with free shipping, or get the paperback with Captain America and the The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet The Muppets (see also below), all for just over $25 with free shipping.

(See comments section -- some readers in the know have suggested Tintin in America might be a better place to start.)

* Infestation (IDW)

I'm a bit enamored with IDW's Infestation collection -- you might call Infestation "just another crossover," except that it was a crossover that included Transformers, GI Joe, Star Trek, and Ghostbusters segments! This hardcover lands in stores pretty close to Christmas, but I think the cool factor makes it worth it. This one just about qualifies for free shipping on its own -- you can pair with the Meet the Muppets collection to spend just over $25, or any other title on the list for free shipping.

* New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1
* New Teen Titans: Games

* Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse (deluxe)
* Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga (deluxe)

* Flashpoint
* The Flash: Road to Flashpoint

DC got a bunch of impressive-looking goodies coming out this season, sure to make you look good at gift-giving time. A nice two-fer is the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1, which was supposed to only contain sixteen issues of the classic 1980s series and instead included twenty-four plus issues; that gets free shipping on its own, and you can pair with the brand new New Teen Titans: Games graphic novel for a great gift package. The Omnibus gets free shipping on its own, as would anything else with it.

There's also Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse, a deluxe oversized follow-up to one of last year's top-rated gifts, the deluxe Legion: The Great Darkness Saga. And chances are your favorite comics fan is already on top of this one, but there's the collection of the recent universe-changing event (which heralded DC's New 52 titles), Flash: Road to Flashpoint that lead in to the event, and DC Comics: The New 52, a whopping, expensive collection of all the DC New 52 #1 issues. Legion: Curse gets free shipping on its own, the Flashpoint books would get shipping together, and just about anything would get free shipping with the New 52 book.

* Dolltopia

* Stuffed!

Looking for things your favorite graphic novel fan may not already have, I recently had a chance to flip through Abby Denson's Dolltopia and really enjoyed it. Call it the un-Toy Story, this is the tale of dolls who run away to try to escape their pre-determined societal roles. Definitely "indie" in art and story, this might also be a good present for that friend you've been trying for a while to interest in comics (read preview). Pair with Supergods, Batman: The Black Mirror, an Avengers book or more for free shipping.

Also off the beaten path is Stuffed! by Colbert Report and Daria's Glenn Eichler with art by Nick Bertozzi. Two sons must decide what to do with their late father's stuffed African warrior known as "The Savage" in a comedy that looks both at family dynamics and race relations. This'll probably be another new addition to most collections; you can get Stuffed!, Dolltopia, and the Spirit pop-up for just over $25 with free shipping and look really clever on Christmas morning.

* The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet The Muppets

Of course you know there's a new Muppets movie around the corner, so the Muppets are back en vogue (when have they not been?!). Not only is this funny Muppet Show collection fairly well regarded, but it comes in at just about $4.00. If you were going for Batman: Noel and Batman: Arkham City, for instance, or Castle and Tintin, consider tossing in the Muppets comics either for your favorite young reader or just to give away to charity (Barnes and Noble, for instance, is collecting kids books this holiday season). If your free shipping can get a child reading, hey, why not?

We're in the middle of Collected Editions sixth year right now, and couldn't be having more fun. Thanks for reading -- and happy holidays and happy New Year to all!

(Lots of bloggers, by the way, 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. If you're recommending Tintin, Land of the Soviets is a bad place to start unless you're a die-hard fan. It's anti-Communist propaganda and apparently Hergé was even more ashamed of it than the racist Tintin in the Congo.

    For those looking to start from the beginning, Tintin in America is a relatively less offensive (if not entirely politically correct) jumping on point, but most of the early stories are accessible.

    The fourth one, Cigars of the Pharoah, is one of my favourites, and I'd recommend that for anyone curious about the strip.

    Alternatively, there are the three books that inspired the film; The Crab With the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure. The latter is a two-parter, one of three in the series (I am in the minority in thinking it the weakest of the three twofers).

    Alternatively, older readers will appreciate Hergé's more trippy later work. Tintin in Tibet is the closest thing to a literary classic in the set, beloved by the Dali Lama and published in China. Not easy to please both.

    Flight 714 is credited with inspiring Lost. Tintin and the Picaros sees Tintin growing up and is a tad more cynical.

    But all recommended.

  2. I second that recommondations from Darren. Titin and the Land of the Soviets is really a bad book. It's propaganda and the writing is really, really bad. Start with the fourth Book!

  3. This is why we have a comments section -- great advice, all. I was actually originally going to suggest Tintin in America because it seemed more accessible, but I didn't want to slight our international readers and also I'm a sucker for "beginning at the beginning." If Land of the Soviets is that rough, these suggestions sound better for younger readers. Thanks again!

  4. If anyone enjoyed The Muppet Show Comic, may I suggest picking up the two digest collection of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, written by the same writer.

    And also in the similar vein, any of Ian Brill's Darkwing Duck, with the fantastic art of James Silvani. You can't go wrong with any of these titles