It’s the last four shopping days before Christmas! If you don’t have gift bought already, you’re probably running around frantically trying to find something. Hopefully I can help with some suggestions for the comic book reader!
For the Lifelong Comic Book Fan
There’s a few really good options for the lifelong comic book fan that I’d recommend. A few of these are a couple years old but they’re great to get someone in the door for fantastic runs.
Action Comics by Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder, and Scott Kolins has been fantastic from the beginning. Starting with Action Comics vol. 2 #25 and continuing to today, Pak & co have been telling classic style Superman stories with a modern voice, something many people had felt the New 52 Superman line lacked from the beginning. It’s been a lot of fun.
Amazing Spider-Man by Dan Slott & co is one of the longest-running runs on a character out there today, and it’s apparent why Slott has been on Spidey so long. There is simply a love for the character deep within these stories. Say what you will about the circumstances of the beginning of Slott’s run (yes, Spidey sold his marriage to the devil, get over it), it’s spawned one of the greatest creative booms the character has ever seen.
Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is simply one of the greatest runs ever on Batman. Every issue is a brilliant story with absolutely fantastic art to accompany it. All of Batman vol 2 has been by these two (with a few single issue art fill-ins and annuals), and it’s worth every penny, whether in trade or singles. Not only is this a great Batman run, but it also includes two instant classic Joker stories- Death of the Family and Endgame.
Avengers by Jonathan Hickman & co has been one of the most amazing long form stories in comics, period. Telling the tale of a multi-versal collapse as well as a team collapse, Hickman weaves his huge cast in and out of the narrative seamlessly, while not losing the grandeur of the entire story. It’s the Avengers at their best, and an absolute must-read.
For the lapsed fan
Well, we need to assume they lapsed for a reason. So why not give them a slow and easy, but still fun comic to get back into it?
Ms. Marvel by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona is just one of the most fun comics on the stands today. Ms. Marvel is the story of a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who discovers that she’s also Inhuman. Kamala Khan is also a massive super-hero fangirl, so her sudden superhuman status is met with both glee and trepidation. She quickly comes into her own, including a sharp costume, and hilarious battle cries (“Embiggened fists of rage!”). If you want to hook anyone, especially a lapsed fan, this is the book to do it with.
Invincible by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker is the perfect superhero comic for a lapsed fan. Why? Well, just look at that cover. Starting as “What if Spider-Man has Superman’s powers” Invincible took a dark turn early, revealing the horrible truth about one of the main characters by the end of the first arc. Ever since then, the series has subverted typical superhero tropes. This is for the friend on your list that gave up comics because “superheroes are for babies.”
Batgirl by Cameron Stewart, Brendon Fletcher and Babs Tarr is the opposite of Invincible. If you have a friend who gave up on comics because they’re a grim dark-fest, Batgirl is the title for them. Shocking for a Bat-title, but this series is just fun, with a great artistic aesthetic and a modern update to one of the most classic characters of all time.
For that friend who loves watching TV
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (with the first arc/covers by Tony Moore) is the quintessential horror comic on the stands today. It may have also spawned an ultra-popular TV. You might have heard of it. Well, the show isn’t a direct adaptation (as if you didn’t already know that), so giving that friend “who liked Walking Dead before it was cool” the first couple trades or the first massive compendium edition would actually make you cooler.
SHIELD by Mark Waid & co is essentially a cross between Agents of SHIELD and Marvel Team-Up. It actually feels like the TV show, but utilizes characters you’d never see on TV, such as Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Howard the Duck, Sue Storm-Richards, and many many more. I’ve said many times that I would recommend any Waid series unconditionally. This is no exception to that rule. And while we’re on the topic of Mark Waid...
Daredevil by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee is the best the character has been in a decade. Without ignoring the darkness in the character’s past, this is going back to the fun swashbuckler of old. It’s a fun series with twists, turns and jaw-dropping moments. It also contains an arc featuring Jessica Jones villain Purple Man that is absolutely sick and twisted.
Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma is the best comic that hasn’t been adapted to TV. It’s basically the comic book version of one of the twisty, science fiction drenched serialized TV dramas that were all the rage when LOST premiered. It’s amazing series full of teen drama, sci-fi mysteries, strange cults and really everything you loved about those types of shows at their best.
For the Dungeons and Dragons fan in your life
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, Stepan Seijc and Tess Fowler is like the best D&D campaign you’ve never played. Filled with vibrant characters, killer monsters, crazy plot twists, and the funniest halfling Lesbian thief ever, this will be the favorite fantasy comic of your party.
For that friend that loves both Jack Kirby’s Kamandi and Game of Thrones
The Autumnlands by Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey starts as a Game of Thrones-esque fantasy with talking animals, as the beasts of the world attempt to summon a savior to their world. Turns out said savior is a HUMAN. It’s a gorgeous book, and Busiek proves that his wonderful Conan run wasn’t a fluke.
For the music/pop culture lover
The Wicked +The Divine by Keiron Gillen and Jaime McKelvie is the best fantasy comic you’ve read. Or haven’t read. It’s also an examination of pop culture and our obsession with celebrity. AND IT’S AMAZING.
For the Harry Potter/Hunger Games/Maze Runner/etc junkie
Birthright by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan is the story of the Rhodes family, whose son disappears, which nearly ruins them. However, he returns a year later, now a full grown, battle-scarred hulk of a man, who was abducted as the chosen one for a magical world. This is really just the series that finally asks “what happens to the chosen one after they’ve fulfilled their destiny?”
For the alt-history buff
Manifest Destiny by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts is the story of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Except, this is the version you never read about in the history books. I mean, I never knew about the buffalo centaurs, fungus zombies, giant frogs, and other fantastic creatures that Lewis and Clark ran into in their travels... Did you?
For the friend who is starting to experience zombie fatigue but still love the post-apocalypse
Spread by Justin Jordan and Kyle Strahm is a gross-out horror series, set in a post apocalypse. A fleshy, red, toothy biological weapon has been unleashed upon the world transforming all but a small immune percentage of humans. Even wild animals are often infected. The series follows No, Hope and Molly as they try to navigate the world... while carrying the one hope the entire world has to combat the Spread.
For the friend riding high on last weekend’s trip to the movies
Star Wars by Jason Aaron, John Cassaday & Stuart Immonen, and Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca is the official canon continuation of A New Hope, filling in the gaps between New Hope and Empire, including Vader’s discovery of the identity of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. AND THEY’RE GREAT COMICS. Seriously, these series are what comics are all about. Just amazing.
So there’s my picks! I could go on for pages and pages more, but I think this covers a lot of bases, especially with a few series you may have missed.
What do you think I missed?