Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Buying Guide 2011

Sometimes, finding that perfect gift for that special someone or close relative that has a love for all things geek or comic related is a hard, nigh impossible job. There's too much out there to sift through and the question of whether or not a person already has something or not always enters into the equation. That part is still hard, but what this article will try to do is help those in need, or simply will become a list of goodies that I would ultimately be thrilled to find nestled gently beneath the tree on Christmas morning. So without further ado, "To the List!"


The Batman Files
Writer: Matthew K. Manning
Company: Andrews McNeel Publishing
Price: $100.00
Clocking in at over 300 pages of material, this giant leather bound tome of all things Batman is a treasure trove of goodness that will make any fan ooh and aah with glee and joy. Writer Matthew Manning delves deep into the history and universe, giving every character that's come into contact with the Caped Crusader a thorough look at. It also, more importantly, compiles great prop material that allows you to view things in an entirely new way. These come in the way of articles from the Gotham Herald, actual Riddler Clues, Batmobile blue-prints, breakdowns of gadgets and costumes, and a slew of other things. Truly, this is a great book that any comic fan would proudly have on their shelf, or if you were so inclined, on a sturdy coffee table for friends and family to peruse at leisure.

Batman Black Mirror HC
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Jock & Francesco Francavilla
Company: DC Comics
Price: $29.99
Perhaps one of the more defining and skin crawling stories that have popped up in any Batman book in some time, Black Mirror collects Scott (American Vampire / Batman) Snyder's entire run on Detective Comics. It's dark, memorable, and terrifyingly original as we are subject to two tales that push Batman to his very limits. Plus, you get to see Batman as the World's Greatest Detective as well as him cracking skulls. That coupled with sensational art by Jock and Francavilla and you have a Batman story that will no doubt stand the test of time.


Richard Stark's Parker: The Martini Edition
Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Company: IDW Publishing
Price: $75.00
I have a lot of favorite artists, but without a doubt, Darwyn Cooke is very near the top of my list. This oversized edition, which even dwarfs those swanky Absolute Editions in size, collects the first two adaptations of the Parker books, The Hunter & The Outfit, while also reprinting Cooke's take on The Man with a Getaway Face and a new story that hasn't been printed anywhere else. That and the fact that you get a ton of Cooke's process on how the project came about and a whole slew of original artwork is like getting your cake and eating it too. To say that this is a thing of beauty is a complete understatement. The stories that are told within, with their collection of calm and cold crime characters, are some of the best adaptations that you'll ever find. Any fan of the crime genre, of the writer Richard Stark, or of Darwyn Cooke will be ecstatic to get this one.


Chew Omnivore Edition Volume 1
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Rob Guillory
Company: Image Comics
Price: $34.99
Acidic, dark, and riotously fun in all the right ways, Chew gets everything about as perfect as you can. From the creation of a world where the Bird Flu grew to epidemic proportions to the idea of chicken speakeasies that sell high grade bird to a main character who needs only to eat something in order to know everything about said object, the ideas at play are highly original and highly addictive. This hardcover collects the first two volumes of the series, Taster's Choice and International Flavor, and introduces readers to a well crafted story and a memorable cast of zany characters that you'll quickly come to like and love. That paired with Rob Guillory's smooth and animated style and you have a book that is a can't miss.


TMNT: Ultimate HC Volume 1
Writer / Artist: Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird
Company: IDW Publishing
Price: $49.99
Long out of print in pretty much every format possible, this sizable and gorgeous hardcover brings back the original, slightly more violent, Turtles on the half shell to the spotlight. Not only do the seven issues that are collected in this stories stand the test of time and stick with you, but they are expertly transferred to this format and comes away looking as pristine as the day that it was originally published. IDW constantly meets and exceeds expectations with these types of collections. They also know a thing or two about special features. Here that takes place in the form of commentary from the creators after every chapter. With such things and the ability to travel back in time to see our heroes beat the living snot out of Mousers and meet face to face for the first time, the evil Shredder, you can't put a price on that kind of nostalgia.


Locke & Key Keys
Company: Skelton Crew Studios
Price: $20.00 - $25.00
Based on the various keys that appear in Joe Hill's immensely popular comic series Locke & Key, these keys are an impressive prop that any fan should have. I was lucky enough to snag a Ghost Key for myself and the quality and craftsmanship that went into it makes me want the whole set. Not sure if they will really turn you into a ghost or give you uncanny strength or allow you to open up your head and sift through it like a bag of toys or not, but that won't stop me from trying them in every door that I come across just to be sure. Check them all out in more detail here.


Company: Z Man Games
Price: $39.99
While this board game did hit shelves in 2008, Pandemic continues to be one of those games that gets under your skin and demands to be played at any and every family get together. Not only because every time you do, you're saving the world from deadly infection (unless you fail, in which case everyone dies and it's all your fault), but more to the point it's because it's extremely fun. The cooperative nature of the game is unexpected and refreshing, and with an expansion that comes with its own petri dishes for each disease that you can personally name, the disease stomping fun never ends.

FOR THE COMIC NEWBIES (aka Gateway Drugs):

Walking Dead Vol 1
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore
Company: Image Comics
Price: $9.99
If you know of a few people who've been glued to their television sets every Sunday night for their weekly dose of groaning and bloodshed, do your friends a favor and surprise them with a copy of this. Sure, it's possible that they'll groan a bit themselves and say they don't read comics, but give it some time and you will quickly see the need for more grow in their eyes. What's cool is that while the cast of the comic is fairly close to that of the television show, there are differences between the two that allow for interesting twists that they won't see coming.

American Vampire Vol 1
Writers: Scott Snyder & Stephen King
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Company: Vertigo
Price: $19.99
Feel the need to reform a few people who think that the only thing that vampires do these days is sparkle? Plop one of these bad boys down in front of your friends and say the words Stephen King and you're halfway there. Really though, Amercian Vampire is a book that speaks to people who are seeking a balance between a well crafted story and a book that contains all of the blood and gore and horror that you expect from this particular genre. I'm happy to say that American Vampire does this very thing. Your faith in vampires will be restored!


Toon Tumblers (various)
Company: PopFun Merchandising
Price: $10.99

There is nothing cooler than drinking out of a glass that has been emblazoned with the visage of your favorite superhero on it. Seriously, I think I have a small army of these and they are now all I drink out of. They're that cool. Plus, they have everyone you could want: Green Lantern, Deadpool, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Shang-Chi, Luke Cage...The list goes on!

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