Welcome back, gals and pals, to another Comic Book Wednesday! Two weeks ago, I did the first part of a Holiday Gift Guide for all of you who want to give the gift of comics, which is the best kind of gift. Now, for those of you who celebrate Christmas, the big gift-giving day is only a week away. Maybe you're like me and still have some shopping left to do, and it's a good thing that your local comic shop is right nearby with plenty of awesome gifts!
So, what do you get that difficult person on your list? Here's a few suggestions…
1. The Walking Dead Fan
This is the person who is live tweeting Walking Dead every week. The person who's got a Michonne action figure on their desk. This person fucking loves Walking Dead. You should get them Invincible: The Ultimate Collection Vol. 1.
Now, many of your Walking Dead obsessed friends may be into it solely because of the TV show. You don't want to get these friends the actual Walking Dead comics, a lot of it will just be retreading stuff that they've already seen on TV (though the comics and TV show are really starting to take different paths). What about another comic by Walking Dead scribe Robert Kirkman? One that, I think, has an even better story than Walking Dead.
Now superheroes are not everyone's thing, and they're certainly way different than zombies, but if your loved one is really into is the character development, story, and interpersonal drama of Rick and his merry band of survivors, then Invincible is exactly what you're looking for.
On the surface, Invincible looks like kind of a goofy, kiddy superhero book. It's about teenager Mark Grayson, whose dad is the world's greatest superhero Omniman. Mark's been waiting his whole life for his superpowers and he's thrilled when they finally manifest. The first story arc is about Mark learning to be the superhero Invincible and the crazy adventures he has. Then something insane happens (no spoilers here, folks) and Mark's world is turned entirely on its head. Invincible is a book full of twists and turns that keeps the drama level high, but it's also the kind of book that knows the value of a well placed joke. Coupled with some truly stunning art by Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, Invincible should be read by everyone, but especially by Walking Dead fans who are already familiar with Kirkman-brand craziness.
I recommend getting the Ultimate Collection because it contains the first complete story arc and has an ending that will leave the reader demanding more (plus, it's a pretty hardcover). If your local shop doesn't have it, make sure to get both volume 1 and 2 of the softcover edition for the full arc.
2. The Person Who Hasn't Read Comics in a While
This is the person who got you hooked on comics, who first lent you Sandman, who bought you the first few volumes of Fables, who made you read Watchmen. But over the years, they've kind of fallen away from the medium, not because they don't love comics but because it got too expensive, or they just haven't had the time, or whatever reason, and now you want to get them something recent and amazing to say thank you. You should get them The Underwater Welder.
Underwater Welder was one of my favorite books from 2012 and will be a real treat for any comic fan. The introduction writer Damon Lindelof (of LOST fame) describes it as "the most spectacular episode of The Twilight Zone that was never produced", and I completely agree. It's the kind of story that takes your breath away, not because what is happening is the most terrifying thing but because you really become attached to the characters in Underwater Welder and want to see what they'll do next.
The book is about Jack Joseph, an underwater welder at an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia, who is about to become a father. Having had a difficult relationship with his own father, Jack is scared about the arrival of his son and begins to spend more and more time working at the oil rig, losing himself in the ocean depths. Then strange things begin to happen, and Jack must decide what kind of life he really wants to live. Part supernatural story and part family story, Lemire (who you know I love from my post about Trillium) creates this stunning narrative that will captivate comic fans new and old. The artwork, also by Lemire, is just as amazing as the words. Lemire works entirely in black and white inks, and manages to capture the murky depths of the ocean as well as he does the starkness of Jack's life on the land.
The Underwater Welder is a self contained story, making it perfect for gift giving. Plus, if they like it you can direct them to some of Lemire's other fantastic work like the series Sweet Tooth or the ongoing Trillium.
3. The Procedural Show Lover
This person watches Castle, Bones, Almost Human, Law and Order, Homicide, The Wire. Hell, they're even watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Is it a procedural show? They've seen it. They love it. They know all the ins and outs of the cop drama in all its forms. You should get them Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty.
This is the best Batman book that barely has any Batman in it. Gotham Central is the story of the Gotham Police Department's Major Crimes Unit, the cops who are tasked with going after the super villains of Gotham City. I have always said that if Warner Brothers ever wants to develop a live-action Batman TV series, that Gotham Central would be the perfect comic to adapt for the screen. The comic is reminiscent of the best procedural work you've ever seen and the art gives it the perfect gritty crime noir feel.
What's great about Gotham Central is that it really does change the narrative of the cop drama, while keeping it tied to the genre at the same time. What do you do as a police officer when you're not going up against a mob boss or a murderer but someone like Mr. Freeze or Two-Face or the Joker. How do the rules change? How much should the men and women of the police force rely on vigilante justice, even if it is from someone like Batman?
On top of all of this, Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka write some really incredible character studies, from the shady CSU officer Corrigan to the unstoppable badass Renee Montoya, who has spent her entire career in the closet, to newcomer Josie, who may or may not have a superpower. Every single character is well developed with their own story to tell, be it a small, funny story or something extremely serious. This is the ensemble cast at its best. There's no main character, just a group of men and women who trade the spotlight depending on whose story is being focused on.
The series Gotham Central is four volumes long. While the first volume makes an excellent present, if you want to be extra Christmas-y about it you should get the second volume (Gotham Central: Jokers and Mademen) because it contains the story about The Joker terrorizing Gotham at Christmas and the GPD Major Crimes Unit trying to take them down.
That's it for this Comic Book Wednesday, gals and pals! I hope those of you who are celebrating Christmas enjoy it. And remember, there's nothing wrong with getting yourself the gift of comics.
If you've got other people you might want to get a comic gift for and you want a recommendation, please let me know. Or you can always ask the people who work at your local comic shop, that way you'll be supporting small businesses by shopping locally and you'll be getting some really excellent recommendations!