Thee Comic Column #62: The X-Mas Buying Guide

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I’m sick this week so I thought I’d take this opportunity of diminished stamina to do as I did last year and pen a quick little buying guide for the comic book fan in your life. Keep in mind there’s plenty of other GREAT comic-related stuff out there, these are just a quick handful of what I would recommend. Also, as with last year I figured it would help if I broke these suggestions down for the various stages of comic-book fan, from beginner to the more sophisticated. I define these various stages of addiction as follows:

The Super Hero/action fan – defined as those who may or may not be familiar with comics but are fans of big budget movies based on them, ie – Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, Christoper Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy or films such as Kick Ass, Chronicle or the like.

The Darker Lean – these are folks that are probably a little bit (or a lot) familiar with comics who have had their fill of the mainstream, super hero stuff. Also would be good for those who might not really be into comics but LOVE AMC’s The Walking Dead and have been feeling a sparkle of interest in comics because of it.

The Beginner – Whether younger or older, these folks are just looking for a good time.

So, now that we have our criteria, here’s Thee List for this holiday season:

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Age of Ultron Collected Edition – I just recently read this thanks to my friend Eric and I have to say, I generally stay clear of  crossovers regardless who is writing them (I’d given up on crossover back around the time of the Phalanx Covenant when I realized that no matter how dire things get during an ‘event’ status quo will ALWAYS be reasserted. However, I was briefly drawn back for 2007’s Civil War, which I thought was amazing until the ending. From that point on, crossovers have again been off limits). However I made another exception based on a few recommendations by people whose opinions I respect and I was NOT disappointed. The beauty of AU is it begins in a possible future, so in a sense, there is no status quo at stake. Everything is already pear-shaped and the heroes (what’s left of them that is) are trying to regain the Marvel U we currently know and love. I’ve not read the resulting tie-ins to know exactly how the time-shattering end of this series ties back into things, but as a stand alone book for a beginner or a super hero sophisticate I think this series would make a grand gift.

For: The Super Hero/Action fan and/or The Beginner


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The Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks – My friend Ray gave this to me last year for my birthday – at the time I hadn’t even realized Alan Moore’s run on this seminal strip from equally groundbreaking British comics magazine 2000AD was even something you could buy in a collected edition. Future Shocks is one of the places where Moore really cut his teeth – these were mostly published in the late 70’s, back before Alan Moore was ALAN MOORE, so to speak. The collection is fantastic – a series of short three-five page largely stand-alone stories that definitely owe a nod or three to the sci fi of the radioactive age (esp. the Twilight Zone). All of them are great reads and what’s more they really show a developing Moore’s story process as it was honed into what we know and love about it today. And hey, when you have a semi-recurring character named Abelard Snazz, you know it’s gotta be… weird.

For: Beginner, Superhero/Action Fan or The Darker Lean – this will make ‘em all happy!!!


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Preacher – With all the hullabaloo that this is going to be the next show to get the AMC treatment (and BOY they had better not f&*K this up if that’s the case) why not take this opportunity to read what is, to myself and many, many comics fans I know, probably the greatest comic series ever. Jesse Custer’s 77-issue quest (counting tie-ins) to find god and hold him accountable for running out on his creation is at times humorous, heart-breaking, heart-warming, disgusting, depraved and written so damn well it is hard to believe it. And it’s all collected in nine handy dandy trade paperbacks (hardcover versions also available). Seriously, when I began reading this the month the first issue landed via Barry at long-gone Hi-Five Comics in Palos Hills, Il (thank you Barry!) my young mind had no idea how absolutely transformative the writing over the course of the series would prove to be to both myself and comics as an industry. What begins as  the violent and goofy adventures of a Preacher with the word of god, his assassin girlfriend and a punk rock, Irish vampire ends up being a story of such humanity, such betrayal and honor, such…

You get the point. Read it, it’s fantastic.

For: The Darker Lean (and definitely NOT for kids)

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The Walking Dead Compendiums 2 and 3 - well if you took my suggestion last year for the first Walking Dead compendium but somehow have managed not to rip your hair out and run directly into the arms of the next two here they are. As the show continues to thrill record numbers of viewers with – apologies – very uneven quality insofar as storytelling goes, the comic, currently on issue 118 – continues to turn in top notch action, suspense and yes people – drama! like no other series I know that has continued this long. If you or your buy-ee are fans of the show, xmas is the perfect time to climb aboard one of the best monthly books ever.

For: The Darker Lean


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Punk Rock Jesus – Imagine that some DNA from Jesus Christ turned up and was used to create a clone. Now imagine – and really this book is so brilliant because this is exactly how this would go down if it actually happened in today’s media-frenzied world – that the ultimate reality series was kinda like the bachelorette, except what the girls were competing for was a chance to bring to term this cloned second coming. Now imagine that once the mother is chose, the baby is born and the ratings have gone through the roof the next step is a reality show about raising baby Jesus 2.0. Throw in extreme Christian groups, an ex-IRA bad ass, an evil, all-controlling corporation and… polar bears. Well, a polar bear anyway. Oh yeah, and Punk Rock, lotsa punk rock.

Sean Murphy’s first creator-owned book is a great example of a writer/artist who has his storytelling process streamlined and his ideas in sync with the craziness of our world. Punk Rock Jesus is a great read, very human, and often hilariously satirical. Available collected this story of Jesus’ second coming in our narcissistic media age dove-tails nicely with the reason for the season, wouldn’t you say?

For: The Darker Lean

Okay, that’s all.


Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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