1:00pm PT by Graeme McMillan
10 Last-Minute Comic Book Stocking Stuffer Recommendations
There’s less than a week until Christmas Day, which means that last-minute holiday shopping is beginning to take on increasing urgency. But what to get for the fan of genre movies who’s seen this year’s movies multiple times and owns the DVDs? The answer is simple: comic books. If you’re still looking for stocking stuffers, here are some recommendations for what to pick up, sorted out by some of this year’s biggest movies. Think of us as Santa’s little helpers.
Read more 10 Underrated Christmas Comics
► Captain America: The Winter Soldier
If You Liked: A patriotic soldier struggling to come to terms with a world that is more morally ambiguous than the one he came from
The Book You Want: The Death of Captain America: The Complete Collection (Marvel). Not only does this collection of Ed Brubaker’s most famous storyline from his Cap run reveal the next step for the Winter Soldier and the Falcon, it also matches this year’s Cap movie in terms of political-commentary/supervillainy mash-up.
► The Amazing Spider-Man 2
If You Liked: Teen heroes coming to terms with their powers and responsibilities
The Book You Want: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal (Marvel). The best Spider-Man comic being published right now doesn’t actually feature the webslinger at all. Instead, Kamala Khan is the every-teen character who gets superpowers she doesn’t understand, and sets out to do the right thing. Smart, fast-paced and funny, the current Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona is one of the best superhero comics out there today.
If You Liked: Gigantic monsters rampaging across the planet, leaving death and destruction in their wake
The Book You Want: Godzilla: The Half-Century War (IDW). James Stokoe’s take on the classic Godzilla mythos feels very contemporary and unlike almost every other Godzilla story, while also managing to remain entirely true to everything that’s come before. With visual influences from manga, art- and underground comics and wider pop culture impacting a story that gleefully goes over the top before pushing further, The Half-Century War is an overwhelming experience that will make whatever Gareth Edwards has planned for the second feature in his rebooted movie series feel tame in comparison.
► X-Men: Days of Future Past
If You Liked: Time-traveling mutant superheroes
The Book You Want: All-New X-Men Vol. 1: Yesterday’s X-Men (Marvel). Instead of X-Men from the future traveling back to change the past, Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen’s X-Men series features the original comic book team brought forward to today, only to discover that their future is as much a dystopia as any Sentinel-ruled world could be. Both a great jumping-on point for readers new to the X-Men comic mythos and a fun spin on time travel tropes, All-New X-Men is what Days of Future Past could be if it dared to be a little more out-there.
► Transformers: Age of Extinction
If You Liked: Well, Robots in Disguise, obviously
The Book You Want: Transformers vs. G.I. Joe (IDW). You’ll have to go into the comic stores to pick up the individual issues of this one — the collected edition isn’t out until next year — but it’s worth the effort. Constantly surprising, hallucinatory and imbued with a creativity and willingness to play with expectations that you simply wouldn’t imagine something with the scale of the Transformers brand would be, Tom Scioli and John Barber’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe has the freewheeling spirit of kids playing with toys in the very best way possible — anything can happen, and does — paired with a sly sense of humor that makes it a can’t-miss read.
► Guardians of the Galaxy
If You Liked: Grand space opera, populated by heroes (and anti-heroes) who feel very human indeed
The Book You Want: Annihilation Omnibus (Marvel). Collecting the (massive) storyline that launched Marvel’s cosmic properties into orbit back in 2006, the Annihilation Omnibus features many characters from this summer’s Marvel movie (Star-Lord, Drax and Ronan all feature, in addition to the Nova Corps, Silver Surfer and many others. If someone wanted more of the same as what they enjoyed in the theater, only bigger, then this is a good place to start. (The follow-up, Annihilation Conquest Omnibus, is due next year; put it on a to-buy list for next Christmas.)
If You Liked: Existential stories that touch on familiar genre tropes but use them to reveal the humanity underneath
The Book You Want: Enigma (DC). Arguably one of the best — and certainly, one of the most underrated — superhero comics published by Marvel or DC, Enigma jumps genres fearlessly: is it a mystery, a superhero story or a romance? All three, and more besides (To explain more would be to give too much away). Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo were years ahead of their time with this early 1990s series, now newly-collected, setting a bar that far too few comics have reached since.
► Big Hero 6
If You Liked: Light-hearted adventure stories for audiences of all ages
The Book You Want: Lumberjanes (Boom! Studios). Another one you’ll have to head to the comic store for, as the first collection of this series isn’t due out until Apr. 2015. Set at a summer camp where five best friends come face to face with things that go bump in the night and all manner of events that should be unlikely, if not outright impossible, Lumberjanes reads like a mix between The Goonies, Adventure Time and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is, in other words, entirely awesome.
► Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
If You Liked: Stories about what happens after the end of the world that include animals that act like people
The Book You Want: Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth Omnibus Vol. 1 (DC). Strange but true: Jack Kirby created this adventure series about one of the last humans on a post-apocalyptic Earth as the result of being inspired, in part by the original Planet of the Apes. The resulting comic is a million miles away in terms of tone and execution, but endlessly fun. You’ll almost find yourself wanting the world to end, if it means we get this particular future.
If You Liked: Original, intelligent science-fiction that mixes epic scale and family-based character drama in equal measure
The Book You Want: The Wake (DC). Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s sci-fi story about the water and the future of humanity opens with a first half that’s straight-up horror before turning into something quite unexpected as it heads towards its conclusion. Filled with spectacle — Murphy’s art, matched with colors by Matt Hollinsgworth, is astounding — and an admirable restlessness in terms of story, this really does feel like a Christopher Nolan movie on the page, with the added bonus of not having to worry about the sound mix.