09th Dec2021

eBuying Comics: Week 69 – A Christmas Buying Guide!

by Ian Wells

With Christmas fast approaching I thought I would take in the role of the ever helpful happy elf and throw out some comic book gift ideas. It must be tough buying for us nerds, we can be a fussy bunch. I fortunately do not have any other nerds to buy for, I don’t envy the task at all. Does the comic book fan in your life read trade paperbacks, hardcovers or only omnibuses? I wouldn’t even being to contemplate getting into back issues unless I was well tuned in to a certain individuals wants and needs. Also what I wanted to do with this list was look at some alternatives to the usual books that are getting shouted out. There are debates all the time from comic book commentators saying the success of the movies is bringing more people to comics. I remain unconvinced by the the evidence out forward and this list is my attack on what I think is lazy journalism. We have all seen articles where someone claims if “If you like MCU movie x you will like y comic story.” Like I said in my opinion this is both lazy and just not true. A fan coming to comics for the first time after seeing Civil War for example could be greatly turned off if they picked up the trade  paperback of the same name. For good or bad there is not a comic on the stands that replicates Zack Snyder’s Justice League or The Birds of Prey movie. A more recent trend is Marvel releasing ‘Definitive Collections’ I flipped through the Shang Chi one recently in a bookshop and it was both not representative of the tone of the movie or a good representation of what the best Shang Chi comics have to offer. It is no good pointing a new reader in the direction of the biggest and newest collections. Like with movies readers have to find their own tastes. Captain America is an interesting one, as people have a preconceived idea of what he is about as a character. I would have no qualms reccommending Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America to anyone. But I would start them off just with the first trade, they don’t need to leap head first into the heady investment of the omnibus. It also has the advantage of turnng more people onto the rich back catalogue of Brubaker books.

For The Batman Fan Who Has Read Everything… I Recommend Batman Year 100

Writer/Artist/Inker: Paul Pope | Colourist: Jose Villarrubia

Everyone knows a Batman fan. Whether they are a fan who rattles of the classics like Year One and Dark Knight Returns as their favourites or a newer reader coming to Batman after long runs by Scott Snyder and Tom King. Eventually they are going to crave something new and they will greatly appreciate you steering them onto this story. In away it is Batman Beyond before there was Batman Beyond. A Batman story without Bruce Wayne or any of the signature hits you would expect. But damn  is it amazing. Equal parts exciting and disturbing and while it may not toe the line of an ordinary bat story its sense of mythology is of the highest regard. Pope’s artwork adds to the tone and at times ramps up the readers uneasiness.

If You Aren Enjoying Hawkeye on Disney +… I Recommend The Immortal Iron Fist

Writers: Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction | Artist: David Aja | Colourist: Matt Hollingsworth

It would seem obvious to recommend Fraction and Aja’s acclaimed run on Hawkeye what with the Disney+ show being on right now. Quick side note Panini comics in the UK currently have available a reprint of #1-6 of that series in a magazine quality cover and paper format at just £9.99. Before they rejuvenated Hawkeye, along with Brubaker they breathed new life into Iron Fist. I know I said about not diving in too deep, too soon but the first two story arcs are amazing. The first zips a long at a great pace. What really works about it is how they completely revamp the legacy of Iron Fist without touching his original story. They weave all their magic in between the cracks in the existing continuity. The second arc sees the creative team ramp up all the action with their unique spin in the shape of a mythical realm kung-fu tournament! Nuff Said!

If fresh reboots of existing characters is for you… You may also like Grayson by Tom King and Tim Seeley

If You Liked The Harder They Fall… You Should Read The Seven Deadly Sins

Writer: Tze Chun | Artist: Artyom Trakhanov | Colourist: Giulia Brusco

The Harder They Fall us probably in the Top 5 films I’ve seen in the last 2 years, maybe even cresting top 3. It is a highly stylized approach to a Western and if you haven’t seen I would say you are missing out. If you think Westerns are for your Grandad then think again. The Seven Deadly Sins is a balls to the wall roller coaster ride through the Old West. If you like ensemble cast team books in the tone of Suicide Squad this is the comic for you. The story is a good blend of the Western tropes and modern super hero comics. The concept itself is amazing and can’t believe it hasn’t been used before. From the first issue as a reader you know you are in for a good time. All the characters get equal spotlight and you learn enough about them that you are ready to jump into the saddle with them and go on an adventure.

If genre mashups are for you… You may also like Street Angel: Deadliest Girl Alive by Jim Rugg

If You Liked The Jason Bourne Movies… You Should Read Alex Automatic

Writer: Fraser Campbell | Art: James Corcoran | Colours: David B. Cooper

One of the best comics I have ever read. Pure joy from start to finish. Similarities to Jason Bourne are just the tip of the iceberg. You will also want to pick up Alex Automatic if you are a fan of British TV of the 60’s/70’s along the lines of The Prisoner, British pop culture from the same era and best of all from my stand point if you are a fan of the works of Gerry Anderson this is a must read. The blurred lines between the story and the story within a story keep the reader guessing. It is the definition of a real page turner. As you go through all the nods and winks to British TV and culture you are left with the feeling that every character means something and will play a role somewhere down the line. The colours pop, the story grips you. It is brilliant. I first read the last two issues digitally but they do not it justice. With the printed collection you do get a lot for your money. Well worth seeking out.

A Comic To Make You Think… Pulp

Writer: Ed Brubaker | Artist: Sean Phillips

Just amazing! Brubaker and Phillips have built up such a reputation of classy story telling. As a creative duo they do at times stick to the genres they would love to read themselves, but of course more often than not they throw something new into the mix. You could be forgiven for reading the blurb of Pulp and completely expecting one thing. I think you will be pleasantly surprised what is on offer from the two genres colliding. This is probably the most contained story the pair have done and their talent shines through as they do so much in so little time. The crowning achievement for me is the fact that a story that takes place when it does can still resonate so strongly today. Also if you are like me you always have a soft spot for stories about writers.

If cultural relevant comics are for you… You may also like The Nightly News by Jonathon Hickman

A High Octane Comic… The Fearsome Doctor Fang

Writers: Tze Chun & Mike Weiss | Artist: Dan McDaid | Colourist: Daniela Miwa

I went into the Shang-Chi movie knowing it was not going to be anything like the comics. But it was so removed from the source material I didn’t enjoy it. Obviously those old comics have a stereotypical/racist element to them. So if you want good old fashioned pulp, action adventure with those elements removed you want to read this.  the bright bold artwork really excels at bringing the old Saturday matinee cliffhangers to comics. What makes the story really work is that it takes all the tropes that border on stereotypical and completely flips them on their head. This not only makes the story more accessible to the sensibilities of modern readers but it keeps the reading guessing at every reveal! Non stop from cover to cover!

If you like non stop action… you may also like Transformers vs GI Joe by Tom Scioli


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