Hello, Faithful Spoilerites!

The month of December holds many holidays and end of the year celebrations. Religious or secular, it’s a blast to celebrate with geekery and we are here to offer a series of helpful suggestions on GRAPHIC NOVEL options:

These are in no ranked order, but they come recommended from years working in comic book retail, what was popular in the last year, and what will set you apart from every other gift giver in a person’s life who knows they like Batman and thinks a pencil case with the Dark Knight on it counts as a thoughtful present.

Please consume this list knowing that comic books are for everyone and can be appreciated across age and gender lines. My suggestions have been tailored based on current trends and what my experience has taught me works for a specific audience.

Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection Volume 1

Price: $29.99
Get it on Amazon
Black Panther made such a huge splash this year that is elevated the Marvel Cinematic Universe into another stratosphere entirely. It was, arguably, the most impactful superhero movie that has come along for Marvel since 2012’s The Avengersand you know where so many of the elements of that movie were created? Christopher Priests’ classic run on T’Challa as King of Wakanda and superhero vigilante. Priest even invented the Everett K. Ross, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent played in a jarringly American dialect by Sherlock actor Martin Freeman. Ta-Nehisis Coates’ Black Panther run gets an honourable mention in this list for inspiring so many of the movie’s stunning visuals, but the origins of everything film-going audiences fell in love with about Black Panther starts with Priest. Marvel has a beautiful complete collection and this is an inspired place for fans of the character to start.

Aquaman by Peter David Book 1

Price: $29.99
Get it on Amazon
I know, I know, you are looking at the cover of this book and thinking to yourself that it doesn’t look even one bit like the action hero dude figure Jason Mamoa has cut as Arthur Curry since his debut in Justice League (okay, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, you’re right!), but trust me – this volume is the closest you are going to get! Peter David’s Aquaman (much like Christopher Priests’ Black Panther), has always been regarded as one of the character’s best stories AND so much of what has gone on to be the most compelling, defining elements of the character were established here. This is a reintroduction to Aquaman and the first volume begins with a very cool origin story that tells the story of how Arthur got a harpoon hand. A HARPOON HAND! I’m not kidding! They even adapted it in the Justice League animated series. Aquaman by Peter David is the most badass tale the King of Atlantis has ever enjoyed. If this doesn’t satisfy a reader with the most passing of interests in the character, I don’t know what will.

Infinity Gauntlet

Price: $24.99
Get it on Amazon
Infinity War probably captured your imagination, if it later went on to crush you heart. The broad beats of the story are lifted directly from the Jim Starlin, George Perez classic cosmic adventure for Marvel Comics: Infinity Gauntlet. This volume stands alone on its own and does inspire what is commonly referred to as the “Infinity Gauntlet trilogy”. I’m going to tell you something about this trilogy – on the whole it’s not very good. Only Infinity Gauntlet is legible, and its a touch bit difficult at that. However, this volume cemented Thanos as one of the scariest dudes in Marvel Comics history. Perez’s art is some of the best across the history of comic book, so even if the story doesn’t sing to the soul of the person you are gifting this to, I can personally guarantee they will come away from the reading experience singing the praises of the visual elements. Plus, as we enter 2019 with our collective eyes on the next Avengers installment and what is means for the future of the MCU, Infinity Gauntlet carries in its pages some heavy hints at what we might be in store for.

Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender: The Complete Collection Volume 1

Price: $39.99
Get it on Amazon
Alright, there are probably many people reading this list looking for a Deadpool suggestion and I could give you that – I really could: Deadpool by: Joe Kelly Omnibus. There ya go! – but what I think is a more interesting read if Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force. Remender was an indie comics darling for so long and when he got a swing at the big two beginning with the first wave of Marvel NOW! his writing retained the same level of quality and compelling storytelling. The X-Force appeared, albeit briefly, in Deadpool 2 and they’re a team more people need to read. This particular book features and X-Force the counts both Deadpool and Wolverine as its members, so it will make a good gift for that person in your life who’s all-time favourite superhero movie is 2017’s Logan. Uncanny X-Force is a mix between the complicated dynamics and interpersonal drama that comic book nerds love from a classic X-Men line up, the humour and jokes we’ve come to expect from anything in the Marvel Comics Universe that Wade Wilson touches, and it boasts a more expansive story and mythology than a solo Deadpool graphic novel is capable of giving you. Think of this as a gift for the thinking man’s Deadpool affection.

Black volume 1

Price: $19.99
Get it on Amazon
The first independent comic to make it onto the list and, in my opinion, a really, very good one. Since the Golden Age comic books have been political, timely, and tackled social issues. In spite of the reflective nature the medium has enjoyed (holding the mirror up to nature through the lens of pop culture, if you will), it is still rare when a book that is so socially-minded is also such an exceptional use of genre storytelling. Black imagines a world where only people of African descent get superpowers and what the overarching social narrative is that crops up around this development. It is thought provoking, insightful, and wrapped up in amazing action and stunning art. For my money, the is a gift that really says something. It makes the boldest statement of all the potential options suggested to you on this list. Expanding someone’s horizons beyond the realms of just Marvel or DC Comics is always a good thing.

Daredevil: Yellow

Price: $19.99
Get it on Amazon
The nice thing about Daredevil: Yellow? It’s a good gift for readers of any level of familiarity with Daredevil. Whether or not you are buying for someone who knows a ton about the Man Without Fear or someone who has only ever seen the Netflix Daredevil show – or maybe even that Ben Affleck movie we all love to lampoon so much. Daredevil: Yellow is a solid choice for all of the above. It’s a retelling of the classic comic book origin and explores the implications of cowardice and bravery (hence, yellow), and how those attributes have shaped the hero that Matt Murdock evolves into by the end of the story. It’s a character study more than anything and will allow readers a look into some of the most important influences in his life: Battling Jack Murdock and Karen Page being chief amongst those Matt spends his time reflecting on. Tim Sale’s singularly stunning art will have the person you give this volume to returning to reread again and again and again.

Dark Nights Metal: Deluxe Edition

Price: $29.99
Get it on Amazon
Not for the faint of heart or the new reader, but Dark Nights Metal is super weird – often just for the sake of being weird. A fun, unexpected gift for the man in your life who knows everything there is to know about the DC Universe and will appreciate a read that is both challenging and a touch indecipherable. Think about the pantheon of superheroes who regularly populate the Justice League, shoot them full of rock and roll aesthetics, topped up with an evil Batman who drags a pair of demon Robins behind him on a chain set up to face a cosmic mystery and you’ll get the faintest of ideas for what you are into with Dark Nights Metal. For all the insanity I threw at you right now, it is actually a fun read and alternate lens examination of familiar characters and tropes rendered in Greg Capullo’s art – some of the most wonderful pencils you’ll be able to find in modern comic books. This will make a rocking gift for a fan of DC Comics, DC Movies, metal music, the Justice League animated series, or weird stories for the sake of weird stories.

Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank

Price: $24.99
Get it on Amazon
If you’re like me, you might still be reeling from the fact that The Punisher show on Netflix was actually good – and not just good, but truly great. Taking a complicated character and giving him something interesting to say, elevating him beyond the obvious violence he is so typically enshrouded by is a tall order and much of that started with Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Welcome Back, Frank. How does Frank Castle acclimate to society after having served a tour of duty overseas? Not very well! For me, this volume has always been the gold standard in Punisher comic books and I would love to see it garner an uptick in sales this holiday season to encourage more creators in future to tell such thoughtful and smart stories about a character so often distilled to the weapons he is holding in each hand at any given time.

Preacher Book One

Price: $19.99
Get it on Amazon
You might be looking at this final recommendation on this list and expecting it to have made the cut because Preacher has a show on AMC right now. Allow me to assure you, this is not the case. I wanted to include the first volume of Preacher not only for the acclaim it occupies within the comic book community, not only for the fact that is revolutionized comic book storytelling, but because it is an awesome western. Westworld and Red Dead Redemption 2 have struck the fancies of geeks across the world. Preacher has many of the similar trappings as these more modern approaches to the western (heck, there’s even a horse!), that are employed to tackle some of the biggest philosophical and spiritual questions of the contemporary age. This first volume often makes a smart gift because if the person you give it to digs Book One there are NINE BOOKS in total. This makes for birthday and holiday gift suggestions for at least the next year to come. You’re welcome!


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About Author

Ashley Victoria Robinson is a Canadian girl by day and Robin by night. She lives in Los Angeles now and stars as Ensign Williams in THE RED SHIRT DIARIES, co-hosts the GEEK HISTORY LESSON podcast and writes for Top Cow.

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