Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Year With Marvel: Holiday Gift Guide, Part I

The holidays are coming up, and you’ve got a ton of people to buy gifts for, and you want to give at least a few of them comics because comics are awesome.

The trouble is, which comics do you choose?

While I can’t actually decide for you, I'm primed and ready to tell you what I’d pick my own self. We’ll talk about some Marvel trades today, with books by other publishers on tap for next week and some Marvel merchandise suggestions to follow soon after.

Cover of Squirrel Girl volume one, featuring the title character--a white girl with short, chestnut brown hair--imagining herself carried on the shoulders of many of Marvel's premiere superheroes, including Captain Marvel, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. A brown squirrel with a pink bow around her neck looks on.

THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL VOLUME ONE: SQUIRREL POWER [Amazon | The Book Depository], written by Ryan North and drawn by Erica Henderson, is my top pick. It’s an all-ages comic, which makes it great for every reader who appreciates humour and heart alongside their superheroics. Doreen Green’s a fighter through and through, but she’s as liable to use compassion and good old fashioned psychology to subdue the bad guys as she is to punch them with her superstrength. (She has the proportional strength and speed of a squirrel, you know.) Everyone needs her in their life.

And hey, if you're feeling extra generous, SQUIRREL GIRL VOLUME TWO: SQUIRREL YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE [Amazon | The Book Depository] drops on December 8th, in plenty of time for the end of Hanukkah or for all late-December holidays.

Cover of Captain Marvel Volume One, featuring a white woman with short blonde hair. She wears a formfitting blue and red flight suit with an eight-pointed yellow star over on her chest and strikes a heroic pose, hands on hips, against a background that matches her costume.

If your giftee is keen on awesome women with superpowers (and really, who isn't?), but I recommend you head on back to the first volume of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on CAPTAIN MARVEL with IN PURSUIT OF FLIGHT [Amazon | The Book Depository], drawn by Dexter Soy and Emma Ríos. It’s the point at which Carol Danvers embraces the Captain Marvel codename and draws her many friends into a tight knit crew who support her superheroics with capability and panache. Your giftee will want to rush out and get the rest of the series, possibly with their holiday gift cards.

For giftees who're all about the new(ish) and shiny, or those with a particular fondness for space battles, HIGHER, FURTHER, FASTER, MORE [Amazon | The Book Depository] also works well as a starting point.

Cover of Storm Volume One, featuring a black woman with a white mohawk. She stands with her back to the viewer but her head twisted so she appears in profile. Lightning arcs across a blue and purple sky behind her.

Everyone loves Storm, yes? Therefore, everyone will love you for ever and ever if you give them STORM VOLUME ONE: MAKE IT RAIN [Amazon | The Book Depository], written by Greg Pak and drawn by Victor Ibañez and Scott Hepburn. Ororo Munro, X-Man and bonafide goddess, takes centre stage in her own series as she helps people with problems too small to register on the X-Men’s radar but still of vital importance to those they impact. She’s the greatest.

And STORM VOLUME TWO: BRING THE THUNDER [Amazon | The Book Depository] would make a great cognate gift if you've got enough room in your budget to give your friend or loved one even more Storm.

Cover of She-Hulk, featuring a green woman shrugging into a suit and heels as she bursts through a hole in a wall. The hole is shaped like her own silhouette with arms raised and muscles flexed.

Hey, am I trying to convince you to give the gift of superheroic women this holiday season?


SHE-HULK VOLUME ONE: LAW AND DISORDER [Amazon | The Book Depository], written by Charles Soule and drawn by Javier Pullido, is the perfect fit for the courtroom drama aficionado on your list. Jennifer Waters is a green giantess with superstrength, yeah, but she's also a talented lawyer whose practice focuses on meeting the superpowered community's legal needs. And she recruits other skilled women to help her do right by her clients.

Her legal gambits are often uniquely suited to the sorts of problems superheroes face, too. SHE-HULK VOLUME TWO: DISORDERLY CONDUCT [Amazon | The Book Depository] delighted the hell out of me with a scene in which Jen tries to get her client's case dismissed based on how he came back from the dead and so shouldn't be held responsible for any premortem alleged crimes. Classic.

Cover of the Hawkeye omnibus, featuring a small, male figure firing a bow from atop a roof with a water tower in the background. He has an abstract blueish purple arrow on his chest and an assortment of purple, white, and blue bullseyes surround him; otherwise, the cover is black and white with a stark white sky above the character.

And if you’ve got a more robust price limit for a very beloved loved one, you’ve gotta at least consider the prestige hardcover omnibus of HAWKEYE [Amazon | The Book Depository], written by Matt Fraction and drawn primarily by David Aja with issues by Annie Wu, Javier Pullido, and Francesco Francavilla. The special edition collects all four volumes of the series and is the perfect pick for either established fans who want something fancy for their shelf or newcomers who like their comics a bit edgier and more psychologically messy. Clint Barton, Kate Bishop, and Pizza Dog solve street-level problems in nonchronological order, with bows and arrows (and maybe the occasional roundhouse kick). They’re my favouritest of favourites, and this collection is just so pretty.

I should note, though, that it does cost more than the whole series purchased as individual volumes. Gifters with smaller budgets (or less assurance their giftee will love the Hawkeyes the way I do) may prefer to start with HAWKEYE VOLUME ONE: MY LIFE AS A WEAPON [Amazon | The Book Depository] and see what develops.

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