In lieu of the usual review column, where we single out one issue that came out this week, instead we’d like to take a moment here at Gamma Squad to recommend a few comic books, both our favorites and yours, to give complete runs of out to various friends and family. Because there is no greater gift than the gift of comics.
Also sometimes your fellow nerds can be infuriatingly hard to shop for.
David Aja’s wonderful art mixed with Matt Fraction’s hilarious writing makes for a fun, low-key series that finally gives Clint Barton the ongoing he deserves. It’s also stylish and grounded enough to make a good gift for that guy you know who “doesn’t like comics” but saw The Avengers seven times; we called it the best book Marvel is putting on the stands for a reason.
Also worth getting for friends, in that vein, is The Indestructible Hulk: It’s just as clever, funny, and action-packed, and hey, it’s only up to issue #2, so you’ll only have to spend six bucks.
The Manhattan Projects
Image, as we’ve discussed in various comment posts, has been turning “scientific think-tanks gone wrong” into its own little subgenre. Although we’ve got a strong affection for all of them, especially the newly launched and also highly recommended Nowhere Men, this is probably the best of the lot, and some of Jonathan Hickman’s best work.
Similarly, Image really knows science fiction. Newly available in a trade (and highly recommended in that form), this is a book pretty much everybody who has ever commented on a comics post here loves. There’s a reason. It’s a rich grand SF universe and a touching story of family at the same time, and Fiona Staples’ artwork is just as gorgeous as the writing. Anybody you know who thinks comics are “just superheroes” would enjoy this book: Do them a favor and get it for them.
If you know somebody more into the pulpy SF, try getting them Brandon Graham’s Prophet, which takes a ridiculous Rob Liefeld property and turns it into something altogether stranger, grander, and far more alien, essentially a classic ’40s science fiction story written, without irony or winking, in the modern day, with elaborate art to match from Giannis Milonogiannis.
Noir is fairly popular in comics right now, but John Arcudi’s book in particular stands out because of the very human and sad center of it. Oxel, our hero, isn’t quick with his fists or tough with a gun: He’s a man suffering from a disease and a very real need for human contact. He’s also a great investigator, and the book is as much about the awful emotional cost of the truths he uncovers as it is about unearthing a terrible secret that drove two teenagers to suicide.
OK, so maybe it’s not cheerful Christmas reading, but what do you want, it’s a noir.
We’ve already told you, at length, about how great this series is. And it’s Batman, the one hero everybody recognizes. So, do your friends a favor, and give them the best damn Batbook in years.
If you’ve got a teenage girl in the audience, though, consider picking up Supergirl for her: It’s the best damn Superbook in years.