HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Comics Today's Date:

2009 Fanboy Planet Gift Guide

While not exactly complete - plenty of other books will certainly be welcome under the tree this year - this is a gathering of some books we've read and enjoyed over the past few months that would be great for the geek in your life. Or the person you're trying to mold into being a geek. We're including both ends of the spectrum -- high end ("if you love me...") and low end ('just to get you hooked.")

Absolute Justice
creators: Alex Ross and Jim Krueger

Ross' paintings have the rare ability to render the fantastic somewhat realistic. Even though the muscles may ripple beyond what humans can achieve, the faces are recognizable as somebody's dad, friend, or - let's face it - arch-enemy. With writer Jim Krueger, Ross has been just as good at stretching superhero concepts into new shapes, even if they have old faces. And like a lot of us, he's a little rooted in the things that got him going when he was a child.

Thus Justice, originally a 12-issue mini-series that slowly unfolds as Ross' revision of the old ABC series Super Friends, a Justice League variation in which our heroes are almost impossibly good and pure - which is kind of comforting - and of course the villains simply can't handle that, coming up with a scheme to put themselves on top. It's lush, beautiful and occasionally taps into ideas about certain heroes that just don't get brought up enough. Because it's Ross, it absolutely deserves the Absolute, over-sized treatment so you can really enjoy his artwork.

Astonishing X-Men Omnibus
creators: Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

Look no further than the motion comics available on Hulu.com and iTunes. This series will convince casual or non-readers that there's a reason for the X-Men's popularity. Don't show them any other book. For now, this is the most high-end treatment of this seminal work. I think it made that Whedon guy into some sort of superstar after he'd toiled in television doing forgotten work like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly.

Cassaday proves himself one of the most cinematic artists working today, which is one reason the motion comic looks as good as it does. He studied film intensively, and thanks to Whedon, is taking a step up into directing. Like Frank Miller, he has an amazing visual sense, but his sensibility isn't nearly as dark. This is a book about hope and heroism, and it is nothing less than astonishing.

Chew Volume 1: Taster's Choice
creators: John Layman and Rob Guillory

Right now, this is one of the hottest books in comic-dom. That's not just critical hype; Image had to reprint the first two or three issues several times. So now is the perfect time to pick it up for people who aren't on the Chew bandwagon - and extremely reasonably priced. Retailing for $10, this collects the first arc of five issues. Detective John Chu has a disgusting but useful ability - he can tell the psychic history of anything he eats. That's terrible when all you want to do is enjoy a good steak, but helpful when you need to find out who murdered someone.

Yes, it's got cannibalism, cleverness and interesting art from newcomer Guillory that keeps it all from getting too gruesome. Writer Layman has also thrown in a good dash of government conspiracy, so go ahead and take a bite. Or give it to someone else for a comics nibble…

The Good Neighbors
creators: Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

Holly Black has carved out a nice niche as a chronicler of the world of faerie. But this isn't some cutesy world like the brief rage in the seventies and eighties; even when Black writes for children as in The Spiderwick Chronicles, she can't quite cover up how dangerous and nasty that world can be. Yet it's alluring, and she has to acknowledge that, too. Here she teams with Ted Naifeh for a series for that elusive Young Adult market.

In Volume 1, Kin, Black and Naifeh cover the ramifications of a teen girl discovering that her dead mother isn't dead; she was a faerie ultimately betrayed by her human husband. Thus an already difficult time in a young girl's life gets worse when she discovers her grandfather has designs on her and her reality.

Volume 2 Kith, released this past fall, spreads the consequences to her peer group as the "Good Neighbors" of the title turn out to be a lot more dangerous than anyone wants to believe. If anyone wants to believe in them at all.

Naifeh has done some terrific work for younger children, too, in the Courtney Crumrin series as well as Polly and the Pirates, but his work adapts well to a more realistic style here. Of course it's all emotionally overwrought, but understandably so - being a teen is hard enough before discovering you might be one forever…

Kin (The Good Neighbors, Book 1)

The Invincible Gene Colan

This book won't actually be out until February, but what's wrong with a little I.O.U.? Celebrating one of Marvel's masters, you need to just dive in to art from some of Marvel's most critically acclaimed books, like Howard the Duck and Tomb of Dracula. Okay, there's two nowhere characters like Iron Man and Daredevil, but whoever heard of them? You can either order the regular Marvel version, or go to Aardwolf Publishing and purchase a limited signed deluxe edition, which admittedly, Colan gets a bigger chunk of the profits from -- and that's a good deed in itself.

Knights of the Lunch Table
creator: Frank Cammuso

Re-telling Arthurian legend in a far more dangerous setting than the savage heaths of England - it's Middle School! Artie King has to suffer through being the new kid in an already hostile environment. You're supposed to keep your head down, not get labeled a savior. Guided by a mysterious but friendly science teacher, Artie gets a magic locker and good friends. In the first two volumes, he also gets the chance to right wrongs, fight bullies (though not always winning) and occasionally crusade for justice.

Cammuso has a rubbery cartoony style - honed as a political cartoonist and creator of Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective - and a voice that distinctly captures the difficulties of being both good and aged eleven. This series proved that after reprinting Bone, Scholastic Press is committed to promoting quality graphic fiction.

writer: Jim Wooding

This horror tale for young adult readers purports to be a combination of novel and graphic novel. It's the story of an evil British indie comic book called Malice, drawn by a mysterious artist named Grendel; his visions pour onto the page in a random fashion, never quite beginning or ending a story properly, but certainly doing what he's doing luridly. Only one shop in London sells the book, and you have to ask for it by name.

Sort of a dadaesque version of Tales From The Crypt, Malice has its host Tall Jack, and the rumor is that if you perform the right ritual, Tall Jack will actually come for you and take you to his land of horrors, which means that you might be the feature story next issue.

And that is one killer idea, as well as Wooding's vision of the land of Malice - clockwork monkeys that steal your years, horrible creatures straight out of Lovecraft, and of course Tall Jack, a thing able to stride between reality and fantasy. While the "graphic novel" section doesn't quite work -- it's as random as promised -- the teen-aged heroes are believable and varied in personality, and the story moves at a great pace with a surprising third-act twist. The story will be concluded next year in Havoc, which makes it a perfect Holiday gift. You know what to get that person next year.

Tales From The Crypt
creators: various, published by PaperCutz

…And why not get them the real thing while you're at it? PaperCutz relaunched this title a couple of years ago, using a variety of indie artists and writers to dig back into the E.C. feeling. It works well, with stories that are a little scary, only a little gross and often quite funny. The latest edition, Volume 8, borrows from Crypt's original sister comic Tales Calculated To Drive You MAD by featuring parodies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Twilight. Definitely aimed at a younger crowd, the stories feature punny humor and a few pop culture references that will sail over heads - but then, that was part of the joy of MAD in the first place, dipping a toe - or so you thought - in a slightly more sophisticated adult world while remaining safely a kid. Each book retails at about $7.95, but you may note that Amazon is running a great deal on four volume collections below. Fun stuff, especially for a niece or nephew so you don't have to deal with their nightmares.

Tales from the Crypt Boxed Set: Vol. #1 - 4 (Tales from the Crypt Graphic Novels)

Tales from the Crypt Boxed Set: Vol. #5 - 8 (Tales from the Crypt Graphic Novels)

Unknown Soldier: Haunted House
creators: Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli

The guide wouldn't be complete without the graphic novel we've recommended most often on our podcast. Priced at a wallet-pleasing $9.95, this collects the first arc of one of the most important titles DC/Vertigo publishes. On one level, Joshua Dysart simply creates the next incarnation of one of DC's war "superheroes", subtly tying the two characters together if you know what clues have been seeded. But the series is also set a few years ago in Uganda, taking on issues of ethnic cleansing, race hatred, child soldiers and the devastation of war. It's not a pleasant book, but despite the fantastic overlay of a (possibly) super-soldier, it's one that might wake you up. Dysart is a great writer with a great sense of pacing, and it works both ways as adventure and polemic. Few mainstream comics wear their consciences on their sleeve like this one, and fewer still manage to do it without seeming preachy. Unknown Soldier isn't preachy; it's simply good.

Derek McCaw


Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planet™
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites