Being a geek these days is easy. Just head to any movie theater and usually you'll find something aimed at your sensibilities. The same thing is true when you turn on the TV. It's also true at the local comic-book store where purveyors of the finest in graphic stories peddle their wares.
Because there's so much material out there, though, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish the truly great from the merely adequate, especially when attempting to pick out a comic-book title for a loved one as a holiday gift. As gift-buying season is upon us, we asked the owners and employees of comic-book shops to offer up their recommendations as to the best comics of the past year, and here's what they gave us:
Greg Gage, owner of Black Cat Comics (2261 E. Highland Drive, 801-461-4228, Blackcat-Comics.com) suggested these picks:
James Bond (Dynamite Comics)
The Bond book is the perfect introduction to the original literary version of the character, chronicling the early days of his service. Written by Warren Ellis, the English writer shows he has an incredible understanding of the mythos.
Young Terrorists (Black Mask Studios):
Young Terrorists is a "what if the Smoking Man were real" story. But he dies, and his daughter is left behind to pay for his crimes. The story features a strong female lead. With 80 pages for the first issue and selling for only $6.99 ($10 for our store variant), it's a great value. It's also the introduction of the informal Black Mask universe, as characters from other titles make small appearances.
Dave Landa, owner of Dr. Volt's comics (2043 E. 3300 South, 801-485-6114, DrVolts.com) offers these picks:
Howard the Duck (Marvel Comics):
Join everyone's favorite misanthropic water fowl in his magnificent return to comics.
Star Wars (Marvel Comics):
Star Wars returns to Marvel comics in a number of new series. New stories from the original trilogy (and soon the prequel trilogy!) will delight both new fans and old.
Trent Hunsaker, owner of Death Ray Comics (57 S. Main, Logan, DeathRayComics.com) suggests his favorites:
The Fade Out (Image Comics):
Pick this up if you like the films The Maltese Falcon, Sunset Boulevard and LA Confidential. It's the most noir of noirs. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips tell the story of murder, cover-up, blackmail, sex and just about anything else you can toss into back-lot 1950s movie studios.
Autumnlands (Image Comics):
Magic is dying. The pecking order that keeps each kind in their place (the owls, bison, dogs, hogs, etc.) depends on the waning mystic power. The only hope is for the wizards of the Autumnlands to reach back through time for a hero—only to find, to their surprise, a strange beast you and I would call "human." I'm not a fan of the fantasy genre, but this series is the exception.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel Comics):
This is everything that your typical tights-and-capes comic isn't (plus all the nut puns you can fit in a Planters jar). Squirrel Girl has been secretly living in the Avengers Mansion attic, but it's time for college. And if you think an 18-year-old who has had minimal social interactions and has gone unnoticed living in an attic might be a little awkward in college ... then you are exactly right! Grab this series if you like Bee and Puppycat, Steven Universe and MAD Magazine.
And finally, Kiley Wachs, comics manager of the Nerd Store (3601 S. 2700 West, Valley Fair Mall, West Valley City, 801-964-4776, NerdStoreUtah.com) recommended these titles:
Paper Girls (Image Comics):
A story about four teenage girls trying to finish up their paper routes the day after Halloween. Meanwhile, a mystery creeps in. This comic has a very Goonies vibe to me.
Letter 44 (Oni Press):
A newly elected president faces the nation's problems: war, economy, health care, etc. But on his first day in office, he learns that NASA has discovered alien life and a possible threat to Earth. Now he has to decide whether or not to tell the people of Earth or keep this secret to himself. A great sci-fi read.
If you find you need more comic-book ideas for yourself or your precious loved ones, just go into your local store and ask. Each shop has a friendly staff that will guide you through your comic-book purchases with no hassles—or judgment of your taste—whatsoever.
Bryan Young is the editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com