If you've waited until now to start buying gifts for that special comic book lover in your life, then you are in luck ... there should be something for every fan on your list in comic shops this week.
If you need a few last-minute gifts, there's the new Joe Sacco's latest graphic novel, Footnotes in Gaza; Image has another volume of Fantastic Worlds of Frank Frazetta; Marvel has a collection of some of Brian Michael Bendis' stories from the past decade; Fantagraphics has the Definitive Prince Valiant Companion for the comic strip fan; and Red 5 puts out another Atomic Robo collection. And that's just a handful of spined goodness ready for your wrapping paper.
And what better stocking stuffer could you find than a comic book? Grab a copy of Blackest Night JSA #1, Image United #2, Fantastic Four #574, Beasts of Burden #4 or Bart Simpson Comics #51, among others, and make someone's Christmas morning complete.
To see what Chris, Kevin and I plan to stuff into our own stockings when Santa's not looking, read on ...
Chris Mautner's pick of the week: Footnotes in Gaza
I had to dig through the "Merchandise" section to find this, which is frustrating considering it will easily be one of the most talked about books of 2009. Or would be if it weren't coming in so late in the year. Anyway, with a minimum of fanfare comes Joe Sacco's latest graphic novel, a work which finds the intrepid comics reporter moving away from the Balkans and back to the Middle East, this time examining the history of the conflict between Israel and the Palestines, specifically a bloody incident from 1956. I can't imagine this being anything but excellent. (Metropolitan Books)
Kevin Melrose's picks of the week: Brian Michael Bendis: 10 Years at Marvel and Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Omnibus, Vol. 2 hardcover
Love his work or hate it, there's little denying that Brian Michael Bendis has played a significant role -- perhaps second only to Joe Quesada -- in shaping the Marvel Universe over the past decade. With these two books, the publisher celebrates some of the writer's significant, and not-so-significant, contributions to Marvel mythology, from Daredevil and Alias to Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers.
The first book, 10 Years at Marvel, is a stroll down memory lane, with a couple of curious detours. (For instance, I'd forgotten about Bendis' tour of duty on Ultimate X-Men -- certainly not a title with which he's closely associated.) The second showcases Bendis' work, primarily with artist Alex Maleev, on the title with which he made his mark at Marvel: Daredevil. Specifically, this volume collects the duo's last issues on the series -- #61-81 -- along with Bendis' three-issue Daredevil: Ninja miniseries (with Rob Haynes) and the What If ... Karen Page Had Lived? one-shot (with Michael Lark). (Marvel)
JK Parkin's pick of the week: The Last Days of American Crime
JK: I spoke with Rick Remender about this book many moons ago, and I've been waiting for it to come out ever since. The book centers on a grifter, Graham Brick, who has about a week left in his criminal life before the United States government begins broadcasting a signal that will eliminate all criminal thought from the minds of its citizens. So Brick decides to go out with a bang by committing the crime of the century.
It's a crime story, mixed with a political thriller, with a little bit of an ethics discussion thrown in as well. I can't wait. (Radical)
Beasts of Burden #4 (of 4)
Kevin: Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson conclude their miniseries with a story that sends the four-legged spook squad to the local cemetery to solve yet another paranormal mystery. (Dark Horse)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8: Willow
Kevin: Hey, this 40-page one-shot comes with a choice of covers: Clothed Willow, or Naked, Snake Lady-Entwined Willow! (Dark Horse)
Hellboy: The Bride of Hell
Kevin: Mike Mignola and Richard Corben reunite as Hellboy tracks down a kidnapped woman in a strange tale that promises "ghosts, demonic revenge, lost love and King Solomon." Not enough comics nowadays feature King Solomon. (Dark Horse)
Blackest Night JSA #1
JK: James Robinson has the Justice Society seeing double, as classic JSA members like Mr. Terrific and Dr. Midnite return from the dead to attack their namesakes in this Blackest Night tie-in. (DC Comics)
Detective Comics #860
Kevin: Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III wrap up their well-received origin of Batwoman. Bonus: The Huntress guest stars in The Question co-feature. (DC Comics)
Kevin: If the outstanding cover and solicitation text don't sell you on the third part of Brian Wood and Leandro Fernandez's "The Plague Widow" arc, nothing will:
"'Deathships' haunt the Volga – floating mass graves, Viking ship crews struck down by the plague in transit. They present an irresistible temptation to the quarantined town: precious cargo there for the taking if only a volunteer could be found to risk infection and pull the ship to shore."
"Deathships"! That's how you write a solicitation. If you need a little more, you can check out the preview here. (Vertigo)
Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade
Kevin: The delightful all-ages series by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones gets a softcover collection. Hopefully it'll sell well enough for the publisher to continue the title. (DC Comics)
Frank Frazetta's Dark Kingdom #3
Chris: Man,the latest news about Frazetta just makes that title take on a whole different, unintended meaning, doesn't it? (Image Comics)
Image United #2
JK: Image's founders + Robert Kirkman continue their extra-large mega-crossover, as Savage Dragon, Witchblade and the rest team up to take on the original Spawn, who we found out last issue was the big bad. (Image)
Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?
JK: Although the Captain America: Reborn mini-series won't wind up until the end of January and we won't know how Steve Rogers came back from the dead until then, what we do know is that he's back ... and with this one-shot, we see how the old Cap reacts to the new Cap.
And while it would have been optimal for the mini-series to wrap up before this special came out, I'll quote my friend Sean T. Collins, from a discussion we had about this a week or so ago: "Pretend it's like Lost and you see something happen but only get the explanation later," he said. I kinda like his perspective. (Marvel)
Criminal Sinners #3
Chris: With my tight budget, this will likely be the only pamphlet buy for me this week, but it will remain a completely satisfying read for me nevertheless. Much more for me, I imagine, than three of whatever random pamphlets happen to be coming out from Marvel this week. (Marvel/Icon)
Doctor Voodoo: The Origin of Jericho Drumm #1
Kevin: Who would've guessed that 2009 would see a Brother Voodoo -- excuse me, Doctor Voodoo -- miniseries *and* a one-shot? This special reprints the first two appearances of Jericho Drumm from 1973's Strange Tales #169-170, by Len Wein and Gene Colan, packaged with a new framing sequence by Roy Thomas and Alex Massacci. (Marvel)
Fall of the Hulks: Gamma #1
JK: If you read the "Alpha" part of this two-part prelude to Marvel's big Hulk event, you know that a super-secret group of villainous scientists, which included The Leader, Dr. Doom and the Wizard, among others, has been working behind the scenes for years to gather information and to do generally bad things to the Marvel Universe. And their latest project, well ... I don't wanna spoil anything, but it's very Hulk-related. As for the Gamma portion of the crossover, this issue gets the heroes involved, and according to Marvel.com, it also features the funeral of a character who passes away in the first few pages. Then no doubt some Hulks get mad and start the smashing. (Marvel)
Fantastic Four #574
JK: Alan Davis provides a really nice cover for this issue, which focuses on the second-youngest member of the cast, Franklin, and his big birthday party. Hickman's run on the book has been can't-miss-fun so far, and FF has quickly become one of my favorite Marvel titles. (Marvel)
Art of Herge: Inventor of Tintin Vol. 02 (of 3)
Chris: I really liked the first volume of this series from Last Gasp, as it collected not only sketches and art related to the famous cow-licked boy reporter, but also featured some of Herge's other illustration and commercial work, underscoring just how talented an artist he was. I'll have to put this new book on my Amazon wish list tout suite. (Last Gasp)
Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical
Chris: A new collection of high-low painter Robert Williams' work, spanning most of the past 10 years, with essays by the artist. (Fantagraphics)
Definitive Prince Valiant Companion SC
Chris: As promised, here's the paperback version of the book that's all about Prince Valiant. I talked a littlle bit about it in last Sunday's What Are You Reading? column. (Fantagraphics)
Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons LTD ED
Chris: And hey, if you haven't picked up that ginormous Gahan Wilson collection yet and need the extra incentive, here's a special signed, limited edition version that runs you $50 more. You've got the cash, right? (Fantagraphics)
The Great Anti-War Cartoons
Chris: Editor Craig Yoe (Secret Identity, Boody!) provides a collection of various gags, editorial cartoons and illustrations all having to do with war and war-related horrors. It's certainly a nice looking book, though the themes and images tend to repeat themselves over time. I reviewed the book last week, if you want more thoughts on the matter. (Fantagraphics)
More Than Complete Action Philosophers
Chris: Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey's fun nine-issue look at some of the world's biggest thinkers gets collected into one chunky volume, with four all-new stories sandwiched in between. (Evil Twin Comics)
The Original Johnson Vol. 01
Chris: Hey, did you read that interview with Trevor von Eeden in The Comics Journal a few months back? Man, was that an incredible, somewhat creepy and unsettling piece or what? Anyway, here's Eeden's latest work, about famed boxer Jack Johnson, done through ComicMix and IDW though according to that interview there were problems between the artist and publisher. Hopefully that will all be settled now. One things for sure, this book is going to look stunning. (IDW)
Sublife Vol. 2
Chris: John Pham's ongoing story about a small neighborhood full of oddballs continues, along with other short stories and stand-alone strips (Fantagraphics)
Now make your own list, check it twice, and post it in our comments field below. You can find everything due in stores this week over on the Diamond Comics website.