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Comic book must-have list in time for the holidays

By Staff | Nov 29, 2012

Looking for a comic-related gift for a friend or loved one?

Or are you a comic reader looking for something on which to spend your Christmas money? I’ve got a few suggestions for you:

“Batgirl” ($22.99)

I’ve used this space to extol the virtues of two of the top entries in DC’s New 52, “Aquaman” and “Action Comics.” Both of those trades are on sale, as is this one collecting the first six issues of Batgirl, starring Barbara Gordon, who was paralyzed by a bullet fired by the Joker. In the pre-reboot continuity, she became Oracle, a technowiz information broker, aiding Batman and company, forming her own team, the Birds of Prey, with Black Canary and eventually earning Justice League membership.

I couldn’t understand why DC would have her recover from her paralyzation in the compressed New 52 timeline and once again don the tights. Why get rid of such an original character and return her to Batgirl status, when other women have worn the mantle, along with Batwoman, also headlining her own New 52 title? Turns out I don’t need to know the answer because the first arc, written by Gail Simone (“Secret Six”) with art by Ardian Syaf, is so well done. Barbara is her own woman, not an excuse to put out another “Bat” title. She’s afraid to get back in the saddle yet feels driven to do it, adding a terrific dynamic to the story.

– “Wolverine and the X-Men” ($16.99 to $19.99)

I reviewed this one a while back, so I won’t rehash too much, except to say that over the course of 18 issues, this has become my favorite series to pick up monthly. If you like the X-Men of yesteryear but with a contemporary twist, this is the title for you. Four volumes have been collected in trades so far.

– “Essential” and “Showcase” editions ($19.99)

I picked up “Essential X-Men Vol. 1” back before the turn of the century, and I’ve been snatching up these phone book-style reprints that pack a couple dozen or more comics from years gone by in one black-and-white volume ever since.

I’ve gone through Stan Lee’s original run on “Avengers,” a good chunk of Chris Claremont’s legendary tenure on “Uncanny X-Men” and 91 issues of “Defenders” spread out over four volumes. I’ve also discovered some fantastic comics I missed by virtue of not realizing how good they were or being born after they had their run, including “Howard the Duck” (don’t let the movie turn you off; the comics by Steve Gerber were dynamite) and “Marvel Two-in-One” featuring the Fantastic Four’s Thing teaming up with a variety of characters in stories that are bizarre, hilarious, exciting and more.

I haven’t been into the DC ones as much, although “Dial H for Hero” was an unexpected treat and they have volumes for everyone from Superman and Batman to the Elongated Man and, one of my recent favorites, Booster Gold.

– “JLA” ($19.99 to $24.99)

Grant Morrison’s ’90s run that transformed the title from an afterthought to a flagship book has already been collected in several volumes, but DC recently started re-releasing them, which should get even more people to read one of the finest superhero comic runs ever.

It starts with the quintessential all-star DC team-up and ends 41 issues later with the deliriously epic World War III storyline. Morrison’s Batman is tremendous, pulling strings, going toe-to-toe with all comers and showing he belongs with his mega-powerful teammates. Even the issues Morrison took off are brilliant, with Mark Waid (“Daredevil”) pinch hitting.

Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group” (www.supportgroupcomic.com)