Comic books have long been a staple in many a geek’s life, and they may have never been hotter than right now. Comic book movies are huge business, breaking box office records, with audiences going in droves to the theater for films like Marvel’s The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, or Man of Steel. Rocksteady reinvented the comic book hero videogame with 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, and the 2011 follow-up Arkham City found its way onto many GOTY lists. If you haven’t guessed by now, this is for the comic book fans on your list, with some suggestions for games, movies, and, yes, even some books. We’ll start with games first. Again, all prices are USD.
Batman: Arkham Origins- Available on the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC (59.99). WB Montreal took over for Rocksteady for this prequel game, and pretty much followed to the letter the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Very few things from the formula that served the first two games in the franchise were tweaked, though fast travel was added via the Batwing. The free flow combat was smooth as ever, with the story taking place over one night on Christmas Eve as Black Mask brings eight assassins, among them Bane and Deathstroke, to Gotham to deal with Batman. The challenge rooms return as well, and a multiplayer mode is also introduced. A companion game, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, was offered on the Nintendo 3DS and the Playstation Vita (39.99), which is a side scroller from Armature Studio, taking place within Blackgate Prison.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes- Available on the PS3, PS4, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and PC (19.99 on the DS, 29.99 on the PC, 39.99 on the Vita and 3DS, 59.99 on the PS4 and Xbox One, and 49.99 on the rest). The Marvel universe gets the LEGO treatment, and it’s pulled off terrifically, with great voice acting and bright visuals. Dr. Doom is up to no good, and it’s up to the Marvel heroes to stop him. There are 150 unlockable and playable characters, ranging from the well known (Spider-Man, Captain America, The Hulk) to some lesser known figures (Howard the Duck). New York City serves as the hub world, and offers plenty to do and loads of places to explore. Loads of fun, and one of the best LEGO games to date.
Injustice: Gods Among Us- Available on the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U (59.99). Also available is Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition, which contains all of the DLC, and is on the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Playstation Vita, and the PC (Vita 39.99, PC 49.99, and 59.99 for the rest). Ed Boon and NetherRealm Studios apply their Mortal Kombat formula to the DC universe, complete with a solid story mode, varied challenges, and plenty to unlock. The story is especially well done for a fighting game, showing us a rarely seen side of Superman.
Deadpool- Available on the PS3 and Xbox 360 (39.99). The Merc with a Mouth gets his own game, loaded with humor, action, and frequent breaking of the fourth wall. It comes from High Moon, the studios behind the Transformers: War for Cybertron. There are a variety of weapons to use and a few cameos from other members of the Marvel universe, and the game captures the character of Deadpool very well.
Iron Man 3- 19.99-49.99, depending on which version you get. The third movie in the Iron Man trilogy and seventh in the overall Marvel cinematic universe, the film finds Tony Stark dealing with post traumatic stress disorder following the alien attack on New York and a terrorist threat in the form of The Mandarin (played well by Ben Kingsley). Plenty of humor and action, with a bit of a twist.
Man of Steel- 19.99-44.99, depending on which version you pick up. Superman gets a make-over courtesy of director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, Sucker Punch) and producer Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception). Henry Cavill (The Immortals) takes over the title role and makes it his own. Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) is terrific as the villain Zod, and Amy Adams makes for a feisty and intelligent Lois Lane. The movie has some huge set pieces, and gives us a glimpse of the planet Krypton before its destruction that has never been shown on screen before. Also starring Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, and Laurence Fishburn as Perry White.
The Wolverine- 18.99-26.99, depending on whether you get the theatrical or extended edition. James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) directs a story inspired by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s four part miniseries, taking place in Japan following the events of 2006’s X3 The Last Stand. Hugh Jackman again reprises his role as Logan/ Wolverine in a more personal and focused story. Definitely stick around through the credits for an important scene.
Arrow: The Complete First Season- 59.99 on DVD, 69.99 on Blu-ray. The CW series comes to disc, telling the story of Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) return to Starling City after being stranded for five years on a mysterious island. He finds he has a mission, to punish those who have failed his city, and gain justice for the victims of criminal activity. The series flashes back and forth between what happened on the island that turned Oliver from reckless playboy to capable vigilante, and the present day happenings in Starling City. The supporting cast is great, and there are plenty of nods to the larger DC universe. It starts a bit slow, but gets better as it goes along, really hitting its stride midway through.
The Walking Dead: Volume 19 March to War- (Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard- 14.99). The latest in the series to be released in trade paperback, detailing the lead up to All Out War between Rick Grimes and the band of survivors and a menace that could be worse than the hordes of shambling undead. For those not wanting to pick up nineteen different volumes, you could always go with The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1 (which covers issues from 1-48) and The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 2 (which covers issues 49-96). The two compendiums retail for 59.99. The TPB Vol. 19 covers the series from issue 109-114, so if you go with the compendium route, you can fill in the gaps with Volume 17 Something to Fear and Volume 18 What Comes After (both 14.99). Keep in mind that the comics are very different from the AMC television series.
Batman Volume 3: Death of the Family- (Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo- 24.99). The third volume in Scott Snyder’s epic Batman run in DC’s the New 52 deals with the Joker exacting a terrible vengeance on Batman and the entire Bat family. Creepy and twisted, with plenty of thrills and Capullo’s outstanding art. For those not up on the entire story, you can start with Volume 1 The Court of Owls (16.99) and Volume 2 Night of the Owls (16.99).
Saga Volume 1 and Volume 2- (Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, volume 1 9.99, volume 2 14.99)- The story of two lovers from opposing sides in an interplanetary war, this series from Brian K. Vaughan (Ex Machina) was the winner of the 2013 Hugo award for Best Graphic Story. Alana and Marko make for great characters as they, along with their daughter Hazel try to stay one step ahead of bounty hunters and agents from their respective worlds who are trying to hunt them down. In a clever twist, Hazel serves as the narrator for the books, which is by turns a space opera, a touching romance, and a satirical comedy. An absolute joy to read, and a must have for any comics fan.
That’s it for this section of our gift guide. Stay tuned for more suggestions to help you through this holiday season.
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