Captain Comics: A gift guide to please every super-hero fan on your list
By Andrew A. Smith, Tribune News Service (TNS)
So Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, and you still have gifts to get for the fanboys and fangirls on your list. Never fear, Captain Comics is here:
Downtown Bookworks (downtownbookworks.com) seems to have anticipated your needs with “My First Wonder Woman Book” ($11.99) and “My First Book of Girl Power” ($9.99). These sturdy, almost indestructible books seem aimed at girls, but does it really matter at that age?
“Wonder Woman” is billed as a “Touch and Feel” book, but outside of a yellow string to indicate the Amazing Amazon’s lasso, it’s mostly just embossed areas on various Wonder accoutrements, like her bracelets and invisible plane. But there’s also a mirror at the end, with the legend “Look! There’s another little super hero!” That’s kinda sweet.
“Girl Power” is a brief introduction to major superheroines at DC Comics, because it’s never too early to create another customer! But it does offer valuable lessons, like “Girls are strong and kind. They can do amazing things.” The “girls” here are Batgirl, Black Canary, Hawkgirl (sans Hawkman), Mary (formerly Mary Marvel, but what her name is now is still up in the air), Mera (Aquaman’s wife), Raven (of the Teen Titans), Supergirl and Wonder Woman.
Interestingly, Hawkgirl gets a new super-power in this book: the ability to heal others. Maybe to encourage future doctors and nurses? But Batgirl’s power already exists in the comics, and I love that it’s emphasized here for future STEM students: “Batgirl is SMART and can program a computer to do anything. When she’s not protecting Gotham City, she spends a lot of time reading books.” You go, Dominoed Daredoll!
AGES 3 AND UP
Downtown Bookworks comes to the rescue again, with “The Big Book of Superpowers” and “The Big Book of Girl Power” ($16.99 each).
“Superpowers” finally gives the boys equal time, with descriptions of Aquaman, Atom, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Plastic Man and Superman. But it’s not exactly a testosterone festival. The gentler aspects of superheroing are front and center, and several women appear as well, including Wonder Woman (of course) and Supergirl.
“We made a point of talking about how all of the DC heroes use their powers to do good in the world,” said author Morris Katz. “So it’s not just about being really strong or tough or fast — the emphasis is on how they are brave and honest and how they protect people.”
That’s a given in “Girl Power,” which drops Mary from the lineup seen in the younger “Girl Power,” but adds Bumblebee, Catwoman, Katana and Starfire. It was amusing to see these later characters presented so gently, completely ignoring, for example, that Starfire’s character was shaped by being sold into slavery at an early age, and Katana’s “super-power” is that she’s really good at stabbing people.
All of these books have art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and the late Dick Giordano, who began doing a lot of marketing art for DC in the ‘70s or ‘80s. They are both excellent, and their versions of the characters are still the ones most people think of.
A BIT OLDER
Got a youngster who has outgrown “Goodnight Moon” (but not by much)? Then try them on “Goodnight Batcave” ($10.99)
“Batcave” is by the Usual Gang of Idiots at “MAD,” so I expected it to be pretty rough. But it’s really a gentle story, barely a parody at all, of Batman having to face down his worst foes when he’s really tired and just wants to go to bed. So there’s some cartoon violence (punching) and some funny rhymes (“Goodnight knave/Goodnight crooks while they rant and rave/Goodnight rogues who all misbehave), but at the end Alfred tucks Bruce into bed, who finally gets to say “Goodnight cape and goodnight cowl/Goodnight Dear Alfred/Goodnight scowl.”
When did “MAD” get so mushy? Well, it’s the season for it, I guess.
ACTION FIGURE AGE
There are a bajillion action figures these days, so it goes without saying that “favorite characters” should be top of the list. But there are some standouts this year.
The Batman: Rainbow Action Figure pack ($70) includes six Batman figures, each with a different color scheme — including one that is pink and hot pink.
This may actually be for grandfathers more than kids. Not only is it pricey, but it is based on an ancient story from “Detective Comics” #241 titled “The Rainbow Batman.” Published in 1957 — when comics were definitely still for kids — the Dark Knight dons the weirdly colored outfits, he says, to distract people from noticing that Robin has the same injury on his arm that Dick Grayson does.
Yeah, I’m not buying it, either.
Another cool collectible is the Batgirl of Burnside Deluxe Action Figure ($60). It’s a limited edition of the current Batgirl (the one who wears Doc Martens) on a motorcycle, suitable for display. It comes with extra heads (one with wind-blown hair) and extra hands (one with, of course, a cell phone).
That’s not to be confused with the Gotham City Garage Harley Quinn Deluxe Statue ($410), which features the Maid in Motley on a motorcycle as well, but is larger, pricier and, of course, an actual statue.
It’s too soon to get “Doctor Strange” on home video, which is probably a must-have for any genre movie fan. But for under $10 you can get “Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme,” an animated version of the character’s origin, on DVD or Blu-ray. And if all else fails, just get the latest collection of the good doctor’s comic book adventures, “Doctor Strange Volume 1: The Way of the Weird” ($24.99) — it’s some of the best Dr. Strange adventures yet.
Less popular but still a must-have is “Suicide Squad,” now available in extended cut, with extra scenes (primarily involving The Joker) not seen in theaters ($15 standard, $20 HD/DVD, $25 Blu-ray). Don’t forget that Suicide Squad statues of Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, etc., are available in the $150 range.
I don’t have to tell anyone reading this how awesome “Captain America: Civil War” was, a movie that could easily have been a mish-mash of confusing punchiness but was instead a moving film of friends falling out over principles with extraordinary fight scenes that were clear, exciting and full of surprises. You’ve probably already got the DVD/Blu-ray, so consider the “Art of the Movie Slipcase” ($50). All of Marvel’s “Art of the Movie” packages have been top-notch so far, and this is no exception.
Graphic novels sell so well these days that you can find just about anything you want on any topic. So I’m just going to recommend one — the classiest of the bunch.
“March” comes in a three-book, slipcase set ($49.99), and depicts Congressman John Lewis’ first-hand account of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s an educational and edifying look at one of the most important periods in American history, by a man who was there.
“March” has won the National Book Award (the first graphic novel to do so), the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Eisner Award, two Harvey Awards and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor. It’s spent six continuous weeks holding the top 3 spots on the New York Times Bestseller List.
The number of big names that have recommended the trilogy are too many to mention, so I’ll just go with former President Bill Clinton. “Congressman John Lewis has been a resounding moral voice in the quest for equality for more than 50 years,” Clinton said, “and I’m so pleased that he is sharing his memories of the Civil Rights Movement with America’s young leaders. In March, he brings a whole new generation with him across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, from a past of clenched fists into a future of outstretched hands.”
NOT GOOD ENOUGH?
So you’re down to your rich Uncle Scrooge, who already has everything. The one who dives into his money like a porpoise, burrows through it like a gopher, and throws it up in the air and lets it bounce off his head. That means you have to pull out all the stops and get:
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Wonder Woman 1/2 Scale Polystone Statue from Sideshow Collectibles!
Ok, it’s a little pricey ($2,999). But it stands at more than three feet tall! It has realistic hair and translucent skin! It’s got an LED spotlight on the base! Even your rich Uncle Scrooge can’t date Gal Gadot dressed as Wonder Woman — but this is the next best thing!
(Contact Captain Comics at email@example.com. For more comics news, reviews and commentary, visit his website: comicsroundtable.com
©2016 Andrew A. Smith
Visit his website at comicsroundtable.com.)
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