- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2003

With today’s comic books being a major (and welcome) distraction for many — thanks to movies, cartoons and media exposure — what better way to finish off a gift-buying frenzy than with an item representing the hippest of pop-culture explosions?

Here are just a few suggestions for that last-minute purchase to please the lover of superheroes and sequential art:

For children

Justice League Collection (Mattel, $3.99 each). Matchbox Collectibles salutes the Cartoon Network’s version of the DC Comics superhero team in a new line of Hot Wheel-size vehicles. Junior drivers will appreciate the custom paint jobs and details, down to the Goodyear Eagle logo on tires displayed on Flash’s VW Concept car, Batman’s Chrysler Prowler, Wonder Woman’s Chevrolet Corvette and Superman’s Dodge Viper.

Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin: The Final Showdown (Lego, $49.99). The 8- to 12-year-old builder gets his chance to relive the pivotal showdown between hero and villain from the 2003 blockbuster in this 355-piece Lego block set that includes mini representations of Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson, the Green Goblin and his glider, a New York Taxi and irate driver, cable car and 2-foot-long Queensboro Bridge.

Stretch N Roar Hulk (Toy Biz, $24.99). Stretch Armstrong turns mean and green through this 12-inch action figure, which badgers children as they try to pull his arms out of their sockets. Hulk comes with a malleable torso and upper extremities, tattered cloth shirt and plenty of attitude.

For the pop-culture lover

Ultimate Dock Ock (Diamond Select, $50). Based on designs by artist Mark Bagley, this 6-inch bust of Spider-Man’s classic foe has been sculpted by Jeff Feligno, features real metal tentacles and is limited to 3,000 numbered collectible replicas.

Spawn Series 24 figure from issue 39 (McFarlane Toys, $7.99). The latest action-figure line to bring Todd McFarlane’s vigilante from hell to three-dimensional life uses sculptures from some of his famous comic-book covers as reference. Issue 39 should be particularly appealing this time of year because it puts Spawn in the role of Santa Claus — complete with a sack of goodies and a red stocking cap to cover his burned cranium.

Grand Moff Tarkin (Gentle Giant Studios, $45). The company known for adding distinct likeness and ultrarealism to a range of multimedia projects has created a new line of minibusts paying tribute to the world of “Star Wars.” One of its best honors actor Peter Cushing in the role he made famous in the 1977 film, and the 5.5-inch masterpiece is limited to 7,500 numbered collectible replicas.

Neo (Gentle Giant Studios, $50). Gentle Giant also has put out a great-looking three-dimensional bust of Keanu Reeves, who plays one of the lead roles in the “Matrix” film trilogy. The 6.25-inch piece is limited to 5,000 collectible replicas and comes with removable sunglasses.

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories PVC Set (Dark Horse Comics, $14.99). Based on movie director and former animator Tim Burton’s wildly strange illustrated novel of the same name (HarperEntertainment, $19.95), these three painted 4-inch figures — Stain Boy, Robot Boy and the Girl With Many Eyes — will be greatly appreciated by the pop-culture lover who’s fascinated by the bizarre.

For readers

Will Eisner Sketchbook (Dark Horse Comics, $49.95). Through 11 sections, the sketchbook highlights the brilliance that made Mr. Eisner a legend of the sequential-art world. This 200-page black-and-white, 9-inch-by-12-inch monograph is printed on 100-pound archival quality paper.

JLA: Liberty and Justice (DC Comics, $9.95).# For the sixth time, legendary sequential-art painter Alex Ross has teamed with writer Paul Dini to produce an outstanding oversize ode (10-inch by 13-inch) to heroes of the DC Universe. This year, the 96-page masterpiece highlights the core members of the Justice League of America as they battle an alien disease that threatens to destroy Earth’s inhabitants.

The Silver Age of Comic Book Art (Collectors Press, $49.95).# Historian Arlen Schumer explores the sequential-art period from 1956 to 1970 while highlighting the work of eight greats of the industry in this 192-page hardbound color explosion.

Such luminaries as Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert and Gene Colan are reviewed through illustrations of the great heroes they helped create, as Mr. Schumer wisely offers fewer words — and more eye-popping panels and layouts — to explore their appeal. This is the perfect gift for the older superhero lover in the family.

Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Princess (DK Publishing, $24.99).# This 144-page hardcover book traces the life and times of Princess Diana through a staggering amount of comic-book illustrations, information and a timeline presented in an encyclopedic format.

The 10-inch-by-12-inch coffee-table volume features new illustrations as well as the work of more than 100 comic-book artists, including John Byrne, Adam Hughes, Alex Ross and George Perez.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail [email protected] or write to Joseph Szadkowski/The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002.


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