- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2019

Here’s a selection of top gift ideas for the sequential art, and pop art, book lover in the family.

Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949 (The Folio Society, $225) — One of the mightiest publishers of sequential art in the history of the medium celebrated 80 years in 2019 and gets a worthy homage in a massive hardcover book showcasing some of the company’s most important comic book issues.

Specifically, within the main 272-page, oversized (13 inches by 9 inches), full-color book, a seven-page introduction from former Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas sets the stage for owners to read four key issues — The Sub-Mariner No. 1 (1941), The Human Torch No. 5 (1941), Captain America Comics No. 10 (1942) and All Winners Comics No. 19 (1946) — that help represent Marvel’s Golden Age of Comics.

Superhero comics’ fans will appreciate the early work of creative legends such as Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Bill Everett, Bill Finger and Stan Lee, and will love the team-up in All Winners Comics featuring Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Bucky, Human Torch, Toro, Miss America and Whizzer.

Purists will appreciate that every page of the comics was scanned and enlarged from originals, retaining original printing errors, poor registration and ink set-off that appear in early comics to give a feeling of authenticity.

The book comes protected in a gold-laminated illustrated clamshell cardboard case that also includes a separate, in-scale reproduction of Marvel Comics No. 1 (1939) featuring the Human Torch and a color print (10 inches by 7 inches) of the core superheroes from current Marvel Comics’ artist Marco D’Alfonso.

For those slightly bothered by the Folio Society not cleaning up the pages digitally, editor James Rose says, ” We wished to reproduce the comics with utmost faithfulness to the originals and that is why they are not presented on whitened paper.

“The originals were printed on a rough newspaper-print quality paper so [they] would never have appeared on a white page themselves. In terms of the facsimile, that faithfulness is also brought out in the rough texture of the paper we have used — to give the reader the sensation of picking the comic up from a newsstand in 1939.”

Suffice it to report, the care afforded assembling this collection as well as the workmanship in the publishing process makes it a unique gift for the hardcore comic book fan.

“Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949” can be bought exclusively from The Folio Society’s website.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Boxed Set (DC Comics, $350) — One of the greatest threats ever chronicled in the DC Comic’s universe finally gets compiled in a 28-pound, 14-volume, hardcover book set contained in a fully color-illustrated cardboard case with a magnetic cover.

The 1980s sequential art crossover was an epic event orchestrated by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez. The crisis pulled in nearly every hero and villain from multiverses to fight for their lives against a cataclysmic force bent on destroying multiple Earths causing the ultimate creation of a single Earth and the death of hundreds of characters.

Within the case featuring Mr. Perez’s art, owners will find more than 3,000 pages to appreciate in a standard comic book-sized format that includes:

• All six volumes of Crisis on Multiple Earths (collects Justice League of America issues Nos. 21-22, 29-30, 37-38, 46-47, 55-56, 64-65, 73-74 and 82-83, 91-92, 100-102, 107-108, 113, 123-124, 135-137, 147-148, 159-160, 171-172, 183-185, 195-197, 207-209, 219-220 and 231-232; and All-Star Squadron Nos. 14 and 15;

• Crisis on Infinite Earths — Collects the 12-issue mini-series); 1-12;

• Crisis on Infinite Earths: All-Star Squadron (issue Nos. 50-60);

• Crisis on Infinite Earths: Green Lantern (issues Nos.194-198); The Legions of Super-Heroes Nos. 16 and 18 and The Omega Men Nos. 31 and 33);

• Crisis on Infinite Earths: Infinity Inc. (collects Nos. 18-25, Annual No. 1, Justice League of America Nos. 244-245);

• Crisis on Infinite Earths: Justice League (collects The Fury of Firestorm Nos. 41-42, Detective Comics No. 558, Wonder Woman Nos. 327-329 and New Teen Titans Nos. 13-14);

• Crisis on Infinite Earths: Legends (collects The Losers Special No. 1, Swamp Thing Nos. 44 and 46, Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths No. 1, Blue Devil Nos. 17-18 and Amethyst No. 13);

• Crisis on Infinite Earths: Superman (collects DC Comics Presents Nos. 78, 86-88 and 94-95, Superman Nos. 413-415 and Justice League of America Annual No. 3);

• Crisis on Infinite Earths: Behind the Crisis (collects The History of the DC Universe Nos. 1-2, Crisis on Infinite Earths Index, Crisis on Infinite Earths Cross Over Index, Amazing Heroes Nos. 66 and 91 and another 60 pages of various resource materials.)

Obviously, within those volumes are a treasure trove of comic book art featuring the talents of not only Mr. Perez but also industry legends such as Curt Swan, Keith Giffen, Gene Colan, Don Heck, Todd McFarlane, Alfredo Alcala, Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway.

It’s worth noting that sequential art scholars lucky enough to receive the set and new to the crisis will want to first read the 450-page Infinite Earths: Behind the Crisis for some great historical perspective and in-depth source material on the overall event.

When it comes to an ultimate gift, what else could a DC Comics reader possibly ask for?

Star Wars: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book (Insight Editions, $85) — With the latest cinematic chronicle of George Lucas’ space fantasy hitting theaters in December in “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker,” the time is perfect to gift a fan a book packed with three-dimensional representations of his favorite galaxy, far, far away.

Insight Edition delivers with five pages of memories spread out over two dozen photo-realistic pop-up illustrations and five 3D dioramas in 360-degree views covering pivotal moments in the Star Wars canon up through the movie “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.”

Readers will admire scenes from the Clone Wars on Geonosis, the fight for the Rebellion’s survival over the first Death Star, the battle of Endor, a harrowing escape by Rey and Finn in the Millennium Falcon on Jakku and the First Order fighting the Resistance on Crait.

Further highlights that emerge, via tabs and opening text pockets on the pages include the attack on Hoth with Rebel Speeders versus AT-AT Walkers and Luke training Rey on the planet of Ahch-To.

Favorite tab-pulling moments featuring Han Solo on a platform in Bespin getting encased in carbonite or Luke Skywalker sitting in Yoda’s hut on Dagobah will keep Star Wars fans riveted.

And, owners can even unfold the entire book for a massive spread (3 feet by 4 feet) on a tabletop.

Writer Matthew Reinhart offers the briefest of text descriptions to give context to all the action, but illustrator Kevin M. Wilson shines throughout with his impactful art and fine detail brought to life in the pop-ups’ magic.

Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman, Deluxe Edition (DC Comics, $29.99) — For those looking for an easy way to appreciate pivotal moments in the life of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, this 418-page book delivers the celebratory goods.

Compiling sequential art stories from the eight decades that the Detective Comics anthology series has existed, the full-color tome starts with issue No. 20 with the introduction of a Caped Crusading-like hero called the Crimson Avenger (pulp art’s first super-hero) then dives into Batman’s official debut in Detective Comics no. 27 featuring the dynamic creative duo of writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane.

First appearances abound in the book and include the debut of Robin the Boy Wonder (Detective Comics 38), the Riddler, Two-Face, Martian Manhunter, Batwoman, Batgirl and Bat-Mite.

One of the best offers is a 1970 story in issue No. 400 by legendary artist Neil Adams and writer Frank Robbins introducing the terrifying Man-Bat to the Dark Knight’s macabre world.

All told, readers get 25 stories packed with nostalgic art from Carmen Infantino, Dick Sprang, Walter Simonson, Dick Giordano, Gene Colan and Sheldon Moldoff; and writers such as Archie Goodwin, Brad Meltzer, Greg Rucka, Neil Gaiman and Harlan Ellison working to craft the DC and Batman universes.

Intermingled between the colorful action are essays on the Batman from contributors including former DC Comics’ executive Paul Levitz, comics historian Anthony Tollin, Batman writer and editor extraordinaire Dennis O’Neil and science fiction writer Cory Doctorow.

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