By Zack Quaintance — For many of us comics fans, the holiday shopping season has come and gone now. Maybe (like me) you made it clear that you want comics, and maybe you got some comics (not to brag, but my family and friends got me two Lone Wolf & Cub omnibuses, tons of LCS gift cards, a couple of Saga Funkos, and the Becoming Andy Warhol graphic novel). You know what one of the most enticing things about this hobby is, though? With comics, there are always more.
So, why not get yourself a gift? I know I certainly did yesterday morning, taking ample advantage of comiXology’s epic holiday digital comics sales. From Marvel to Image to DC, there’s a lot to like on there at some pretty great prices. So much to like, in fact, that it can feel a little overwhelming—which is why we’re here with today’s ComiXology Holiday Sales Guide. There are literally thousands of choices to peruse, so many we surely missed some, and we, of course, don’t share your exact tastes. Still, what you’ll find below is a sampling of some of our favorites.
Let’s check it out!
*Special Note: The Marvel and DC sales will run through the early part of the New Year, while the Image sales will end tonight.*
If you want to be responsible (unlike me) and just buy yourself a relatively reasonable $50 worth of comics, we’ve done our best to make it easier for you with this section, highlighting what we think are some of the overall best deals on the site. Below you will find some fantastic and *mostly* self contained selections
Dark Knight: A True Batman Story - $4.99
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
This is an autobiographical Batman story, odd as that may sound. It details Paul Dini working on the classic Batman: The Animated Series cartoon, writing and contributing to many legendary episodes. During this time, Dini suffers a brutal mugging and attack, nearly losing his life. This graphic novel is the story of how his working with Batman stories helped him through the trauma, original and unique and brought to life by Eduardo Risso.
Ice Cream Man, Vol. 1 - $5.39
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Ice Cream Man is an incredibly well-done horror anthology comic, wherein the only throughlines are W. Maxwell Prince’s phenomenal existential horror stories, Martin Morazzo’s incredible linework, and the creepy titular Ice Cream Man. A take on Tales From the Crypt for 2018, wherein the biggest threats were supposed to be nice.
Infidel - $5.39
Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Horror was a common theme this year, and Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell’s comic Infidel was one of the best. This five-issue story sees an American Muslim woman and her multi-racial neighbors living in a building haunted by monsters that feed on xenophobia. This is an honest and unflinching look at discrimination and societal ills.
Saga of the Swamp Thing (Complete) - $29.94
Writer: Alan Moore
Artists: Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, Dan Day, Rick Veitch, Shawn McManus, Alfredo Alcala, Ron Randall, Stan Woch, Tom Mandrake, Tom Yeates, & Berni Wrightson
Colorist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: John Costanza & Todd Klein
Arguably one of the best values this holiday season is the $30 fans can pay for the entirety of Alan Moore’s classic Saga of the Swamp Thing. The comic that paved the way for his later work on books like Watchmen, this story is a must-read for serious fans of the medium.
Thanos Wins - $3.39
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
In 2018, writer Donny Cates went from rising start to one of the guiding voices at Marvel Comics, and arguably his boldest statement was his work on Thanos Wins. It’s big, its brash, and it’s all kinds of ridiculous. Cates is clearly a creator with something to say, and he’s hellbent on finding the most satisfying ways to say it. Don’t miss this one.
We try not to play favorites here (at least not between the Big 2), but pound-for-pound, Image Comics is usually our favorite publisher, putting out new and ongoing creator-owned books from industry heavy weights every damn month. The list below is a pretty decent encapsulation of some recent favorites.
Gideon Falls Vol. 1 - $3.59
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Steve Wands
The next big Image book has arrived, and it’s Gideon Falls. The price is right for the first volume, which starts off feeling like an homage to Twin Peaks and grows into something all its own. Be ready to become unsettled.
Monstress Vol. 1, 2, & 3 - $14.37
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Letterer: Rus Wooton
This is probably the best complete comic on the stands today, this side of Saga. If you haven’t read it yet, reading all three volumes back-to-back is an incredible treat, and you shouldn’t hesitate to pick them all up now.
Rock Candy Mountain Vol 1. & Vol. 2 - $8.98
Writer/Artist: Kyle Starks
Colorist: Chris Schweizer
One of the funniest comics I’ve ever read. Rock Candy Mountain is brutally entertaining in its simplicity, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Skyward Vol. 1 - $3.59
Writer: Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Another deceptively simple comic, Skyward is a tour de force in narrative structure and tone. The pacing in the first act is incredible, using big scientific extrapolations and ideas like a path of gold coins to lead readers through the action.
Snotgirl Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 - $3.59 & $5.39
Writer: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Artist: Leslie Hung
Colorist: Mickey Quinn
Letterer: Mare Odomo
Snotgirl reads like an Instagram fever dream violently colliding with whip smart commentary on the value system that radiates to the rest of the country from a starting point somewhere chic in LA. It’s an important and singular comic with an unmatched aesthetic. It has broad appeal and, in spite of the pretty colors, is not to be taken lightly.
DC Comics (Superheroes)
DC Comics has a line-wide $4.99 for trades sale that encompasses almost all of the publishers collections. My run is admittedly a bit backwards-looking (three of my five picks here predate the New 52), since I’ve already collected the vast majority of the more recent Rebirth trades. Still, I don’t think you can go wrong gifting any of the comics below to yourself.
Grant Morrison’s Batman Run - $40
Writer: Grant Morrison
One of my all-time favorite runs with the Bat characters is easily Grant Morrison’s, in spite of it being upended a bit by Flashpoint and the advent of the New 52. This run reads like a grand adventure through the character’s past present. A full list of the volumes you need to pick up to complete it (all of which are $4.99, btw) is below:
Batman: Batman and Son (Deluxe Edition)
Batman & Robin Vol. 1, 2, & 3
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne
Batman: Incorporated Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
Green Arrow/Green Lantern - $4.99
Writer: Dennis O’Neil (and Elliot Maggin)
Artist: Neal Adams
Colorists: Cory Adams & Jack Adler
Letterers: John Costanza & Joe Letterese
This is a study in comics with political messages from the past, and a particularly groundbreaking one (for that time, obviously) at that. It could also have renewed relevancy soon with Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp teasing a new Lantern/Arrow green team-up in the back of their recent The Green Lantern #1 comic.
Sideways Vol. 1 - $4.99
Writers: Dan DiDio & Justin Jordan
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
I’m an apologist for the New Age of Heroes Line (RIP...basically), and this book is a big part of the reason why. It’s a great modern teen superhero take in the DC Universe, which checks a good many of my boxes. It’s also a somewhat uncomplicated read, for being a story of a kid who can suddenly jump through dimensions.
Superman: Secret Identity Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 - $10
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Kurt Busiek has long been one of my favorite writers in comics for the level of realism he’s able to achieve by putting himself into the minds of his characters, and this comic is one of the crowning achievements in that regard. It essentially imagines in a realistic way what it would be like to have a real Superman (who grew up reading about Superman) on Earth, and it does so without the usual cynicism that marks superhero deconstructions.
The Omega Men
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Barnaby Bagenda, Toby Cypress, & Ig Guara
This was the first in what I’ve come to call the Help me I’m silently in lots of pain ouvere popularized by Tom King within recent superhero comics. It’s also one of the most traditionally superhero-y of his work, which makes it a bit easier to read that stories like Mister Miracle or Heroes in Crisis.
DC Comics (Vertigo)
The following are my picks for the top 5 seminal Vertigo series you can get right if you’re willing to drop between $50 to $80 a piece for them. These are all among my favorite comics ever. Go with Astro City for something on the optimistic side, 100 Bullets or Scalped for gritty, Sandman for literary, and Y: The Last Man for commentary on societal gender roles and bit of human sexuality.
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Whole Series Price: $70
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brett Anderson
Whole Series Price: $80
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Whole Series Price: $55
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: R. M. Guéra
Whole Series Price: $50
Y: The Last Man
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Pia Guerra
Whole Series Price: $50
Marvel digital sales are different, in that since their excellent Marvel Unlimited streaming service makes all comics older than six months available in perpetuity, for many of those subscribers there’s really no point in indulging in this. I, however, like to collect Marvel digital trades (the kind that are not eligible for ComiXology unlimited borrowing), and below you will find five of my recent picks.
Essential and Masterwork Marvel Volumes
The best deals in any of these sales can be found through the essential Marvel volumes, which tend to run about $5 or $6. They each include literally hundreds of pages of 1960s Marvel, an era that is to this day unparalleled in the creative fruit it bore, including the creation of a wide berth of some of the most famous pop culture IP on the planet still. This is Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and more at their best. These stories give real world characteristics to folks with fantastic powers for the first time, all while shaping what a shared universe can be. Below are some of my picks (which violate my no unlimited choices rule, but still).
Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 1 - $5.09
Avengers Masterworks Vol. 1 - $5.09
Fantastic Four Masterworks Vol 1. - $5.09
Incredible Hulk Masterworks Vol. 1 - $3.39
Thor Masterworks Vol. 1 - $5.09
Moon Knight Vol. 1, 2, & 3 - $7.62
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood and various
A trippy adventure into the most splintered psyche in all of comics. I recommend this one to both long-time fans of the character and Moon Knight neophytes.
Mutant X - $5.94
Writers: Howard Mackie, Jay Faerber, & Ben Raab
Artists: Tom Raney, Cary Nord, Pasqual Ferry, Mike S. Miller, and Javier Saltares with Yancey Labat, J.J. Kirby, Michael Kaluta, John Romita Sr., John Byrne, J.G. Jones, & Michael Gordon
Inkers: Andrew Pepoy, Pasqual Ferry & Saleem Crawford with Walden Wong, Scott Elmer, Johnny Greene, Derek Mei, Scott Koblish, Harry Candelario, Michael Wm. Kaluta, John Romita Sr., John Byrne, J.G. Jones, & Michael Gordon
Colorists: Gina Going, Joe Andreani, & Jason Wright
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulus
Wow, that’s one heck of a credits section for this book. This one is admittedly a nostalgia pick for me. My first alternate reality comic, it follows Havok as he explores an alternate dimension where the X-Men are all a bit more late ‘90s goth than in the usual continuity. I have fond memories and am looking forward to re-visiting this one now that I’ve gotten it from the holiday sale.
She-Hulk Vol. 1, 2, & 3 - $8.47
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
This is a darker take on the Hulk heroine, really delving into how a psyche can be riven by rage. It’s a different sort of story for Jen Walters, whose most famous adventures have largely been lighter in tone, but it’s one that continues to have implications for the current status quo of the character. Tamaki is also a nuanced and powerful writer.
Silver Surfer Vol 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Mike Allred
This is my all-time favorite Silver Surfer story, and one of my favorite superhero runs on any character in the past decade. Dan Slott and Mike Allred craft an intergalactic and nigh-timeless love story that unfurls throughout a series of incredibly entertaining episodic vignettes. If that wasn’t enough, the creators here often push the boundaries of the form. Snag all of these volumes, and get ready to bliss out for the duration.
With BOOM! Studios, there are a few key franchises I’d recommend checking out. The brilliant slice-of-life comedy Giant Days is consistently one of the best comics on the stands. While Grant Morrison and Dan Mora’s mythical Santa Claus re-imagining Klaus is well-worth a read. Finally, Victor LaValle’s Destroyer was one of the best Mary Shelley-influenced works I’ve ever read.
Phew. That was a lot, but irresponsible spending loves company. So in conclusion I’ll just say, I hope you’ll be joining me on this year end digital comics binge!
Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.