It's the holiday season once again. You've probably got to go out and buy some gifts for the geek in your life and maybe that's a daunting task for you.
Once again, the Outhouse has your back. We're here to help. Probably. We might be here to help. Or... we might be here to suggest what you might want to buy for US. We're needy that way. But, hey, if that neediness helps you buy for the non-gender-specific fan-person on your list, more power to you.
When I first read the description of the most recent Spider-Woman series, I was skeptical. Pregnant superhero eh? Well, I liked the character enough (though it was rough here and there) to pick up the first few issues... and... I really liked it. The stories were more low-key than the galactic battles alongside the Avengers, but the characters were very likeable. Unfortunately the series was canceled, but try it out anyway, you might like it.
If you are afraid of buying a comic about a girl, and still are interested in superheroes, then you might try a different kind of herobook: My Hero Academia. Yeah, yeah it's a manga. It's a very interesting take on the superhero genre focused on a school of heroes in a world where 80% of the population has "quirks" (powers). Note: In the beginning, the main character Midoriya is a bit... irritating. Get through that portion though and the book is both fun and interesting.
As I mentioned last time, every year I would put on my list geeky art books. Also like last year, I am recommending a Star Wars related one that hasn't come out yet.
Though I somewhat miss the format of the original Art of Star Wars (it included the script and more finished pieces), these newer ones are still good.
Colorful and Kirby-inspired design. We saw it in the movie , gaze at the art that inspired it (not the comics though) with:
Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok - The Art of the Movie (Hardcover)
A new Star Wars movie is just around the corner (see above), so how about owning last year's Star Wars movie, the first non-saga live-action movie to hit the big screen. It's pretty good.
How's about an animated sci-fi romance, with a comedic twist? The Asian box office blockbuster is headed to home video. I rather liked it.
Nintendo seems to have turned things around compared to its last console generation. If you have a Switch, you should have a copy of Nintendo's big holiday game, which brings Mario back to his 3D Super Mario 64 days:
Yet another Star Wars related item. Back in 1987, West End Games came up with a fast and loose RPG with the Star Wars license. West End Games is no more (though parts of it were bought out so it sort of is still twitching), and after changing hands a few times, the Star Wars license for roleplaying games is with Fantasy Flight Games. Though FFG created their own rules for a Star Wars RPG, they are reprinting the original game along with its Sourcebook.
Alternative to that if you want something a bit more involved, Starfinder is a new RPG with (modified) D20 3.5 edition rules...
Outhouse Editor in Chief
Skelton Crew is putting out the best comic-adjacent items around. Whether its replica keys from Locke & Key or plush chogs from Chew, Skelton Crew has the coolest stuff. They also have a deal with Mike Mignola and Dark Horse to make Hellboy replica artifacts. While those items tend to live on the higher end of the price scale, they've made the plunge into enamel pins including ones based on Hellboy's Right Hand of Doom and Lobster Johnson's vengeful claw.
The pair is only $20.
Life isn't all about comics. This is the best novel I've read this year for my book club. It's a modern classic of Southern gothic horror. The author dropped out of high school to work in a meatpacking plant. 32 years later he wrote his first collection of short stories, followed by this, his first novel. It's dark, sick, and gripping. It's a story that only someone from Knockemstiff, Ohio could write.
Less than $12.
Even though it debuted in February, this album was immediately album of the year material. The Menzingers are one of those rare bands that hasn't released a bad song, let alone a bad album. Their fifth sees them entering their 30s and looking back on their 20s, refreshed with a whole new purpose. The lyrics are more relatable and stirring as they've ever been, coupled with their signature optimistic music.
On black vinyl for $18.
Staff Writer/ Editor
This is a weird year for video games. There have been a lot of good games released throughout the year (if you haven't played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild then, y'know, get on that) but the end of the year games aren't kicking the excitement buttons that they usually do.
At least we have Assassin's Creed Origins. I'm a massive AC fan but I'll readily admit that the past two games haven't been been high points for the series even though I played the hell out of both of them. Origins seeks to change that, returning to an expansive open world that dwarfs that of previous games. It also renovates the combat system from the reaction system of previous games to a hit box system.
But best of all, the game slips WELL into the past to classical Egypt and details the origins of the Assassin Brotherhood. It looks AMAZING, clicks all the right buttons (IMO), and is a new Assassin's Creed game. Sold.
List Price: $59.99
Holy crap, the Nintendo Switch has had an amazing first year line up! Chances are, if you've picked up a Switch (and you should), you've got Zelda, Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart, and maybe some of the other top tier releases.
But this game might fall under your radar. Don't let it!
This is the third Xenoblade Chronicles game but don't let that deter you because they're about as related to each other as the Final Fantasy series is. The current game takes place in a fantasy world where islands rest on the bodies of numerous large Titan creatures. The world is beautifully crafted, the towns are (finally!) well designed, and the combat is streamlined compared to previous installments.
The only part of the game that might be problematic is the inclusion of elements that kinda bear an uncanny resemblance to slavery. It bothers my wife and gives me pause to purchase the game despite loving the first two titles. It appears that these are being treated as story elements, however, so if they're told well, it should make for an RPG with a rich, nuanced narrative.
List Price: $59.99 (available December 1, 2017)
The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye series is just about the best Transformers books you will ever read. While that series has ended, it's story is not yet finished. Witness, if you will, Transformers: Lost Light. This book is the continuation of the More Than Meets the Eye storyline and is therefor the must read book for 2017.
While IDW has made a whole lot of missteps while mashing together their Hasbro properties post Revolution, Lost Light is one of the shining beacons of the line. I miss Alex Milne on art and Jack Lawrence is not exactly an adequate replacement but what you're really reading the book for is James Roberts' writing. That continues to be awesome but you have to remember this mantra:
It's not the destination. It's the JOURNEY.
Don't expect the most climactic conclusions but expect a hell of a ride.
List Price: $19.99
OK, credit where credit is due: this is the highlight of the DC Cinematic Universe.
I mean, I THINK it is. I actually haven't seen Batman vs. Superman or Justice League. But I saw Man of Steel. This is a lot better than Man of Steel.
Wonder Woman is a period piece super-hero movie taking place during World War 1 and details the origins of everyone's favorite Amazon. It's a little dark but my eight and nine year old kids still loved it.
List Price: $35.99
Let's see, a giant freaking robot dinosaur that transforms into a giant freaking base and giant freaking spaceship for Decepticons to terrorize hapless Autobots? Yes, this is exactly what I want. But wait, this has the added ability to gobble up that damn Titanmaster gimmick. Which means you can throw these damn tiny Transformers into his mouth! Goddamn, that's so gloriously dark and twisted I love it!
List Price: $149.99
Oh, look, Nintendo is at it again pushing our nostalgia button with their latest retro console system. 20 games with a bonus of one never before released (Star Fox 2). If only it had TMNT: IV this would have fully tickled my fancy. Still, having so many glorious RPGs (Earthbound, Final Fantasy 3, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario RPG) plus some insanely hard games (Super Ghouls N' Ghosts and Super Castlevania) means this thing will keep you busy for a good LONG time.
Thankfully, this is turning out to be easier to find than the NES Classic from last year.
List Price: $89.99
Hmm... highly humorous cartoon + highly humorous card game = highly humorous time had by all! The absurdity of the Rick & Morty show goes quite well with the absurdity of Munchkin and the two properties deliver a freaking game worth your while. Add the ability to be anyone of the Smith Family (come on, you want to be Jerry), Mr. Poopiebutthole, or Rick Sanchez himself at the start (with each having their own special talent). Yes, this game just adds another notch to what is already an insanely deep card game.
List Price: $29.99
The finale to Kelley Puckett/Damion Scott's run on Batgirl finally collected in one volume in actual order for once? The run ends on a high note with a nice brief little arc that has third generation heroes (Batgirl, Robin, Spoiler, and Green Arrow) teaming up to take on evil villains who have a fondness (aka obsession) for the Roman Empire. Add to the continued stellar writing Puckett gives the amazing visual spectacle of Scott. This was such an underrated run for the ages that I'm glad was given it's due.
List Price: $14.99
That's our show for this holiday season. I hope you had fun and maybe learned something. Maybe you even got inspired by our gift selections and have your holiday shopping all figured out! Good job, you!
Now, I'm gonna play Assassin's Creed Origin! And you should, too!
Have a happy and safe holiday season!