It's hard to believe, but once upon a time, Star Wars was essentially dead intellectual property. There had only been three movies (and various forgettable comics, novels, and radio plays), and we'd only seen three people who knew how to use a lightsaber. Along came Timothy Zahn and his Thrawn Trilogy, which reignited the franchise, adding Thrawn, Mara Jade, and Joruus C'baoth to the Star Wars universe. The trilogy was turned into a 18-issue series by Dark Horse, and has been recently collected for rerelease in hard cover. Aside from faithfully following the plot of the novels, each six-issue arc is drawn by a different, very capable artist. Olivier Vatine's version of Luke was the first time I ever thought Luke was cool. And the last third of the series features art by one of my favorites - - Eric Shanower. If you've never read the series, then I highly recommend this version. My only criticism is that there are no extras at all. 33% off at Amazon.
And a few more reviews:
1. Defenders by Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire: Not remotely as funny as their Justice League work. 22% off at Amazon.
2. Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith: It has a couple of very cute panels, but overall disappointing. I'd like to see Jeff Smith paired with a talented writer. His writing since the first three Bone trade paperbacks has been pretty lackluster. 34% off at Amazon.
3. Ghost Box by Warren Ellis and Simon Bianchi: Wow what a disappointment. Every character simply talks like they're reading lines from Ellis' emails or Tweets, and I don't care for Bianchi's art. On the other hand, the two-part Ghost Boxes is great. Those alternate reality tales are illustrated by Alan Davis, Adi Granov (steampunk X-Men), Clayton Crain, and Kaare Andrews (X-Men meets The Road). 34% off at Amazon.
4. Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, with a cover by James Jean: Not Gaiman's best, but an entertaining sci-fi tale that could easily become a series. $7 at Amazon.
5. The Wild Things by Dave Eggers: Like too many McSweeney's products, the best thing about it was the cover. I read it through to the end mostly out of a sense of obligation. 34% off at Amazon.
*Previously: 2009 Gift Guide.