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It’s that time of year again – hockey season! But, since there’s a lockout going on, you’re going to need to find something else to keep your family and friends busy while they suffer from the lack of a puck drop. (Yes, I’m Canadian. I miss my hockey.) To that end, the team at ComicBooked.com have put together a collection of trade paperback books that you can wrap up for them to open on Christmas morning, at a work gift exchange, or heck… there doesn’t need to be a reason to give the gift of a good read! The list below comes in no particular order and all will depend on the individual’s taste, but hopefully this will give you some ideas!

PunisherSpace Punisher (Marvel)

We covered this book when it was coming out in individual issues, but now the 4-issue miniseries has been released as a single collection for your futuristic enjoyment! If you’re a fan of the Marvel Universe, you will love this alternate take on the character by Frank Tieri and Mark Texeira. And, if you know nothing about it, it’s still a fun read!

World War HulkWorld War Hulk (Marvel)

While we’re on the subject of the Marvel Universe, do you remember when the Hulk was a little upset at a few of Earth’s heroes? You should be asking yourself “which time”? The biggest time was when the Hulk was shot into space to remove him from the Earth and save everyone… but you can’t keep a good Hulk away! He soon returned to wreak his revenge, and this major crossover covers it all. With a main series as well as a number of tie-ins, World War Hulk will keep you busy for a while.

Kick-AssKick-Ass (Marvel/Icon)

Marvel has its independent line for creators who write for them, and Mark Millar is one of those writers. How many of you saw the movie Kick-Ass? How many of you knew it was a comic first? This is a fun read and, if you read the book, you’ll see that Hit Girl has more of a potty mouth in this book than in the flick! Don’t believe me? Pick up this trade and read it before you wrap it for someone else!

X-O ManowarX-O Manowar (Valiant)

Not too long ago, Valiant relaunched their entire line of books. And they are GOOD. I mean, REALLY good. Probably the title most familiar to comic fans is X-O Manowar and this was the first title they released in trade format from the new series. What’s nice is that if you get into it now, you aren’t missing too much – everything is still shiny and new! But if you want a strong story, something that you can almost guarantee your friend’s do not know (since it’s not a Marvel or DC book), check out this book… And what’s even nicer, to get more readers out there, it won’t break the bank! How can you not?

SagaSaga (Image)

To be fair, I have not read this book. That’s because I haven’t had a chance to sit and read it yet – I have it right here! But when several of my colleagues here say “Read this!!” who am I to say no? During its initial issue printing, this was described as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones“. If that description alone didn’t do it, then having Brian K. Vaughn (who did such amazing stories like Y The last Man) as writer should certainly clinch it for ya!

Y: The Last ManY: The Last Man (DC/Vertigo)

Before he did Saga, though, Brian K. Vaughn did a series for DC’s Vertigo imprint where the idea of having every man on Earth die out… bar one. This is the story of that one surviving man and his struggle for survival, all while being sought after by every woman on the planet… something, I bet, he never thought would terrify him.

PreacherPreacher (DC/Vertigo)

Sticking with the Vertigo line, if you’re a fan of violence, drinking, and rednecks, you’ll like Preacher. Garth Ennis’ story about a young… well, preacher who gets the power of the child of an angel and a demon within him pushes religious beliefs to the limit. If you are very religious, you may not like the content. If you don’t like swearing, you definitely won’t like the content. But if you want a story that has gratuitous violence, sex parties, and vampires, this is the book for you! (If you haven’t guessed, this book is NOT for children.)

FablesFables (DC/Vertigo)

To the exact opposite end of things from Preacher, Fables poses the question “What if our beloved fairy tale characters live in our society?” Well, that’s what this book is about. Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Pinocchio, Old King Cole… They’re all here. And they aren’t what you expect – some have similar problems to you and I, and some have problems that are somewhat… unique. Again, this is not a book for the kids, but is definitely something that the adults will enjoy with a good chuckle now and again!

StarmanStarman (DC)

Turning to the mainstream DC universe, Starman was one of the most under-rated titles out there when it really shouldn’t have been. From our team: “I give the first volume every Christmas. It’s a great example of how great a medium comics can be, even to someone who isn’t a natural comics fan.” I think that statement speaks volumes. Sure, it doesn’t fall into the current New 52 DCU, but that doesn’t matter – a great story is a great story!

Gotham CentralGotham Central (DC)

We all know about the big bad Bat of the DC Universe and that he resides in Gotham City. Gotham Central is the story of the Gotham City Police Department and seeing some of what happens in Gotham from their point of view – some stories with the Bat, and some without. For those who like crime stories, this is a great read as it isn’t your typical super hero story but still takes place in the same universe!

Batman (DC)

Speaking of Batman, there are a TON of good Bat-stories out there! From the epic Dark Knight Returns to the creepy The Long Halloween; from the devastation of Gotham in No Man’s Land to the replacement of Batman in Knightfall. And let us not forget the epic story Hush which ran through the main title for the better part of a year. Yes, this takes place in the previous DCU, but these are all well worth reading – and some of the collections are 500+ pages and still require 3 volumes! You’ll definitely make a Bat-fan drop dead with happiness!

The Dark Knight Returns The Long Halloween Hush No Man's Land Knightfall

The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead (Image)

And speaking of dropping dead, what better way to end this column than recommending the comic book that has taken the T.V. world by storm, The Walking Dead? I’ll admit, I’m not fully up to speed with the story here or in the show (I’m on Volume 5 of the trades and am waiting for some time off to watch the series) but everything I read and hear gives me solid hope that these stories will kill! (Bad pun, I know…)

So that’s it for now! Even though I had about 10 other suggestions from our team, we had to end this somewhere. Many of the books above had multiple votes and so they made it into the list above, but there are a great many other good stories that didn’t make the cut here. That’s not to be said you shouldn’t give a new title a chance – sometimes that’s where you find those diamonds in the rough! Books like 30 Days of Night were listed but I unfortunately don’t know enough about it… Yet. With the feedback I’ve received on it, it is on my to-get list so perhaps I’ll cover that in future! At any rate, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our readers, and if you want to share any other trades that you think would make a great gift, chime in below! (NOTE: I’ll also be posting some great hardcover books separately within the next week… Check back to see what we here at ComicBooked.com recommend for you there!)

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