Geek Out: Danny B's Top 10 Geek Gifts for Holiday 2011
Danny Bernardo, ChicagoPride.com
December 14, 2011
I admit it: us geeks are not easy to shop for. You have no clue what we want or what we've already bought for ourselves. You could get us a shirt from H&M, but you want to go for something more personal. So how do you avoid the embarrassmentgetting your Marvel fan a Batman t-shirt as a present? (EEP!) Just take a look at this handy, top ten guide.
#10) Mighty Fine T-Shirts! (Merch)
Look, everyone has a Superman t-shirt. Or has had one. And nothing says "cheesy fanboy" more than a recreation of Spider-Man's costume on a t-shirt. So why not get the geek in your life something that's a little more fashion forward? Something he or she can wear proudly out to the bars and you wouldn't be (completely) mortified to be seen with them in. Mighty Fine T-Shirts is the Threadless of geek chic. Choose from an assortment of artistic reinterpretations from Marvel Comics, spot-on recreations from Scott Pilgrim and many other fantastic shirts, totes, and hoodies.
#9) X-Men First Class (DVD)
While your geek might the argue the canonical discrepancies of this 2011 prologue to the X-Men films ("But if Mystique and Professor X are essentially siblings, why don't they mention it in X2?") they'll still have to admit that it was arguably the best comic book movie of the year. Apart from the sleek mod design and "mutant and proud" gay subtext, the real star is the compelling story of how Professor X and Magneto go from bromance to frienemies. And for you fangirls, January Jones as Emma Frost is pretty great too. Well, when she doesn't have dialogue.
#8) E-Reader (Gadget)
The two top contenders in this arena for Holiday 2011 are the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire. And like the two top contenders in the mainstream comic book world (Marvel and DC) they both have their pluses and minuses. Overall, the Nook Tablet is $50 more but has more storage. Both have access to some great (but not all) Android apps, the Kindle Fire being able to access much more than the Nook Tablet. Ultimately when shopping for your geek, the decision is as easy as who their favorite superhero is. If they're primarily a Spider-Man fan, the Nook Tablet has an exclusive deal with Marvel. Conversely, for fans of the Man of Steel, DC Comics has an exclusive deal with the Kindle fire.
#7) X-Factor (Book)
What's great about this Marvel title is that while it is a part of the universe most of us are familiar with, it is its own separate story. While a passing knowledge of the big Marvel events makes for a fuller picture, X-Factor completely stands on its own. A noir story, much darker than a lot of its counterparts, the book follows Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) as he leads X-Factor Investigations, a mutant detective agency sworn to protect the Manhattan burrough known as Mutant Town. The real star of this book for queer readers is Rictor, a hot Latino,sexually confused depowered mutant who *SPOILER ALERT* begins a hot, heavy and tumultuous relationship with omnisexual red-head badass Shatterstar. Writer: Peter David; Artist: Various. Shop local (see below).
#6) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Game)
Winner of Game of the Year (Spike TV Video Game Awards) and rightly so! This epic role playing game takes the best aspects of the RPG genre and simplifies the heck out of them for a better, more streamlined playing experience. The coolest innovation for this game takes some explaining. All RPG characters are completely customizable and industry standard allows you to set their class and aspect of good and evil. What this game does is takes your actions throughout and shapes the destiny of the character that way. See, I can't even explain the uberawesomeness of this game without geeking out like mad. While one could play the main story line of the Dragonborn hero who goes off to slay dragons for the kingdom, there is endless side quests to keep you entertained for hours and hours. Or days. Seriously, buyer beware: be ready to not see your geek for a LOOONNNG time if you buy them this game. Available on PS3, XBox 360, PC.
#5) Morning Glories: Deluxe Edition (Book)
Fans of the TV show Lost will love this mysterious and dark Eisnery nominated series about a prestigious boarding school where "Learning to be an Assassin" is an extra-curricular and "How Not to be Killed by your Homeroom Teacher" is a prerequisite. Each issue furthers the mystery and reveals just enough to keep you captivated. I can't get enough of the intrigue and mystery of these six teens all coincidentally born at the exact same day and time. Please note the deluxe edition isn't available until December 21, but it's definitely worth the wait! Writer: Nick Spenser; Artist: Joe Eisma. Shop local! (see below)
#4) Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 (Game)
To say this game brings out the arcade nostalgia of Spider-Man kicking Ryu's ass is an understatement. Now bringing the awesome button-mashing-ass-kicking to the 21st century in all its HD-next gen glory is UMvC3. The story of two worlds colliding is classic geek crossover. You may have heard your geek complain about buying the first release only for the "Ultimate" version to be released months later. The new playable characters and gorgeous additional stages are well worth the new buy! Available on PS3, XBox 360, PSP, Nintendo DS.
#3) The Walking Dead - Season 1 (DVD)
The first time a geek will say "it's not exactly like the book" and not scowl. What's brilliant about the story of both book and series is that the focus isn't the zombies who have terrorized the world, but basic human nature when called upon to simply survive. While the series follows pretty close to some of the first issues, it becomes its own animal and takes its time to set up the characters and relationships rather than the fast paced action of the books. Neither is better or worse, but both are definitely worth checking out. Available where DVD's are sold.
#2) Young Avengers - Ultimate Collection
From the writer of the O.C. comes the story of would-be heroes who are brought together to carry on the Avengers legacy. Like X-Factor, Young Avengers is a wonderful story that stands alone without needing any previous knowledge of the happenings in other parts of the Marvel universe. What truly makes it stand out among the other big books is the focus on the team dynamic. While great teams, the Avengers and X-Men have acquired such an epic roster that at times it feels the superpowers outweigh the personality in the team. Not with YA. This team is nothing without each other and they all play to each others' strengths and weaknesses while remaining true to the Avengers legacy they all happen to be tied to. At one point, the team is led by cute gay couple Wiccan and Hulkling. Watching their love and a couple of breathtaking "It Gets Better"-esque moments is worth the purchase alone. Writer: Allan Heinberg; Artist: Jim Cheung. Shop local (see below)
#1) Gift Cards
This may seem like a cop-out, but hear me out. You've reviewed this list, you've researched their likes and interests, but are still terrified that you'll get them the wrong gift. When all else fails? Gift cards. But rather than getting them the dime-o-dozen Starbucks gift card, make it personal to their interests. Are they a huge gamer and do you know their system? A gift card from Playstation Network or XBox Live will get them some pretty sweet downloadable content. A gamer with multiple platforms? Try a gift card from Game Stop, the gamer's safe haven. And for the comic book geek, it is important to find out what their shop is and get a gift card/certificate from there. We geeks are truly loyal to our shops and going somewhere else feels an awful lot like cheating. Use these helpful hints to make one of the most impersonal gifts in the world really hit home.
So before I send you off, I encourage you to shop local and shop small when you can. This goes mostly for comic books as there are not a lot of small shop options for games or DVD's. The comic book shop is the cornerstone of the geek experience and even if you go into one with a shopping list, the counter guys/gals will be able to recommend other (or better) options for the geek in your life. It is one of the only retail experiences where the associates are truly passionate about imparting the best knowledge and service. If you're in Chicago, I highly recommend visiting my shop (Chicago Comics) for an extensive inventory and some witty shop talk with Ralph and Caitlyn. Other great shops in Chicago are Challengers Comics in Logan Square and Third Coast in Edgewater.
Happy Holidays! GEEK ON!
Danny Bernardo is GoPride's official geekologist. He'll be in Los Angeles for the holiday and missing his Chicago readers (but not the weather.) Also (if you'happen to be reading Santa) he'd like almost everything on this list, but especially #10, #8 and #3. And he's been exceptionally nice this year. Promise.