If you're looking for a last minute holiday gift for the nerd in your life, do your best to eschew the big stores and instead take a gander into your closest comic book store. (You can use the handy comic shop locator service to find one near you.)
But there are thousands of gifts you can get the person in your life that might be interested in comics, and the staff at your local store is going to be able to help you find exactly what your loved one is going to want. Since all the shops are local, you're going to be helping your local economy rather than having the money shipped off to some corporate entity thousands of miles away-aside from the comic publishers, at least-and you'll be able to feel good about yourself.
If you need a few suggestions from me, here you go:
Batman 75th Anniversary Commemorative Collection: This is a beautifully packaged set of brand-new editions of three of Batman's greatest stories: Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns; Hush, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Jim Lee; and The Court of Owls, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. This grouping of books is the perfect Batman sampler for someone who is new to the character and with some of the best stories told with him.
Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir: This is a comic book you need to get fast. It's one of the last Star Wars stories published by Dark Horse comics and it's one of the first comic book stories in the new canon. Dark Horse won't be able to publish this in the new year, so this is the time to grab it. It continues the story of Darth Maul, left as a dangling cliffhanger in the wake of the cancellation of The Clone Wars. It leaves Star Wars fans thirsty for more, and still a bit disappointed by the loss of the TV show.
Death of the Family and Joker Mask: For the nerd in your life who likes to dress up while reading comics, DC Comics has put together a set that is exactly for them. In the current comics continuity, Joker actually peeled the skin off his face and wears it as a mask, strapped to his head with a leather belt. This is a facsimile of that, as well as the incredibly well-told story by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in graphic novel form. Creepy? Sure, but not as creepy as a giant fat man crawling into your chimney and eating your cookiees.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers: After the film version of Guardians of the Galaxy came out, suddenly everyone wanted more from them and Brian Michael Bendis has written the perfect jumping on point for anyone getting into the actual Marvel 616 universe of comics with the characters. It's funny and, just like in the movie, Rocket Raccoon steals the show.
Batman: The Animated Series Toys: Yes. Grown up nerds still love toys. And there are no better looking toys out there right now than those based off of the Batman cartoons from the 1990s. They look perfect on any shelf and are so easily posable it's eerie. Ask your comic book store to hook you up with any of these and you're going to see smiles when your loved one unwraps them.
If these don't sound like something your nerdy loved one would want, don't hesitate to ask the staff of the comic book store. They're there to help! I promise. You'll be doing yourself, your loved ones, and your community a service. Because when we give and receive comic books, we all win.
Bryan Young is the author of "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination," the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot!, and is the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, "Full of Sith."