DC Comics recently sent me a Batman-shaped thumb drive with holiday-gift suggestions on it. My first thought: "A Batman-shaped thumb drive exists! And I've got one!"
I scrolled through the suggestions on the drive and found a few had merit, and some I had meant to recommend anyway.
One such is the "We Can Be Heroes Justice League Action Figure Box Set." What's significant about this set of the seven founding Justice League members (as of the new origin in 2011) is not how spiffy they are, but that part of the purchase price will benefit efforts to relieve drought suffering in the Horn of Africa. Ten dollars of the admittedly high purchase price (officially $99.95, but cheaper at various online outlets) goes directly to the "We Can Be Heroes" campaign.
Which is not to say the figures aren't spiffy, because they are. The set features Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Lantern, Superman and Wonder Woman, rendered as detailed and articulated PVC action figures.
The thumb drive also featured a "Sandman" section with several options, including one item already on my "to recommend" pile. That would be the recently released "The Annotated Sandman Volume Two" ($49.99), containing more than 500 pages reprinting and commenting on Neil Gaiman's classic "The Sandman" Nos. 21-39. The annotations are by Leslie S. Klinger, who has done similar annotated works on Dracula and Sherlock Holmes, buttressed by hours of interviews with Gaiman. If you're of a literary or intellectual bent, this is the perfect way to enjoy Gaiman's epic.
Scrolling down, I found the "Fables" section, books and such based on Bill Willingham's wonderful Vertigo series posited on fairy-tale figures living quietly among us, growing stronger or weaker dependent on our belief in them. And sure enough, I had already planned to address two "Fables"-related books.
One is "Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland" ($22.99), which debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times' Hardcover Graphic Books bestseller list Dec. 1. Written by Willingham himself, the story features fan-favorite character Bigby Wolf (Bigby, aka Big B., or "Big Bad") searching rural America for a new site for Fabletown, whose New York City location was destroyed. He runs across Story City, Iowa, a town completely populated by werewolves -- and they're related to Bigby in a surprising way. Plus, they revere him as a god. But gods are sometimes sacrificed, and Bigby finds out he's in for the fight of his life.
Also on the "Fables" list is the first collection of the spinoff series "Fairest," featuring the many lovely ladies of folklore. "Fairest Volume 1: Wide Awake" ($14.99) collects the first seven issues, the first six of which star Sleeping Beauty, aka Princess Briar Rose, in a story by Willingham and drawn by Phil Jimenez.