Today in The 2023 PopCult Gift Guide we are going to recommend three collections (one of them a series) of excellent basic Superhero comics.

You’ll get one from DC, one from Marvel and one that predates both of those companies.

These are good gift ideas for the younger reader who maybe doesn’t have nearly sixty years of reading comic books in his or her past, so these will be new and exciting for them.

Older fans will also get a kick out of these classics.

These are pure comic book superheroics, in their original form, without all the bells and whistles of giant budgets, state-of-the-art special effects or big name actors.

This is the primordial soup from which Superheroes sprang. These books can be found in, or ordered from comic book shops and booksellers. For one of them, I’ll point you to the publisher’s website.

Superman For All Seasons
words by Jeff Loeb, Art by Tim Sale
DC Comics
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1779523877

This is a new edition of a modern-day classic. Superman For All Seasons is recognized as one of the great Superman tales ever told.

One of the many high-quality collaborations between writer, Jeff Loeb, and the late artist, Tim Sale, this story was originally serialized over four issues of a mini-series twenty-five years ago. It brought a fresh take of the all-American origins of Clark Kent and Superman and was overdue for a new collected edition.

The blurb….

What turns a country boy into the world’s greatest hero?

Told through the course of four seasons in the Man of Steel’s adolescent life, this collection illustrates that it is the person, not the powers, that makes Superman a hero.

The catalyst for the “Smallville” television program, SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS is emotional and insightful, humanizing the alien from another planet so that he is not only realistic but also relatable. It also features in-depth characterizations of Lana Lang, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane and the Kents.

Superman For All Seasons collects the entirety of Superman for All Seasons #1-4.

Jeph Loeb is the author of Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, Catwoman: When in Rome, Challengers of the Unknown Must Die!, Spider-Man: Blue, Daredevil: Yellow and Hulk: Gray–all of which were collaborations with artist Tim Sale. He has also written Superman/Batman, Supergirl, The Witching Hour, Cable, X-Man, X-Force, The Ultimates 3 and various other books. His TV and movie credits include Teen Wolf, Heroes, Commando, Buffy: The Animated Series and Smallville.

Tim Sale, who passed away last year, was an American comics artist best known for his work on the DC Comics characters Batman and Superman and for influencing depictions of the Caped Crusader in numerous films.  He is primarily known for his collaborations with  Loeb, which included both comics work and artwork for the TV series Heroes.

Superman For All Seasons is the kind of super hero book you want to cozy up to on an overcast day when you want superhero action, but also want to feel warm and fuzzy inside.

by Jack Kirby with Stan Lee
Outreach/New Reader
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1302929794

This collection is part of a series of books that collects the origins of the Marvel Universe in inexpensive and attractive volumes that will let you catch up to sixty years’ worth of convuluted continuity from the beginning, by assembling the classic original tales. This volume begins their collection of The Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship title in the 1960s, and the one comic of theirs that has never successfully be translated into a major motion picture.

Created and drawn by Jack Kirby, with input from his editor, Stan Lee, The Fantastic Four set the tone for the Marvel Universe, introducing concepts and characters which are still being adapted for the big screen today.

This handy book lets readers get in on the ground floor with the first ten issues of the series, dating back to 1961.

If you’re not familiar with the story, while testing an experimental spacecraft, scientist Reed Richards, pilot Ben Grimm and siblings Sue and Johnny Storm were bombarded by mysterious cosmic rays. Upon their return to Earth, they found that they’d gained fantastic new abilities.

From the boundless imagination of Jack Kirby, witness Mister Fantastic, the Thing, the Invisible Girl and the Human Torch overcome their differences and band together as the Fantastic Four – and thrill to their first battles with the Mole Man, the Skrulls, the Puppet Master, the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom.

Discover why they call it “the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!”

The cool thing about this is that the series has contined. The books are slightly smaller than a modern comic book, perfect bound, and very nicely colored on bright white paper. The third volme has just been published and a fourth is planned for next year. Other Marvel books in this series include Steve Ditko’s Spider-man and Doctor Strange; Kirby’s Hulk, The Mighty Thor, Captain America and Black Panther and other Marvel titles like Daredevil, The Avengers, The X Men, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer and others.

This is a great way to witness the stories that made Marvel what it is today.

written by Joe Gill, drawn by Don Newton
Hermes Press
Available directly from the publisher

This lovely hardback collects the stories of The Phantom drawn by legendary artist, Don Newton for Charlton Comics back in the 1970s.

After toiling as a fan artist for years, Newton broke through drawing The Phantom before making the leap to DC Comics where he became a star artist with his work on Batman, Aquaman, Detective Comics, Shazam and other titles before he passed away at the age of 49 in 1984.

The Phantom is a prototypical superheor, first published in his own comic strip by King Features Syndicate in 1936, two years before Superman exploded on the scene in Action Comics #1. King Features licensed several different publishers to produce comic books featuring “The Ghost Who Walks” over the decades, and in the 1960s and 1970s it was Charlton’s turn. After losing Jim Aparo to DC Comics, Charlton tried several other artists on the book before settling on Newton.

Newton’s artwork is exquisite, combining the realism of Neal Adams with the smooth inking of Bernie Wrightson and his own artistic sensibility, honed by years of doing fan art. Muc of his work at DC Comics is still in print.

This tribute to artist Don Newton collects his complete output of Phantom comic book stories created for Charlton Comics between 1975 -1977.  This volume features the Charlton Phantom stories from issues #67, 68, 70, 71, and 74.  Also presented is an exhaustive biographical essay on the artist’s career with representative examples of his art for fanzines, comics, and illustration as well as numerous examples of his original art spanning his entire career.

This book also includes a never-before-seen interview with Newton’s son, Tony, about his experiences with his father.

Additionally on display in a special section of the book are over fifty examples of original artwork from these Phantom stories.

This book would be a great gift for any fan of The Phantom or any fan of Don Newton’s work.