TOP PICK – BOOK
Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes
The first volume in this great new series focusing on Carl Barks, who was behind some of the best comic books of the '40s and '50s, includes his classic Peruvian adventure tale that inspired both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. There are lots of other stories here too, all featuring Donald Duck, who spars with his nephews, other ducks, and a Christmas villain. An essential collection.
Professor Layton and the Last Specter
The best puzzle-game series ever returns for its fourth adventure for the Nintendo DS, this time chronicling the top hat-wearing professor's very first mystery. There are tons of puzzles to solve within the story -- some easy, some nerve-rackingly hard. There's also a bonus role-playing game. And like the other Layton games, you can download new weekly puzzles to keep your brain aching all year long.
The two movies on this collection aren't very shocking, unless “shockingly bad” is what they had in mind. Both of them are directed by William Beaudine, who had been making crappy movies since the silent days. These two – Billy the Kid vs. Dracula and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter – came at the end of his career. Despite their many, many flaws, they're still a lot of fun.
Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers
The big-screen Thor is one of the year's best superhero movies. This animated feature is just as good. It comes from the Marvel Knights Animation series, which has released some cool – and cool-looking – movies over the past few years. This one is based on the graphic novel that digs at the core of the Thunder God's troubled and deadly relationship with his brother. Hammer time!
U2: Achtung Baby – 20th Anniversary Edition
U2's great 1991 album explodes in this six-disc, 72-track box that gathers pretty much everything from the productive sessions that yielded both Achtung Baby and its follow-up Zooropa, which is also included here. There's a bounty of remixes, B-sides, and leftover cuts on this time-sucking behemoth, which may test even the band's most devoted fans by the time they get around to the 12th version of “Even Better Than the Real Thing.”