Whoooooooooo. You looked stressed. I know, right? First, it was a joke. Then it was unimaginable. Then unthinkable. Improbable. Unlikely. Then it happened and now we’re are all wondering, “When will it get worse?”
Still not sleeping well? Me either. Are you reading the news? Me either. I’m 165 pages into the history of the building of the Panama Canal. Developing a credible strategy for dealing with malaria and yellow fever. Boy, those were the days.
The holidays seem tainted, right? Like it’s not ok to let your guard down and relax? Yup. Same. I’m on high mental alert, and we’re not going to get much done in this state.
What we need, however brief, is an escape. I have just the thing.
Here are five of my favorite pages:
I’ve been shilling the Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-men for years, and I will continue to to shill because if you don’t care about comic books or if you’ve never heard of the X-men, you will still love this work. Whedon is the Aaron Sorkin of comic book dialog. Strike that. Whedon is the Joss Whedon of comic book dialog. It’s clever, well-timed, and distinctly human. Characters I’ve been reading for years becoming more developed and more familiar in this book.
My re-entry into comics came roughly three years ago when I dropped in somewhere in the middle of the Secret Invasion plot line. In an exercise which is surprisingly hard, I reverse engineered the genesis of this entire plot line which was Avengers Disassembled. It’s not the best book on this list, but it kicks off a whole series of fascinating plot lines including the New Avengers, Planet Hulk, Civil War, House of M, and a bevy of other plot lines that a worth your time. Read them before they come to big screen.
Leaving the comfort of Marvel, Dark Horse’s Fear Agent is an offbeat delight. Following the adventures of Heath Huston, a Fear Agent who is a member of a task force dedicated to eradicating aliens threats to member planets. It’s kitschy science fiction. It’s those horrible low-budget sci-fi shows I watched as a kid. Huston quotes Mark Twain, drinks incessantly, but somehow saves the universe.
I’m not going to say a lot about Locke & Key other than to remind of that time you picked up a book and it was so good that you forgot to sleep? That. The complete collection is six books, and only one of the middle books is slightly meh, and you’ll forget all about that by the end. When you’re done, read about the author.
Hawkeye deconstructs the superhero. In this book, he’s certainly superheroing, but he rarely wears the gear. The problems he solves are relatively mundane because, as the book states, this is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger. The page above is the chapter told entirely from the perspective of his dog. It works bro.
Five pages, five paragraphs. If you were to purchase and read all five books, I guarantee you a brief respite from the world. The stories are rich; the art is compelling. You’ll discover tales you’ve heard over and over again told in ways you did not expect. You’ll laugh. You’ll be disgusted. Time will pass, and you’ll be mentally refreshed.
Good, now we’ve got work to do.