There are a million different ways to lose yourself. Whether it’s in a game, a story, a movie, it’s comforting to know that if you ever need a pause from the real world for a minute, there is something out there to help. Lately, I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite comics that have helped me get away in the past. From angsty superheroes to pop star gods and goddesses, there’s bound to be something among this list you can escape into.
1. Lady Killer by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
Picture it: America, the 1950s. Josie Schuller is seemingly the perfect housewife and mother, but she’s also a hired hit-woman for the mob. This five-issue series follows Josie’s struggle as she goes from predator to prey. The mob she kills for puts a hit out on her, and she has to stay one step ahead to survive. Fans of gangster movies, powerful women kicking butt, and pretty vintage aesthetics are bound to enjoy this wild ride of a series. Come for the story of one homemaker-assassin trying to survive and have it all (on her terms), stay for the stunning art and cunning writing.
2. The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
If you grew up loving both music and mythology of any kind, boy do I have the series for you. In The Wicked + The Divine, the gods (here known as a group of 12 people called the Pantheon) are reincarnated every 90 years. They have divine powers and become famous, but they must die within 2 years of realizing their divinity. There are allusions to Prince and David Bowie, and an interesting exploration of fan culture—namely through the series protagonist, Laura Wilson. She is a fan of the Pantheon who finds herself thrown into their world. The art is beautiful and the story is rich with diverse, compelling characters. With at least 45 issues to work through, there is plenty to lose yourself in. If this series isn’t a gift from above, I’m not sure what is.
3. Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
The first collection of Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant webcomic is full of joyous goofs worth escaping into. If you love history, classic literature, and a silly time, look no further! There are iconic strips such as “Come Dream With Me,” which imagines a fangirling Jules Verne writing Edgar Allan Poe about their potential friendship, the beginnings of Beaton’s Pony Prince character (who is an icon in their own right), and her always hilarious “French Revolution Comics.” It is truly an embarrassment of riches worth digging into when you need to get away or just have a good laugh.
4. The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s series about a dysfunctional family of superheroes. The tale of The Umbrella Academy—a group of seven gifted children born to different mothers at exactly the same time who are adopted by an eccentric billionaire to save the world—is never boring. How can any comic that has an orchestra who can sonically kill people, time travel, and characters reluctantly working through familial trauma while trying to save the world be boring? It helps that there’s a Netflix adaptation, so even when you’re done reading, you don’t have to leave the world of the Academy.
5. Uzumaki by Junji Ito
The iconic manga about a town being terrorized by a cursed spiral might not sound like the ideal comic for an imaginary escape, but in my experience, confronting horrible things head on can be comforting. Junji Ito’s singular, exhilarating art style and the gripping vignettes that show how the spiral is affecting several characters in the town, are enough to keep you on your toes the whole way through. Citizens’ hair spirals (literally), people turn into snails, and even the houses form a spiral labyrinth as the curse infects the town. Like The Umbrella Academy, there’s a film adaptation you can watch afterwards, if you’re so inclined! It’s an engrossing masterwork of horror manga that’s worth checking out at least once.
All five of these are worth diving into if you’re looking for a way to get away from the real world for a while. Whether you choose lightly historical comedy, high glam rock fantasy, or the horrors of the spiral, any of these titles is bound to keep you engrossed whenever things get overwhelming. Happy reading!