Hey kids! Comic books!
This is what I've been reading lately to take my mind off of everything else. (I still read "real" books, too. I'm 450 pages into the new Murakami, skipping around in Hitchens' last collection, and intermittently picking my way though McCollough's John Adams biography. But what's the fun in talking about that?)
Batman (new series, DC)
I've explored some of DC's "New 52" (though certainly not all of it), and in fact, it was my wife's very thoughtful birthday present a few months back of a whole stack of issues #1 from that series that got me back into the comic book store on a regular basis. I've enjoyed several of the titles--Action Comic's working class hero take on Superman is really fresh, and I like the dark take on the Olympian gods in Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman--but the clear standout for me is this new Batman series, and the "Court of the Owls" storyline. In fact, it's the only superhero book I plan to keep buying monthly, at least for now.
I get the distinct sense that the fallout from this storyline is going to define this reboot of the franchise.
Clive Barker's Hellraiser (Boom! Studios)
Barker has a brilliant, if perverse, imagination. Two themes that run throughout his books: 1) Be careful what you wish for, and 2) Monsters are not born, they're made. Nowhere are both themes explored in more painstaking detail than in Barker's novella The Hellbound Heart, and the Hellraiser movies based on it.
This series by Boom! picks up 20 years after the second Hellraiser movie, and pretends that the other seven sequels didn't happen (as most fans of the original movie would prefer to do.) Kirsty Cotton has dedicated her life to seeking out LeMarchand's devices--the gateways to Hell like the one that destroyed her family--and destroying them. Along the way she's found a small group of people who, like her, have managed to survive the Cenobites. Her personal vendetta against Hell consumes her. Meanwhile, the Priest (aka "Pinhead") has grown weary of his existence, and is haunted by the memories of his own lost humanity that Kirsty forced him to regain. He has hatched a plan to escape Hell, and steal salvation, but he must first find a suitable replacement. His attention turns to the only human that ever defeated him...
This is probably not for everyone. Much like the movies, the violence is frequent, intense, spectacularly gory, and provocatively sexualized. But if you like your stories gothic, your good and evil ambiguous, and your demons eloquent, I'm hard-pressed to think of anything better than this.
Also, the art is spectacular.
Near Death (Image)
Thief of Thieves (Image)
Another new crime series from Image, and only one issue so far. Basically, it's a heist book, and it looks great. Can't wait to see what they do with this one.