Spring Break! Comics, Take Me Away

images-1Hey kids, it’s spring break! Hoo-ray. Lucky me. If it’s not coming through loud and clear on the page, let me make it plain: I’m being sarcastic. The annual spring break tradition actually used to mean something to me, but lately the concept of a weeklong booze-based vacation has lost some of its luster. In the past, spring break meant time to go somewhere tropical, drink copious amounts of alcohol with the old gang and basically escape from the hustle and bustle of reality for seven full days. God, I miss the old gang. Those dudes sure knew how to party. Ok. Full disclosure: there never really was an “old gang,” but there was a lot of drinking and I certainly relished the opportunity to put life on hold for a bit. I’m good at that. It’s a skill that I’ve honed for many years. Spring break was thus a fine tradition that I embraced annually; a liver-abusing, gin-soaked celebration of personal sloth. Good times indeed.

But at some point, age catches up to you and you realize that a bender or an all-nighter or whatever the kids are calling it these days is tough on the body. As for five or six days of such behavior? It’s painful and genuinely inadvisable. So you give in to the reality that father time has kicked you where it hurts most. You’re old and there’s nothing you can do about it. Drinking too much isn’t fun anymore, at least not as much fun. You dive headlong into marriage and eventually parenthood, and you reinvent spring break as a time to get away from it all with the family and read as many comics in a week’s time as you can. At least that’s what I do. Again, hoo-ray.

With two kids in tow and in-laws with a California desert-based condominium, spring break generally images-3tends to amount to a lot of time spent in and around the pool and the consumption of way too much cheese. Pool time and cheese. If there were an “old gang,” they’d drum me right out of the organization for such deeds. This year’s spring getaway coincided with WonderCon, so I was forced to choose family time over convention time. I did what I had to do. I’ve been relegated to predictable Easter egg hunts and country club brunches. And while I certainly like a well-tended prime rib carving station and bottomless mimosas as much as the next guy, I also like strolling Artist’s Alley and questing for back issues. It’s all a reminder of a life plateau that’s been reached. It doesn’t get any better than this, some might say. But then again, maybe it does.

As I lay on a one of those pool floatie rafts reading a comic, I pause for a moment and stare into the deep blue desert sky (my stomach reeling from cheese consumption). Ignoring the chemtrails for the moment, I think about comics and the way they help us escape, how they help us leave the here and now and go to somewhere far away. Simply put, the best comics have the power to take us to another place, another time and, very often, another world. I take this notion of comic book escapism a step further and I start planning next year’s spring break. Life can get stale, and mixing it up doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. I take the conceit even further and start imagining comic book settings and locations as possible destinations. I know these places aren’t real, but I humor myself. Maybe it’s the sunscreen fumes, maybe it’s the mimosas, but I’m off and running. Where to go, where to go…

DoctorDoomWhen you think of comic book settings, there are of course the obvious destinations in Metropolis and Gotham City. But there’s something that just doesn’t feel right about an urban destination for spring break. I’m sure a visit to the Daily Planet or Wayne Manor would be a real treat, but I’m a purist at heart and the concrete jungle just isn’t going to cut it. What about Europe? “Spring break in Europe” has a nice ring to it. Latveria immediately comes to mind. A lot of people knock Latveria. Sure, it’s a dictatorship ruled by Doctor Doom, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have something to offer the spring breaker looking for a change of scene. Proximity to Hungary, Serbia and Romania is worth something, right? As for Latverian cuisine, I’m not sure what that entails, but I have a feeling there’s a lot of herring involved. There’s also that chance that your spring break will overlap with Doom’s Day, which is apparently a holiday celebrating the monarch Doctor Doom himself. Major downside is that your never know when Doom’s Day will be because the holiday’s date is subject to the whims of Doom himself. A lot of variables to consider. Herring and variables equal two strikes against Latveria.

I do enjoy the water, so perhaps a trip to Namor’s stomping grounds might be worth looking into. I images-2mean really, who doesn’t want to go to Atlantis at least once in their lives? Can you say bucket list? The only problem with the vacation to Atlantis is the fact that there’s a lot of mistrust of surface-dwellers down there. Simply put, folks on the surface aren’t really welcomed by the locals, though I’ve heard they’re happy to take American dollars for Atlantis-themed knick-knacks at the various gift shops. Add to that the fact that I can’t breathe under water and maybe it’s not the best choice. Still, the ways of Sub-Mariner and his kind fascinate me. I’m a sucker for moral ambiguity in comic characters. Definitely an option, so I’ll put a pin in it for now.

Though getting there is a bit of a hassle, there’s always the Savage Land. Maybe something a bit more jungle-ish is just what the doctor ordered. I hear as far as hidden prehistoric lands go, it’s top-notch. And the “hidden in Antarctica” aspect of it gives it a certain exclusivity, so tourists won’t be much of a problem. The “savage” part of things is perhaps a bit off-putting, I suppose, but I’m willing to risk my life amidst the savagery if it means a break from the in-laws. Love ‘em to death, but this is my spring break fantasy. Also hear that since Spider-Man relocated him there, Devil Dinosaur has opened up a real spiffy bed and breakfast that serves some world-class scones.

I’m tasting those scones just as a splash of water from some kid doing a cannonball hits me and instantly dissolves my daydream. Goodbye Latveria, goodbye Atlantis, goodbye Savage Land. I squint myself back to reality and realize that the comic I’ve been reading is soaked, another victim of spring break revelry. Fortunately for me, there are more comics back at the condo. They’ll help me escape. They always do.

Gabe Roth is a TV writer and reluctant suburbanite who has it much better than he likes to admit. He’s @gaberoth on Twitter.


  1. This article cries out for pictures from the Marvel Swimsuit Issue.

  2. I’ve already had my Spring Break (my school is on semesters, so it ended about month ago) so now I’m looking forward to Summer Break. I forget how I spent Spring Break, almost no time with friends, running errands for my mom, playing a little Skyrim, and not enough time reading comics are all possible likelihoods. I don’t have plans for Summer Break, but for now my only goal is to just polish off the stack of TPBs I’ve bought over the last year that I still haven’t found time to read.

  3. Damn Gabe, way to depress us 40-something parents on the eve of the weekend!

    Unfortunately, you’re right. Things change. And no matter where I go inside my imagination as I read a really great comic, I can always be quickly brought back to my reality by “Dad! Can you play a game with me?”

    Interesting you mention Latveria. I too have imagined what it would be like to travel to comic book destinations, but the one I think most about is Doom’s stomping ground. Doom always attests to its beauty (avoiding mentioning the absolute fear its citizens live in, as well as the deadly robots and defenses hidden in the bushes) and he’s right. It’s always depicted as this beautiful country with Bavarian-style homes and villages. I’ve been to Germany and loved it, and I have the feeling this would be very much like it.

    I have lots of places I still want to travel on this earth, but I think I could actually go to Latveria for the scenery and get away with it. I mean, I’m not an actual Latverian citizen. I’ve got a passport. I’m not associated with any superheroes, foreign government or spy agency. And as I get on the plane to fly home, I would have no problem meeting Doom on the jetway to say, “beautiful place you’ve got here.”