By Eddie deAngelini

The days are longer and hotter, the smell of barbecue fills the air and you’re looking for that perfect literary companion to laze away the day poolside. An ideal summer read should be a precise balance of intensity and fun, able to speed you away to a fantastic world of adventure and gently ease you back just in time for your burger coming off the grill. Here are four titles that fit that summertime bill.

1. Afterlife With Archie

When Jughead’s beloved pet Hot Dog is killed in a hit and run, Jughead turns to the only person he knows who can help bring back his canine companion-Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Using dark, forbidden magic, Sabrina is successful and Hot Dog returns to the land of the living. But he’s not the same… and soon, the darkness he brings back with him from beyond the grave begins to spread, forcing Archie and the gang to try to escape a zombie-infested Riverdale.

This series looks and feels much different than The Archie you may have known as a kid. The art is more realistic and the themes can get a bit dark in spots, but who doesn’t love a good scare! Watching the old Riverdale gang fight their way through hoards of zombies is downright fun for anyone who is also a Walking Dead fan.

2. Manifest Destiny

Famed explorers Lewis and Clark set out to conquer the American frontier, but this is a different expedition than the one we read about in history class. This new world is infested with fantastic and dangerous monsters, from plants that turn humans into jungle rot zombies to giant charging minotaurs and one-eyed bigfoots. Stuffy textbook history is replaced by high adventure without being dumbed down. If the idea of going to summer camp smack-dab in the middle of Monster Island or Jurassic Park excites you, then this one is for you.

3. Lion of Rora

Lion of Rora is the true story of Joshua Janavel, the 17th century farmer turned freedom fighter, who stopped at nothing in his quest to save his people from tyranny and religious persecution. The book documents the Waldensian uprising against the oppressive Catholic Church backed Duchy of Savoy, but what sounds like a dry History Channel documentary reads more like a high adventure in the tradition of “Braveheart” and “300.” While based on historical facts, it tells the story first and foremost of a persecuted minority’s struggle for freedom and human rights that reached an emotionally satisfying conclusion. Be sure to but on your sunblock before reading this on, because it is impossible to put down before reaching that last page!

4. Irredeemable Ant-Man

When a low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent gets a hold of Hank Pym’s new Ant-Man suit you know the Marvel Universe is in trouble. He’s not concerned with saving the world or helping others. He’s concerned with getting through the day and getting a leg up on life. He’s not going to use his powers responsibly, he’s going to use them for the betterment of himself. He’s the ‘new’ Ant-Man and he just might learn what it means to be a hero if he can stop thinking about himself for just one minute.

Let’s be honest. If you suddenly gained super abilities, your first thought may not be “how can I selflessly help others?” Most people might be tempted to do the things they normally won’t be able to get away with. While not mean-spirited enough to be a super villain, this new Ant-Man’s good deeds are backed up with his ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. Fans of the recent film will enjoy this comedic, off beat take on the character.

Ready to get reading? These books and more can be found at Hi De Ho Comics, 1431 Lincoln Blvd., in Santa Monica.