20 most upbeat superhero stories

16 of 21

Cover of Howard the Duck #1 (Image via Marvel)

6. Howard the Duck

For the unwary, I’ve got to start this off with a serious warning: don’t go see the Howard the Duck movie. This film, inexplicably shot in live action with a seriously strange-looking duck costume at its center, was a critical and commercial failure. In many quarters, it’s considered one of the worst movies ever made.

Some people have since made it into something of a cult film. Still, the truth is that Howard the Duck the movie is too aggressively mediocre and strange for even that dubious honor. Luckily, however, we’ll always have the comics.

Despite the goofy central character — an alien who looks like an anthropomorphic duck, talks like a grumpy private detective, and generally wants to be left alone — many of the stories about Howard are good reading. If you’re a fan of satire and absurd existential narratives, then Howard the Duck isn’t a bad call.

It’s actually difficult to pick just one story to recommend for Howard the Duck. If you’re not completely sick of political satire, then Howard the Duck #8-9, in which our titular character takes on the 1976 presidential election, is a good bet. If you want something sillier, then read Spider-Man Team-Up #5, featuring Spidey, Howard, and the X-Men’s Gambit. Of course, the first issue of Howard the Duck’s title series is also a good, natural place to start.