20 most upbeat superhero stories

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Cover of The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects (Image via Dark Horse Comics)

1. The Amazing Screw-On Head

For all that we’ve talked about wisecracking and fish-out-of-water storylines, I haven’t really touched on one of the weirdest and most surreal comics that nonetheless will make you laugh. And, no, it isn’t Howard the Duck.

Instead, I’m talking about Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart’s The Amazing Screw-On Head. While you probably know Mignola best from his work creating Hellboy, which has its own funny moments, Screw-On Head is even more upbeat.

This one-shot comic packs in enough strange humor that you seriously wish it had been made into a series. It almost made it as an animated show, with Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies) as a writer and executive producer. Alas, however, the Sci-Fi Channel declined to pick it up.

At least there’s still the comic. Who is the hero, anyway? First of all, the titular Screw-On Head is a robotic agent for President Abraham Lincoln. How, exactly, a sentient robot exists in the 19th century is frankly unimportant. What is important, though, is Screw-On Head’s mission. Lincoln wants him to track down Emperor Zombie. This bad guy is an undead occultist who wants to employ Lovecraftian style horrors to take over the world.

Screw-On Head does eventually find Emperor Zombie with the help of his manservant, Mr. Groin, and a dog named Mr. Dog. They must defeat Emperor Zombie along with his henchmen, including the vampiric Madam and evil scientist Dr. Snap. Also, without spoiling anything too much, a turnip factors into the plot. It has far more importance than you may at first believe.

Here’s to some happier comic reading with these 20 stories.