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Happy Comics: 10 to read right now

From ‘All-Star Superman’ to ‘Goldie Vance,’ here are 10 comics sure to conjure a smile

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After a long and tumultuous year, the 2016 presidential campaign finally drew to a close last Tuesday with the official election of Donald J. Trump. Though the contentious election is finally over, many voters failed to find solace in the outcome. In this uncertain time, it’s helpful to turn to colorful or heartwarming entertainment to cheer you up. To that effect, EW has assembled a list of 10 colorful, cheerful, and just plain fun comic books to read right now. 

All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

If you only know Superman from the recent Zack Snyder movies, or even the past few years of DC’s “New 52” stories, you’d be forgiven for thinking Superman was a humorless machine of pure inhuman destruction. In that case, it’s worth checking out Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman, a brightly-colored and extremely thoughtful story that demonstrates Superman’s real strengths. Here, Superman doesn’t just save the day by destroying buildings and killing people. Instead, he saves a girl from suicide by reminding her she’s stronger than she knows, and helps his co-workers escape the villainous Lex Luthor through some inventive identity-switching. The end result is a beautiful and inspiring vision of heroism. 

Bone by Jeff Smith

Two great things that go great together: Disney movies and The Lord of the Rings. When the cartoonish Bone cousins (Fone Bone, Smiley Bone, and Phoney Bone) are driven out of town thanks to their latest harebrained scheme, they suddenly find themselves in a different kind of world: A fantasy forest populated by real, medieval-era humans. The longer the Bones spend with their new friends, Thorn and her grandmother Rose, the more they find lurking in the forest: Those annoying rat creatures, for one, plus the Great Red Dragon and something about a mysterious Lord of Locusts. As cartoonist Jeff Smith’s self-published magnum opus carries on, dark fantasy threads start to coalesce beneath the surface, but Bone never loses its heartfelt, comical exterior. It’s a perfect blending of two different genres of escapism.

Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman

Go back to college with John Allison’s tale of three best friends trying to figure out their adult lives now that they’re away from home for the first times. Allison’s ability to spin interesting stories and dramatic moments out of the everyday, combined with his remarkable ear for dialogue that mixes humor and pop culture, results in Susan, Esther, and Daisy, feeling not just like people you’d want to befriend, but often like people you could very well know. 

Goldie Vance by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams

There’s no case too big or small—or even too dangerous—for this young detective. Balancing her job as a valet at a holiday resort with her bigger passion for mystery solving sees young Goldie go on a bunch of adventures all around her Florida town. Lucky for the prone-to-trouble teen, she can count on her best friend Cheryl and girlfriend Diane for back up. Hope Larson’s mysteries, combined with Brittney William’s warm and welcoming art, easily makes Goldie’s world one you never want to leave. 

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen

It’s friendship to the max with this ridiculously fun romp of a series that follows five best pals at summer camp as they encounter supernatural creatures and go on magical quests—all while trying to earn a range of “Lumberjane” scouting badges. But Goonies-esque adventuring aside, part of what makes this series such a delight is how inclusive it is of different genders and sexualities, letting people of all ages and orientations in on the fun, and truly making Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types a welcoming space for everyone. 

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Kamala Khan has been relevant from the moment she first made her debut. As Marvel’s only Muslim-American superhero with her own solo series, she’s never been too far from the spotlight or the pressure. Luckily, the teen has more than risen to the challenge, easily earning herself a sizable audience and eager fan base—thanks in no small part to the combined efforts of writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona. In their hands, Kamala’s story is about more than just a young hero taking on an already-existing mantle (one held by current Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers no less), it’s also a timeless coming-of-age tale about learning to define your own values, faith, and beliefs.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Brian K. Vaughan is one of the best comic writers of his generation, but some of his other stories (such as the post-apocalyptic road trip Y: The Last Man) may feel a little too dark right now. Saga, by contrast, offers a whole galaxy of escape. Sure, things are rarely easy for Alana and Marko, two star-crossed lovers on the run since their child Hazel is forbidden by the intergalactic war between their species, but the strong undercurrent of love and empathy keeps them chugging along as they encounter a never-ending supply of diverse sci-fi spectacles, all brought to memorable life by Staples’ flowing art.

Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Michael Allred

Comic books weren’t always dominated by superheroes. Before he invented all those iconic Marvel characters, Stan Lee himself wrote comics in a variety of genres: Westerns, romance, you name it. Dan Slott and Michael Allred’s brilliant run on Silver Surfer harkens back to that era, because even though it stars one of Lee’s personal favorite superhero creations, the book is really a love story at heart. After the cosmically-powered Norin Radd finds himself mysteriously connected to the Earth girl Dawn Greenwood, the two set off on a psychedelic journey across the stars. As they counter intergalactic wonders like Impericon the Impossible Palace and the seemingly-perfect Planet Prime, their bond only deepens. Allred deserves recognition as one of the greatest comic artists of this or any generation, and his incredible visualizations of both these dazzling creations and the central emotional romance will put your jaw on the floor or bring a smile to your face with nearly every page.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

There’s a reason Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green is such a fan favorite—and it’s not because she’s one of the strongest heroes in the Marvel comic universe (though that definitely helps). Rather, it’s her ability to solve problems without having to resort to her fists, something writer Ryan North perfectly captures in both of the character’s recent solo series. So far, Doreen—along with some assistance from squirrel bestie Tippy-Toe—has made a few villains reconsider their choices, if not their careers. However, that doesn’t mean the squirrel-friendly hero is averse to using her formidable fighting skills to kick some butt, even taking on a full-fledged dinosaur at one point. 

Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

In such an uncertain time, it is fulfilling to revisit Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s colorful Young Avengers, a vision of young millennial superheroes open about their unique identities and willing to combat their parasitic parents for the greater good. McKelvie’s art is gorgeous as always, and Gillen’s occasionally wandering storytelling is much more compact here. Together, they’ve made a mind-expanding superhero book all ready for hopeful readers to lose themselves in.