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It’s not all doom and gloom.
Who says superheroes always have to be serious? Sure, things are pretty bleak in Gotham City and beyond, but the right humor can’t help cut the tension and provide some much-needed comic relief. And as Deadpool and Thor: Ragnarok proved at the box office, funny superheroes can crack a few jokes and still save the day. When you need a break from all the doom and gloom, here are the funniest superheroes of all time and where you should start with their comics and movies.
13 funny superheroes that will make you LOL
Thanks to his wildly popular film series, Deadpool is probably the most famous funny superhero of all time. The Fourth-Wall-breaking “merc with the mouth” made his debut in 1991 as a grim assassin, but over the years, he lost his damn mind for the betterment of everyone. With a superhuman healing factor that lets him recover from anything, including having his head cut off, Deadpool runs fearlessly into every situation with a joke and sword at the ready. It’s easy to poke fun when you can ignore any holes your enemies poke in you.
Where to start with Deadpool comics: Joe Kelly’s ’90s Deadpool series is an incredibly fun arc. It follows his journey from killer to a hero who also kills, and introduces many of his most famous friends, including Blind Al. Fans of the second movie should pick up issues of Cable/Deadpool for more buddy-comedy adventures.
Where to start with Deadpool movies: There have been two Deadpool movies released by Fox, both to worldwide acclaim. The character had never appeared before on the silver screen, no matter what Wolverine: Origins wants to believe. Looking for more D-Pool? Check out Disney’s Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon where the character can occasionally be seen fighting ninjas.
Humor has always been one of Spider-Man’s greatest weapons. While most superheroes are adults when they start, Spider-Man got his powers as a teenager. On his earliest adventures, jokes were a way to distract his foes and handle the stress of combat. Over the years jokes have become a defining trait of the hero, even when he’s appearing in other people’s comic books. While the character’s stories have gotten darker over the years, his knack for wisecracks and hysterical jokes has remained as strong as his web-slinger fluid.
Where to start with Spider-Man comics: Every Spider-Man comic book is funny to some degree, but 2005’s Marvel Adventures Spider-Man is a particular high point. This all-ages comic focuses on classic Spider-Man stories, with big fights and even bigger laughs.
Where to start with Spider-Man movies: Of all the funny superheroes to hit the big screen, Spider-Man has been rebooted the most. Each Spider-Man film, regardless of which actor you pick behind the mask, keeps up the spirit of goofy fun found in the books. I prefer the Spider-Man: Homecoming version of the character, but each of the six Spider-Man films is joyful. Along the same lines, there have been nine animated Spider-Man shows since 1967, each with their own humorous take on the adventures of Peter Parker. While none of these titles are currently streaming, Spider-Man: Unlimited, in particular, is worth hunting down for loyalists.
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3) Quantum and Woody
Eric and Woody Henderson are inseparable adopted brothers. While they were close as kids, as adults, they stay together to stay alive. If these dysfunctional brothers don’t touch wristbands every 24 hours, both of them will explode. Given the power of energy projection after a freak accident, the brothers take up the names Quantum and… well Woody, ready to fight evil and find the cure to their curse. Along the way, there are freaks of nature, lunatic white supremacists, and a mysterious super-intelligent goat. Tackling issues of race from the perspective of interracial adopted brothers, Quantum and Woody uses the buddy-comedy formula to keep things from ever becoming too serious. The result is a funny superhero book unlike anything else available.
Where to start with Quantum and Woody comics: While the ’90s series is excellent, I recommend picking up with the 2013 Valiant comics relaunch. It’s a fresh start for the heroes and features their funniest stories yet.
Can I watch them? Not yet, but Valiant comics was purchased by DMG Media this year, leading the way for their properties to debut in movies and TV. Avengers: Infinity War directors the Russo Brothers’ production company is currently developing a Quantum and Woody TV show, so at least you know this property is in good hands.
4) Secret Six
During the lead up to DC Comics’ 2005 Villains United event, writer Gail Simone was asked to build a new super villain team. After being denied permission to use some of DC’s biggest names, she had a stroke a genius: What if it was a team of losers? Collecting some of the publisher’s most C-list villains, including Catman, Bane, and Cheshire, along with the children of existing villains, Simone struck magic. Mining the doubts and emotions of lesser villains turned out to be a perfect recipe for a brilliant, dark, and hysterical book.
Where to start with Secret Six comics: Start with the Secret Six Vol 1: Villains United trade paperback and keep reading. Everything with the Secret Six name on it is brilliant and worth your time.
Can I watch them? Sadly the Secret Six hasn’t made it to other forms of media, but you can catch King Shark making the occasional cameo on The CW show The Flash.
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5) Iron Man
If you told an ’80s Iron Man fan that he was one of the funniest superheroes of all time, you’d be met with confusion. For decades, Tony Stark was defined by his weaknesses, from womanizing to alcoholism. Now thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s sharp writing and Robert Downey Jr.’s charm, Iron Man is arguably the funniest member of the Avengers. Times change, but after decades of dealing with a grumpy drunk in a robot suit, we’re happy to have fun Tony around without the hangovers.
Where to start with Iron Man comics: If you’re looking for whimsy, give the Fantastic Four/Iron Man – Big in Japan miniseries a shot. Featuring giant monsters, plenty of warm humor, and the added bonus of the Fantastic Four, this short series is a pure delight. Movie fans should try The Ultimates, which served as the inspiration for the character’s MCU portrayal. Featuring a Tony Stark who is secretly dying from a brain tumor, readers are treated to a hysterical, irresponsible, wisecracking genius unlike the often-dour one found in the standard Marvel universe.
Where to start with Iron Man movies: Iron Man has headlined three movies in the MCU, with co-starring roles in all the Avengers films and appearances in the Spider-Man and Captain America movies. You might be tempted to check out the ’90s Iron Man: The Animated Series, but it’s a forgettable mess. Instead hunt down The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Disney XD’s post-MCU animated hit.
6) The Boys
Garth Ennis’ The Boys is an incredible comic book I’m incredibly cautious about recommending. To be clear: The Boys is probably going to find a way to piss you off. Following the adventures of a super-powered black ops team charged with keeping the hedonistic superheroes of the world under control, The Boys never met a boundary it wouldn’t push. Full of nearly pornographic sex, revolting graphic violence, and the cutest bulldog in comic books, this is a title that crosses the line every single issue. Its take on 9/11 in particular stands as a moment of darkness that defies belief. Readers willing to adapt to its charms, however, will discover a thoughtful story about vengeance and the abuse of power hidden under all the filth.
Where to start with The Boys comics: The Boys ran for 72 issues from 2006 until 2012. Just start buying the trades, then hunt down the Herogasm mini-series when you get to issue 30.
Can I watch them? Amazon has purchased the rights to The Boys and is in the process of making a show.
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Every kid thinks their parents are evil at some point, but what if you found out your parents were supervillains? In Runaways, a group of teens, forced to hang out together while their parents have a dinner party, discover their folks are hiding a dark secret. Uncovering hidden powers of their own, the kids flee their parents and the authorities to save the world. A perfect blend of The Goonies and The Avengers, Runaways is an all-ages title full of gut-busting humor and moments of brutal heartbreak. Just like high school, only with a scientifically engineered velociraptor.
Where to start with Runaways comics: While a few writers, including Joss Whedon, have taken a crack at the heroes, Brian K. Vaughan’s original run is the best place to start. You get the origin of the heroes and the essential emotional beats in the characters’ histories.
One of the greatest gifts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is how its brought humor to characters previously known for their seriousness. Thor is the greatest example of this phenomenon. In the comics, Thor works best as the straight man to someone else’s jokes, like when he adventures with Deadpool. But thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s giddy performance as the God of Thunder, Thor is just as known for hysterical physical comedy as his jaw-dropping abs.
Where to start with Thor comics: Finding funny Thor comics takes a bit of work, but fret not. Thor: The Mighty Avenger is a fun, light-hearted eight-part limited series that finds Thor stuck in Oklahoma. Full of action, romance, and plenty of laughs, The Mighty Avenger captures the big-screen God of Thunder in the comics.
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Squirrel Girl might not be a household name, but while her fandom might be small, it is indeed mighty, just like the hero herself. Unlike many other funny superheroes, the humor of Squirrel Girl doesn’t come from her jokes, but her stories. Gifted with the powers of super strength and communication with squirrels, Squirrel Girl has proven herself to be a formidable foe to even the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe. This year the Avengers combined might couldn’t take down Thanos, but Squirrel Girl took him down on her own in 2005’s West Coast Avengers X-Mas Special.
Where to start with Squirrel Girl comics: While you can hunt down her earlier appearances as part of the West Coast Avengers, the best place to start is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series by Ryan North, drawn by Erica Henderson. With its brightly colored cartoony art and absurdist stories, it’s one of the rare joyful series found on comic racks today.
Can I watch them? A live action series is in the works from the Freeform network, set to debut sometime in 2018.
10) The Tick
Your earliest memories of The Tick might be Fox Kids short-lived animated series, but the character has been fighting evil in one form or another since 1986. Originally intended as a spoof of classic comic book superheroes, over the years The Tick has evolved into his creature. Blessed with super strength, nigh-invulnerability, and no memory of where he came from, this big blue galoot defends The City from an army of absurd villains. With backup from his accountant turned sidekick Arthur and a passionate battle cry: “Spooooon!” The Tick is ready for ninjas, man-eating cows, and whatever else comes his way.
Where to start with The Tick comics: The Tick: The Complete Edlund collects all of the heroes early adventures, many of which served as inspiration for the original cartoon. When you’re done with that, check out The Tick and Arthur: The Complete Works for the next best collection of stories.
Where to watch The Tick? Fox Kids’ The Tick show is sadly not streaming, but you can find it on YouTube. Fox made a live-action sitcom that is occasionally available on streaming services, though is currently missing. Thankfully, Amazon recently released its own live-action take to critical acclaim.
11) Howard the Duck
The Marvel Universe is full of wacky characters, but an intergalactic alien duck with a gift for magic and the martial arts still ranks as one of its strangest. Stranded on Earth by the evil Thog the Nether-Spawn, Howard made the most of a bad situation, opening a private investigation agency and fighting evil wherever he encountered it. What he lacks in traditional powers Howard makes up for in sass and street smarts, powers that have kept him alive even in the face of world-threatening evil.
Where to start with Howard the Duck comics: The Howard the Duck series that’s been running since 2015 is the hero’s most accessible comics, focusing on street-level adventures in a world where gods walk the Earth. Older readers should also make time for Howard the Duck MAX, an R-rated take that’s a raunchy delight.
How to watch Howard the Duck: Howard the Duck has made multiple appearances in movie theaters, oddly making it before some of Marvel’s biggest heroes. Lucasfilm famously produced a movie about the character in the ’80s, which bombed at the box office but is worth revisiting if you can get over the human-on-duck love scene. In the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, Howard has appeared briefly in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Surprisingly, the cameos don’t stop there. Howard has appeared in episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series. His feathered butt has even shown up in games like Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.
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Hellboy, Mike Mignola’s love letter to Jack Kirby and H.P. Lovecraft, might not immediately strike you as a contender for the funniest comic characters. He’s a demon from hell full of emotional angst, on an endless fight against an all-consuming evil that might one day lead him to destroy the world. That’s what makes the humor Mignola and other writers have injected into his stories so enjoyable. In a world of darkness, sometimes a smile is the only light you find. From the infamous “monkey with a gun” moment in issue 1 of Box Full of Evil to Hellboy in Mexico’s wrestling match with a Luchador Bat God, Hellboy is a series that never stops surprising readers.
Where to start with Hellboy comics: The previously mentioned Box Full of Evil can be found in The Right Hand of Doom collection, which compiles some of the hero’s greatest stories. If you’d like to start from the beginning of the series, pick up Seed of Destruction. Once you’ve consumed the trades, pick up the side series featuring the other members of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD).
Where to start with Hellboy movies: Oscar-winning director Guillermo Del Toro made two fantastic Hellboy films starring Ron Perlman as everyone’s favorite demonic hero. A new film, Rise of the Blood Queen, is = in the works, featuring a much darker R-rated direction and starring Stranger Things actor David Harbour. It will hit theaters in January 2019.
Mark Miller’s Kick-Ass is a pitch-black examination of how superheroes might work in the real world. The 16-year-old titular hero Kick-Ass doesn’t exactly have powers, but he’s got nerve damage that lets him ignore pain. Made famous by a YouTube video of him stopping a mugging, Kick-Ass finds himself on the run from violent gangsters and even more brutal vigilantes. Overflowing with graphic violence, sex, and profanity, Kick-Ass shows the dark side of playing superhero through the eyes of a millennial wiseass. The true star is Hit-Girl, a pre-teen serial killer with an arsenal of swords. But the heart of the book is Kick-Ass’ teenage observations about the absurdly escalating violence around him.
Where to start with Kick-Ass comics: There are three volumes of the original Kick-Ass series, each separated like a movie. Part 1 is the funniest, with Part 2 keeping the humor rolling until a brutal gang rape sequence that almost ruins the book. For those who can handle the content, however, the adventures of Kick-Ass will make you laugh just as often as you recoil in horror. 2018’s reboot of the hero is incredible, replacing 16-year-old Dave Lizewski with Patience Lee, a female African-American veteran of the Afghanistan war. The reboot features far less humor than the original title, but it’s well worth your time.
Where to start with Kick-Ass movies: Two films were made based on the original series starring Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, and Nicolas Cage. Thankfully Kick-Ass 2 removes the rape scene from the comic, but it still threatens it. Be aware going in.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adapter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.