There are several superhero comic books that boast a positive message, which can be uplifting for fans of Marvel, DC, or Image.
Comic books are a varied medium, though the most fruitful aspect of them is superhero comics. The best part about comics is that they can be used to tell any story out there. If there's a drawback to superhero fiction, it's that it can be very hard to get positive messages out of them.
Sure, superheroes themselves are inherently positive, but their never-ending battles don't lend well to anything but the most generic positivity. Luckily, Marvel, DC, and Image have readers covered. Each publisher has put out great books with positive messages, ones that every fan can get something from.
Flex Mentallo: Man Of Muscle Mystery, by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely, is a very strange book. Running through it are two plot lines: one that follows the titular character as he searches for his friend, the Fact. The other story follows Mentallo's fictional creator Wallace Sage as he struggles with his mental health. Its message can be remarkably opaque, but it's also overwhelmingly positive.
The comic is very autobiographical for Morrison. The writer uses the comic to talk about how creativity can save lives, specifically how comics changed their life for the better. In many ways, Sage draws parallels to Morrison, realizing that the power of comics and creativity is the key.
Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie's Phonogram is a brilliant comic. It follows the adventures of British phonomancers, magic users who use music to power their spells. The book's third volume follows Emily Aster as her chickens come home to roost. Aster is faced with her past, literally, and has to battle against who she was to keep who she is.
While Emily's magic deal to get a better life at the expense of her old one isn't something readers can relate to, Emily's struggle to accept who she was before and integrate it into her current personality is a powerful message. The story is all about coming to terms with the past and using it to build a better future.
Gillen and McKelvie got their chance to shine together on Young Avengers at Marvel. Relaunching the book for the Marvel NOW! publishing initiative, they introduced new members to the team like Noh-Varr, Prodigy, and America Chavez. However, what makes the book so positive is its message of LGBTQ+ acceptance.
Their Young Avengers showcased a predominantly LGBTQ+ team embarking on adventures. It's rightfully considered a high point in Young Avengers history, one that presaged the future of the comic industry. It presented LGBTQ+ characters like never before, with an LGBTQ+ creator helping tell their stories.
Image Comics changed the comic industry in many ways, allowing the biggest creators to tell stories they wouldn't get to anywhere else. Writer/artist Jeff Lemire's Royal City is a wonderful example of that. The comic follows the Pike family, a clan with secrets and pains that have driven wedges between them. They all come back together due to a family tragedy and have to deal with the demons of the past.
Royal City is a family drama, devastating readers at every turn before uplifting them at the end. Its fourteen-issue run is all about a family finding a way to let go of the pain of the past and loving each other no matter what. It's a beautiful message.
Jessica Jones's tenure as the superhero Jewel ended terribly, driving her into a cycle of alcohol dependency and self-loathing. This was chronicled in Alias, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artists Michael Gaydos and Mark Bagley. Jessica's journey in the book is all about coming to terms with the traumas that happened to her and overcoming them.
Alias comes from an era when edgelord comics were all the rage at Marvel. Even though it can be violent, profane, and contains nudity, it never feels edgy just for the sake of it. The creators do a remarkable job of presenting a woman who's on a journey to getting better.
Superman is always a great role model, and nowhere is that more evident than in Superman Smashes The Klan, by writer Gene Luen-Yang and artist Gurihiru. Based upon a radio show from the '50s, the comic's title says it all. Superman goes out and fights the Ku Klux Klan. The positive message behind the comic is simple: always fight discrimination.
Superheroes so rarely go after the real problems in their worlds, so this book showcasing Superman doing so is a breath of fresh air. Racism always must be fought, and using the biggest superhero in the world to do so is very important.
There are many Marvel books that every fan should read. Squadron Supreme, by writer Mark Gruenwald and artists Bob Hall, Paul Ryan, and John Buscema, tops the list. The book follows the titular team as they decide that the world would be a better place if they were running it. They set up a benevolent dictatorship, mind-controlling villains and eroding freedoms in the process.
Eventually, a coalition of heroes and villains alike team up against the Squadron. The aftermath of the battle sees the team give up their power. The comic outlines the dangers of unilateral decision-making and the problems with trading freedom for peace.
DC has made the twelve-issue comic a work of art. Mister Miracle, by writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads, is the best of recent years. Opening with a despondent Scott Free attempting to take his life, the story embroils him and his wife Big Barda in a new war between New Genesis and Apokolips. Mister Miracle is presented with his trauma firsthand but learns to deal with it with the help of a new addition to the Free family.
Mister Miracle takes an unflinching look at how mental health can affect someone. It also looks at how someone can get past it with friends and family helping them to heal. It's an optimistic story about perseverance, facing one's demons, and finding a new life.
There are some brilliant X-Men tales out there, but few have the power of X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, by writer Chris Claremont and artist Brent Anderson. As young mutants start turning up dead, Magneto and the X-Men team up to battle the Purifiers, anti-mutant bigots under the control of the nefarious Reverend Stryker. Together, Magneto and the X-Men bring the fight to Stryker.
God Loves, Man Kills shows that, while faith is a good thing and has been a boon in many people's lives, organized religion can take faith and twist it according to the whims of the leader. Something that can bring community and love is transformed into a perversion, but God Loves, Man Kills is all about overcoming this.
All-Star Superman is generally considered the greatest Superman story ever. Written by Grant Morrison with art by Frank Quitely, the story begins with Superman falling victim to Lex Luthor's trap and getting a fatal overdose of solar energy saving the first manned mission to the Sun. Facing the end of his life, Superman sets out to make the world a better place in the time he has left.
Superman faces his mortality and never gives up. He keeps working to do better, to be better, and to make the world better. He sets an example for everyone, even as things start to fall apart. It's a story about a man facing the unknown and telling it to wait until he's finished.
NEXT: 10 Image Comics Everyone Should Read
David Harth has been reading comics for close to 30 years. He writes for several websites, makes killer pizza, goes to Disney World more than his budget allows, and has the cutest daughter in the world. He can prove it. Follow him on Twitter- https://www.twitter.com/harth_david.