We like just about any comic book store, but we love Zeus. Zeus does, in fact, have an amazing range of books and collectibles, but it's more than that: In a realm of pop culture that has largely been dominated by straight white male points-of-view, Zeus creates experiences that amplify the voices and speak to the interests of female, LGBTQ and young comic book fans. It's an inclusive atmosphere, honed by owner Richard Neal, whose smiling face has greeted almost every customer over the past 18 years — and in countless conversations about storylines and superhero deaths, he's been able to key in on what fulfills his customers. Like his Birds of Prose Women's Book Club, which meets the first Wednesday of every month over cocktails and crafts and often features Skype sessions with authors like Brian Michael Bendis of "Jessica Jones" or Jen Van Meter of "Hopeless Savages." Zeus offers a Girl Scout badge program in the spring that fills up in seconds and has hosted lively LGBTQ mixers for years. Ultimately, it's an atmosphere that feels more like family than retail: Everyone is part of the pop-culture conversation at Zeus.

Need a hero? Meet local nonprofit Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, which fights for the rights of asylum seekers and immigrants in an atmosphere that's made their plight difficult, at best. This collection of attorneys, social workers, students, pastors and volunteers has been on the frontlines of immigration law since 1999, but since 2017 their mission has become more urgent. Under Executive Director Bill Holston, their attorneys joined the "war room" at DFW Airport during the first days of the Trump administration's "travel ban" on individuals from predominantly Muslim countries, working to free those detained at the airport. Today, they are focused on the children separated from asylum-seeking parents at the border: speaking out at protests and community events, serving on panels that discuss legal remedies, recruiting and training pro-bono attorneys and connecting resources across the region to reunite families.

Best Magician
courtesy Mike Williams

Mike Williams, or Magic Mike as he's known to audiences all over DFW, is a magician Dallasites need to go out of their way to see. He can send little kids into fits of amazement while making the parents in the room laugh at his exquisitely timed jokes. Williams' charm and charisma are infectious, and after watching a full performance, your face hurts from smiling. His skills as a magician only increase each year, and if he never added another new illusion to his act, it would still be worth watching.

Omar Narvaez
Brian Maschino
Omar Narvaez

During his first term as a member of the Dallas City Council, West Dallas' Omar Narvaez has distinguished himself as more than just a member of the council's progressive caucus. While he reliably partners with Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston to advance smart policies, Narvaez stands out from the pack when it comes to advocating for the city's poor and addressing historical inequities. In May, he called out Dallas' problem with income inequality as being the result of systemic racism. It wasn't a new idea, but it was jolting to hear it coming from behind the council horseshoe.

Texas Theatre
Barak Epstein

To the rest of the country, the Texas Theatre will always be associated with Lee Harvey Oswald, but for most folks in Dallas, the theater, located in the heart of Oak Cliff, surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants and bars, is considered a staple for nights of good drinks, music and film. Following its grand re-opening in 2010, the theater offers the best bang-for-your-buck programming in town. Regularly pairing rare film screenings with local and touring acts, the Texas Theatre has created legendary evenings such as the 1977 horror film "Suspiria" with Italian progressive rock band Goblin or '80s horror flick "The Beyond" with film-score composer Fabio Frizzi performing a composer's cut, with local band Pinkish Black serving as the opening act. The 87-year-old theater plays not just obscure foreign films but modern blockbusters like "Star Wars." With unique programming, a full bar and special guests in film and music, Texas Theatre is where you go when cookie-cutter movie theaters won't cut it.

Big names, workshops, magic shows. Whether you're looking to laugh (understandable) or up your game at making others laugh (same), Addison Improv can enrich your life. Also, if you need to take care of that arrest warrant with a defensive driving course, look no further: You can take it here, and you'll laugh in the process.

Hyena's Comedy Club Dallas

Any fan of stand-up comedy is missing out by not attending the weekly open mic at Hyena's Dallas in Mockingbird Station. Touring professionals, local legends and the newest generation of young stand-ups meet to grab a drink and work on their latest jokes at one of the longest-running open mics in Dallas. Throughout the night audiences can see never-before-heard material from recipients of Netflix specials and then stand shoulder to shoulder with the same comedian at the bar. The entire show is a house party on Wednesday night, with a group of great talents swapping war stories about comedy, and you can be a fly on the wall witnessing history each week.

Dallas Comedy House
Kaspars Skels

Dallas Comedy House is not only a staple of Deep Ellum, it's a staple of Dallas comedy, maintaining a consistently high bar for their shows. There's such a variety of talented troupes and charismatic performers that it's a guarantee you will never see the same show twice at DCH. The freedom for all the improvisers to design their own shows creates a theater that is always pushing boundaries and introducing audiences to new forms of comedy they wouldn't otherwise see in Dallas. With multiple shows happening six nights a week, there's something for every type of comedic taste at Dallas Comedy House.

Best Improv Troupe
courtesy Four Day Weekend

Four Day Weekend is the gold standard for style and presentation in improvisational comedy, invoking a classic Hollywood approach to their shows. For improvisers it's considered a high achievement to join the ranks of the longest-running improv troupe in DFW. This year the troupe expanded operations from their location in Fort Worth to a second spot on Greenville Avenue, giving those who refuse to visit Fort Worth a chance to see the show. The troupe has played for two presidents, and they can play for you too if you buy tickets to one of their Saturday-night Dallas shows.

Dan's Silverleaf
Daniel Rodrigue

Taylor Higginbotham, Brad McKenzie and Robbie Scheer, the three Denton men behind The Brave Boys podcast, are making big waves with their weekly comedy show. Funny, irreverent and addictive, The Brave Boys' chemistry creates the feeling for the listener that they're the silent fourth member of a group of friends that they always look forward to hanging out with. The Brave Boys' unpredictable interviews with local comedians they invite as guests not only showcase their skills as hosts, it makes you mad at yourself for not already being a fan of the comedian you're hearing for the first time.

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