I’m saying this in my best Ed McMahon voice: “Every character from Marvel that was ever in any book will eventually get his or her own ongoing series! Is that about right?”
When the news came out late last week that Howard the Duck was returning Marvel Comics in his own monthly title, my first thought was that he’d eventually team up with Squirrel Girl. Hey, it could happen!
JUST WHO IS HOWARD THE DUCK?
If you saw the Guadians of the Galaxy movie and hung around after the credits, you saw an anthropomorphic duck among the Collector’s stuff. That was Howard the Duck.
For more on the duck P.I., here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
“Howard the Duck was created in 1973 by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik in Adventure into Fear as a secondary character in that comic’s Man-Thing feature. He graduated to his own backup feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing, confronting such bizarre horror-parody characters as Hellcow and the Man-Frog, before acquiring his own comic book title with Howard the Duck #1 in 1976.
“Gerber wrote 27 issues of the series (for the most part ditching the horror parodies), illustrated by a variety of artists, beginning with Frank Brunner. For Gerber, Howard was a flesh and blood duck and that, ‘if Wile E. Coyote gets run over by a steamroller, the result is a pancake-flat coyote who can be expected to snap back to three dimensions within moments; if Howard gets run over by a steamroller, the result is blood on asphalt.’ Gene Colan became the regular penciller with issue #4.”
“Marvel attempted a spin-off with a short-lived Howard the Duck newspaper comic strip from 1977 to 1978, at first written by Gerber and drawn by Colan and Mayerik, later written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Alan Kupperberg.
“Gerber gained a degree of creative autonomy when he became Howard the Duck’s editor in addition to his writing duties. With issue #16, unable to meet the deadline for his regular script, Gerber substituted an entire issue of text pieces and illustrations satirizing his own difficulties as a writer.
“In 1978, the writer and publisher clashed over issues of creative control, and Gerber was abruptly removed from the series. This was one of the first highly publicized creator’s rights cases in American comics, and attracted support from major industry figures, some of whom created homage/parody stories with Gerber to fund a lawsuit against Marvel; these included Destroyer Duck with Jack Kirby. The lawsuit ended with a confidential settlement between Gerber and Marvel.”
Now here’s some irony for you: “Around this time, The Walt Disney Company threatened to sue Marvel for infringement of copyright claiming that Howard looked too similar to Donald Duck and enforced a different design, including the use of pants (as seen in the movie and some later comics).” Disney now OWNS Marvel – How about that?
But if you say the words “Howard the Duck,” most of us still think of a God-awful film from George Lucas (of all people). It was so horrid that it sent the character into limbo for decades. That is, until now.
A NEW COMIC?
As announced on EW.com, Marvel will launch Howard the Duck, a new ongoing book by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones in which Howard find work as a private investigator.
Anyone who has read Sex Criminals already knows Chip Zdarsky. Also, Quinones is a very well known artist with a style likely to match the scripts.
If you don’t know much about the character, here’s how Zdarsky described him in the article: “He’s an everyman who happens to be a duck! He’s angry, exasperated, and he’s had it up to here with the world around him, but he’s trapped here! Infinitely relatable!
“I love the contrast of Howard against both the normal world of us hairless apes and the weird worlds of Man-Things and Dr. Stranges and Spider-Mans,” he continued, ‘cause he doesn’t fit into either, really. I’m just going to continue exploring those contrasts, but my ultimate goal is to make it funny. Marvel has taken chances on funny books and injecting humor into superhero titles, so I want to make sure this is worth some chuckles here and there.”
A CONTRAST TO OTHER MARVEL BOOKS?
I expect a lot of “duck” jokes (comparing it to another word that ends in “uck”) and a large number of “adult” pieces of humor, so I already would say that the kids stay away.
Based on Marvel’s previous actions, I’d say you should expect to see Spider-Man in the book. A lot. A whole lot, in fact.
Marvel has to use the film to its advantage, doing things like alluding to it and making fun of it. It’ll be like Geoff Johns having Aquaman making fun of his reputation when his the first issue of his new title hit the stands. Play with this for comedic effect.
You might expect to see Marvel villains show up and not take Howard seriously at all. I mean, a duck fighting Ronan the Accuser? He would likely laugh the P.I. off the page.
So, I don’t think you’ll see Howard meet his villainous brother twice removed on his father’s side or some such thing unless they decide to poke fun at the X-Men.
WILL IT BE WORTH THE TIME AND MONEY?
Marvel’s doing a smart thing by bringing in someone from Sex Criminals, although too much related to interspecies sex will get old in a hurry. And I like their choice of artist, too.
But will that be enough for me to buy the book?
Today, I would have to say, “no,” but I’m not that big of a Sex Criminals fan. Still, I’m open to checking out any previews of the series. I’ll also be happy to check out reaction from readers. However, if it is only “Marvel Zombies” who are loving it, that will make me steer clear.
Of course, I have to also wonder if Howard might not be in an upcoming phase of Marvel Entertainment movies. The old show biz motto goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” The Howard the Duck film is infamous, but that means a large number of people know the character. Will that be enough to get them to another movie? We’ll see.
I’m reminded of the recent Saturday Night Live skit in which they made fun of Marvel Entertainment, saying it couldn’t fail no matter what they made a movie about, including bus riders. Does that also include Howard the Duck? Does that also mean the comic will do well? I doubt that either will “fly,” but stay tuned here at MajorSpoilers.Com for our reviews to find out … if you don’t buy the book on your own first!