Waughhh!!! Trapped in a review he never wanted! Don’t worry Howard, I’ll go easy on you. Your Major Spoilers review of Howard the Duck #2 is ahead!
Previously in Howard the Duck: Howard the Duck. Duck of all Ducks. Hired to steal a stolen necklace from Black Cat, Howard is himself stolen by a Gatherer for the Collector. Now he’s trapped in a prison on a spaceship with some aliens and a talking raccoon. Rocket Raccoon…
RIDICULOUS, INSANE AND PERFECTLY HOWARD
Issue two of Howard the Duck proves that Chip Zdarsky’s opening wasn’t just a fluke. Stuck in a prison ship with Rocket Raccoon, he now must escape and steal back the necklace that he was paid to steal from the Black Cat. Not confusing at all. Zdarsky moves the issue along at a quick pace and the jokes hit a mile a minute. Each page has at least one thing I laughed at and he nails both Howard and Rocket’s voices. There’s a fantastic bit where the two follow a map Rocket has shaved onto his chest and it’s the kind of absurdity I expect in my Howard the Duck comics. Zdarsky also takes a good jab at conventions with CosmoCon, a convention the Collector is attending. It’s a brilliant and hilarious panel and seeing the Collector buy a Cosmic Rubix Cube even though it won’t give you unlimited power had me dying. Even with all the humor, Chip Zdarsky shows (or at least wonderfully fakes) that he’s familiar with Steve Gerber’s original run. Howard complains to Rocket that he’s tired of the crazy things that happen in his life and just wants it to be normal, a theme addressed in the later issues of Howard’s first series. There’s also emotional scenes like Howard stating “You just can’t leave people behind…” while looking longingly out the window into space. It’s a clear reference to Beverly, Howard’s previous girlfriend and I’m eager to find out what happened to the couple. It all helps the issue feel like a Howard the Duck book even though it wasn’t written by Gerber, which is a difficult thing to do. My only complaint is with the Rocket Raccoon and Guardians of the Galaxy’s cameo. While it was fun to see Howard and Rocket interact, at points it was like Howard took the sideline while Rocket was star of the show. Regardless, it is a fun and hilarious issue and I’m anxiously waiting number three.
SPLENDID, BUT I PREFER MY HOWARD WITH NO PANTS
Joe Quinones kills it on the art, supplying a wonderfully light-hearted tone with a touch of Mike Allred wackiness. The anthropomorphic characters are his strong suit and both Howard and Rocket’s facial expressions are stellar. Quinones packs visual jokes in by the barrel full and the CosmoCon panel alone has enough jokes to fill an entire issue. Seeing Galactus browsing planets for sale is just one of the few genius images in said panel. Action is handled nicely and he does a good job keeping up with Zdarsky’s fast paced script. Some of his characters look stiff at times, with the hallway escape looking a bit awkward. Speaking of awkward, I don’t know if it’s because I just read the Howard the Duck Omnibus but seeing Howard wearing pants is a bit unusual. I’ve seen him pant less so much (as weird as that is to write) that seeing his tail lift his pants in the back is somewhat distracting. That’s all personal preference and has no bearing on the art. In fact, I probably should keep my mouth shut about liking ducks without pants on.
THE BOTTOM LINE: DOING GERBER’S CHARACTER JUSTICE
Howard the Duck by Chip Zdarsky is only on its second issue and is already one of my favorite Marvel titles. It has off the wall comedy and absurdity paired with amazing art. Old Howard the Duck fans will find enough throwback and familiarity that it still feels like an original Howard comic. With all the comedy, there are still moments of emotion and I can’t wait to see how Zdarsky expands on those ideas. Howard the Duck comes highly recommended. Now if I could only take back that pants thing…Waughhh!