The Duck is back, and he’s brought the usual existential madness with him.  Your Major Spoilers review of Howard The Duck #1 awaits!

HowardTheDuck1CoverHOWARD THE DUCK #1
Writer: Chip ZdarskyChris Hastings
Penciler: Joe Quinones/Danilo Beyruth
Inker: Joe Rivera
Colorist: Joe Quinones/Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Howard The Duck: Hailing from an other-dimensional world (informally called ‘Duckworld’, which makes a prosaic kind sense) Howard was mistakenly brought to our world years ago through the Nexus Of All Realities, hidden in the swamps of Florida.  Taking up residence in Cleveland, Howard fell prey to a number of indignities before recently relocating to New York City and setting up his own investigating firm.  Now, with the help of shape-shifting Girl Friday, Tara, and his executive assistant, May Parker-Jameson, Howard has been through a run of truly puzzling adventures…

“I WANT TO GO HOME.”

This issue is the second Howard The Duck #1 in the year 2015, and it picks up (as seen on the first page, giving a post-script to the previous volume, ended by the literal End Of The World that was ‘Secret Wars’) three months after we last saw Howard, as he and Tara enjoy some time away from the city, road-tripping in a classic Dodge Challenger.  (Given that the car is, like Howard, a product of the coolest parts of the 1970s didn’t escape me, but I may be over-thinking it.)  The story of their journey, including a tense confrontation with an angry trucker who calls Howard out for being an “illegal alien”, is told parallel with the story of how we got here, as the Duck finds himself consumed with an ennui, and wanting to go home.  Aunt May thinks he means to his apartment, but a cameo appearance by Doctor Strange (which, by the way, is hilarious while perfectly in-character for both players) reveals that he means more than just his apartment.  Howard isn’t just taking a trip to enjoy the scenery, he’s heading back to the Nexus of All Realities, wanting to get back to Duckworld.  Tara is hurt by the reveal that her pal would just leave her, but their emotional moment is interrupted by The Wizard and Titania, who want to harness the Nexus’ power for evil…

OH, AND ALSO GWENPOOL?

Neither side gets what they want from the Nexus (though to reveal how might give away some of the best stuff in the issue), leaving us with a cliffhanger ending that should be a hoot.  The second feature this ish has The Black Cat (now a crime-lord of New York) hiring Howard to discover the identity of a pink-suited lunatic who has been attacking her interests, a lunatic that readers know is an alternate version of Gwen Stacy with the powers and slapstick tendencies of Deadpool.  Chapter one of this story is well-handled, embracing the ridiculousness of the concept while making a fun story of it all, with off-beat (but excellent) art from Danilo Beyruth.  Both stories hit on what I believe to be the core principle of Howard (staring in gaping dismay at the idiot hairless apes, while accidentally doing the right thing), both have some truly impressive character work and both have art that’s fun in a way that reminds me of classic Warner Brothers cartoons.  In short?  There’s no reason not to be down with Howard’s new adventures…

THE BOTTOM LINE: IMMENSELY CHARISMATIC

After so many years of being the proverbial red-feathered step-duck, Howard is back in the spotlight, and this issue is a great place to start, even if you’ve never read any of HtD’s previous adventures.  For me, it’s faithful enough to the original (including a loud shouting match between Howard and the angry trucker) to keep my interest, while giving an entirely modern take on Howard.  Howard The Duck #1 (I’m having deja vu) is a solid issue from top to bottom, with clever writing, well-rendered art and post-modern absurdity, earning a solid 4 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m really looking forward to seeing who the newcomer characters (spoooilers!) are and how they affect Howard’s world…

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

1 Comment

  1. I have loved how Chip has been able to mix just the right amount of insanity, asinine, and mediocre into all of the characters. “Howard the Truck”? “The Wizard’s Hole”? What’s even more amazing is that the side story at the end of each issue has been just as good. I just wish the issues would come out faster!

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