Howard The Duck and Tara Tam are back! But where in the multiverse have they ended up this time? Your Major Spoilers review of Howard The Duck #1 from Marvel Comics awaits!
HOWARD THE DUCK #1
Writer: Chip Zdarsky/Daniel Kibblesmith/Jason Loo/Merritt K
Artist: Joe Quinones/Annie Wu/Derek Charm/Will Robson
Inker: Jordan Gibson
Colorist: Stacey Lee/Ian Herring/Dee Cunniffe/Pete Pantazis
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: November 29, 2023
Previously in Howard The Duck: Meet Howard. He’s a hard-boiled P.I. with problems by the duckload. But a cosmic, all-seeing friend(?) known as the Peeper(!) is giving him a chance to see what his life COULD be! The joys he COULD have! All the ways his life COULD suck way less than it does now! In other words: “Waugh If?”
In the future world of 2025, Howard and Tara are on the run in a world gone mad… der? When future Hawkeye is killed, a large-headed observer calls out the importance of the moment. But he’s not The Watcher… He’s the Watcher’s cousin, The Peeper! And he’s got the ability to show Howard other worlds he never made. In one world, The All-Night Party was successful in taking The White House in 1976, followed by an alien invasion and utter chaos. In another, an argument with Proteus leaves Howard as a member of The Uncanny X-Men, which… actually ends up being not that bad? As for the world where he becomes the new Star-Lord, the less said, the better, but in the final analysis, Howard and Tara discover that things could always be worse, followed by a super-dark punchline…
Aaaand then, a Spider-Man joke for the ages.
I MISS HIS REGULAR ONGOING
There was a time when Howard was little more than a punchline at Marvel, but that was after he was a bona fide pop culture sensation, which was after he was a disgrace, which was after the PREVIOUS time he was a bona fide… You know. This issue does a good job of dealing with the fractured nature of Howard’s half-century as a fictional character, bumping up against the metafictional nature of his history. The first shot of Howard’s White House has him remarking to Beverly that the readers can’t see them yet, ’cause it’s an establishing shot. The four(?) alternate realities here emphasize the Duck’s famously passive nature, and mostly gets around that fact through the humor. As for the art, it’s all quite good, but also all the modern take on Howard, as seen in the most recent Zdarsky volume. Even taking into account that nearly all of the original series creators are deceased (and the fact that Howard was given a mandatory redesign after a Walt Disney Corporate cease-and-desist), it might have been nice to see a little Mike Ploog or Gene Colan homage in the visuals.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH IT
As someone who collected a complete run of Howard’s ’70s adventures back when that meant quarter bin sales rather than display cases, I feel like Howard The Duck #1 is a reasonably effective tribute to the duck trapped in a world he never made, and there’s enough appreciation of Steve Gerber’s greatest creation here to make the six dollar price tag acceptable, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.
I also give big kudos for the appearance of a certain android from another planet, another of Gerber’s offbeat but perfect creations.
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HOWARD THE DUCK #1
The life of Howard Duckson is a strange one, and this issue doesn't hesitate to embrace that aesthetic, giving us a look into the Duck's alternate timelines that are just as ridiculous as the real thing.