Howard the Duck 13 (June 1977)

Howard the Duck #13

Maybe Colan drawing Ace Frehley just got me off on the wrong foot with this issue of Howard but it does seem like Gerber’s got way too much going on.

He splits the issue between Howard and his new lady friend, Howard’s insanity, Howard’s doctor and guest starring Son of Satan, the evil German nurse and her evil German boss and then the return of a villain from a previous issue. It’s very, very busy and not much of it has to do with Howard.

And the rest of it isn’t particularly interesting. Gerber doesn’t reveal the evil German plan (it’s German, it involves cults, it must be evil), so it’s just ominous, not ominous and funny. That disconnect might be the problem with the issue–it’s absurd, just never absurdly funny.

Gerber just never seems to get anywhere, even though he does get to a reasonably amusing hard cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Rock, Roll Over, and Writhe!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 12 (May 1977)

Howard the Duck #12

It’s another great issue of Howard the Duck. I’m even willing to give Gerber a chance to make the hard cliffhanger’s unfortunate corporate synergy guest stars worthwhile next issue. He does such a good job with the comic–this issue has Howard tried and committed–I’m willing to give him a lot of leeway.

Gerber balances the absurdity and the political and social commentary quite well. He manages to mix all three into the comic. He’ll have these absurd set pieces with multiple commentaries going on. It’s really cool to read and to follow the tangents to their conclusions.

Plus there’s Howard. Even though Gerber’s doing so much, he’s also got this really interesting character. (I’m really starting to miss Bev). By keeping Howard’s history a secret, Gerber encourages readers to get further invested in the character. But it never feels calculated, just enthusiastic.

Howard, weird cliffhanger and all, rocks.

CREDITS

Mind-Mush!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 11 (April 1977)

Howard the Duck #11

It’s Howard without Beverly–in a delirious state he assumes she has run out on him with one of the hairless apes but it’s really innocent (or so we hope)–and that change in balance would be enough to get the issue done. It’s Howard fending for himself and all. Gerber could easily fill the pages with that angle.

Instead, Gerber adds to it–Howard’s still sort of delirious, even though he’s a little better, but then he’s on a bus with a collection of spiritual types and a fetching, lisping lady and his nemesis, the kidney lady. It’s weird. And it moves. Gerber and Colan do the movement of this bus beautifully. The pacing is just stunning.

And Gerber ignores all the plot points one might assume in the issue. He even goes out on an entirely unexpected hard cliffhanger, but displays it as a mild ending.

Amazing work.

CREDITS

Quack-Up!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 10 (March 1977)

Howard the Duck #10

Steve Gerber tears down comics and rebuilds them in this issue of Howard the Duck. Well, maybe just in the first ten pages of the issue. He hangs out in the rebuilt part for the rest of the story. Real quick–Gerber’s Duck is an idea of where mainstream comics should go. And it’s a rejected idea. Seeing all the potential the medium and industry squandered is depressing.

The comic has Howard dreaming about his current psychological predicament. Gerber makes it a story about a duck out of water without ever showing the reader the water. It’s all inferred (Howard’s home) and it collides with all the political commentary Gerber is doing. It’s awesome work. So, so good. So thoughtful.

This issue also gives Colan a bunch of strange stuff to draw. He does it. Colan is realistically rendering the absurd while still keeping it absurd. It’s awesome work too.

CREDITS

Swan-Song …of the Living Dead Duck!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 9 (February 1977)

Howard the Duck #9

The cover promises the action of Howard the Duck battling a giant beaver at Niagara Falls. The comic doesn’t disappoint; that sequence, beautifully rendered by Colan and Leialoha, ends the issue. But it comes after an extremely goofy and sort of sad adventure for Howard and Bev.

He’s lost the election, which is unfortunate, and he’s got to clear his name. More, he’s got to clear Bev’s name–a photo of them bathing together was leaked to the press. It’s a fix though. She doesn’t like the smell of wet feathers. Gerber has a beautiful way of keeping the reader off balance, revealing this strange details of Howard and Bev’s “regular” lives. It’s a neat idea, to acknowledge the characters have time off from the reader’s scrutiny.

The investigation leads them to Canada. Gerber has a lot of good Canada jokes. He doesn’t have to get mean with them either.

CREDITS

Scandal Plucks Duck; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 8 (January 1977)

Howard the Duck #8

This comic is difficult to believe. Not the content of the issue, where Gerber just goes wild with a look at American presidential candidacy, but its very existence. Marvel Comics published a comic about the American public rabidly anticipating the assassination of political candidates. They let Gerber get away with it, they even paid Gene Colan to draw it. It’s amazing in its existence.

As a comic, it’s pretty good. Gerber’s plotting is strange. The issue really just is a series of assassination attempts on Howard’s life. There’s barely any character development. Gerber is just moving Howard and Bev from one setup to another. It’s efficiently done too, which is cool. It feels like a race.

The art, from Colan and inker Steve Leialoha, is awesome as usual. But this issue gives Colan and Leialoha a lot of thriller sequences they also have to make somewhat amusing. They confidently succeed.

CREDITS

Open Season!; writers, David Anthony Kraft, Don McGregor and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Irving Watanabe; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 7 (December 1976)

Howard the Duck #7

It’s an amazing issue. Primarily because it ends with Howard the Duck being made a Presidential candidate, but also because Gerber hits every right note throughout the issue. He introduces politics into the comic after finishing up the previous issue’s cliffhanger. It involved a giant gingerbread man attacking Howard and Bev after being brought to life by a seven year-old mad scientist.

And this issue is political intrigue mixed with absurdist humor. Okay, I suppose there’s some absurdist humor to the gingerbread man but it’s somewhat broader. And there’s the built in classiness of that sequence–unexpected as it may be–because Gene Colan adds class to everything.

But the way Gerber sets up Bev and Howard in this political convention, the time he takes setting everything up; he layers the entire second half of the comic with plot hints and moments of character development.

It’s brilliantly done stuff.

CREDITS

The Way the Cookie Crumbles!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, Jim Novak; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 6 (November 1976)

Howard the Duck #6

Part of me desperately wishes Gerber and Mary Skrenes (who helped with plotting) just gave Colan a scary house script and then had the absurdism added later. Because if you took out the word balloons and the narration boxes, it would seem like Howard and Beverly had ended up in a twisted Marvel horror comic. Tomb of Dracula almost, though the scene where fundamentalist Christian cult kids threaten Howard is scarier than anything in Dracula.

The beautiful part of the script–all of the art is beautiful; Colan does some great work–but the script’s beauty is in how little humor Gerber goes for. He doesn’t make any of the obvious jokes. He plays everything straight, which just makes it funnier.

He does some nice character development on Beverly this issue. She and Howard are on the outs over a cigar squabble.

Gerber changes up Howard; it works out great.

CREDITS

The Secret House of Forbidden Cookies!; writers, Mary Skrenes and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 5 (September 1976)

Howard the Duck #5

If you’re a duck stuck in the Marvel Universe, how are you going to earn some quick cash? Wrestling, of course. Everyone knows fighting crime doesn’t pay and you’ve got to look out for number one!

Howard and Beverly are having money troubles–I love how Gerber gets around to discussing the obvious logic problems in Howard (I can only hope there’s the sleeping situation issue)–and Howard tries finding a job of his own.

Beverly’s modeling gig isn’t going to make them millionaires, after all.

His misadventures get him on TV–fighting a clown (the clown did hit him with a cream pie)–and then working as a collection agent. Not any kind of work for a respectable duck, hence the wrestling for ten grand.

There’s a lot humor, but Colan’s pencils really show the humanity of it all. Gerber works some considerable magic with Howard the Duck’s thoughtfulness.

CREDITS

I Want Mo-o-oney!; writers, Martin Pasko and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterers, Gaspar Saladino and Irving Watanabe; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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