With the Marvel NOW! line revitalizing the comic book careers of characters such as Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy, it is time I feel for the long awaited reboot of one of Marvel’s most important characters ever. I am of course speaking of he who is “Trapped in a World He Never Made!”, the one and only Howard the Duck!
For those unfamiliar with the web-footed hero, allow me to give a little history lesson. Howard was created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik and made his first appearance in “Adventure into Fear with Man-Thing #19”. An anthropomorphic duck from Duck World he was abducted and placed in the Florida Everglades by Thog the Overmaster. After falling off the dimensional stepping-stones he finds himself in Cleveland, Ohio, which would become his home.
He appeared in back-up stories in Giant Size Man-Thing before being given his own series run in 1976. This initial run lasted 33 issues from 1976-1986. During this time Howard was also given his own newspaper comic strip that lasted from 77’-78’ and Howard the Duck Magazine that began in 79’ and ran for 9 issues. The first issue of the magazine is still fresh in people’s minds to this day as in the final part it details Howard “sealing the deal” with his long time associate/girlfriend Beverly Switzler.
After the end of the comic run Howard would fall off the map until he was brought in to Sensational She-Hulk #14-17 to go on a dimensional journey with the She-Hulk. Following this Howard would make appearances in Spider-Man Team up and then got his own mini-series once again written by Gerber for Marvels Max line. He would again have a limited series in 2007 as well as making appearances in Marvel Zombies, Civil War and his merging with Lobo as Lobo the Duck in the Amalgam series of comics.
One of the greatest satirical books to ever be created, Howard brought his own brand of social commentary to his books that I feel is missing in today’s society. Howard always had a knack for telling it like it is, and this was shown prominently in his run for the presidency. During his first initial run Howard was featured in a story arc where he came very close to winning the highest office in the land from Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. This run allowed Howard to speak his mind on many of the things that were wrong with the country during that time and it would only be too funny to see what he would have to say about the state of things today.
In my opinion there is no character more important to the Marvel Universe than the Duck. During his many adventures he has saved some of the more prominent heroes lives on multiple occasions. In his first issue he even saves Spideys life not once, but twice. He has also had fragments of the Nexus of all Realities inside him for a time and has even been designated by the government as being too much of a disruption, to the point of them not even acknowledging his existence. This in and of its self gives pause to think, of all the destruction the Marvel Heroes have caused over the years, why is it the government spent so much time on this one duck to track his adventures and their outcomes? This should prove that of all the heroes in the universe, Howard is the one everyone has their eye on. I mean to the point ole J. Jonah Jameson sends Peter Parker all the way from New York to Cleveland just to report on Howard.
Now let’s take the controversy of Howard out of the comics and into the real world. Marvel, after Howard’s solo debut, were under siege by a lawsuit from the Disney Corporation because of him. Disney claiming that Howard’s likeness was so much akin to Donald Duck that they forced Marvel to change Howard’s design. This lead to Howard now having to wear pants which he would go on to wear in his subsequent appearances. Once again this proves how important of a character Howard is if even the Mouse took notice of him.
With Marvel’s other anthropomorphic animal Rocket Raccoon getting all sorts of press with the new comic series and of course the Guardians movie in production, the time is right to bring back Howard. Marvel is already making him a playable character in their Lego Marvel video game, which I am ecstatic about, maybe that will bring newer fans to Howard. Also with Joss Whedon making reference that he would love to reboot Howard, whether joking or not, that would be fantastic and with a well done new film might make people forget about the George Lucas film. While not one of Howard’s finer moments it did bring more people to wonder who he was, so for that it did what I feel it was supposed to do, but now is the time for resurgence.
Marvel needs to bring back Howard and bring with him all the satirical, commentary and silliness that made Howard such a hot selling comic it was in the 70’s. If they can make a star out of Rocket Raccoon, they can do it again with our favorite web footed fowl!