Howard the Duck #1 (Marvel)


Rating: 4.5/5 – A Promising Start for this Offbeat Character
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

I’ll admit that the whole of my experience with Howard the Duck consists of the George Lucas produced movie of my childhood. I loved the movie as a kid and maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I still love the movie. That’s a far different opinion than my Mother’s, who declared it the worst movie ever made. Years later, in an attempt to validate my long held feelings, I turned to an expert on all things comic related: my local comic shop owner. He took up with Team Mom and told me that it was the only movie he ever walked out of. That’s probably because he had the experience of reading the comic book, so I get his feelings. I think my mom was just antagonizing me. Still, I can’t wait to tell her that I picked up the new series and that the first issue was fantastic. And this time, I know I’m right!

When Howard the Duck’s new series was announced a few months ago that bit of nostalgia pulled at me, but I was also excited to read about the book’s creative team. Best known for his art on the much-lauded series Sex Criminals, Chip Zdarsky takes up writing duties for our fine-feathered fowl’s return to comics. Zdarsky may have traded in his pencils for a word processor this go around, but he’s proven with this inaugural issue that he can handle both of them adeptly. The story is fun, fast-paced, and humorous. I thought the humor would be more slapstick considering the premise of the book, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it witty, smart, and nuanced. The book certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously and often pokes fun at its own absurdity. The duck himself seems transplanted from a 1940’s private eye film and I can’t help but read his dialogue in a gruff, gangster-like voice. That the supporting cast takes turns calling him out on the use of the word “doll” just accentuates how out of place he seems, which itself is humorous considering he’s a talking duck dressed in a little man suit. There were quite a few guest stars this issue and I was especially happy to see the quick return of one specific green heroine to the Marvel Universe. Zdarsky did a great job with his characterization of each and as a result I didn’t feel like they were crammed into the story as a selling point. The issue ends with a team-up that I just can’t believe did not occur prior to this point and I can’t wait to see what they get up to next issue.

The art by Joe Quinones perfectly compliments the story Zdarsky is telling with a style that is fun and modern, yet throws in little bits of retro flair that those with a discriminating eye can catch. I’m pretty sure that Spider-verse misplaced it’s 1960’s Spider-Man and that this book found him. Color artist Rico Renzi uses colors that are bright and bold and exude a fresh and vibrant feeling. I think much of the book’s momentum and energy can be credited to the art as much as the writing.

Whether you know Howard the Duck from any of his prior series or from the “worst movie ever made,” I believe Zdarsky’s tale of this offbeat character is off to a promising start. I’m glad Marvel decided to dust off this B-list character for his own series again and give him an A-list creative team to make it happen. They’ve offered up a story that is fresh and original and, I suspect, is only the tip of the iceberg for what they have planned. Howard the Duck may be grudgingly “trapped in a world he never made,” but this issue is so much fun that I look forward to being trapped in the world that Zdarsky and Quinones are creating.

Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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