Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Sensational She-Hulk 14: The Return Of Howard The Duck!

I missed issue 13, but I picked up 14, which features the return of Howard The Duck, one of my favorite comic characters.  Created by Steve Gerber, Howard is a working class duck from a world where ducks are the dominant life form.  He fell into a dimensional nexus and ended up on Earth living among us "hairless apes", as Howard calls us.  Basically, this story is a Marvel Team-Up featuring Howard and She-Hulk.

Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*Fabio appears in a video-game ad dressed as a barbarian.  He doesn't make a very good barbarian.  Even with the long hair, he's too well-groomed.

*Writer Steve Gerber introduces a new race of extraterrestrials called The Critics.  They're a funny takeoff on Marvel's Watchers extraterrestrials, who sit around observing the universe.  The Critics are similar, except they critique the universe too.

*A giant plunger fixes a black hole out in space.  Gerber did some research on physics and was obviously having fun with it.  Between that and the return of Howard (Gerber hadn't written his creation since the 1970s), Gerber came up with a more inspired issue than his previous She-Hulks.  The comic still isn't very good, but it's a step forward from the previous Gerber issues I've read.

*The connection between Howard and She-Hulk would occasionally be picked up by later writers (Gerber likely just shoved Howard into the series so he could write him again) and the two characters would be teammates in a mini-series called Fear Itself:  Fearsome Four.

*Gerber had fought Marvel for ownership of Howard, but more or less lost the legal struggle.  However, he did retain some rights in the settlement which ended the ordeal.  One of them can be found on the splash page of the issue where he is credited with the creation of the character.

*When the story opens, Howard is still living in Cleveland, Ohio USA.  Gerber had no connection to the city.  He made it the setting of Howard so he could use Cleveland jokes, popular in the 1970s (it was the era of "The Mistake On The Lake", the river catching on fire, the mayor's hair catching on fire, the mayor's wife turning down the president's invitation to visit the White House because it was her bowling night, the city going bankrupt, the sports teams all sucking, yuk, yuk, yuk), in the series.

*The title of the story, "A Baloney Place Of Dying", is a parody of the then recent Batman story in which Robin died, "A Lonely Place Of Dying".  In a notorious incident, fans voted on 900 telephone lines whether The Joker should kill Robin or not.  They voted to kill him.  Don't worry, it's comics; he got better eventually.  He wasn't the original Robin anyway.

*More Howard next issue too!

2 comments:

  1. Enjoying this feature a lot. I just spent two+ hours going through what's left of my collection. Nothing quite as fun as She-Hulk though. Just a bunch of old Spidey and Daredevils and lots of weird indy books.

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  2. Oh, no, you're shedding yours as well?! We're all getting old, aren't we? My back just couldn't take a move with thirty comics boxes.

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