Fear #19 / Man-Thing #1
Issue(s): Fear #19, Man-Thing #1
It starts crazy right from the start, too, with the Man-Thing shambling about in a world with a floating castle surrounded by a battle that includes barbarians, tanks, and bi-planes. Jennifer Kale is back in her Zhered-Na costume.
It turns out to all be a dream; Jennifer has been having nightmares that her grandfather (a sorcerer himself) thinks are more than just regular dreams.
Then peanut butter turns into a barbarian.
He tries to kill Jennifer, but is scared off by the Kales' modern clothing. Then Dakimh The Enchanter shows up.
He had seemed like a bad guy in his first appearance, but he says that he is here to help this time. With the recent activity in the "nexus point of cosmic forces" in the Man-Thing's swamp, reality is falling apart.
Meanwhile, the peanut butter barbarian, Korrek, encounters the Man-Thing in the swamp. He shows no fear, and he's honest enough about his other failings.
That's when Howard the Duck shows up.
The three soon find themselves attacked by demons at F.A. Schist's construction site.
Dakimh shows up to help, after abandoning Jennifer Kale in the floating castle from her dreams.
Kale is chased by various interdimensional weirdos and is incidentally rescued by Daredevil and the Black Widow...
...allowing her to rejoin the quest.
Soon after, Howard the Duck falls into a dimensional void.
Ok, what else? Madness, madness, madness...
...then a fight with Thog the Netherspawn...
...an introduction to some gods that are dogs, and then it's over.
It's fairly clear that Howard the Duck was just a total throwaway character to add a little absurdity to what otherwise feels like a standard swords & sorcery plot. I doubt Gerber ever intended to use him again.
Note this scene where Dakimh is first describing all of the realities that are normally balanced at the Nexus:
One of them is a cartoon animal world. That's probably where Howard was originally meant to come from (to the degree that there was any real thinking about it). It's a mixed Talking Animals world, not the pure "Duckworld" that will later be introduced.
The Essential Howard the Duck tpb started off with a very confusing set of excerpts from these issues, and that's all i was able to read of these issues until i got the Essential Man-Thing trade much later. If you think the whole story is zany, try just reading a few random pages of it. I don't know why they couldn't have just included the entire issues.
I also want to point out again that the second part of this story is the first issue of the Man-Thing's series. Imagine picking up Man-Thing #1 and getting this:
We're a long way from horror stories about a swamp monster created by science. Again, you may be just fine with that. The stories are too crazy and seemingly pointless for me, personally.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: According to the MCP, the Black Widow and Daredevil's appearance is between DD #107-108.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Man-Thing vol. 1
Inbound References (7): show
Roy Thomas was not a Howard fan, and instructed Gerber not to use him again. He doesn't show up regularly until Roy leaves the EIC chair.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 16, 2011 1:30 PM
I have to say, having read the two issues in full, that they are some of the oddest I have ever read
Posted by: Kaspar | February 23, 2012 4:35 PM
That looks like a Barry Smith Conan and a green Mr. Spock in some of those panels.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 24, 2013 4:53 PM
Korrek should've been called "The Peanut Butter Prince". That might've gotten people offa Paste-Pot Pete's back. And "Hideously True!" would've been the AWESOMEST catchphrase.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 3, 2015 1:21 PM
Can anyone tell me which (if any) letters pages had feedback on Howard the Duck''s appearances in Fear #19 & Man-thing #1?
Posted by: Nick Bowler | March 16, 2016 6:29 AM
There was a whole thing in the 1960s and 1970s underground comix scene about messing with Disneyesque "funny animal" characters characters. tehy were seen as symbols of complacency, American self-delusion, and conformity by a lot of the counterculture comics types.
The most infamous example is Wally Wood's Disneyland Memorial Orgy piece (look it up yourself, folks), but there was also the self-named "Air Pirates" trying to force the Disney characters into the public domain and use them for social commentary.
Howard being played as a normal joe -- with a gun even! -- despite looking like a goofy cartoon character has at least something to do with that. Sword-and-sorcery was also coming in as an alternative to superheroes and "safe" comics genres at this point, too. So Gerber is partly reflecting -- only partly -- a bunch of other things swirling around at the time.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | June 23, 2016 4:09 PM
The Wally Wood Disney Orgy actually appeared shortly after Walt Disney's death in 1966 in Paul Krassner's "Realist" magazine--underground comix didn't really get going until about late 1967.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 24, 2016 3:29 PM
I tend to think of some of Wood's "adult humor" work as the beginning of the alternative comix scene, or at least its close protoptype. Argubaly you can trace some of it all the way back to stuff like the goodman Beaver stories he did with Harvey Kurtzmann.
witzend launched in 1966, for example. and seems very much like a prototype of the other "comix" publications. And some other stuff, like the very early Fritz the Cat stories, were already around. It's a little like trying to identify the first example of punk rock.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | June 24, 2016 7:22 PM
One helluva way to introduce Howard the Duck in this fever dream of a story arc!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | December 29, 2017 11:00 PM
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