The Transparent Fox:
Howard the Duck #19-21
Issue(s): Howard the Duck #19, Howard the Duck #20, Howard the Duck #21
Despite being disheveled and disinterested, he actually manages to pick up a girl, who takes him back to her apartment and they have sex. The adrenaline causes Howard to revert to duck form.
Luckily Dr. Bong, angry that Bev was pleased that Howard had escaped, shows up before he has to explain anything.
Howard manages to give Bong the slip, and later ambushes him in an alley, ringing his bell and sending him back to the castle.
Howard then gets a job as a dishwasher. The previous dishwasher is quitting to join SOOFI, which stands for Save Our Offspring From Indecency, a moral majority type organization. But on his last day he gets turned into a soap monster in an incident involving a microwave and an aerosol cleaning spray, in what i guess is a parody of super-hero origins. The cleaner then goes on a rampage, attempting to cleanse Times Square of its moral indecency. The accompanying images are full of black people being attacked by the soap monster, but a caption assures us the point isn't to be racist.
Howard and the restaurant owner defeat "Sudds" using a vinegar, lemon juice, and milk compound, but it turns out the people living in Times Square considered Sudds a hero so they chase the two out of the area. This causes the restaurant owner, who turns out to be Beverly's uncle (Also named Beverly, or Lee for short), to decide to go back to Cleveland. He leaves Howard with $50 and the remains of the restaurant.
Issue #21 is drawn by Carmine Infantino, and while i'm a big fan of Gene Colan's art, i have to say that Infantino's is much cleaner and probably works better for this series. In this issue, the SOOFI organization decides to go on a rampage. They all wear smiley face masks.
Its members are suicide bombers, so they launch some initial attacks and then are gone.
The head of the organization decides to try to recruit Howard, and puts him in a machine to try and clean him up so he can be more friendly, but Howard's personality resists it and he punches the leader, destroying the smiley mask. The leader turns out to be a woman, someone from Florida that Howard recognizes.
According to Mark in the comments, it's Anita Bryant. That being the case, this story is notable for taking on an anti-gay activist at a time when homosexuality at Marvel was at best ignored and at worst a source of childish jokes.
During the course of this issue, Howard is put in pants.
The in-story reason relates to SOOFI's decency crusade.
But this is also a commentary on the agreement that Marvel had with Disney to avoid "confusion" with Donald Duck.
At the end of the issue, Howard takes his pants back off and talks about continuing to resist.
Howard will remain pantsless for the rest of the series. R. S. Martin has a great rundown of all of the Howard the Duck legal issues and suggests the real reason Howard remains pantsless may be because Gerber was the Writer/Editor for this book and Marvel was so disorganized at this time that there was no one else supervising.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Howard the Duck vol. 1
The head of SOOFI is supposed to be Anita Bryant.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 17, 2011 12:37 AM
DC also had a smiley-face villain in their short-lived (and extremely bizarre) 1973-4 series, Prez.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 28, 2011 1:28 AM
#19 is a satire of Don McGregor's prose story "The Play It Again Sam Casabalanca Blues".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 8, 2012 8:06 PM
Herbert's duck stories are among the absolute highlights of the 70s.
Posted by: Mizark | July 22, 2016 6:01 AM
It's definitely Anita Bryant. That line about "A day without imposing my morality on someone else..." is a riff on her ad slogan "A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine." I'm not sure how much Gerber is harping on her for being anti-gay as generally sanctimonious. My memory of her from the time on the news the big deal was that she was against the Equal Rights Amendment. I don't know if the national news didn't play up her anti-gay stance, or if I just didn't get it because I was just a kid at the time.
Posted by: Andrew | January 5, 2017 3:55 PM
Thanks for the link to my article on Gerber. It's since been moved here:
A quick note about the DIsney conflict. The information I have is that the newspaper strip was not the reason Disney contacted Marvel about infringement concerns. They didn't even care about the comic book as far as U. S. publication went. They contacted Marvel because they were getting complaints from foreign licensees about Howard the Duck comics being sold in countries outside the United States.
There's also no evidence that a lawsuit was threatened over the matter. Disney just noted that they felt there was a problem, and Marvel agreed to fix it. There doesn't appear to have been any belligerence on Disney's part.
Posted by: RSM | April 11, 2017 12:31 PM
Updated the link and some of the surrounding info. Thanks RSM!
Posted by: fnord12 | April 11, 2017 6:48 PM
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