Howard the Duck #30-31
Issue(s): Howard the Duck #30, Howard the Duck #31
I was actually surprised at the end of last issue to see that the next issue blurb said "Back to our regular storyline". I didn't think there was such a thing. But this story does pick up where issue #27 left off. Beverly is trapped in Dr. Bong's castle and Winda Wester and Paul Same are hospitalized due to the attack by the Ringmaster.
And then Dr. Bong shows up.
He's mad because even thought he was able to force Beverly to marry him, she's still obviously in love with Howard. So he challenges Howard to a duel, saying that he'll destroy the hospital and blame it on Howard if he doesn't agree. The duel is set to take place in 24 hours. Beverly's uncle, Lee, convinces Howard to accept the fight and takes him somewhere to get help.
Lee's idea of helping Howard is bringing him to a Claude Starkowski, who claims to be the uncle of Tony Stark.
Claude builds him a suit of Iron Duck armor.
At least in my copy, the pages introducing the Iron Duck armor are out of order.
Claude also comes up with a sound-cancelling device that would counteract Dr. Bong's bongs, and as a back up, Howard's ears are stuffed with cotton.
Dr. Bong winds up showing up earlier than the promised 24 hours.
Like i said, very plot driven...
...and most of issue #31 is a battle showing off the various gadgets in the Iron Duck suit. It's all very wacky, of course; it would have to be. But it's still basically a big fight.
Howard even conjures up the Flames of Faltine, a spell taught to him by Dr. Strange (ok, it's really just a flamethrower and a gratuitous reference).
I am surprised Mantlo didn't also have Howard doing some Quack Fu.
Howard eventually rings Dr. Bong's bell (not a euphemism, at least on my part), as he did once before.
Last time that caused Dr. Bong to get teleported back to his Himalayan castle. This time, Howard goes with him.
Meanwhile, Bev is working on a secret plan to defeat Dr. Bong on her own.
She eventually comes out and reveals that Dr. Bong now has a bunch of children.
She's also sent an article saying that Dr. Bong is a horrible father to a newspaper in the event of anything happening to her or Howard. So Dr. Bong relents and teleports Bev and Howard back to the hospital room with Lee, Paul, and Winda, and Winda, at least, is shown recovering from her injuries.
Issue #30 has an announcement trying to dispel the rumors that Howard is canceled and being replaced by a black & white magazine. Then in issue #31, without any reference to last issue's announcement, it's said that Howard is canceled and being replaced by a black & white magazine. Personally i never "got" Howard the Duck but i'm pretty sure it's very specifically a Steve Gerber thing, so it's hard to believe that Marvel kept going with it in any format. The book was a critical success, of sorts, but the note in issue #31 says that retailers were having trouble understanding it as anything other than a funny animal book, resulting in it winding up in the hands of confused kids. The switch to the magazine format was an attempt to address that (a few years later and it probably would have been made a Direct Market only title instead). But still, without Gerber, what was the point?
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBeverly Switzler, Claude Starkowski, Doctor Bong, Howard The Duck, Lee Switzler, Paul Same, Winda Wester
Even with Gerber what's the point?
That's just me. I never got Howard. I could never find anything humourous in him.
Posted by: kveto | February 25, 2015 2:29 PM
I don't think Howard used the actual Flames of Faltine, just a mechanical substitute.
Posted by: Michael | February 25, 2015 11:26 PM
I'm asking a genuine question: was the book really a critical success or were the numbers just above the Mendoza Line?
Posted by: JSfan | February 26, 2015 5:09 AM
@Michael, yeah, it clearly says that in the scan. I'm really just commenting on Mantlo's heavy use of references, a very different style than Gerber's. I've made my comment a little clearer.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 26, 2015 7:41 AM
Interesting. I find HTD very very hard to get into. I bought a couple of issues to see what all the buzz was about but I didn't find anything remotely funny in them. I figured the book had a very small number of followers but just enough sales not to have it cancelled. I'm still trying to work out what anyone saw in them.
Posted by: JSfan | February 26, 2015 8:41 AM
At it's best, Gerber's Howard works for me as a search for meaning within life and, on a meta-level, within comics. Harvey Pekar in a Donald Duck suit. Unfortunately, the satires rarely made for any stories of lasting appeal, but in those cases where Howard & his pals come across as most human, those really click with me, humor or lack thereof aside. #24-27 are particularly strong.
I speculate that Marvel kept the book going after Gerber's departure specifically to spite him and any claim of ownership he might have expressed. Shooter was definitely not someone who respected any artist's or writer's attempt to control characters they had created. The company owned them, and dragging out Howard's disappearance from publication for an extra year or so was a way to prove that that's what mattered, not who was writing or drawing him.
Posted by: Michael Grabowski | July 9, 2018 9:23 PM
Spite and IP would explain running the color comic at a loss for a while, but not making Howard into one of Marvel's few black-and-white magazines, something that represents an investment in production costs and marketing.
The key, I think, is that Howard initially got attention from some respected quarters, as well as from a type of reader that Marvel wasn't otherwise selling to. This would incentivize Marvel to keep the property running and , later, to try to signal to that audience segment that this was something beyond their usual offerings by presenting in an "adult" format as a B&W magazine. If Marvel could break into a new audience with one of their properties, that opens the door to other publications and a new revenue stream.
Remember, some of Marvel's success was partly because they picked up the unexpected demographic of college kids in the 60s, which Stan Lee then played to deliberately int he comics, with his lecture tours, and with endless Bullpen Bulletins touting brushes with folks like Fellini. And comparatively recently, Marvel had managed a hit -- and a lasting one -- when Roy Thomas pushed for and got the Conan license. (Note that Conan was also featured in a B&W mag.) Howard would have looked like a similar opportunity, hence the search for a format that would "work" to attract and keep the property's "non-superhero fan" audience.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 10, 2018 6:29 AM
There was a fairly sizable demographic of underground comics readers at the time, and a popular theme among that crowd was in making fun of Disney funny animal characters, usually doing things that Disney characters would never be allowed to do in their own cartoons. Air Pirate Funnies comes to mind but there were others that I don't recall quite so clearly. I always thought Marvel was trying to appeal to that crowd. Underground comics had charmed the same audience that Stan Lee had long been trying to appeal to. It was still the baby boom generation growing up, so it was really a pretty huge demographic.
Posted by: Holt | July 10, 2018 7:22 AM
Yeah, funny animals were a common thing in underground comix at the time. Before Howard was created, there had already been George Crumb's Fritz The Cat (who got his own X-rated film), the cigar-smoking Dirty Duck (in Air Pirates Funnies), another X-rated film Down And Dirty Duck (unrelated to Dirty Duck, & created to follow the trend of Fritz The Cat), plus things like Fat Freddy's Cat (the cat owned by the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers) and animal superhero parody Wonder Wart-Hog, the Hog of Steel.
So Howard The Duck was actually quite late in the game with this trend, though to be fair to Gerber, he created Howard as a one-off joke character that he didn't intend to become a star of his own comic.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 10, 2018 11:57 AM
*Robert Crumb. I don't know why I said George :-)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 10, 2018 11:59 AM
Y'all familiar with Comix Book?
Posted by: Cullen | July 10, 2018 5:04 PM
Whoops, meant to include a link! http://www.comicsbeat.com/denis-kitchen-on-the-best-of-comix-book-one-of-the-greatest-things-stan-lee-ever-did/
Posted by: Cullen | July 10, 2018 5:05 PM
Comments are now closed.
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