Friday, 9 September 2011

‘Howard the Duck Vol. 2’ – Steve Gerber, Phil Winslade (MAX Comics)

It’s very possible that I am the only person in the world who hasn’t seen the ‘Howard the Duck’ movie. I can’t remember what I was doing while everyone else was checking it out but there you go. The word is that I haven’t missed out on much though, did anyone enjoy that film?

Before the movie, ‘Howard the Duck’ was one of the most acclaimed comics of the ‘70s, featuring savage satire and incisive characterisation. At least that’s what I was told on the back of this edition… I’m going to have to take the blurb’s word for it, at least as far as the ‘70s comic goes. I was interested to see if the present day version lived up to those standards though. I not sure that it does but ‘Howard the Duck Vol. 2’ was a fun read in the meantime.

It’s a man’s world and Howard is very clearly a duck… That’s not going to stop him taking on boy bands though, especially when the latest boy band hides a dark genetic secret at its very core. Howard also finds the time to deal with an ancient mystical curse, check in at the boarding house where old comic book characters all end up and take on an unholy hybrid of talk show host and biblical being. The one thing he can’t be sure f though is what shape his body will be in while he’s doing all this…

Savage satire? I’m not sure about that; ‘Howard the Duck’ is a little too in your face and obvious to be satire, at least as far as I’m concerned. What we’ve got here is a more straightforward piss take and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It may not be as subtle as it likes to think it is but there were still more than enough bits that had me laughing out loud. I can see where they’re coming from though regarding boy bands… There’s plenty of visual humour on display here, courtesy of Phil Winslade (the bit where Howard turns into an anteater, yes I'm childish like that...) and Steve Gerber gives Howard enough of an acerbic edge that I kept wanting to hear what he came out with next.

If you’re going to give this latest version of ‘Howard the Duck’ a go then a passing knowledge of ‘Preacher’ will be good to have when you get to the later parts of the book. I know I’ve skipped over the ‘Witchblade’ storyline but that’s mostly because not only did Fabry’s art leave me cold (Winslade’s art didn’t try and take over the story like Fabry’s did) but so did the story itself; a lacklustre piece where the only aim was to get a pair of breasts on Howard. This aim was eventually successful but the only thing that kept me reading was the promise that this sequence would end soon. There was nothing else here to recommend it.

Back onto the ‘Preacher’ storyline which proved to be a great way to round things off, although the conversation with God was far too long-winded and robbed the ending of the impact that it deserved.
The lead up to that end is good though. The message is a little too heavy handed to be satire but I couldn’t help but chuckle (and even nod my head a little) at the fun being poked, by Gerber, at the aforementioned talk show lady.
‘Howard the Duck’ isn’t the satirical read that it wants to be but is still entertaining nevertheless. It’s just a shame that the middle part felt so flat, a little consistency would have made all the difference.
Seven and Three Quarters out of Ten
P.S. Was the film really that bad?


Pabkins said...

The film was not that bad! It wasn't award winning. it's a trashy comedy come on! you can't expect it to be a favorite of everyone. You just have to go into it knowing that it is very campy humor and not to be taken seriously. I for one watched it again just last year and I think because I watched it when I was a kid it held more enjoyment for me than it might someone who has never seen it.

Nisa said...

If you want to know about the movie version, I would recommend watching the Nostalgia Critic's video review of it. He can express all that is wrong with this film better than I possibly could.

James B said...


Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

I may be one of the few that thought the film was a 'so bad, its awesome' cult movie - but that might have been because I watched a lot when I was a kid and shouldn't have been watching because it's meant for a more mature audience. I recommend you watch it, though be warned that the DVD has cut quite a bit in order to make it a little more 'kid friendly'

I've still not read any Howard the Duck graphic novels, though I'm seeing them more and more. I really need to sort that out. I'll check out Vol 2. next time I pass by Forbidden Planet. Cheers for the review :)

SarahSparrow said...

I watched it on Hulu a while back and I thought that, yep, it really is that bad. Star Wars Holiday Special bad? No. (Is that even possible?) But it was bad.

vampire book girl said...

Well Like you I never saw the film. But unlike you I did read and love the old comics. Guess you had to be there. It was cutting edge in its day - and way funny.