Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Howard The Duck: The Movie #1 - Marvel Comics

HOWARD THE DUCK: THE MOVIE No. 1, December 1986
Brazenly advertised in 1986 as “the official comic book adaption of the blockbuster new movie from Lucasfilm” by “Marvel Comics Group”, this first instalment of “a three-issue limited series” arguably proves something of a slow start for a storyline which supposedly contains “more adventure than [is] humanly possible”. To begin with, very little actually happens apart from the titular character momentarily demonstrating that he is “a Master of Quack Fu” upon two backstreet molesters, and later getting uppity with an exhibition’s janitor when the bespectacled cleaner theorises that the feathered fowl comes from a planet where “the progenitor of the dominant species was not a monkey, but a duck!” 

True, the twenty-two page periodical does begin well enough by inexplicably sucking Howard, as well as his sofa chair, out of his apartment block and off into outer space. Plus there’s even a few crazy panels where the billed extra-terrestrial leaps through a couple of advertisement boards, dustbins and nightclub bouncers. But none of these comedic occurrences actually take Danny Fingeroth’s script much further forward, and are soon replaced by a tedious, dialogue-heavy succession of sequences which include Beverly Swiztler literally talking the demoralised duck to sleep in her apartment block, and then later dragging the bewildered bird in a bag to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History; “Trust me, Howard. Ronette in my band used to date the guy we’re going to see. He’s a palaeontologist -- You know, studies dead animals.”

Perhaps most mystifying though is the New Yorker’s conclusion to this book, which suddenly has the duck turning his frustrations upon a fountain full of tourists, and snarling at them all to leave him alone. Obviously, the narrative needed a cliff-hanger of some kind in order to convince the comic’s audience to purchase the next edition (as the rest of this book’s contents arguably wouldn’t have). Yet this explosive enragement towards the Cherry Bomb band singer and some innocently hapless bystanders is as surprisingly sudden as it is abnormally violent.

Fortunately, this title’s one saving grace has to be Kyle Baker’s depiction of Howard, which wisely steers a course far from the look of the motion picture’s animatronic suit, and instead far closer resembles Val Mayerik’s original interpretation of Steve Gerber’s creation. Cute, emotional, lovable and hilarious, it is in many ways a pity “Universal Studios” didn’t decide to release “a surreal satirical animated film” instead of the live-action multi-million dollar box office bomb which they did, and employ the American cartoonist as the movie’s main artist.
Script: Danny Fingeroth, Art: Kyle Barker, and Colors: Glynis Oliver

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