Thursday, 27 August 2015

Howard the Duck, Volume 0: What the Duck Review (Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones)


After gently amusing audiences (and likely confusing a few) with a post-credits cameo in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Howard the Duck is given a new series written by Chip “Sex Crimz” Zdarsky and drawn by Joe Quinones. 

If you read Charles Soule’s She-Hulk (recommended) you might remember seeing Howard in a panel in the final issue moving into the office next to Jen’s. Howard’s decided to become a private investigator and is hired by the mysterious Mr Jonathan Richards to steal back something Black Cat stole from him. But Mr Richards is more than he appears to be and… Howard’s got to save the world?! Waugh! 

I love Sex Criminals and, on the face of it, it looks like the perfect match: Howard the Duck AND Chip Zdarsky? And it’s not a bad fit though I wanted to like the series more than I did. 

The story is a bit rambling, which is fine, as Howard interacting with most of the Marvel Universe leads to some good scenes (and really what else is there to do with Howard?). Like Dan Slott’s Silver Surfer, Zdarsky’s teamed up the bizarre-looking protagonist with a cute girl sidekick, maybe going for a Doctor Who-type dynamic. The repeated Spidey break-downs were a kinda funny running joke, and the team-up with Rocket Raccoon led to the best line in the book “Who’s the sexy prisoner now? You’re ALL sexy prisoners!” 

There are also a couple of decent backup stories drawn by Rob “Chew” Guillory and Jason “Southern Bastards” Latour. Guillory’s was by far the best, a three-page strip about Howard being sued by Luke Cage and Iron Fist for touting himself as a “Hero For Hire” defended by a mad lawyer who’s pretending he’s secretly Spider-Man. I love Guillory’s artwork and, though there’s nothing wrong with Quinones, it made me wish the whole series had been drawn by him – THAT would’ve really made me excited for this series as Guillory’s manic style is the perfect complement to Zdarsky’s script. 

And while Howard comes off as a likeable protagonist, most of the jokes are just… meh. Not laugh out loud, not chuckle-worthy, not even a grin most of the time – the kind of humour that’s just a little too self-aware to be funny. Also the “Howard’s a pathetic schlub” angle gets old pretty fast and some of the team-ups aren’t so great, like the Doctor Strange one. The ending too is designed to be stereotypical Marvel fanfare but still fell flat in trying to be a bit too clever. 

What the Duck is an uneven read varying from somewhat funny-ish moments to not, bundled together in a meandering and vaguely interesting-ish story. It’s not bad, it’s not great, it’s… Howard the Duck!

Howard the Duck, Volume 0: What the Duck

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