52 weeks. 52 different writers. 2 trade paperbacks or hardcovers a week. Each week I’ll take a look at a different writer and read two different collected editions from within that person’s repertoire to help in the examination of their work.
This week we take a break from our regular format to talk about Chip Zdarsky and Kagan McLeod. Both of these gentlemen are going to be stopping by Big B Comics Hamilton (1o45 Upper James Street) on April 22nd from 10am until 5pm to do a signing and some sketches in celebration of their new comic, Kaptara. Written by Chip Zdarsky and illustrated by Kagan McLeod, Big B Niagara employee Ian Ball has you covered with an early spoiler free preview you can find at some point today on the Big B Website! Today though we’re going to take a second to focus on Chip’s new Marvel book, Howard The Duck.
Howard The Duck #1 and 2
Howard The Duck bursts back on to the Marvel Comics scene as a private investigator, fighting for the rights of the innocent civilians and superheroes of the Marvel Universe. His first case puts him in the path of the Black Cat, the notorious thief and long time Spider-Man romantic element. It’s Howard’s job to recover a precious necklace that belonged to one of his clients that was stolen by the Black Cat. Teaming up with his new pal Tara, Howard sets out to recover the necklace only to get swooped up in an even wackier adventure that pulls in more popular characters from across all of Marvel’s publishing line.
Today marks a break in my traditional format as I’m taking a quick look at the first two issues of Howard The Duck instead of a collected edition of the story. There was a long discussion in regards to what type of post I should do for Chip because I already talked about his work with Matt Fraction on Sex Criminals way back at like week 6 or 7. So today I’ll try to write as many words as I can about one of my new favourite series. I’ve already given both issues 1 and 2 glowing reviews that you can read here as well as here. Also, regular Big B Contributor Donny Guillmette did a great look at the first issue a few weeks back as well so check that out right here! Without further ado, lets get the duck underway.
Right off the hop you can tell that this is a book that will be different from your average Marvel comic. Chip brings forward a great characterization of Howard, setting him out beak and feathers ahead of some other characters in the Marvel Universe in just a few pages. Howard is witty, hilarious and a bit grumpy at times but it all suits a duck who can talk and just so happens to also work as a private investigator. Chip plays with the ethos around the character, making it seem as though Howard is a worn down veteran who has been doing this job for awhile even though he really hasn’t been. It comes as no surprise that something like this type of private work would wear down a talking duck because lets be honest, it’s not like it’s easy for a talking duck to get serious work in the first place. Howard does have those ruffled feathers to him but rest assured he is still a character who is tons of fun to follow around. He has a soft spot for a few other characters he encounters and goes to great lengths to help those in need. All around, Chip Zdarsky does a bang up job of not only bringing Howard’s character to life, but adding dimensions to the character that may surprise you as well.
What’s so great about the first two issues of this series is they are interconnected with each other but still tell two fairly individual stories. The first issue follows Howard taking on a client and trying to retrieve a necklace from the Black Cat. There’s a bit of time spent establishing the world Howard plays in as well as what will hopefully be some of his secondary cast and the issue itself sets the series off on the right foot. When you get to the second issue, it does carry on from the unusual ending of the first issue but still has a plot that functions on its own whilst still tying back to the previous issue’s plot. Issue two follows Howard The Duck and Rocket Raccoon as they team up for an intergalactic prison break. It’s a rip-roaring tale that has just as much action as it does comedy and may actually be a stronger issue than Chip’s first outing with Howard, a rare feat in comics. Although Rocket’s inclusion does seemingly take a bit of the spotlight away from Howard, everyone’s favourite duck still has plenty of hilarious one liners and moments to shine in his own regard. At the end of this issue you’re hit with another exciting cliffhanger that will take this story in a direction no one could guess.
So here’s the paragraph everyone has probably been waiting for, the one where I talk about how funny this book is. This book isn’t funny. It’s absolutely hilarious. The point of this comic isn’t to just be funny, Chip tries to tell a story and have fun with a character, but rest assured that the comedy is in full swing and never really slows down throughout. Chip uses a fair amount of guest characters to help bring together some comedic beats, whether they be from Spider-Man, Rocket Raccoon or even a few brief appearances by characters that I refuse to spoil for you because they’re best enjoyed unexpectedly. Chip taps into a great mix of comedy with solid storytelling to make Howard The Duck one of the most entertaining Marvel comics out right now after only two issues.
Read: Howard The Duck #1-2
Best Character: Howard The Duck (duh)
Best Line Of Dialogue/Caption: “Ha! Who’s the sexy prisoner now?” – Howard The Duck
Best Scene/Moment: Spider-Man failing to come to Howard The Duck’s aid – Issue 1
Best Issue: Issue 2. Based off this issue alone, if Chip was to ever write a buddy cop drama starring Howard The Duck and Rocket Raccoon, I’d buy that book immediately. The dynamic between your two lead characters here is amazing. From jokes about “Prison Break” to Howard taking sexy prisoners and even a trip to the Cosmocon, this issue has everything you wanted plus stuff you didn’t even realize you want. Great stuff here by Chip.
Why You Should Read It: You should read Howard The Duck because it’ll make Chip Zdarsky happy. I think that’s a valid opening and closing argument. But if you really need more, read it because it’s a book that blends action and humour incredibly well in a comic market that is changing towards making more books with this sort of tone. Howard The Duck is a fine example of doing these type of stories right. The issues feel like they can stand out on their own whilst also still tying together. Plus he’s a talking ducks and talking ducks are not only hilarious but awesome. Daffy and Donald should move over because there’s a new duck in town and he doesn’t give a duck what you think. *mic drop*