HOWARD THE DUCK #1-7 (1976)

Sometimes, superhero comics get weird.

Really weird.

Picking up right where Giant-Size Man-Thing #5 left off, Howard the Duck #1 finds Howard depressed and wanting to swim, but the water is all full of muck. So, he decides to kill himself. Yes, this is a pretty cavalier way of talking about suicide–and it’s just used as a plot device to get him to a tower (with the goal of hurling himself off it, to his death), but when he gets there he finds himself dressed like Conan the Barbarian, saving a Red Sonja stand-in from a wizard named Pro-Rata whose goal is to become chief accountant of the universe.

The issues that follow have him fighting Space Turnip and a giant cookie, meeting Spider-Man, becoming a pro-wrestler, and being drawn by some of the best in the business.

This is pretty heavy handed (and, frankly, dated) social satire. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, it’s always self-indulgent, and it’s always unique. But I will say: It doesn’t work real well for me, so I’ll be glossing over these issues in large chunks.

At the same time, issues #1 and 3 are two historic books–and some of Steve Gerber’s best. When you try something this experimental and swing for the fences, it either goes well or it’s a dramatic miss. This series overall was more of the latter than the former, but the hits it did have are truly unforgettable.

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