Howard the Duck, the little cupcake of a drake created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik in the early 1970s, celebrates his 50th birthday this year, and to celebrate, Marvel’s throwing a party — or putting out a one-shot, anyway.
The giant-sized Howard the Duck #1 will include a story by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones, the creative team who brought the character back into the limelight about eight years ago.
“That’s right! Me and Joe Quinones are back and contributed a short story to this issue,” Zdarsky said in his Substack newsletter. “It was really fun getting to write our stupid gags again, and Joe has already had a cover shot down by Legal so you just know we’re bringing our A-game again!”
Ed McGuinness’ cover was not rejected by Legal:
The one-shot will also include:
- A story by Daniel Kibblesmith and Annie Wu that puts Howard in the Oval Office. Once upon a time — 1976, actually, when the first Howard the Duck series came out — Marvel had a faux presidential campaign for Howard that was actually a fan club thing that would net you a patch and a print by Bernie Wrightson. This story will explore what might have been if Howard did actually run and win.
- Video game designer and writer Merritt K will make her Marvel Comics debut with artist Will Robson on a “cosmic comedy” that sees Howard the Duck become leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The one-shot will arrive in stores Nov. 29. Here’s a look at Ron Lim’s variant for the issue:
Howard the Duck has had quite an interesting 50 years. The character first debuted in Adventures into Fear in 1973, before jumping into a back-up feature in Giant-Sized Man-Thing and then getting his own series in 1976. Gene Colan joined Gerber on the title with issue #4, and the duo, along with Mayerik, also worked on a short-lived Howard the Duck comic strip in the late 1970s.
Howard also became the subject of two legal issues in the late 1970s/early 1980s — the first came from Disney, who didn’t appreciate Marvel’s pantless talking waterfowl and his similarities to their own pantsless talking duck. Marvel agreed to a have Disney artists redesign the character. Then, in 1980, Gerber learned Marvel was trying to license the character for movies and sued the company, claiming he was the sole copyright owner — one of the first major instances of a creator pushing back against the work-for-hire nature of the industry. The case was eventually settled in Marvel’s favor, and the case was dismissed.
Despite the pretty terrible movie that came out in the mid-1980s, Howard the Duck has managed to hang on in the Marvel U., popping up here and there over the years and even getting a couple of miniseries in the Aughts before finally landing another ongoing series in 2015.