So ever since Howard the Duck had the cameo in the post credit sting of the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy” the world went “Huh?” collectively at the talking duck. Me? I was with the dozens of other people who were gigglingly like a loon at how awesome it was. Marvel, sensing the start of a beautiful relationship with a fist full of dollars then put out a comic with Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones which lasted a full five issues before having been restarted. Because secret wars, that’s why.
The comic itself is pretty great, with Chipz writing Howard as a sort of a cranky Rodney Dangerfield filled with some pretty rad sight gags and guest appearances, from Dr Strange and the Guardians to an all out war in issue 5 telegraphed by the awesome cover of Howard running away from the fight he just caused, which really does make sense. He has no real powers, so why would he stick around after filling in the heroes. One of my favourite gags involved Howard’s plan to recovering a stolen necklace which was stolen from him by a senior citizen was pretending to be a real duck at a duck park.
The thing about Howard the Duck is he is the marvel version of Rodney Dangerfield right down to the cheap suit and lack of respect. All he wants is to be taken seriously but he’s a 3 foot tall talking duck, which shouldn’t be a problem in a world were there is a new super hero every week showing up, but it is. It doesn’t help that he has no real powers apart from “quack-fu” and the uncannily ability to annoy everyone within a 500 yard radius of himself. This is despite the fact he is a legitimate hero. He stood with the Marvel heroes when they fought against the Skurll invasion, and has protected the then multi-verse from the threat of zombies.
Despite being in the Marvel Universe, all he wants to do is live a normal life, as much as being a 3 foot tall talking duck can bring you. He doesn’t want to be known as just the talking duck, he wants to be Howard the Private Eye, except no one really treats that seriously. He’s treated like a joke by people, instead of accepting him for the person he is.
And unlike Martain Manhunter or Superman, he isn’t the last of his kind, but rather trapped in the Marvel 616 universe, which would make you a little cranky wouldn’t it? Howard is the poster boy for depression, always angry and acting out because no one really takes the time to sit down and ask him. “Are you okay?”. Which brings me to my point about Howard being us.
Through out life, are we not asking for respect, to be seen as more then what we are? Not as some sort of category, not the fat one, skinny one, gay straight etc. We’re asking everyone around us to treat us with respect and as a person rather then a thing. Which is perhaps the greatest lesson a 3 foot tall talking duck can teach us. Howard is often a joke character, which is a shame, because like squirrel girl, he can be a really fantastic character, one that shows that compassion, empathy aren’t just limited to humans, that despite being a talking duck, he is having a go at life and being all he can be. And isn’t that a lesson worth learning?