Marvel Comics has announced a reprint of all the classic “Howard the Duck” material in a new edition of the “Howard the Duck” omnibus, set for October release.
The omnibus will collect stories from “Adventures Into Fear” No. 19, “Man-Thing” No. 1, “Giant-Size Man-Thing” Nos. 4-5, “Howard the Duck” Nos. 1-33, “Marvel Treasury Edition” No. 12 and “Marvel Team-Up” No. 96. The issues of “Howard the Duck” also are available digitally, on Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited and via the Comixology platform.
Howard comes from a planet of talking ducks but finds himself trapped in the Marvel comics universe. The wisecracking character was created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerick in 1973.
Gerber came to prominence in the 1970s, perhaps the most important of the second wave of Marvel creators. Gerber brought a quirky, absurdist outlook to the Marvel Comics of the early ’70s. His deconstructive run on “The Defenders” expanded the limits of what could be done with a Marvel comic book. In “Howard the Duck,” he created a runaway hit, expanding from comic book to magazine to newspaper strip.
When Marvel removed Gerber from the newspaper strip, Gerber fought one of the first battles for comic-book creator rights, filing suit against Marvel. The suit was eventually settled.
“Howard the Duck” was the subject of a 1986 film produced by George Lucas, which did very poorly; the film didn’t have much to do with Gerber’s original vision for the character.
Gerber, 60, died in 2008 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis.
Around the time of his death, writers, including Mark Waid (“Flash,” “Fantastic Four”) and Neil Gaiman (“Sandman,” “American Gods”), said Gerber inspired them in their desire to write comic books.
“Howard the Duck” is one of only a handful of Marvel Comics properties to be adapted to comic book, newspaper strip and motion picture form. The character still appears in occasional Marvel Comics, including a 2004 miniseries and appearances in tie-ins to the crossovers “Fear Itself” and “Original Sin.”
And he could be set for his highest profile yet. (Potential spoilers for recent Marvel movies follow.)
Howard (voiced by Seth Green) appears in the post-credits stinger scene for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the James Gunn-directed film that’s made more than $100 million.
Will that lead to a reboot or further appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or is his appearance a one-off joke for diehard Marvel fans? Marvel’s not saying, but “Avengers” director Joss Whedon may support his return.
“I think it’s time for the ‘Howard the Duck’ reboot that nobody expects,” Whedon told Yahoo Movies in 2013, in a quote almost everyone took as a joke at the time. Now? Don’t be so sure.