Salvaging the reputation of Howard the Duck (the comic book, not the film)

Howard the Duck #8 art by Gene Colan. Trademarks & Copyright © 1977 Marvel Characters, Inc.

On Slate, Keith Phipps explores how the gruesomely bad film version of Howard the Duck almost destroyed the reputation of the excellent comic book that inspired it. The movie was finally released on DVD last month.

What little mystique Howard the Duck has earned over the years can be traced to its unavailability. That mystique is likely to fade soon after viewers drink in the film’s opening scene, which finds Howard lounging in his Duckworld apartment, reading a copy of Playduck beneath a poster for Splashdance. It’s ’80 blockbuster filmmaking at its most thoughtless, all laser beams and quips. [Steve] Gerber’s original, which has been collected and reprinted a couple of times (including last year in a handsome, if expensive, hardcover), remains as crankily original as ever. More people may know about Howard from his misadventure in filmmaking than his genre-busting adventures in the comics, but, thankfully, the latter are still right there on the shelf.

Phipps’s entire essay is here.