Monday, July 20, 2020

Marvel Immersion Project: Howard the Duck #11-17

Gene Colan - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
Eugene Jules Colan, the primary artist of the Howard the Duck series, was born September 1, 1926 in the Bronx.  In addition to Howard, he was best known for his work on Daredevil and The Tomb of Dracula.  He was the co-creator of several characters who eventually found their way into movies: Falcon, the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics, Carol Danvers and Blade.  Colan was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2005.  He died in 2011 from complications of cancer and liver disease.

My Recent Reads

Howard the Duck #11
Originally Published April 1, 1977
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artist: Gene Colan
  • Delirious with exhaustion, Howard takes off on Bev and catches a bus, destination anywhere.  He is discouraged when he discovers the bus's actual terminus: Cleveland.
Winda Wester (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
  • His seatmate is Winda Wester, a young woman with a speech impediment whose parents believe she is possessed by the Devil.  They have sent her to Cleveland to be exorcised.
  • Several passengers, including Jesus (at least by appearances) and a Hare Krishna, try to sell Howard on various spiritual paths out of his misery.
  • The Hare Krishna says "Goo-Goo-Goo-Joob" at one point, simultaneously referencing "Humpty-Dumpty," Finnegans Wake and, of course, the Beatles:

Howard the Duck #12
May 1, 1977
  • Howard, Winda and the Kidney Lady are on trial for their roles in running the bus off the road.  The Kidney Lady is let off but Howard and Winda are sentenced to 90 days in a mental institution.

10 Great Moments from Steve Gerber's Howard the Duck
via Chasing Amazing
  • In the final frame, glam metal band Kiss makes their cameo entrance.

Howard the Duck #13
June 1, 1977
  • The hospital brings in an exorcist, Daimon Hellstrom, to help Winda.  He determines she's not possessed and cleared to leave.  Howard remains a mystery.
Daimon Hellstrom - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
  • Daimon Hellstrom first appeared in Ghost Rider #1 in September 1973.
  • Joon Moon Yuc is back, having survived the house explosion in #7.  He would seem to have his own plans for the "demonically possessed" Winda.
  • On the final page, Howard gains the powers of Hellstrom's alias, Son of Satan.

Howard the Duck #14
July 1, 1977
  • As Son of Satan, Howard breaks Winda and himself out of the institution.
  • He abandons Winda in the woods, setting off to Cleveland on his own to find Bev.
  • Bev has been worried about him, too, not understanding why he wandered off before.  Paul Same is with her.  Howard bursts in on them and hauls her away to talk.
  • Howard, while possessed, is violent towards both Winda and Bev.
  • Fortunately, Daimon finds Winda and brings her the rest of the way to Cleveland.  Once there, we have a consequential confrontation with all four characters.  Most importantly, Howard is freed from Son of Satan's possession.
  • Howard is happily reunited with both Bev and Winda.

Howard the Duck #15
August 1, 1977
  • Howard, Bev, Winda and Paul are on a cruise ship, headed homeward.
  • This is the trippiest story so far.  The ship is attacked by a giant sea monster with a pleasure center button, bombarded with giant rocks falling from the sky, then crashes into a rock that turns out to be the egg of a concrete swan.
  • Whereas straight-laced Steve Ditko would not have been pleased by Doctor Strange's adoption by the counter-culture, the lifestyle choices of the Howard creative staff are made pretty clear in this issue...
  • Bob Dylan reference, this song:

  • On the final page a new character is introduced: Dr. Bong.  Gerber was not one for subtlety.
Doctor Bong - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia

Howard the Duck #16
September 1, 1977
Gerber/"Cast of Thousands"
  • Howard the Duck #16 is, I believe, unique, at least within Marvel Comics.  I know the word unique is overused but it fits here.  Steve Gerber, for all his considerable brilliance, was notorious for missing deadlines (perhaps related to the lifestyle choices noted above?).  Eventually, this professional liability would cost him his job.  Before things reached that point, he wrote Howard the Duck #16, subtitled "Zen and the Art of Comic Book Writing."  Unable to get the expected story ready in time, Gerber wrote a long essay about the comic book industry and his frustrations with his own creative struggles. 
  • The text is presented in basic typewriter lettering over beautiful two-page panels from a variety of Marvel artists.  

Howard the Duck #17 
October 1, 1977
  • We return to the Dr. Bong story.  Bong brings Howard and Bev to his castle.  
  • Bong reveals his past to Bev, a past in which he knew her during their college days.  What's more, he was obsessed with her.
  • Meanwhile, it would seem he has nefarious Moreau-esque plans for Howard.


  1. If I was still in a mind for collecting, this would be a series I think I would want to own.

    1. Completely different from everything else I've seen so far.

  2. Those storylines are brilliant!

    1. They really are. And not the least bit predictable.

  3. I don't know much about Marvel Comics, but the Magical Mystery Tour is one of my top three favorite Beatles albums (behind Sgt. Pepper and the White Album). And Bob Dylan ain't bad, either.

    1. Interesting top 3...

      Abbey Road and Revolver are both magical to me, though for different reasons. I'd probably go with Sgt. Pepper for #3, for everything that it is. Help! is pretty amazing. So's the White Album. And Rubber Soul...