by Michael Brown
Welcome to this week’s Four-Color Bullet, the only comic-book review column trapped in a world we never made.
From Marvel this week, the first story arc since Star Wars returned to Marvel comes to an end, as Han, Leia, and Chewie try to make their escape from Cymoon-1, while Luke faces off against Vader, in Star Wars #3; Gwen Stacy takes on the Vulture, and the NYPD in the second issue of the comic book the fans created, Spider-Gwen #2; it’s Spider-Man vs. Beast in a knockdown, drag-out, no-holds-barred … science fair? Someone at the Jean Grey school knows Spidey’s secret identity, and introducing, for a few minutes anyway, the all-new Sinister Six, in Spider-Man and the X-Men #4.
From DC this week, Harley and Deadshot are at Ground Zero of a metahuman revolt, in New Suicide Squad #8; Constantine’s trip to Earth-2 killed him. Now what’s in store for the Hellblazer?, in Constantine #23.
From the folks at Valiant, the Eternal Warrior must contend with an old and deadly foe, while reeling from the aftermath of a devastating battle, in Unity #16; past and future collide as we see what made Colin King the man known as Ninjak, while he tracks down a secret cabal of shinobi masters, in Ninjak #1.
From BOOM! Studios this week, Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esquire return in righteous new adventures. After learning of their destiny to create galactic harmony, the duo travel to the 27th century to cure little Chuck De Nomolos of his hatred of Wyld Stallyns, in the first issue of Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return; as the USPF army comes down on the seceded nation of Florida, Snake is forced to take up arms for the twins. Little does he know that all is going according to plan. With an invasion in full swing, the end game is put into action, in Escape From New York #4
The Return of the Duck
It took a 12-second gag at the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie to cause fans to forget about that earlier George Lucas-helmed disaster, and embrace Howard the Duck back into Marvel. And with all of that clamoring and embracing, everyone’s favorite mouthy mallard has returned to comics. And you know what? It feels good. Howard first appeared in 1973, and he was a counter-culture icon, walking through a world he didn’t understand. Sent to Earth via the Nexus of All Realities, Howard, in his first series, was full of satire, parody, and even some vulgarity, but it seems that writer Chip Zdarsky may be toning down some aspects of the original. But even so, one thing Zdarsky hasn’t toned down is Howard’s snark.
Zdarsky makes Howard sound grouchy, but not irritating, and still sporting some early 1970’s attitudes that just don’t fly in these modern times. And he’s not giving the reader too much in the way of seriousness, as seen in what may go down in Marvel Comics history as one of the most ludicrous and hilarious break-ins ever. Plus, Zdarsky’s take on She-Hulk and Spider-Man, who guest star in the first issue, is fantastically and rip-roaringly hilarious, as he establishes their relationship with Howard. And artist Joe Quinones provides some really great visuals.
The one thing I didn’t like was the fact that there is an appearance by one character that’s a direct reference to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and yeah, this character exists in the pre-MCU comics, the way he appears mirrors the movies, or rather, one movie in particular. But the end seems to resolve itself, setting the reader up for what will be a crazy second issue.
A lot of things had to go just right, and the stars had to align perfectly in order for this new incarnation of Howard the Duck to work. But work it does, and this is a good relaunch of a character who, up till now, appeared in cameos and one-shots, and isn’t largely remembered by younger fans from that 1986 stinker film. But whether you’ve been a Howard fan for years, or you were one of those moviegoers who didn’t understand why everyone was cheering at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, this issue is a great intro to one of Marvel’s more kicked-about characters.
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Michael Brown is a comics nerd and a father who lives in small town Tennessee. When he’s not making his players mad in his “Shadowrun” RPG or experimenting with new and inventive uses of duct tape on his children, you can find him checking out the latest comics and movies for SCIFI.radio!