When Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones started their run on Howard the Duck, it was just supposed to be a fun little book capitalizing on the post-credits sequence of a certain Guardians of the Galaxy film. However, instead of simply trying to ape the original creators, Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik, Zdarsky and Quinones created a different world for Howard. Instead of being “trapped in a world he never made,” now he was “trapped in a world he was accustomed to” (forgive the dangling preposition).
And, over the course of sixteen issues, they have packed Howard’s world with as many awesome and crazy characters as they could: from Spider-Man’s Aunt May (who works as Howard’s receptionist) to Tara the Tattooed Shapeshifter (she ate a Skrull-tained duck once) to Biggs the Partially Robotic Cat (“YOU PET BIGGS.”) and many more.
And now it has all come to an end. With an issue appropriately titled:
So who are the bad guys in which Howard fights against? Who are the dastardly foes that have taken control of Howard’s life and turned it into a crazy train?
Well, okay, it’s Chip Zdarksy and Joe Quinones. Or, rather, “Chipp” and “Jho,” two Sparkitects from Sparkitron, who can alter reality in order to “spice up” mundane lives. Yes, this comic did simultaneously break the fourth wall and leave it intact. It turns out that Chipp and Jho were being paid by Mojo to spice up Howard’s life even more because Howard’s life was a highly rated reality program.
In the last issue, however, just as Howard got his hands on Chipp, that wily writer managed to stab Howard in the gut and leave him for dead. Which he was.
So Tara goes on a rampage against Mojo, while Spider-Man tries to fight against the Iron Punisher (a Sentinel designed to kill all superhumans).
Which leads to the best way ever to stop a giant robot.
Meanwhile, Jho, Chipp’s partner, is trying to fix everything by literally writing a Deus Ex Machina. So as Howard’s soul floats into the sky, this happens:
So with the Iron Punisher defeated by a cat and Mojo arrested by Tara, there was only Chipp left to defeat. Go read the issue to see the awesome scene where they do so, because I don’t want to spoil it.
But it ends with the Sparkitects offering Howard one wish in penance for the actions of Chipp and Jho. He makes a wish and then walks off into the sunset with Tara, Aunt May, and Biggs.
So what did he wish for?
Well, remember when he met Bev again? And she told him that she was in veterinary school? And how she had always wanted to be a vet? (Sure you remember. You’ve been reading along. Just...go out and buy the issues okay and pretend like you always knew.)
And that’s the end. Until another
writer Sparkitect takes an interest in Howard, that is.
Zdarsky and Quinone’s Howard the Duck was a different book that Gerber and Mayerik’s — it was less satirizing the world at large and more satirizing Marvel Comics especially. In fact, one running gag was Spider-Man being unable to save anyone — “sad sobbing Spider-Man” was a recurring image in the book and it was always hilarious. Because nothing was taken seriously — except, of course, that everything was taken seriously in a way because this wasn’t just some story, this was Howard’s life. And his story ended the way he wanted it to end: with a smile.
Oh and Joe Quinones included the lyrics to “Biggs the Cat” (which, it turns out, is based on his cat):