The new Howard the Duck series by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones has been a delight to read. Howard and his tattooed hipster sidekick Tara Tam have gotten in some wacky adventures, including encountering Howard’s opposite sex clone, getting kidnapped by an evil Southern Belle in a crossover with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and even controlling dinosaurs in the Savage Land.
There has just been one thing missing, however: Beverly Switzler, who was Howard’s constant companion in the old days. Even when Steve Gerber stopped writing the book and it got less weird (no more Space Turnips or Kidney Ladies), Howard and Beverly always went everywhere together. But she has been missing since Chip and Joe started this book. Until now.
Back in Howard the Duck #5, Howard had been fused with the Nexus of All Realities and decided that now would be a good time to go back home...his real home. So he did...and this is what he found:
That’s right: instead of taking him to Duckworld, the Nexus brought him to where Bev was living. And issue #8 is all about their reunion and why exactly Bev left Howard. And it is heartbreaking.
Howard tells her all about his recent adventures in outer space and how he now has a “hipster sidekick” (Tara) and a “senior sidekick” (Aunt May, who works as his receptionist). And then this happens:
It turns out that Bev has always wanted to be a vet, but their weird adventures and encounters with supervillains always interfered with that goal. Howard couldn’t help it: he was just a magnet for weirdness. So she had to step away from Howard, she had to go to a place where she could be normal. A place away from Howard the Duck.
The whole issue feels like it’s about two friends who fell out of touch, their lives going in different directions. It just happens that one of those friends is a talking duck.
The rest of the book is an encounter with a Sentinel named the “Iron Punisher” and then Howard has to go back to New York where he meets Lea Thompson. But there’s one final surprise near the end of the book that means we (and Howard) haven’t left Beverly completely behind.
We could never.