'You meatbrains willingly subject yourself to more abuse, physical and psychological than any nation in history! You allow your eyes and lungs to be eaten away by pollution. You fill your digestive tracts with chemicals. Your ears are barraged by the sounds of jackhammer progress. All this while the politicians and Madison Avenue bang away at your minds. You all wanna be happy an' secure, yet you open yourselves to the constant tension an' pressure of a society that claims to be free, but refuses to let you make a move without first filing forms in triplicate. YOu wonder why you got violence? Why your young are either dissident, empty-headed or drugged into a stupor? It's because you've fashioned an emotionally and intellectually sterile culture, that's why!'
Isn't it amazing how something written 30 years ago can ring so true today? And this was from a newsstand comic book about a talking duck! Steve Gerber was a big deal to me when I was growing up. I was a huge fan of Man-Thing. I thought that DC's version in Swamp Thing was whiny at best. Man-Thing was a force of nature and didn't let crap like thinking and feelings get in his way. It was in the pages of Man-Thing that I met Howard and I was hooked. In my many years of collecting comic books this is the only comic I ever subscribed to. There was no way I was going to risk not getting down to our local IGA in time to get the one copy of this off the rack before someone else who didn't get it picked it up before me. I can still remember getting issue 16, the all prose issue and initially being pissed right off. Then I read it. Then I read it again and againa and, well you get the idea. It wasn't a comic, persay, but it saidf a lot to me. This cigar smoking, foul mouthed mallard knew how to push my buttons and was cutting edge satire for it's time. It still is. The original run lasted for 31 issues and there were 9 issues of a black and white magazine version of Howard as well. This Essentials has Howard's Man-Thing appearances and the first 27 issues of the color comic run. Why 27 and not 31, you ask? I think it's because Gerber was fired after issue 27. Hopefully they will collect the other issues as well as the magazine and even the short lived newspaper comic in a second Essentials volume. It might not be Essential but it would be completist of Marvel to do so for the true fans .
Marvel's adult MAX line had a fantastic 6 issue Howard The Duck series that should have led to bigger and better things. It didn't and that is a shame. Howard is a man, er duck, for all time and everyone should read this collection of some of the best comic work ever to come out of Marvel.
Oh, and the fantabulous artwork of the master, Gene Colan ain't nothing to shake a stick at either.