Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones’ “Howard the Duck” #3 opens with Aunt May (yes, that Aunt May) robbing Howard at gunpoint. When the duck gets mouthy (as he’s known to do), May gives the web-footed private eye a “QURACK” upside the head.
Zdarsky keeps the story in line with the previous adventures of Howard, including bits that nod both to the character’s Marvel Comics history and current lot in the Marvel Universe. A true student of Howard, Zdarsky’s love of the character and celebration of the irreverence inherent in a talking duck make this a fun-filled tale that packs moments of ridiculousness, seriousness and awesomeness right next to each other. Naturally, when you pack that much so closely together, things rub off, and you get a comic that is, quite simply, fun.
Quinones’ whimsical, entertaining art certainly helps amplify the fun in this comic while also providing realistic (for a comic starring a talking duck), keenly detailed characters and settings. Quinones details the tattoos on Howard’s galpal Tara, daring readers to play along in future issues to see if those tattoos remain and what new ink might blossom. The artist also provides sharp detail and depth in the clothes of the characters in this comic. This isn’t a spandex-filled superhero slugfest; it’s a story that features a duck attempting to blend in with the world he’s living on — except for that time he tries to blend in with other ducks so he can scrounge for stale bread at the park.
Rico Renzi’s colors separate “Howard the Duck” #3 from other comics on the racks, the bright hues adding to Quinones’ dynamic art throughout this comic. Much like his work on “Spider-Gwen,” the colors are extreme, but spot-on for the story. Like Renzi’s colors, Travis Lanham’s lettering is different from the norm as well. Using mixed case for the word balloons (like “Ms. Marvel” and the Ultimate line) the dialogue seems more conversational and natural. True, this strays away from “traditional comics,” but so does this volume of “Howard the Duck,” despite its apparent appreciation of the duck’s lineage.
Backing up the fifteen-page lead story, Zdarsky enlists Jason Latour to draw the interaction between Howard and a group of superhero impersonators. Known as “Replicapes,” the impersonators hire Howard to locate Wolverine, hoping a boost in the hero’s popularity will help keep their business afloat.
Taken all together, “Howard the Duck” #3 a fun adventure that flirts with being an all-ages read, just as the original “Howard the Duck” series did, but deep down, there’s more to this story than funny animal comics. This is yet another feather (pun intended) in Marvel’s publishing cap, an off-beat adventure that just so happens to pack comedy and action. Fans of “The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl,” “Rocket Raccoon,” “Ant-Man” and “Hawkeye” will feel right at home with Howard.