by Nevs Coleman

Awkward Duck Sex, Dan Akroyd and Spawn.

Thanks to Charlotte Henson for proofreading and additional edits.

(Tempting as it was, I couldn’t think of just one Flaming Carrot crossover to list, so I’m cheekily suggesting them ALL here. There is no such thing as a bad Flaming Carrot comic. Also getting honourable mentions are the issue of The Goon where Hellboy shows up, the Nexus/Madman one shot Batman/Spirit, the Steve Dillon/Warren Ellis Gen 13 Annual where the kids deal with the danger of drinking in the pub and Gen 13 A, B and C where the healthy young superheroes meet EVERYONE. Worth it just for Grunge’s reaction to Lady Death..)

11) JLI: Breakdowns. (JLA 2nd Series 53 -59, Justice League Europe 29-36)

JLA issue 59

JLA issue 59

Readers and Listeners may be under the impression that I don’t like superhero comics very much. They would be wrong. I like them as much as I like Horror, Westerns, Romance, Comedy, etc. It’s just that my assessments are made by quality, not genre.
At one point, my favourite comics, bar none, were Giffen & DeMatteis’s Justice League titles. After the sheer tedium that was Justice League Detroit, G & D turned a dull, by the numbers Superhero team book into a running sitcom that was less about the battles between super-powered protagonists and more about strong personalities, romance, slapstick comedy, politics and Oreo Cookies.
New Readers are invited to check out the issue where J’onn Jones, Kilowog and G’nort try to go for a quiet night out, the actually moving funeral of Mister Miracle, the for the simple story where a rubbish reporter accidentally wins a bunch of Super-Powered Gadgets in a game of Poker and goes on a rampage.
Art Chores for these books are provided by the likes of Kevin Maguire, Ty Templeton, Adam Hughes, Bart Sears and even the legend that is Marshall Rogers pitches in on the issues featuring John Cleese.

What if Lemon Candy fought crime? I don’t even…

After a few years, the strain of working on two monthly books, the annuals, a quarterly title and assorted specials was too much, and the pair, aided by long-term editor Andy Helfer decided to wrap up this particular incarnation of The League via multi-part crossover: Breakdowns.
Running across 20 comics, tragedy and catastrophe run riot as every potential threat the JLA and JLI have dealt with come back to haunt them. Starting with both the shooting of Max Lord and poignantly, his final redemption* this is a run that will both anger and move you. Don’t start reading from here, because a lot of the events won’t really touch their significance upon you until you know the whole story. Also, I am entirely aware of how ugly Power-Girl’s costume is in her appearances in Justice League Europe. Thank You.
*Some of us like to pretend that the Max Lord who shot Blue Beetle was a Clone.
10) John Constantine/Shade. (Shade, The Changing Man 42-44)

Shade issue 42

Shade issue 42

On the eve of the 1979 General Elections, John is in a pub, he goes to the loo and gets sucked into a vortex in time. Meanwhile, Today, Shade, Lenny and Kathy are shacked up in Hotel Shade. A man has shown up and odd things appear to be happening. Kathy and Lenny’s clothes are changing fashion, gadgets are reverted to older and more primitive models. Before too long, the three are in Salem during the Witch Trials, and their odd guest has become The Head WitchFinder, convinced that the odd goings on are due to the girls being witches. Then John, everyone’s favorite spiteful Magus shows up.
A tremendous story about politics, tolerance, fear, hatred, lust and love. The final scenes between John and Kathy are as strong an ode to impossible love as you’ll read anywhere in any medium. All drawn by the sublime Chris Bachalo. Probably the point where I wondered why Shade, The Changing Man wasn’t being heralded as the apex of mature comics story-telling the way Sandman was…
9) Cerebus/Bacchus (Bacchus 1, Cerebus 193)

Cerebus and Bacchus crossing paths

Cerebus and Bacchus crossing paths

Cerebus is very, very depressed and drinks in a pub that Eddie Campbell’s Bacchus happens to be at. Both men at the top of their game.
8) Spirit/Escapist. (The Escapist 6)

The Escapist

The Escapist

Some people have written literally years worth of comics to try to convey an iota of the humanity that’s in these pages. Essentially Will Eisner’s last comics work (with assist by Alex Saviuk.) sees The Spirit team up with The Escapist in a simple tale of breaking out of a cell that’s a metaphor for the limitations of publishing, ignorance, imagination and even Will’s own frustration at never creating work that would be as recognised by the world as Denny Colt. The Escapist was Michael Chabon’s tremendous Meta-Textual epic about the history of American Comics Publishing via some of the most state of the art story-telling techniques comics had seen up till that point. It spun out of the novel ‘The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay’, which is equally recommended reading for Comic Fans everywhere.
7) Batman/Houdini.(Batman/Houdini. Elseworlds )

Batman Houdini

Batman Houdini

 Mark Chiarello is probably the best thing to happen to DC in the last twenty years. All around decent person who took on Archie Goodwin as a role model after working with him at Marvel. Created projects like Solo and Wednesday Comics/ He also knocked together the hugely successful ‘Hush’ Batman story by Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb by tricking them into it. Literally. Should anything happen to Lee, Johns or Didio, I bet someone at Time-Warner is looking at him to step up. Oh, and he totally rocks as an artist.  This is proof of what the Elseworlds concept could have been.
6) Jingle Belle/Blue Monday. (Blue Monday Vol 3: Inbetween days.)

Inbetween Days

Inbetween Days

Jingle Belle gets ‘wankered’ with The Blue Monday kids. Hilarity and partial nudity ensue.
5) Spawn/Cerebus (Spawn #10)

Spawn issue 10

Spawn issue 10

Well, this threw EVERYONE.
Faced with criticism that Spawn wasn’t very well written, Todd McFarlane decided that the best solution would be to hire the top writers in the field to do an issue each to raise the quality of the title. Alan Moore wrote an updated Dante’s Inferno, chronicling the final fate of serial killer Billy Kincaid, Neil Gaiman told the tale of Spawns throughout history, and created their natural predators at the same time. Frank Miller warmed up for things like Spawn/Batman and All-Star Batman with the turf war story that wasn’t much of anything. While Dave Sim, well he did things a little bit, ‘differently’. Essentially Dave and Todd talking to each other via their comic avatars, Cerebus talks Spawn through the history of creator rights. Probably the last time you’ll see McFarlane draw Spider-Man in any capacity. (In one of those great ‘I don’t think he’s as stupid as you suggest he is’ moments.

Visual Metaphor anyone?

Joe Quesada had decided to get some heat at Image’s expense by demanding to know when McFarlane would give the people ‘What they wanted’ by drawing a Spawn/Spidey crossover. McFarlane simply responded with something along the lines of  ’Part of the reason I formed Image is so I wouldn’t have to give a shit what any Marvel Editor says about anything.’
4) Spider-Man/Saturday Night Live. (Marvel Team-Up 74, 1st series)

Marvel Team-Up 74

Marvel Team-Up 74

so um yeah ….This happens

so um yeah ….This happens .

 Pete scores tickets to see a live show of the SNL crew performing and takes Mary Jane Watson along as a date John Belushi recieves a ring in the post, Stan Lee is the MC for the night. Bill Murray gives Garret Morris a rubber hammer. Crime happens, but is thwarted by Spidey and the SNL crew (dressed as various Marvel Heroes) because Dan Aykroyd believes ‘Zany’ defeats ‘Gun’ every time. Still the best ever Spider-Man comic, due to featuring Bill Murray. If One More Day ended with Mephisto pulling his face off and turning out to be Bill Murray, I’d have been fine with it.
3) Mars Attacks/Everything Else. (Savage Dragon Vs Mars Attacks,Mars Attacks The Image Universe. Mars Attacks ((Deep Breath.)) Popeye, Kiss, Real Ghostbusters, Transformer, Zombies Vs Robots.)

Mars Attacks the Savage Dragon 1 of 4

Mars Attacks the Savage Dragon 1 of 4

Martians attack Savage Dragon and then the whole Image Universe in the mid 90′s and then move onto Popeye, Transformers, EVERYTHING ELSE a little while back!
Mars Attacks is always good. I’d have enjoyed Sandman more if those little guys showed up.
Morpheus: ‘Lo, and be it not true that this thing we call ”Reality” is only a mere perception of…’
Martian: ‘ACK! ACK! ACK! ACK!’
‘Morpheus:Ahem, should these shadows cause discomfort, they, too, shall pass as Dawn opens his soft eyes, filled with..’
Mars Attacks: ‘ACK! ACK! ACK!
2) Archie vs The Punisher (The Punisher Meets Archie 1)

The Punisher Meets Archie 1

Click to view in all it’s Glory

In which Frank travels to Riverdale to hunt down a criminal called ‘Red; who looks like a certain Mr A. Andrews. Veronica rather fancies Frank. Mr Castle, bound by the peaceful nature of his surroundings doesn’t kill ‘Red’, who has been posing as a supply teacher in Riverdale High.  John Buscema  (who did the art chores on this book.) once stopped Stan Goldberg at a con to demand ‘Are YOU the Loon responsible for writing this?’ Stan looked up at the beefy artist and whimpered ‘Yes…’ ‘Well, we SURE made a hell of a lot of money on this thing, huh?’ and then bellowed with laughter.

According to Age Of Ultron issue 10, this TOTALLY happened. 19 years later, we’re still waiting on the Wolverine/Jughead sequel.

According to Age Of Ultron issue 10, this TOTALLY happened.

Finally we come to our Number One, and IT’S!…….
1) Spider-Man/Destroyer Duck/Savage Dragon/Howard The Duck.
(Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck 1/Marvel Team Up 5 (2nd series).

Spider-man Team-up issue 5

Spider-man Team-up issue 5
Featuring Gambit and Howard the Duck

savage dragon destroyer duck 1

I guess it’s called ‘Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck’ because you probably can’t publish a comic with the title ‘Steve Gerber Says Marvel Can Go F*** Itself!’

 One of the great tragedies of this medium is that most people will read or hear the words ‘Howard The Duck’ and start thinking ‘Bad film featuring Lea Thompson and awkward Human/Duck Sex scene in a PG movie.’ Which is a damn shame. The Steve Gerber issues of HTD were some of the innovative, intelligent, satirical and slightly awkwardly sexy comics of their times. Gerber’s battles with Marvel over the character are too lengthy a process to do justice to here,so go here instead.
The end result was that there were no new Howard stories for at least a decade (Comics Mythos has it that Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter was so wound up by Gerber’s behavior that he wrote him into the first issue of Secret Wars 2 as ”Entitled Genius Hack.’) With the exception of a few appearances in the second series of She-Hulk; The Howard saga all ends in a one-shot published by Eclipse called ‘Destroyer Duck.’ which was pencilled by Jack Kirby, no less.

Then, in 1994, Image showed up.  Unburdened by keeping Editoral happy, Marc Silvestry asked Gerber to write a few issues of Codename: Stryke Force. Not long in, Gerber built up the subplot of ‘Specimen Q’ which would lead to the return of Destroyer Duck.

Silvestri suggested that perhaps a talking duck might not fit in too well with the theme of the book, and asked Gerber to remove DD from the story. Somewhat annoyed, Gerber asked Erik Larsen if he’d be interested in doing a Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck one-shot. After a brief chat, Dragon/Duck seemed to be a closed, if distant, deal.

Destroyer Duck issue 1

Destroyer Duck issue 1

Until someone at Marvel Editorial rang Steve, asking if he’d be interested in doing a new Spidey/Howard The Duck book.  After some discussion with Larsen, Gerber pitched the two titles as a silent crossover. While nothing would be said to the press,  the comics would interlink and tell the story of the final fate of Howard The Duck and his Lady Companion, Beverly.
Happy with the idea being accepted, Gerber went ahead with writing the books, until hearing that Marvel had planned to revive Howard in a big way, using his name to promote Duck appearances in Ghost-Rider and Generation X. (Rumours were rife that Howard would be one of the teachers at The Generation X School, then far and away Marvel’s hottest X-Book.)

'So this is...bad, Steve?'

‘So this is…bad, Steve?

Gerber, annoyed, made several rewrites to the Image side of the crossover. In Marvel Team Up 5, Howard and Spidey simply meet the two shadowy figures (Who are clearly Dragon and Destroyer Duck, although never named) and then leave.
Meanwhile, In Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck, the same scene starts off, but turns into a huge fight involving clones (A jab at the extended ‘and unpopular ‘Clone Saga; running across the Spider-Titles at the time.) Howard takes on the name ‘Leonard The Duck after sending one of the Clone Ducks back into the Marvel Universe, establishing that all appearances of Howard in the Marvel Universe were simply a clone, while Leonard went off to appear in various Image and Vertigo titles.

Leonard the Duck 1

Why, Yes, Gentle Reader, I do have this poster up on my wall. Why do you ask?

It would literally take a total editorial regime change to entice Gerber back to Marvel in 2001, writing a Howard The Duck mini for the Marvel Max imprint, but that’s a story for another time….

One response

  1. Pingback: #NotAllDucks Or Yes, i know Howard The Duck is in Original Sin. Please Stop Telling Me. | No One Is Innocent

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