Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Forgotten Comics: Destroyer Duck

One of the greatest writers to ever work in comic books was Steve Gerber. I will eventually be posting reviews of the bulk of his output for Marvel Comics here at companion blog Shades of Gray, but I will be covering some of his more recent contributions to the artform in this space.

I was torn between making the first Gerber review on this page one of his grossly underappreciated "Nevada" mini-series (arguably his last great comics work), his obscure (yet important) "Omega: The Unknown", or the wildly rebellious and anti-establishment and anti-corporate greed "Destroyer Duck." All three are Vintage Gerber, with strong doses of social commentary, rampant and hilarious absurdity and bone-chilling moments of terror (the latter being perhaps the most remarkable part about Gerber's output, because he has stated he didn't like doing horror and monster stories, yet his superhero tales often contain more horrific elements that those written by others who are expressly trying to scare their readers.

I settled on leading with "Destroyer Duck," because not only is it one of Gerber's greatest, darkest satirical series, but it was pencilled by the equally brilliant artist Jack Kirby and inked primarly by the monstrously talented Alfredo Alcala, but the series also featured a back-up strip, "The Star Child", a horror-tinged superhero tale that ranks among some of the best work from Jerry Seigel and Val Mayerik. Finally, it certainly it firmly belongs in my "Forgotten Comics" series, as it's one of Gerber's works that are unlikely to be reprinted, because the original films were destroyed during a flood of publisher Eclipse's offices and the original art pages are either likewise destroyed and/or scattered among who-knows how many collectors.

However, as I did a little fact-checking, I came upon a webpage that contains a article that was pretty much what I had already planned on writing... and which did it better than I probably would have. Click here to visit the article about Gerber's "Destroyer Duck" at Comics Should Be Good.

As you will read on that page, "Destroyer Duck" had its origins in an effort to raise funds to help Gerber in a creator's rights dispute against Marvel Comics involving Gerber's most famous creation, Howard the Duck. To say the references to the real-world players are thinly veiled is an understatement. However, like most of Gerber's work--and all good literature--"Destroyer Duck" is both a product of its time and relevant to this very day, because the roughly three decades that have gone by between the publication of "Destroyer Duck" and now have not seen the targets of Gerber's ire become any weaker, nor has the big picture in regards to the problems he was calling attention to gotten any smaller. With the exception of some Pacman-based humor, the bad actors of "Destroyer Duck" and the reasons for its hero's rampage against the corporate power structure could just as easily been written today. (Heck, the same excuse that one of the villains use is even still being used by Middle Eastern terrorists and their apologists/supporters to justify their monstrous actions. Like all of Gerber's best work, "Destroyer Duck" highlights more than anything the depressing fact that the more things change, the more they stay exactly as crappy as they've always been.

The eight issues of "Destroyer Duck" may not be easy to find, but they are worth tracking down, if you are interested in reading some of the best work Steve Gerber had to offer, as well as seeing some of the greatest late-career artwork by the legendary Jack Kirby.

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