Friday, March 11, 2011

Get DOWN, America! Gerber's campaign pain for Howard the Duck!

Political satire serves a valid purpose: it makes people question. Questions are good. Questions are necessary. The more you learn, the more you need to laugh, but the more you need to question.

"Open Season" HOWARD THE DUCK #8 (Note: "Trapped in a World He Never Made!" is now in my head in the midst of a rock and roll-style song hook)

Yay, Howard the Duck just teamed up with the totally awesome Gerber Defenders! Pity he can't just stay at the Sanctum Sanctorum; as an occasional non-member helping out, there must've been several great stories out of that!

You see, he's about to get back to where we left him last issue: he saves the convention crowd in the middle of a banal speech by the All Night Party Candidate---from a bomb. The Alaskan Delegation sign is live. I mean, "Ka-Boom!" a bomb. Look out, Buddy; Howard thinks: "It's been a long time since I tried a pole vault," and plunges that sucker straight into the most farcically patriotic cake possible.

The candidate shifts without hesitation to the stance: the job's too dangerous.
Gultch, however, has his man---who professes he really had nothing else planned 'till November.

The Duck's pretty frank:
While some people are fighting hard, with a lot of money, for the right to turn your surroundings into a true hell hole, I'm beseeching you, here: ask questions. Ask questions about the answers you're given. Think of what someone with a differing point of view might think, and then, question the motivations behind that difference.

You can question a true thing and find it's true, but you'll not for long have the luxury of believing everything you hear.

Speaking of truth...after he's the candidate? A two million dollar bounty's on his head. And competing bounty hunters try to psyche each other out in an alleyway nearby, only to fire upon each other. "Every bounty hunter in the city? Well, forget that; I'm out! It's all yours...See ya..."

For as the caption, beneath a telescope sight, says, framing the goodbye handshake of Stephen Strange and Howard: "An existence led at the intersection of crosshairs. For along with power and free franking privileges ---the man or fowl who seeks the White House also courts Death. (So what else is new?)

One bullet-proof limo ride later, Howard's confronted with every permutation of his image across many walks of life, as he finds his banners hung within the PR department's office: cowboy, hard hat, shovel at ready, and placid clergy. Bev says it all: "Wow. Hey, Ducky, I'm impressed. I used to think I was all things to all men---but even in my devil-may-care days, I couldn't beat THiS!" G.Q. Studley's taken image all the way over the top. He's given false teeth, a pipe, and a red sports jacket, after hearing his high assassination quotient means people care! Every syllable's on hand in a book, all his canned material "spoken anytime Howard's within earshot of a reporter" and then, G.Q. recites a selection of platitudes.

In response?

Howard walks out, opens a phone book in a phone booth, and hires his new agency: Mad Genius Associates. "Now that's our kinda people! Well...your kind, anyway."

Small guy, big truths: We still have more freedoms than most of us realize, of which we should take advantage; there are freedoms we need back, too, sometimes keeping them out of the hands of our would-be protectors. It is important to find the answers behind the financial and governing bodies' motives, especially in relation to our gift of individuality. Who they are, how they work, and what is good sense, and what is waste? In this, we must keep good humor, and most importantly, know where a little good sense can simplify things, but given by personal example.

Howard's real power is discernment. He is always asking himself:" where does responsibility lie?" These universal questions distinguish superior, inspiring fiction.

As Mom often says, "one never knows."

That's why, when all the satire one can pack in 17 pages ends, Howard finds the media manipulated into his apparent undoing, with a farcically bad attempt to scandalize him...setting up to face the Canadian manipulator of his recent life in #9!

All of this falls within the discussion of what we mean by socializing, what we mean by community, and what we mean by something so abstract as the fabric of our society. It's always required what kindness and love we can offer, but it's set against a mental background where unethical, unkind people have the most material gain to swallow, as what one honest person can make for a living draws upon a slimmer pool of actual, available wealth one can earn. What passes for thinking for one's self is left to the individual; to have anything but a stupid conversation, or none at all, we need people thinking for themselves. It's that intangible realm of the heart, however, that guides that individual quest, shaped by the relationship with that heart, and what we will allow to it, and what it in turn gives us in our circumstances.

I'd lavish details of his press conference...and his narrow escape from the Attack of the Industries, one metaphorical absurdity piled on the next. But to tell you, is to quote or go home; to describe is a distant second finish to Colan's cartooning, rendered so menacingly by inker Steve Leialoha: remember, amidst all the wackiness, mortal injury's a distinct possibility in the traps of the world he never made. I simply can't compete with these last pages.

Criticism of these problems is the work of social satire, and it must be done with an origin in that realm, the heart, the emotions, reaching its zenith from head speaking for a full heart.

Satire bears the face of society's changes and the features of its follies.

Here we remember a relic from the past of social satire, a bicentennial year-flavored blend of art and words still vibrant, but standing best as a means to inspire a new voice. It's earned its humble museum of our words because, at some point, oppression must be seen as absurd. To laugh is to gain courage, to contain fear. They give us the thoughts to maintain our hearts as we continue to think, as well as worry, as well as rest.

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