Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nothing says Lovin' like the Monster in the Oven: Howard the Duck #6

"A lonely highway in Pennsylvania mountain country, late one stormy night. Crazes of crackling electricity gerrymander the sky. Thunder echoes dully off the sides of ancient hills.”

We get a detailed description of the salesman who’s daydreaming as he drives in this fierce weather. The extended leg of lovely Beverly Switzer does not over shadow his horror at seeing her companion, Howard the Duck. “His heart goes out to this lady in distress...to her bare, fragile shoulders, beaten and battered by the uncaring elements...to her pleading eyes and wind-ravaged hair...but his sympathy hits a snag at the weird creature by her side.”

Steve’s captions are really superior to any short-hand description; this is the situation when complementing and discussing his work. The tendency is to focus on plot, but it’s the writing itself I find unique, idiosyncratic, even.

Nearly wiped out by the speeding car, Bev and Howard eat puddle. Howard’s bravado afterwards is the final straw; after all, they’d had a ride until Howard refused to put out his cigar. She gives him a kick, she exclaims there’s no excuse for cannibalism in the Poconos, and with a thorough telling off, she leaves the desperate duck.
Bev finds her way to a gothic house on the hill, all rendered moodily by Colan. At the door, a child asks her if she’s the new governess---so why not?

Another beautiful description of dawn precedes Howard’s awakening on the grass, surrounded by young people in identical yellow pants and white t-shirts. A talking duck, as usual, is a shock, so they go back to the “holy father.” At the bus we meet Reverend Joon Moon Yuc, a blatant parody of Rev. Moon, with Yuccies in place of Moonies. Amidst his bizarre prayer that God strike down the creature, a maniacal highwayman charges them from horseback.

He presents his card: he’s Heathcliff Rochester, real estate broker. “I favor the term ‘lifestyle consultant’” he says, before explaining his need to move a house for Seven Gables quickly, as its present occupant has everyone in a clamor. Referring to Howard now as “Rev. Duck,” Heathcliff snags him aboard for a horseback ride. Yuc calls after them desperately: “You’re making a terrible mistake! It’s ‘reverend Yuc!’ Yuc, do you hear? Yuc! Yuc!! I’m the second coming! He’s just a stupid duck!”

Surrounded by creepy portraits, Bev’s a bit of a wash at preparing breakfast. She meets the girl’s insane mother now, too. Finally, the last of our cast arrives, with a wrecker, pick-axes, and many angry townspeople. Not to worry. This happens once a week, the girl, Patsy, explains. Heathcliff and his hounds arrive to drive them away, in the process, Howard lands on his bum.

Bev comes out, and despite its defiance of logic, their friendship throws them tearily together. The duck gets “some major bean spilling” now from Heathcliff. He admits why the family’s wisely decided to sell this “crumbling Victorian manse” for another of its kind in Wisconsin: the locals think Patsy’s a witch!

The Yucchies have their agenda, too: to exorcise and claim this house as their own. Patsy replies: “Gee whiz, villagers are such a drag! They think I’m trying to create a monster or something---just because Mom’s brain’s been whited out! Heck, I’m not makin’ monsters—I’m just bakin’ cookies!”

“Ah,” exclaims the pointing Rev,, “but they’re godless cookies, aren’t they, little girl!” So long as Heathcliff gets a sufficient down payment and FHA approval for financing.

Within the tower, however, beleagured Patsy has a surprise for everyone: “so I’m going to prove to you---once and for all---that I’m really just baking cookies!”
Howard: “uh, sweetheart...this isn’t exactly a home ec lab. And much as I desperately want to believe you...no chef I ever knew hadda strap down his pastries!”

After pointing out the two “D” batteries, she explains it’s mostly for show, left by her grandmother. She throws a switch. “I hadda buy’em myself –outta my pittance of an allowance! Other kids get patted on the head for learning thrift—but not me! I get hassled by dumb villagers!!”

“The cookie sheet shutters...while five yeasty fingers...rise up angry!”

“Waaaugh!” indeed.

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