Interviewed by Brian Bendis almost ten years ago for Wizard Magazine about something that happened over ten years before that, Tom Brevoort talked about the Marvel Team-Up issue that he hired Steve Gerber that had an “unofficial” crossover with a Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck comic he wrote for Image Comics.
But I said to Steve, “The part that worries me about this, Steve, is that I don’t know what’s going to be on those other pages. I know exactly what’s going to be on the Marvel pages, but I have no idea what you’re going to do over there.” And he said to me, “Don’t worry. Trust me. I give you my word. I’m not going to do anything on those pages that’s going to get you into any trouble.” I was young and stupid enough that I went, “OK.” When he said it I genuinely believed that was his intention, but the thing that happened is suddenly all these solicitations for Howard the Duck stories started popping up everywhere. He was guest-starring in Ghost Rider and he was in Generation X and they were going to do a special and whatnot—and I’m putting words into Steve’s mouth a little bit here based on what came back, but I think that he felt he had been sold a bill of goods, like suddenly Marvel was going to put this big push on Howard the Duck with this big, coordinated thing, and that he’d somehow been wrangled and roped into being a part of it and somehow giving it his stamp of approval.
Howard remains in the Savage Dragon universe, undergoing a name change to Leonard The Duck. And Marvel is left with a clone. And Tom Brevoort feared for his future as a result.
Literally, if Steve had lived on the East Coast during those holidays I would’ve gone to his house, because not only was I furious, but I was like, “Wow. They’re going to fire my a– good. They’re going to fire my a– right out the door because of what this guy is going to do.”
And as it turned out, two things happened. One, the Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck book shipped like four months late and so it didn’t actually come out alongside our book, and then the second thing was that it came out and absolutely no one cared.
It was that sort of thing, and the part that still pisses me off to this day is that I felt like he promised me. It wasn’t Marvel. Steve Gerber promised me, “I won’t do anything in those pages that screws you up.” Then, I gave him the out. I said, “Steve, if you want to walk away we can shake hands and go.” But no, because at that point, in his head, he already had the plan and whether he wanted to shoot me or whether he wanted to shoot the guy standing behind me, he decided that me and my life and my family, we’re perfectly acceptable collateral damage to the larger point that he wanted to make.
And Marvel have, at least until now, never acknowledged the content of that crossover, or that their Howard is now a clone. At HeroesCon however, the current writer of Howard The Duck, Chip Zdarsky, seems to regard it as established continuity,
Chip Zdarsky: “Don’t get used to Howard as a PI. I may change that at any moment. I did that for the first few issues.” Chip feels that since the original creator Steve Gerber killed Howard in his Image series he feels in all technicality he is writing a book about a clone so he can do what he wants while still staying true to the creators wishes. For example he said you will never see Duckworld.
Chip Zdarsky said he was told to do Howard yellow because of the Marvel / Disney suit from years ago but he said “What’s Disney gonna do? Sue itself?”
Because as he also says,
“The best thing about writing a cult character like Howard is no one at Marvel pays attention and you can do what you want.”
I’m paying attention, Chip! I’m paying attention!