Marvel have recently started rehabilitating the character, firstly with a Max mini-series a few years back, and now again with Ty Templeton and Juan Bobillo setting him in the modern era, with all of its attendant satirical fodder. Sadly, Templeton is a good writer, but doesn't have the anger that Gerber had, so the first issue of the latest mini is certainly brash but not quite as biting as it could have been... Let's hope the character can shake off the crap surrounding it and be used as an astute commentator on the nonsense of modern life, especially since Warren Ellis stopped writing Spider Jerusalem.
Seems I shouldn't have spoken so soon. I just saw this interview Templeton did with Newsarama this interview Templeton did with Newsarama, during which he not only admits to liking the movie as well, but has this to say of the criticism levelled at him for taking on the project:
I'm very aware of a large group of Howard fans who consider anyone who isn't named Steve Gerber working on the Duck, a form of blasphemy. Obviously I don't consider it blasphemous, or I wouldn't have taken the gig, but I get where these uber-Howard fans are coming from, and I'm disappointed I won't be able to reach them with this story. I think, they might actually like it when it's all said and done. The four issues build slowly (the first issue is fairly tame compared to what's coming up) and we're heading towards a big finale that Howard fans should enjoy.
And how. When I wrote my original Howard post I had only read that first issue, which had seemed mild in tone compared to Gerber's furious work. The following issues are full of satire, righteous anger, comic in-jokes, smut, and anarchic energy. Howard battles the evil M.O.D.O.T. (Mobile/Mental Organism Designed Only for Talking), based on the original, evil M.O.D.O.K. (Mobile/Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing), who has attempted to take over the minds of Americans everywhere by using his enormous brain and a series of radio and TV talk show host-robots to generate a never-ending stream of useless trivia that distorts our perception of serious issues around the world.
Templeton skewers the ridiculous media and its trivial preoccupations, as well as gun control issues, the war on terror, immigration paranoia, and a million other things that need satirising. Plus, Bobillo's art is just as good, if not better, than his work on Dan Slott's magnificent She-Hulk, and there's even a bit of fourth-wall japery added for good measure, as Ink Destroyed My Brush points out here. It was exactly the Howard we need in this century. Apologies to Templeton for doubting him (I'm sure he's read this [/delusion]). Get this book! It's one of the best things Marvel has put out in years.