[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/02a8b33805ca9aee1f88826b821f1368.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:300:Not your usual FunnyAnimal.[[note]]Notice in the background: [[DistaffCounterpart female]] [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor Thor]], [[ComicBook/MsMarvel Captain Marvel]], ComicBook/SpiderMan, [[ComicBook/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy Groot's twig form]], and ComicBook/BlackCat.[[/note]]]]

'''Howard The Duck''' is one of the strangest comic book characters ever published by Creator/MarvelComics, [[AdaptationDisplacement best known today because of]] [[Film/HowardTheDuck its movie adaptation]], believed by many to be one of the worst films ever made; this is unfortunate, as the comic was both funny and full of social criticism, and was one of Marvel's best known titles during the [[TheSeventies 1970s]]. While not an [[UndergroundComics underground comic]] in of itself, ''Howard the Duck'' is widely cited as an example of the underground comix movement's influence on mainstream media.

The character was apparently created as a sight gag; in ''"Adventure into Fear''" #19 (December, 1973), in a ''ComicBook/ManThing'' story involving the "Nexus of All Realities" characters from several [[AnotherDimension universes]] appeared, many of them being obvious homages to fictional characters such as Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian and (in Howard's case) WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck. However, writer Creator/SteveGerber, known for both his love of strange characters and playing with reader's expectations, decided to continue using Howard, and convinced Marvel to give the character his own series. Although Marvel [[HilariousInHindsight had to strike a deal with]] Creator/{{Disney}} in order to use the character, including such things as requiring Howard to wear ''pants'', the character proved popular, most likely due to Gerber's writing.

Gerber had the "duck" accidentally transported to UsefulNotes/{{Cleveland}}, where the "hairless apes" (humans, as Howard called them) refused to believe he was anything but a midget in a duck costume and treated him as a weirdo. "Trapped in a world he never made" (the series' catchphrase) Howard tried to live a normal life (and got a series of jobs, such as driving a taxi) but [[WeirdnessMagnet kept running into bizarre people and creatures]] and ended up having to confront them. The vast majority of these were just [[SuperZeroes wannabe supervillains with silly names and goals]] such as "Doctor Bong" or humorous menaces like a vampiric cow. More importantly, the series used the short-tempered and sarcastic duck as a way to snark on modern human society. At one point, Howard even runs for President of the United States (!) only to retire after a false accusation of having sex with his friend, a human woman named Beverly Switzer.

Howard, despite running into superheroes occasionally, was no superhero himself, and had no superhuman powers (other than the [[NewPowersAsThePlotDemands occasional unexpected skill]] such as "Quack Fu") though he still did end up helping people, directly or indirectly, mostly because of Beverly.

The character's popularity led to his being adapted into the live-action movie, but since other than the Beverly/Howard romance, nothing from the comics made it in, especially not the humor, fans of the character hated it. It was universally poorly-received among critics and fans alike, and was a major flop for Marvel, seemingly killing any chance of more stories involving Howard. Thankfully, time has been kind to him and he makes a cameo appearance in TheStinger of the hit and critically acclaimed film ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'', confirming him as a canon part of the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse continuity. He'll also be getting a new ongoing series --his first since TheEighties-- starting in March 2015, with Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones at the helm.

Howard was also the cause of a legal dispute between Marvel and Gerber, who claimed to own the character. This caused Gerber to leave the company and led to many years of legal wranglings; in the end, the situation was settled with Marvel keeping ownership of Howard. Howard has appeared occasionally in various Marvel titles since the 1970s, and a few years ago starred in a miniseries (again by Gerber) that made open references to his sexual relationship with Beverly (it was part of Marvel's adult-oriented [[Creator/MarvelMAX MAX]] line, which may not be a canonical part of the Franchise/MarvelUniverse.) He was one of the major parodied characters in the ''ComicBook/AmalgamUniverse'', merged with Creator/DCComics's SelfDemonstrating/{{Lobo}} as ''Lobo The Duck''. Seriously. He appeared again as an agent of the dimensional-patrolling agency ARMOR in the "Marvel Zombies" comics, starring alongside various heroes such as Aaron Stack, the Machine Man, and also had an appearance in the ''[[LegoAdaptationGame LEGO Marvel Superheroes]]'' game as an unlockable character.
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!!Tropes featured in the comic:
* ArchEnemy: Dr. Bong.
* AlliterativeName: Winda Wester.
* ArrogantKungFuGuy: "Quack Fu".
* AuthorAvatar: Painter Paul Same, who physically resembled Gerber and was more or less an {{Expy}} from Richard Rory, another Gerber's character that he also used as an alter-ego.
* AuthorTract: Lots of stories were devoted to Howard ranting on how stupid, lazy, self-centered, and shallow humanity had become.
* BeautifulAllAlong: Winda Wester, whose beauty makes a stark contrast to her speech impediment and general weirdness.
* BelatedBackstory: Howard reveals his past to Winda in issue 13, telling his origins and how his life in his original universe was before getting trapped in ours.
* BewareTheSillyOnes: Dr. Bong, who, despite his goofy conception, was the most dangerous foe that Howard ever faced.
* {{BFG}}: Howard owns an unnamed big gun which he literally [[ICallItVera calls]] it as Big Freaking Gun (BFG)!
* BreakoutCharacter: Howard was initially intended as a single-appearance character, but fate (and popular demand) wouldn't have it.
* UsefulNotes/TheBronzeAgeOfComicBooks
* CatchPhrase: Howard's whining "Waaaugh!"
* CharacterTitle
* UsefulNotes/{{Cleveland}}: Where most of the series takes place.
* CloudCuckooLander: Most of the villains appear to be this, particularly the Kidney Lady.
* DeadpanSnarker: Howard.
* DrivenToMadness: Poor Howard suffers a psychological breakdown after encountering with several weirdos at some point. Fortunately, he gets better with the help of Damon Hellstrom and Dr. Avery (but not before causing a complete chaos while he is [[DemonicPossession accidentally possessed by Hellstrom's demonic soul]]).
** It gets subversive, too: the ''real'' cause of Howard's madness is that at a crucial moment he refuses to fight Le Beaver, thus repudiating the entire ethos of Marvel comics at the time, which is that every issue had to have a fight scene. Howard essentially rejects a major trope of the very medium he's a part of. In-universe he says he failed to live by the dictates of his male social conditioning, but read between the lines and it's clear he has a breakdown because, like Dr. Manhattan, he's a puppet who was able to see the strings.
* ElmuhFuddSyndwome: Winda Wester. Weally cute, though.
* {{Expy}}: Dr. Bong is clearly a parody of [[SelfDemonstrating/DoctorDoom Dr. Doom]], while borrowing a few traces from [[Literature/TheIslandOfDoctorMoreau Dr. Moreau]] with his experiments regarding metamorphosis on animals.
** Dr. Bong is also a [[TakeThat Take That]] to Bob Greene, who'd written a column criticizing Marvel's special Music/{{KISS}} issue, which Gerber wrote.
* FictionalPoliticalParty: Howard ran for President in 1976 for the All Night Party, as noted in the picture at the top of this page.
* FooFu: Howard is a self-proclaimed master of Quack Fu.
* FrankensteinsMonster: Created in one issue by a little girl MadScientist. Oh yes, and it's made of gingerbread.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: The comic ran on the tension between the funny-animal kiddie comic it appeared to be and the actual very-for-adults comic it was. As a result, double entendres, cleverly concealed X-rated references ("Phelch" the space turnip) and near-obscenities ("Big clucking deal") were regular features. Not to mention the occasional implication that Howard and Beverly's relationship went beyond the platonic (leading to a particularly uncomfortable moment in the live-action film).
** Averted when the comic was [[{{Revival}} revived]] in 2001. It was published by Marvel's "mature" imprint, MAX Comics, so there was no radar to get past and the content was much more explicit.
* GoneSwimmingClothesStolen: Happened to Howard during a crossover with ComicBook/SpiderMan in an issue of ''Marvel Team-Up'' after he waded naked in a pond to avoid getting attacked by the minions of Status Quo.
* GoodSmokingEvilSmoking: Howard smoked cigars.
* HalfDressedCartoonAnimal: Only in his earliest appearances. A threatened lawsuit from [[Creator/{{Disney}} the creators]] of a similar [[WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck pantsless duck]] resulted in Howard donning a pair of trousers, becoming a BarefootCartoonAnimal. And now Disney owns Marvel. [[HilariousInHindsight Huh]]. However, Howard was able to get away without wearing pants in his Marvel Zombies appearances.
* HearingVoices: Howard is haunted by them during his temporary state of insanity.
* HeroesWantRedheads: Beverly Switzler was a redhead and it was occasionally implied that she and Howard regarded one another as more than friends.
* HerrDoktor[=/=]ThoseWackyNazis: Dr. Reich
* HumanlikeHandAnatomy: Howard has WhiteGloves on human-like hands, but has webbed feet.
* InfantImmortality: Averted with [[spoiler:the little girl who creates the Gingerbread Monster in issue 06.]]
* InterspeciesRomance: Sometimes implied between Howard and Beverly, but nothing is made clear.
* ItsASmallWorldAfterAll: One of the people who Howard befriends in New York after a disastrous escape from Dr. Bong's castle happens to be Beverly's uncle, Lee.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Howard is arrogant, opinionated and selfish and doesn't hesitate in insulting people or throwing snarky comments on them... but he also helps those that have been wronged and is very loyal to his friends.
** JerkassWoobie: As Howard himself is quick to point out, he was plucked from his home and thrown into a world where he does not belong, doesn't understand, and more often than not, isn't ''wanted.'' Anyone would be cranky in that situation
* KilledOffForReal: Dr. Bong's French duck maid Fifi and nearly every antagonist aside from Dr. Bong and the Kidney Lady.
* KnightInSourArmor: Howard due of his jaded attitude and total lack of interest in involving with supernatural affairs.
* KnightTemplar: The underground organization S.O.O.F.I. ('''S'''ave '''O'''ur '''O'''ffspring '''F'''rom '''I'''ndecency)
* MonsterOfTheWeek: Before Dr. Bong came along, Howard fought one-shot adversaries that often got killed by the end of the story,
* MsFanservice: Beverly, who particularly in the B&W illustrated magazine version of ''Howard the Duck'' was often shown in skimpy clothing. In addition, the character's backstory included time working as a nude model. Then there's the fact that she wore a skimpy two-piece suit in her first appearance.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: The Supreme SOOFI is a never-named Anita Bryant (a singer who became a HeteronormativeCrusader) -- she even mentions having her epiphany in Dade County, where the real Bryant then lived -- while Donny and Marie Dearth are based on the Osmonds who share their first names. See also TakeThat
* OnlySaneMan: Howard is usually this.
* PhraseCatcher: "You're a talking duck!" Sometimes it was just "You're a duck!"
** Played with in an issue of ''Sensational She-Hulk'' - when one of the characters says this, he replies "That ain't the half of it, toots," as he pulls out a cigar. "I'm also a smoker."
* PostModernism: Issue 16, the infamous "Dreaded Deadline Doom" issue, which included Steve Gerber soliloquizing for the whole issue about writing on top of surreal illustrations, as well as an "obligatory fight scene" between a showgirl, an ostrich, and a killer [[LampshadeHanging lampshade]].)
** Gerber would later use the Showgirl/ostrich concept in his VertigoComics miniseries ''Nevada''.
* PsychicPowers: Winda.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: In a small arc where Howard and Winda end up in a BedlamHouse-like asylum, Dr. Morton Avery was the only character who wanted to help them.
* RichBitch: Iris Raritan.
* RoguesGalleryTransplant: Dr. Bong is arguably Howard's archnemesis, but in recent years he seems to be slowly transferring to being part of SelfDemonstrating/{{Deadpool}}'s supporting cast.
* StealthPun: [[http://www.flickeringmyth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Howard-the-Duck-2.jpg This picture]] has ComicBook/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy selfie with '''duck'''face. Also, notice [[LiteralMinded Drax]] in the [[FunnyBackgroundEvent background]].
* TakeThat:
** Steve Gerber wasn't afraid to use ol' Howard as a mouthpiece.
** A 90s miniseries called ''Daydreamers'' has Howard travel to an alternate universe where he is revered as a hero. What really floors him though is that [[Film/HowardTheDuck a movie was made about him]]...and it was a hit!
** Howard's MAX series was almost never published due to Disney once again complaining about his visual similarity to Donald Duck. Gerber responded in the first issue by transforming Howard into...a mouse.
** The cover of issue 6 of the short-lived B&W illustrated magazine version of ''Howard the Duck'', which came out after Disney legal action forced Howard to don pants, features a number of duck characters, including one seen from the back that unambiguously resembles Donald (complete with sailor's hat), and another that resembles Daisy Duck.
* TalkingAnimal: Howard.
* ThatManIsDead: During ''ComicBook/CivilWar'', Howard attempted to register, but the government considered him to be such a hassle with his status, they just decided altogether that he didn't exist at all. He was quite overjoyed as that meant no more taxes.
* ToothyBird: Howard is sometimes drawn with teeth.
* UnexpectedCharacter: Of the highest degree in [[spoiler:''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'', and even the [[Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse franchise]] altogether.]]
* UnfazedEveryman: Beverly pretty much fills this role, if you consider that her friends includes a sleepwalking painter with a vigilante alter-ego, a psychic with a speech impediment and, of course... Howard.
* WeirdnessMagnet: Howard thinks he's one. He might be right, as the talking duck is more often than not the ''least'' ridiculous thing about the stuff that goes on around him.
* {{Yandere}}: Bong for Beverly.
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