Savage Dragon / Destroyer Duck #1 – Steve Gerber

4 out of 5

Man, I bought this ’cause of Gerber, not realizing that the Turtles were in it.  Pretty cool stuff.  So part of the entertainment value here is in the backstory, which we get from a nifty 3 page editorial from Gerber in the back pages.  It’s a footnote in the career of Howard, and Marvel’s re-use of the character with and without Steve’s input, and the highs and lows he unavoidably goes through as his expectations of working with a major publisher are again run through the wringer… and then Erik Larsen, who had already arranged a Dragon / Duck book with Steve, suggested a backhanded slap to Marvel by doing an ‘unofficial’ crossover with their universe in the Dragon book.  The slap doesn’t really amount to much on the printed page (these background debates never do), but there’s a fun insanity to that part of the book that would’ve been distracting without the tale to explain it, especially if you read this back to back with its Marvel counterpart, which masks its sneakiness amidst the main storyline much better.  But, y’know, this books opens with mass vomiting and a pustule-headed character getting said head popped by a needle-nosed villain.  So it’s a mess, but it works.

And most of it better than works: Destroyer Duck teaming up with Dragon to take revenge on a Doctor who’s creating a cult of ‘Anomalies’ – rings true of classic Gerber stuff, the B.O.Z.O. arc from Defenders (whose elf makes an awesome satisfying appearance here), the random bits from Howard – so the combination of freedom working with Image and Larsen’s Howard ideas really seemed to give Steve the zip he needed to write sharp, not bitter like his later MAX Howard stuff.  The Turtles are big and dumb, like their Image counterparts, but it’s a well drawn, fun fight scene – they get adequate page time considering it’s not their book – and it’s just sort of a joy to see them cross over into Steve’s world.  Consider this me retroactively writing in to tell Steve and Erik that, yes, I’d read more of this team up.