Ok, this one is quite a surprise. Among the many cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s also one that will make most of the fans feel reaaaaally nostalgic: in Knowhere, near the end of the movie, a familiar alien will be seen drinking and chatting with The Collector, and that’s Howard the Duck. Exactly. The character already appeared in a notorious movie, Howard the Duck of course, where he was a shy and honest citizen of Duckworld teleported on our planet during a failed experiment conducted by Dr. Walter Jenning. Unfortunately, along with him also a Dark Overlord of the Universe, a space-conqueror looking like a giant, monstrous scorpion, arrived: clearly, it will be up to Howard to send the baddy where it came from. Hopefully, the new version will be closer to the original one: not shy, not politically correct, and not so clumsy. Just like the one we’re speaking about here.
Very little is known of Howard the Duck’s past (not even his surname, actually): he was born in New Stork City, one of the main cities on Duckworld, an alternate Earth on which the dominant species evolved from birds rather than from apes. Life proceeded normally on his planet, until an unfortunate event took place: Thog the Overmaster, aka the Nether-Spawn, decided it was time to unite all the different realities into one, a realm he alone would have ruled. His nemesis, the old Dakhim the Enchanter, recruited a team from all the realities involved in the demon’s plan: Korrek the Barbarian from Katharta, his own disciple Jennifer Kale, the creature known as Man-Thing, guardian of Earth’s Nexus of All Realities, and of course Howard the Duck. The battle that ensued eventually saw the heroes victorious, and Thog was forced to abandon his goals. Dakhim and Man-Thing created portals to bring Howard and Korrek back to their worlds, but while he was walking on the Stepping Stones of Oblivion (a magic path connecting different dimensions), Howard fell into the dimensional pit. Fearing he would have found himself in an another dimension entirely, Howard ended up in Cleveland, Ohio, on Earth again…a fate even worse than he expected: stranded on a strange planet inhabited by hairless evolved apes, Howard had to find a way to make a living out of his scarce abilities, a task that proved to be even tougher than it looked. The first people from Ohio Howard met weren’t exactly friendly: he faced Garko the Man-Frog, a mutant who ended up being run over by a police car during his battle with Howard, and Bessie the Hellcow, a vampire cow turned into an undead by Dracula himself back in the XVII century. Howard fought Bessie in the attempt of getting a job in the local police, and after a fierce battle with the vampire cow, during which Howard bravely fought with a broomstick and a crucifix-shaped lug wrench; eventually the heroical duck managed to impale the demonic beast. Unfortunately, he was denied the job he was looking for, since he was a duck. Apparently, humans got some issue with racism.
While looking for a job, Howard got himself involved in the attack of another dreadful villain (sort of…), Pro-Rata, the Cosmic Accountant. This time, Howard was helped by none other than the superhero Spider-Man (who had some problems believing he had been teaming-up with a talking duck), but the meeting that influenced Howard’s life the most was the one with Beverly Switzler, a nice young lady who took pity on the poor stranger and decided to take him in at her place. Finally, Howard had at least a place he could call home. He became close friends of Beverly, and he even impressed her with his heroic tendencies: eventually, the two started feeling romantic about each other, and started a relationship destined to last for many years. Still trying to make something of his life, Howard used his martial arts skills to become a professional wrestler, a career that brought to him even more colourful enemies such as the Turnip-Man and the Kidney Lady. He also ended up having a nemesis, the geneticist Doctor Bong. Eventually, trying to get a normal life, Howard and Beverly moved to New York City (a place that oddly resembled New Stork City, only with humans), where he started associating with a minor political party, the All-Night Party. Quite unexpectedly, the All-Nighters ended up offering Howard the candidacy to the presidency of the United States of America, and Howard accepted. The duck’s ideas proved to be quite dangerous for somebody, and his enemies hired the evil Doctor Angst and the Band of the Bland to kill him. Not only Howard survived, but he also defeated his would-be assasins thanks to the help of the Defenders. Angst’s efforts proved to be useless, as most of the Americans refused to believe Howard was real and, taking him as a dwarf in a duck costume, they believed his candidacy to be a joke. Despite his political defeat, Howard decided he would have made Earth his home, a place he would have gladly lived in. First of all, he had to find a job. As always.
Howard the Duck is a cynical and ill-tempered duck, an alien who found himself stranded on a parallel dimension and had to learn how to live in it. Unfortunately, the new dimension has a few attraction to Howard, mainly his beloved Beverly, and his even more-beloved cigars. Howard has no superhuman (or superduck) powers, only a sharp intellect and an incredible amount of good luck, that allow him to get through any kind of situation; he however possesses a special sensibility that allows him to see through reality (he often knows to be in a comicbook), and Dr. Strange found in him a natural talent for magic, also teaching him to cast a couple of spells. Over the time he has used a variety of weapons, from a trident given to him by Daimon Hellstrom to an iron suit built for him by Iron Man, but his all-time favourite is a giant gun he calls BFG (Big Freaking Gun), a special gift from Morbius the Living Vampire. Howard is also a master of Quak-Fu, a martial art from Duckworld that makes him an unexpectedly proficient hand-to-hand combatant. Constantly unemployed and often in clash with some authority, Howard is one of Earth’s most improbable heroes, ready to do his duty…everytime he feels like it.