starkowski_claude-faceCLAUDE STARKOWSKI

Real Name: Claude Starkowski

Identity/Class: Human technology user/creator

Occupation: Automobile mechanic, amateur armorer;
    former active in unspecified (presumably) US military group

Group Membership: Formerly Iron Man Auto Wreckers (apparent proprietor), To Hack and Back taxi company, unspecified (presumably) US military group

Affiliations: Howard the Duck, Paul Same (formerly the Winky-Man), Beverly Switzler, Lee Switzler, Winda Wester;
    formerly Stark International-Cleveland;
    presumably Andy the Angel,
Chirreep, Dakimh the Enchanter, Jennifer Kale, Korrek the Barbarian, Man-Thing, Master C'haaj, and Hemlock Shoals

Enemies: Doctor Bong (Lester Verde); whoever planted whatever caused the shrapnel to be lodged in his head;
   
presumably the Band of the Bland (Black Hole/Morton Kribbee, Sitting Bullseye/Oliver Bedwette, Spanker/Fred Hovel, Tillie the Hun/Matilda von Tromp), le Beaver (Pierre Dentfris), Black Talon (Thibodaux Boudreaux), Brotherhood of Evil Prepositions (Amonger, Arounder, Betweener, Of, Underneather, Withiner), Bzzk J'ohDr. Angst (Floyd Mangles), Galactongue, Jackpot, Jokester, Greedy Killerwatt, Kong Lomerate, Maller, Pro-Rata, Puffin, Quizling, and Wally Sidney

Known Relatives: Carol Starkowski (daughter), unidentified ex-wife, unidentified nephew

Aliases: Claude Stark, Claude Starkowitz

Base of Operations: Unrevealed (presumably Cleveland, Ohio);
    formerly To Hack and Back taxi company, Cleveland, Ohio;
    formerly Iron Man Auto Wreckers, Cleveland, Ohio

First Appearance Howard the Duck I#30 (March, 1979)

Powers/Abilities: Though somewhat delusional, Claude was a genius inventor and technologist. Somewhat limited by funding, he could nonetheless design relatively high-tech equipment and weaponry.

    Notable in his accomplishments was the Iron Duck armor utilized by Howard the Duck. It was armed with foot-springs, flame-throwers, a faceplate equipped with windshield wipers, a searchlight, a diamond-tipped drill, a radio to project his voice from within its helmet, and a magnetic uncoupler (which caused the armor to release him instantly). It reported contained air conditioning, which would have allowed Howard to smoke within the armor. The armor also granted Howard the strength (and fist protection) to crumple a trash can lid with a single punch.foot-springs, flame-throwers, a faceplate equipped with windshield wipers, a searchlight, a diamond-tipped drill, a radio to project his voice from within its helmet, and a magnetic uncoupler (which caused the armor to release him instantly). It reported contained air conditioning, which would have allowed Howard to smoke within the armor. The armor also granted Howard the strength (and fist protection) to crumple a trash can lid with a single punch.

    Clause also designed a set of sonar dishes to incapacitate Dr. Bong by neutralizing his vibrational powers; they were limited by dependency on batteries, as the devices' internal power only worked for seconds.

    Claude was an experienced and skilled auto mechanic.

    Initially, Claude did not seem to realize Howard was a duck, thinking him a midget instead; he eventually figured it out..

Height: Unrevealed (he is rarely standing up near anyone of known height; perhaps 5'9")
Weight: Unrevealed; approximately 180 lbs. (based on the above height)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black

History
(
Howard the Duck I#30 (fb) - BTS) - Claude allegedly received shrapnel in his head in Vietnam (see comments); the shrapenl remained lodged in his head, affecting his cognitive skills and leaving him somewhat delusional.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#3 (fb) - BTS) <Three years before the main story> - Claude was married and had a daughter, Carol.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#3 (fb) - BTS) - Claude and his wife split up on Christmas when Carol was nine.

(Howard the Duck I#30 (fb) - BTS) - Claude allegedly received shrapnel in his head during Vietnam. At some point, he apparently came to believe he was somehow associated with Tony Stark, who at the time was believed to be the armorer of Iron Man (who was believed to be someone other than Stark). He also believed that he was the one who secretly supplied Tony with the Iron Man technology.

(Howard the Duck I#30 (fb) - BTS) - Claude opened Iron Man Auto Wreckers in Cleveland, Ohio.

starkowski_claude-supplies(Howard the Duck I#30 - BTS) - Seeking a means to allow Howard the Duck to survive a confrontation with Doctor Bong, Lee Switzler drove Howard to meet Claude at Iron Man Auto Wreckers.

(Howard the Duck I#30) - Claude greeted Lee, "correcting" him to call him just "Stark," and then automatically considered Howard (or "Howie" as he called him right off the bat) a friend since he was a friend of Lee's. Howard was surprised that Claude didn't seem surprised by his being a humanoid duck, but Claude just kept working (apparently not realizing Howard was not human). 

(Howard the Duck I#30 - BTS) - Lee explained their current predicament to Claude.

(Howard the Duck I#30) - Claude correctly surmised that Lee wanted him to build Howard a suit of armor, but when he noted that he had built Iron Man's armor, Howard considered him crazy and started to run out. When Lee brought him back, Claude told them they were in luck as he was just making an Iron Man suit for his nephew, who was about Howard's size, and he should be able to easily modify it for Howard. 

    Claude continued that ever since he had gotten shrapnel lodged in his head in "'Nam," he had a good sideline creating armor for his favorite super hero, Iron Man. He continued that Iron Man didn't mind him making copies, as long as they were for a good cause, and he pulled out a box of equipment as he asked if Howard had a color preference. Though Howard was highly skeptical, he allowed Claude to get to work, and -- as he welded well into the afternoon -- Claude continued, discussing how he got his transistors from Stark's Cleveland plant; they didn't mind him hauling stuff away as it was part of their "Be Kind to Veterans" program. Noting how Tony Stark had been injured in 'Nam, too, and was "an OK Joe -- not as inventive as me, of course!" Claude considered it was even-Steven as Tony had gotten the looks while Claude had gotten the brains.

    After Howard reluctantly donned the armor, Howard noted the low budget as the reason he had included springs instead of jets and flame-throwers instead of repulsor rays, but Lee told him there was no reason to apologize, as it was a masterpiece. Howard protested, but Claude told him about the air conditioners that would allow him to smoke in it, after which he showed Howard the sonar dishes that silenced the vibrations of Claude's Liberty Bell replica. Encouraged by this, Howard briefly tried out the armor, before having to head back to Skudge, Pennsylvania to face Bong. After this, Howard considered that while Claude may be crazy, his heart was in the right place; however, he stilled figured he was likely to die in battle against Bong, but appreciated knowing he'd at least have friends mourning him. As Howard got back into Lee's car, Claude gave Howard cotton balls to stick in his ears to protect him from Bong's powers, and then reminded his departing friends to call him "when you whip that Bong bugger!"

(Howard the Duck I#31) - As Howard activated the sonar dishes, which agonized Bong, Claude -- still back at his garage -- realized he had forgotten to install a battery in one of the sonic dishes; he hoped "Howie" and Lee wouldn't mind.  Seconds later, the dishes fizzled out.

(Howard the Duck I#31 - BTS) - Though the Iron Duck armor failed, Howard and Beverly Switzler (Lee's niece and Howard's girlfriend) ultimately forced Bong's surrender via threatening to impugn his reputation.

starkowski_claude-welding_helmet(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#1 (fb) - BTS) - After buying the somewhat antiquated "To Hack and Back" taxi garage, Lee hired Claude as his mechanic to get it back into shape.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#1) - Lee introduced his niece, Beverly, and reintroduced Howard to Claude as the mechanic for a taxi company with which he was offering Howard employment. Howard was furious and insulted Claude's sanity and intelligence; Lee told Howard that Claude was the best grease-monkey in Cleveland, at least at a price he could afford, and Claude asked "Howie" but he had ever done to hurt him. Noting how he had nearly died in the Iron Duck armor,  Howard stormed out, not wanting part of any operation of which Claude was a part. Claude commented that if you make one little slip, people never forget it, but Lee told him not to worry about it, as Howard would be back.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#1 (fb) - BTS) - Beverly convinced Howard that he had to share the workload to help pay for an apartment, and he agreed to take the job.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#1/2 (fb) - BTS) - Claude customized a cab with handicap controls, elevating the gas and brake pedals so Howard's short legs would reach them.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#1/2) - When Howard returned to To Hack and Back after earning his license, Claude showed Howard the modified cab. When Howard got in, Claude realized he had forgotten to prop up the the seat, and he gave Howard a telephone book to sit on. Howard departed in the modified cab after Claude gave him a cabbie's cap to he could look the part, and Claude noted how Howie sure was plucky for a midget.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#2/2) - Claude acted as a driver of one of the To Hack and Back cabs for Lee to pick up Howard and Bev to take them to a movie audition for Bev. When Bev wondered if she could make it big in movies working from Cleveland, and Claude assured her that she and Howie were going to put Cleveland on the map; however, he was surprised to learn that Cleveland was already on the map. Soon after, he drove away with Lee after dropping Howard and Bev off at Union Terminal.starkowski_claude-hugging-carol

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#3 (fb) - BTS) - Claude told Carol about Howard, including his being a duck-person.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#3) - Claude drove the cab bringing himself, Carol, and Lee to Howard and Bev's Christmas party. Upon arrival, Claude thanked Bev for inviting him and Carol, and Howard was shocked that Claude had a daughter. Claude introduced Carol, explaining that Howard never her met her because she lives in Akron with his ex-wife. Showing Carol the tree and the presents underneath, Claude got a cup of punch and mingled with the others (with the other guests being Winda Wester and Paul Same), seconding Lee's toast to the future and to them all. Suddenly Carol yelled, "No!" as she threw an ornament against the wall, shattering it and screaming how she hated Christmas and -- as Claude tried to get her wait -- she hated her father most of all. After she ran out, Claude grabbed his coat and hat, apologized to everyone, and prepared to go out after her. However, also wanting to get away and feeling sympathy and curiosity for Carol, Howard convinced Claude to let him go after her instead.

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#3 - BTS) - Carol and Howard shared their frustrations and then ended up meeting Santa Claus and helping to save Christmas from the threats of Greedy Killerwatt and Pinball Lizard.starkowski_claude-close_to_full

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#3) - As Claude enjoyed Christmas carols and some egg nog, he wondered where Howard and Carol were, just seconds before they dropped down the chimnney with presents fresh from the North Pole. As Carol shouted "Merry Christmas, Daddy," she rushed out and hugged Claude. Very much enjoying this, Claude was nonetheless curious about what had changed, and Carol explained how she had got over her own self-hatred and blaming. She realized that things can't always be the way she wanted, but she knew that she loved both of her parents and that they loved her. When she told Claude she was going to try her hardest to make things good for her family, Claude happily and lovingly told her "Merry Christmas!"

(Howard the Duck II (magazine)#4) - Claude accompanied Lee, Bev, Winda, and Paul as Howard prepared to return to Duckworld. When Howard considered that those gathered had become more like his family than his real family, Claude appreciated the sentiment, but noted that they hadn't grown any feathers like his "duck-folks must have."

    Claude ultimately watched in silence as Winda opened a portal that sent Howard and Bev to Duckworld.

(Steve Gerber's unpublished script for Howard the Duck#1 "Secret Crisis II" (fb) - BTS) - Claude was transported -- along with Andy the Angel, Dakimh the Enchanter, Jennifer Kale, Korrek the Barbarian, Man-Thing, Master C'haaj, and Hemlock Shoals -- to within a fire motorhome-like construct in an interdimensional space between Reality-616 and Reality-791021 (mirroring the storyline generated by the dark matter-powered Poporb of Krylorian techno-artist Chirreep).

(Steve Gerber's unpublished script for Howard the Duck#1 "Secret Crisis II") - Shortly after Howard boarded the motorhome, Claude noted the approach of a giant fire hydrant, which proved to be a similar artificial construct holding Dr. Angst and the Band of the Bland (Black Hole Sitting Bullseye, Spanker, Tillie the Hun), le Beaver, Black Talon, Bzzk J'oh, Dr. Bong, Jackpot, Jokester, Greedy Killerwatt, Kong-Lomerate, Maller, Pro-Rata, Puffin, Quizling, and Wally Sidney. As Howard attempted to depart and met up with Chirreep, the monstrous mouth Galactongue appeared and disgorged an entire galaxy. Watching with his face pressed against the motorhome's window, Claude noted to Hemlock Shoals that he was impressed to see a galaxy implode, as he had only seen such thing in movies before.
    The Brotherhood of Evil Prepositions (Amonger, Arounder, Betweener, Of, Underneather, Withiner) then appeared and challenged this group and a group of villains to "Play both ends against the middle, and all you desire shall be yours."

    Both groups were transported into an immense office building on a planet formed from contents disgorged by Galactongue.

(Steve Gerber's unpublished script for Howard the Duck#1 "Secret Crisis II" - BTS) - Kong Lomerate led the villains in a plot to destroy the other group.

(Steve Gerber's unpublished script for Howard the Duck#1 "Secret Crisis II" - BTS) - Bong, presumably along with some of the others, targeted Andy the Angel, Dakimh the Enchanter, Jennifer Kale, Korrek the Barbarian, Man-Thing, Master C'haaj (sp?), Hemlock Shoals, and Claude Starkowski, while Kong led Maller, Jackpot, and Greedy Killerwatt to attack Howard and Chireep, who had left the mailroom (see comments).

Comments: Created by Bill Mantlo, Gene Colan, and Al Milgrom.

    I don't think Claude actually believed himself to be related to Tony Stark,and there is no evidence to support that he did. I think he just took the name "Stark" to be like Tony, but didn't actually believe they were related. In Howard the Duck II (magazine)#1 he clarified his name as "Stark for short." In that same issue, though, Howard commented that Claude had delusions of being related to Tony Stark.

    Obviously references to THE Vietnam War are topical...Claude could have seen action in Vietnam, just not during the historical war; or maybe it was Sin Cong or some other location in Southeast Asia. Or maybe he's totally crazy and made up the whole thing...

    He was called Claude Starkowitz in Howard the Duck II (magazine)#1, and maybe somewhere else.

    I think I originally misinterpretted a line in Howard the Duck I#30 where Claude was talking about armor he was building for his nephew as meaning he thought he was Tony's uncle. In further review, I think he was building something child-size, which is why it was so easy for him to modify it to fit Howard.

    Gerber's unpublished script:

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Claude Starkowski
should be distinguished from:



starkowski_claude-imawIron Man Auto Wreckers

(Howard the Duck I#30 (fb) - BTS) - Claude opened Iron Man Auto Wreckers in Cleveland, Ohio.

(Howard the Duck I#30 - BTS) - Seeking a means to allow Howard the Duck to survive a confrontation with Doctor Bong, Lee Switzler drove Howard to meet Claude at Iron Man Auto Wreckers.

(Howard the Duck I#30) - Working from parts that he was allowed to haul off from Stark International's Cleveland plant, Claude designed the "Iron Duck" armor for Howard, as well as a set of sonic disruptors to help against Bong.

(Howard the Duck I#31) - Back at his garage, Claude realized he had forgotten to install a battery in one of the sonic dishes; he hoped "Howie" and Lee wouldn't mind.  Seconds later, the dishes fizzled out.

Note: I would ASSume Claude closed Iron Man Auto Wreckers when he apparently went to work for Lee full time, but there are certainly a number of other possibilities.

images: (without ads)
Howard the Duck I#30, pg. 10, panel 1 (Iron Man Auto Wrecker);
        pg. 11, panel 4 (bending over and looking in equipment cabinet);
            panel 6 (front view, holding box of equipment);
Howard the Duck II#1: interlude, pg. 2, panel 5 (with welding visor up);
    #3, 2nd to last page, panel 1 (hatless, hugging Carol);
    #5/2: epilogue, pg. 1, panel 2 (mostly full body)


Appearances:
Howard the Duck I#30 (March, 1979) - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Al Milgrom (inker), and Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Howard the Duck I#31 (May, 1979) - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Al Milgrom (inker), and Jim Shooter (editor)
Howard the Duck II#1 (October, 1979) - Rick Marschall (Editor)
    "Fowl of Fear": interlude - by Bill Mantlo, Mike Golden, and Klaus Janson
    "The $64, 000 Desperado" - by Bill Mantlo, Gene Colan, and Bob McLeod
Howard the Duck II#2 (December, 1979) - Rick Marschall (Editor)
    "The Crash of '79" - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), and Dave Simons (inker)
Howard the Duck II#3 (February, 1980) - Lynn Graeme (editor)
    "A Christmas for Carol" - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), and Dave Simons (inks)
Howard the Duck II#5 (May, 1980) - Lynn Graeme (editor)
    "Captain Americana" epilogue - by Bill Mantlo (writer), Gene Colan (penciler), and Dave Simon (inker)
Unpublished Howard the Duck script - Steve Gerber


Last updated: 10/13/17

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