Under the Radar: “Destroyer Duck” #1 – First Appearance of Groo the Wanderer (80s August Special)

Welcome back to 80s August, The Splintering’s month-long celebration of the greatest decade since the end of the Ice Age!

Time for another edition of Under the Radar, a segment where we will spotlight comic books that don’t have the widespread attention of the comic book community that they really should.  Today, we’ll be looking at Destroyer Duck #1, which contained the first appearance of Groo the Wanderer.

Groo the Wanderer is a sword for hire in an age gone by (think Conan the Barbarian, just far more incompetent).  He’s accompanied by his trusty dog Rufferto, as they travel the land on a series of misadventures, looking for food and a fray.  Groo is a hilarious character that has enjoyed nearly a 40-year life on comic book shelves.  Fans are probably most aware of the character from his long running title at Marvel Comics, Groo the Wanderer, which first hit newsstands in March 1985 and ran for a total of 120 issues. 

Groo the Wanderer is the creation of Eisner Awarding winning cartoonist Sergio Aragones, who, for a generation of readers, made them laugh hysterically with his illustrations in Mad Magazine.  He worked on several comic book series prior to Groo, including House of Mystery, Bat Lash, and Plop, but Groo was his first foray into traditional monthly comic books.  That being said, Groo didn’t make his first appearance in Groo the Wanderer #1 from Marvel Comics.  Nor was in the short-lived 8 issues series from Pacific Comics, or the often forgotten one-shot from Eclipse Comics.  No, Groo’s first appearance was actually in Destroyer Duck #1. 

Destroyer Duck was a short-lived anthology series originally planned to serve as a benefit book for writer Steve Gerber who was in the midst of a legal dispute comic book powerhouse Marvel Comics over the rights to his most famous creation Howard the Duck.  As the cover of Destroyer Duck #1 reads: Special Lawsuit Benefit Edition.

The book was packed with stories and talent.  The cover itself was penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Neal Adams; a collaboration long dreamed of by fans.  Inside the pages of that cover, however, was an obscure little story by artist Sergio Aragones.  Groo the Wanderer appeared as a four-page backup story and became the first ever appearance of Groo in comic form.  Groo would go on to serve as backup in a few issues of Starslayer by Pacific Comics before getting his own series from Pacific.  Still, it was those four pages of Destroyer Duck #1 that was his true first appearance. 

This is not a book you’ll find the $.25 bin.  Even if retailers and sellers aren’t aware of this unusual first appearance, just the fact that this is a #1 issue, and features contributions by Jack Kirby and Neal Adams will push Destroyer Duck #1 to command a decent price.  Still, don’t be surprised to be digging through a $3.00 bin and finding this obscure title. 

If you see Destroyer Duck #1 at a reasonable price, grab it.  You’ll be glad you did.  Books like this will always hold a special place in the comic book collecting community and will always be in demand.  Even with all of the information out there about comics, it will not surprise me if you can find this issue somewhere under the radar

Thanks for reading!

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