Howard the Duck Explained
Let's start with the most well-known of these surprising characters, Howard the Duck. Marvel's premiere funny animal character, Howard the Duck was created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerick back in 1972; he's best known for a Marvel movie back in the '80s, and was voiced by Seth Green in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Howard the Duck originates from Duckworld, a reality populated by anthropomorphic duck people, and was stranded in our dimension. Most Howard adventures are satirical commentary on modern social issues, while a few are fourth-wall-breaking stories loosely inspired by popular fiction. Marvel's summary of Howard the Duck definitely sounds one of his typical plots:
"Trapped in a world he never made, America’s favorite fighting fowl Howard the Duck hopes to return home with the help of his unstoppable gal pal Beverly before the evil Dr. Bong can turn him the crispiest dish on the menu."
Beverly Switzler is Howard's companion and sometimes even his girlfriend, a nude model who Howard rescued from a super-villain and who became his flatmate. Doctor Bong is Howard's greatest nemesis, a psychotic scientist who was one of Beverly's schoolfriends and has had a crush on her since college. Incredibly, the two eventually married, although things didn't work out.
M.O.D.O.K. is a classic Avengers villain, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1967. M.O.D.O.K. - Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing - is a ruthless genius and a genetically modified killing machine created by a techno-supremacist organisation called A.I.M. Classic comics played M.O.D.O.K. straight as an enemy for heroes like Captain America and Carol Danvers' Ms. Marvel, but more modern comics have tended to use him for comedy. He's been shown as a deeply insecure character who just wants to be loved, and who's desperate to prove himself to A.I.M. by finally beating these pesky superheroes. Marvel's official summary certainly seems to suggest the show will be based on this portrayal:
"In 'Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.,' M.O.D.O.K, an egomaniacal Super Villain with a really big head and a really little body, struggles to maintain control of his evil organization and his demanding family."
The story of Hit-Monkey is frankly one of the most bizarre in Marvel Comics history. A macaque who learned how to mimic the moves of a deadly assassin, Hit-Monkey is a gun-for-hire who has a particular reputation for killing assassins. He's best known as an enemy of Deadpool, whose name figures quite prominently on his list. Hit-Monkey is actually a quite new addition to the Marvel Comics universe, created by Daniel Way in 2010. Marvel's synopsis suggests his origin story has been rewritten a little:
"“Marvel’s Hit Monkey” tells the tale of a wronged Japanese snow monkey, mentored by the ghost of an American assassin, as he cuts a wide swath through the Tokyo underworld in this darkly cinematic and brutally funny revenge saga."
Tigra & Dazzler Explained
It had to happen sometime; Marvel's two top Divas are finally teaming up. Although Dazzler and Tigra have never worked together in the comics, the idea is inspired. A classic Marvel Comics character, Tigra was an athletic superhero who was inadvertently drawn into the affairs of the Cat People. Mortally wounded, she was offered one chance to save her life; to undergo a mystical ritual that would transform her into a feline warrior-woman. Needless to say, Tigra chose to live, and became a celebrated hero. She's a longstanding member of the Avengers, and has worked with the X-Men on occasion as well. Tigra still pursues her modeling career, and quite enjoys showing off her physique in a costume that's basically a bikini.
Meanwhile, Dazzler is a mutant pop sensation; she uses her ability to transform sound into light as a way of creating stunning light-shows during her concerts. When the X-Men discovered Dazzler was a mutant, they recruited her into the team, and she's been an on-again-off-again superhero ever since, even leading an interdimensional team at one point. According to Marvel, both Dazzler and Tigra are trying to become celebrities in a world already packed with superheroes:
"In “Marvel’s Tigra & Dazzler Show,” two woke Super Heroes and best friends, Tigra and Dazzler, fight for recognition among powered people who make up the eight million stories in Los Angeles."
It's actually quite surprising to see Dazzler's name on this list; as an X-Men character, she's technically a Fox property. In fact, Fox even prepared a teaser for her in X-Men: Apocalypse, although it wound up on the editing room floor. The Disney/Fox acquisition isn't yet complete, so it's reasonable to assume Marvel Television struck a deal with Fox TV to allow them to use her.