Monday, December 31, 2012

A History of DuckTales Comic Books, Part Five: The Short-Lived 2010-11 Revival

To expedite the creation of this post, I'm going to quote (and modify) an older post of my own:


[From late 2009 through early 2010], for better or for worse, my regular visits to the comic shop and many of the Internet-based discussions that I followed (and sometimes participated in) centered around [publisher] BOOM!'s Disney comics. At first, I boycotted most of the line during Wizards of Mickey/Ultraheroes/Double Duck phase, (or the "Yeah, THIS is the kinda thing kids'll think is WAY COOL!!!!" phase...)

I was floored when, in March of 2010 -- still mired in the "Yeah, THIS is the kinda thing kids'll think is WAY COOL!!!!" level of Hell -- it was announced that, a),  BOOM! would begin publishing a Darkwing Duck series, and that, b) starting with #392, they'd devote the pages of Uncle Scrooge to DuckTales content. It's an understatement to say that this news was unexpected. I reiterate: this was 2010. Neither DuckTales nor Darkwing had been in contemporary productions for close to 20 years, and were completely nonexistent in the public eye. Of course, we now know that it was a gentleman by the name of Aaron Sparrow who was responsible for conceiving of these projects and getting them off of the ground  Darkwing was an instant success -- yet for some reason, Sparrow was fired by BOOM! even before issue #4 was released...


Thus, Uncle Scrooge #392-399 consisted entirely of European DuckTales stories from the `90's. A couple of these were average, a couple more were mediocre, and there was one pretty darn good one (in no small part due to the dialogue penned by David Gerstein for American readers), the 44-page "The Curse of Flabbergé", split between #394-395 (and which I've previously given attention to -- see: here.)

While this seven-issue stretch of DuckTales issues of Uncle Scrooge overall found a lukewarm reception, BOOM!'s Darkwing drew a considerable amount of favorable buzz and even acclaim (and, from what I understand, sales were impressive...for an American Disney comic released in 2010...) It was considered enough of a hit so that several months later after DW's debut came the advent of a new Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers (intended-to-be-)ongoing comic...and then, another few months later (May 2011), the occassion of a new DuckTales (intended-to-be-)ongoing comic... (Okay, here's where things start to get hairy...)

The innaugural four-issue story arc, "Rightful Owners", indicated earnest, well-meaning enthusiasm and ambition...that was undermined by a rushed production schedule and, consequently, not only an under-developed story, but an ill-defined internal "world", or "universe".

On the one hand, the plot conceit was incredibly simple...not that it was devoid of potential, but by the time Part Four/issue #4 -- the pre-designated "arc" "conclusion" -- came around, it seemed as though we were still in what Robert McKee would call Act One, and then were abruptly plunged ahead to (what resembled) the last couple of sequences of Act Three (which, as McKee would insist, is innately the final act of any "proper" story).

And then there were the rotating (even within the course of a single issue!) artists (and the infamous "Photoshop job" of a page in #3, which has been given enough -- but fully warranted! -- attention eslewhere...); the blatant inconsistency could only sour whatever optimism one had that the comic was being produced under the best of circumstances.

Well, as "Rightful Owners" was wrapping up (...I really use the term "wrapping up" lightly, because I can only think of it with a lingering sense of unresolvedness...), I was struck by a word exiting the grapevine that the final two issues of BOOM!'s Darkwing (#17-18) and the final two issues of BOOM!'s DuckTales (#5-6) would present to the world a full-blown DuckTales/Darkwing Duck crossover. Needless to say, not only was I intrigued, but I was giddily enthralled at the prospect...even despite reservations that it would be handled satisfactorily...

I was wise to at least be aware that my enthusiasm would best be curbed (heheh...)...for, in the end, I suffered the sickliness of an embarrassingly mischaracterized Negaduck, multiple pages wasted (starting with the sequence's very first panel) on the inanity of the nephews being mutated into a rampaging, city-trampling, three-headed, King Ghidorah-proportioned giant monster, and a bizarrely-cast (and peculiarly forgettable) incorporation of the Phantom Blot.

But those were actually but the lesser offenses. The major sins:

1. Why are the nephews, Launchpad, and Webby characterized as having long known of Fenton/Gizmoduck's dual identity? On the show, they never were privy to this secret; only Scrooge and Ma Crackshell were...and here, the latter is shown, in present tense, just learning that her son is Gizmoduck! (" mean it's been YOU galavanting around in that suit all this time?!")

2. Since when is Donald an outspoken rabble-rousing activist demagogue, and what the #!*!!#* does "find your inner Donald" mean?


Returning to my older post...having just read the story's concluding installment, I wrote:

Anyway, for all of the writing's flaws, as "Dangerous Currency" was winding down, I found myself once again thinking, "Well, this is it. I guess I should just be glad someone made these comics at all!" Silvani's double-page spread of various DuckTales cameos was largely the impetus for this...Bubba!? Genie from DuckTales: The Movie?! Coming full-circle [back to when BOOM!'s DuckTales and Darkwing endeavors were first announced] , I marveled, "This is 2011?!!" Never thought I'd get to see a full-blown DuckTales-Darkwing Duck crossover. In spite of the MAJOR continuity gaffes, in spite of the inane-ness of the nephews and Honkers being transformed into giant monsters, I've relished it as much as I can.


...oh, would you look at that: I also used "inane" in describing the "nephews/Honker-mutated-into-giant-monster-abberations-of-themselves" gimmick last time I wrote about it! (I hadn't yet reread the passage quoted immediately above this paragraph when, a few paragraphs further yet above, I newly wrote of the scene in question.) Telling, eh?

And by the way, I wish that in the long run, "relishing" the uniqueness of the crossover is what stuck with me...

... but here's the thing(s):

1. I still have a printout of the prose story I began writing early in the fall of `91, while I was in fourth grade, using the word processor program on my family's primitive `80's Epson computer in which Fenton decided to "investigate" Launchpad's "disappearance" from Duckburg, leading to a Gizmoduck-Darkwing Duck teamup. However, my intentions were soon eclipsed by the premier of "Just Us Justice Ducks"...and while I was enthralled by Gizmoduck guest-starring, it irritated me that his upper armwear was white instead of black. A couple of weeks later, when ABC premiered "Tiff of the Titans" (even though it SHOULD have been premiered BEFORE "Justice Ducks" was), I was no less compelled and enthralled...though I was immediately (and still am) irked by Scrooge's face inexplicably beaming at passerbys from the face of the "Welcome to Duckburg" billboard (what, is he a movie start) and the question of when Fenton and Launchpad had become such close friends (or more than passing acquaintances, for starters!) so as to have developed an elaborate secret handshake. But I managed to cope with these incongruities. ;)

2. A few years later, I ecstaticly followed the DT-DW crossover that spawned the last two installment of Bobbi JG Weiss and Cosme Quartieri's the "Legend of the Chaos God", which was faithful to the spirit of both shows and accounted for a post-DT, "Launchpad's now in St. Canard" continuity in a perfectly logical, common sense, no-fuss-no-muss, seamless manner.

Afterwards, it wasn't long before DT and DW comics were completely phased out of DA...and when BOOM!'s reincarnations came along, I'd long since written both franchises off as having whithered away to dust (to use a cliché). In that light, you'd think I'd have low expectations of a DT-DW crossover...but I couldn't help but let my inner (, perpetually outer? :D ) 10-year-old self get the better of me. Admittedly, I should've been more protective of him...because totally botching the matter of who are Fenton's confidantes in his secret identity and unleashing upon the world the all-time most bogus, delusion-addled conception of Donald Duck has left him forever traumatized. ;)

-- Ryan


  1. Ryan,

    I've already expended lots of space & energy on analyzing BOOM!'s DT efforts, so won't add to the welter of words here. However, I will note that there is a rumor wafting around to the effect that Disney-Marvel MAY bring DAFT-themed comics back onto the market soon. My only sources for this are some comments on the Disney Comics Forum and Aaron Sparrow's peculiar Twitter (I think) post that he's been writing "ducks" (among other things) of late. Alas, there's no indication as to when, or if, the classic comics will return. But if the supposed Marvel-Disney DAFT line does materialize, is handled well, and succeeds, then the classic stuff might not be far behind. We can only hope.


  2. Chris,

    Believe me, I know the feeling; over a year later, I still feel burnt out on the subject, and threw this post together only out of a sense of obligation to not leaving my "History of..." series unfinished.

    If the supposed Marvel-Disney DAFT line does materialize, is handled well, and succeeds, then the classic stuff might not be far behind. We can only hope.

    As we always have...and what we're hoping for pretty much having, at heart, never changed! ;)

    -- Ryan

  3. Hi, Ryan:

    I share a similar "burnt-out" mindset on this period with you and Chris, but your post did prompt me to go back and look at "Rightful Owners" & "Dangerous Currency" a year later. It's a hurried mess, followed by a bigger mess with a healthy sprinkling of large inconsistencies: nearly everyone is either way out of character, or contradict themselves somewhere along the way.

    You can't blame the multiple artists, who had to work within the deadlines imposed. To be fair, (perhaps under different management/guidance) BOOM!'s current efforts with "Garfield" and "Adventure Time" are extremely faithful to their source material.

    I was a Barks fan first, so DuckTales always came off to me something like 60% Barks, and 40% empty calories. The "Golden Fleece" adaption book-ended by a visit to Ludwig Von Drake seemed like something that should have been there all along: with a library of good established characters, the need for so many new ones was questionable in my 13-year old mind.

    Beyond the stronger episodes, DuckTales' greatest service was its excellent v/o casting, and the fact that it brought us to the doorstep of Darkwing Duck (which eschewed over-the-top sentiment and wasn't ashamed to be funny!) Whatever made both shows great got lost in those final books.

    If Twitter chatter rings true of a comic book return to these worlds, we can hope the BOOM! books from DT #1 forward can left as an example of how you DON'T treat a property! Done right, it can swell into a much larger entity—even stronger than its original presence over twenty years ago. - Dan