After visiting with Boom! Kids Editor Aaron Sparrow at the recently-wrapped Baltimore Comic-Con, I feel considerably more at ease about Boom!'s stewardship of the "classic" Disney comics license. There's every reason to believe that Boom! will take its stewardship seriously and do its best to make these books appealing to readers of all ages, experience levels, and tastes. There's definitely a "period of adjustment" ahead, though, a state of affairs that WDC&S #699, Boom!'s first stab at the most precious of all American Disney comics heirlooms, makes painfully clear in places.
Compared to MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS' "Wizards of Mickey" storyline -- which is, after all, following on the heels of the McGreals' "Shambor" stories, and thus posits a role for Mickey and his pals that isn't completely unprecedented -- "Ultraheroes," the multi-part saga which will occupy WDC&S for most of the upcoming year, represents a radical departure. Apart from Super Goof, none of the "Disney heroes" introduced herein (amidst a flurry of explanatory boxed captions from Sparrow) are at all familiar to most American readers. Heck, Fethry Duck, Gladstone Gander, and Gus Goose are getting to don cape and cowl for the first time! "Duck Avenger," Donald's superhero guise in the Italian comics, got a brief look-in in the Gemstone pocket books, but that hardly counts, especially given the circulation figures for those titles. The good guys are brought together by a strangely well-spoken (as in: NO "p"ing at the start of his words!) Eega Beeva, who needs their assistance to prevent his "Ultramachine," a device he'd brought from the future, from falling into the proverbial "wrong hands." Said hands belong to The Sinister Seven, a gang of costumed villains commanded by Emil Eagle and including The Phantom Blot, John D. Rockerduck, Peg-Leg Pete (who actually has both legs and, thanks to a Dr. Octopus-style set of appendages, a number of spare arms), and, as I've mentioned previously, a couple of characters whom I don't know from Adam. Scrooge and the Beagle Boys get dragged into this nest of vipers (via a teleportation of the Money Bin) simply because Scrooge had found a piece of the "Ultramachine" on his property and was using it as a "cozy" for his Old #1 Dime. Magica would have been excited as all get out had she, as she SHOULD by all rights have been, been included in this calamitous coven of criminals. She might also have provided Emil with a more logical method of getting the dime than bringing Scrooge and his Bin right into the Sinister Seven's lair.
Needless to say, Part One of "Ultraheroes" (which, like the first part of "Wizards of Mickey," doesn't have an actual title) spends most of its time getting the plot up to speed. Rather awkwardly, it cuts off just as Eega is about to spill the beans (or a handful of them, at least) to a quorum of the "Calisota Superheroes" (Gladstone and Gus still being en route). We do learn that at least one character (Donald) has visited Eega's high-tech hideout before, presumably on some sort of mission. (We also learn that Don's "super" identity hasn't hiked his brain power, as he doesn't recognize Daisy in her guise as... um... "Super Daisy.") The artwork, by Ettore Gula, Roberta Migheli, and Stefano Turconi, is good, solid, modern Italian stuff. Saida Temafonte is back on dialogue duty, and he (she?) seems a bit more willing to go beyond the cut-and-dried than was the case in "Wizards of Mickey," dropping in a couple of good verbal gags and references to Calisota, Mouseton and, if you can believe it, St. Canard. Temafonte still has some work to do, though, as witness the Sinister Seven's reaction to Emil's obligatory announcement of the group's plan for global domination: four straight panels of "Ha! Ha! Ha!"s (including one in which the nogoodniks go "Ah! Ah! Ah!", which was probably left intact from the original Italian). A few touches of sloppiness, such as a couple of signs still bearing Italian messages, are worrisome, but I found this opening salvo more entertaining than the first chapter of "Wizards." I could ask for a little more of a Darkwing Duck or Freakazoid! approach to the occasional attempts at humor, however.
Though I won't be able to get to the comics store before week's end, I'll be reviewing UNCLE $CROOGE #384 in the next day or two, thanks to Boom!'s distribution of a special Comic-Con edition of the book, complete with a cover by Don Rosa.