Thursday, December 10, 2009

Comics Review: DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS #348 (Boom! Kids, November 2009)

"Double Duck, parts 0.5-1 and 1-1.5" -- and no, that's not some perverse form of mathematical humor -- continues to feature slick artwork and the occasional good gag. This issue adds the refreshing sight of a comely female duck (Donald's primary "Agency" contact Kay K) appearing to be attracted to secret agent Don with no questions asked. (Since I've seen other Double Duck images in which Daisy poses with Donald, I have to wonder whether a duel of desirous "duckettes" is in our future.) In places, however, the logic resembles that of a particularly loopy Darkwing Duck episode, most blatantly in the matter of why Donald needs a "training mission" of the type "The Agency" sets for him here. We saw in part one that Donald has already served as an agent, so why doesn't "The Agency" simply reactivate the memory cells that have lain dormant since Don underwent that "voluntary memory reset"? The mock mission and obligatory "training" gags don't amount to much, apart from a skydiving and scuba-diving escapade with the exuberant Kay and a chance to dredge up Donald's unpaid parking ticket, which will apparently be used as this story's chief running gag. Not until the latter portion of the book do we finally learn that Double Duck's real mission will be to recover a computer storing a list of "Agency" agents from criminal tycoon Marlo Burke. (I can't wait to see that gaggle of Duck-"universe" villains chanting "SELL THE LIST! SELL THE LIST!" at Marlo.)

Showing its Italian pocket-book roots all too clearly, the story breaks off in midstream for another "Double Duck" logo placement. Just prior to the break, Donald had successfully completed his mock mission, with an unwitting assist from the draconic "Duckburg Parking Guard." (As a result, he has to spend some time in jail, but he's used to that.) After some pointless training and the obligatory scene with Gizmo (the tech-wizard of "The Agency"), Don and his overbearing senior partner B-Black get on the job just in time for a smug Gladstone to close the book with a brief walk-on (and some news that he and Daisy will be attending a party at Burke's mansion). There is a hint that Don's boss Jay J may not be telling him the whole truth; the "missing agent" B-Berry, whom Jay claims may be the first victim of Burke's villainy, appears to be the same guy who was facing down Jay in the opening scene in #347! This adds a bit of spice to otherwise straightforward superspy doings and makes me wonder whether "The Agency" is using Don for some deeper, darker purpose. The plot's holes bother me, but the Double Duck saga is turning out to be more interesting than I'd expected -- and, best of all, Donald hasn't fired a weapon in anger yet.

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