(Huh? Another cover in which Disney characters ride motorcycles without wearing the proper headgear? Is that why Donald is trying to protect his head with the map?)
The rehabilitation of Boom!'s UNCLE $CROOGE begins modestly enough, but I'll accept any improvement, however slight, over the train wreck we got in the last issue. "Around the World in 80 Bucks" gives the familiar story of Phileas Fogg a clever Scrooge-ian twist, with penny-pinching Scrooge betting spendthrift John D. Rockerduck that he can make a globe-girdling trip with only the titular amount of money. Just to prove his point, Scrooge decides to take Donald along. To no one's surprise, the unscrupulous John D. sends Lusky, one of his henchmen, after Scrooge to gum up the works. Scrooge gets across the U.S. and picks up a little extra cash to boot (by contracting to drive an agency's car to New York), then signs himself and Don aboard a luxury liner as hired help. The cliffhanger is a little shaky in a logical sense; why would the cruise line force Scrooge to pay for his passage even if his identity were revealed? Still, despite the somewhat formulaic script (by some outfit called "Staff di IF") and decidedly pedestrian artwork (by no less than the Francesco Bargada Studio, the folks responsible for "The Great Paint Robbery," which I dialogued for U$ #353), this shapes up to be a pretty decent, if fairly bland, effort. Let's hope the thread of the plot doesn't snap, as it did during the concluding roundabout of the "European Vacation" cycle.
Dickie Duck, a Romano Scarpa creation from the 1960s -- she's a teenager and Glittering Goldie's granddaughter, Goldie's niece, and/or a cousin/pal of Donald's Nephews, depending upon which Scarpa story you read -- makes a surprise appearance in the story, hitching a ride to New York with Scrooge and Donald. The real surprise isn't that she appears; she had made brief appearances in several of the Gemstone "pocket book" stories and can even be glimpsed in a piece of animation previously posted on this blog. This, however, is the first time that she has ever been referred to by name in American Disney comics. Yep, we're back to the "Who the heck are you?" territory previously mined so diligently by Ultraheroes. Happy as I am to see a Scarpa character of more than 40 years' standing get some attention in this country, I could have hoped for a more "formal" introduction. Perhaps Dickie's origin story can some day be printed in one of Boom!'s hardback collections -- which, by the bye, are quickly turning out to be the true gems of the line. More on that subject later this week.