Thursday, February 18, 2010

Comics Review: WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #703 (Boom! Kids, January 2010)

Now here's a comic re-establishing "first principles" with a vengeance! With the Ultraheroes having departed to their own title, Boom! returns to the original Disney comics hero -- the quick-witted, dashing Mickey Mouse of the Floyd Gottfredson era -- in "Mickey Mouse and the World to Come," a 2008 Italian story written and drawn by Andrea "Casty" Castellan (who is also interviewed herein). Castellan's art strongly resembles that of Gottfredson during the immediate post-World War II period when Bill Walsh was handling the writing chores -- his "smaller and squatter" rendition of Mickey's scientist pal Doc Static is a good "guesstimate" of how Gottfredson might have drawn Static had the character debuted in the late 40s -- and the resemblance is further strengthened by Castellan's decision to bring back The Rhyming Man, the villain of Walsh's 1948 continuity "The Atombrella," as the tale's apparent villain. (The "Atombrella" story, which co-starred Eega Beeva, was never reprinted in comic-book form in America, which renders editor Aaron Sparrow's sidebar note to "see" the original story "for Mickey's first duel with his rhyming foe!" rather pointless.) The plot (dialogued with great panache by David Gerstein, Jonathan Gray, and Stefania Bronzoni) isn't exactly clear as of yet, but we do know that (1) Doc Static may have been up to some sort of intrigue during a 1980's sojourn in Europe (does he seem like the nuclear freeze type to you?); (2) someone out in the desert built a giant flying robot some years ago, and it ain't Emil Eagle; (3) a bunch of sunglass-wearing "Men in Black" (OK, "in Tan," to be perfectly technical) didn't appreciate Mickey and Minnie snooping around that desert location. I may not quite know what's going on, but I do know that chapter one ends on a legitimate cliffhanger. After some of the awkward cutoff points we've seen in Boom! issues past, this is no small achievement. Castellan tops off the fine performance with a splendid cover that looks like a cross between an advertisement for The Rocketeer and a cover to Kit Cloudkicker's favorite pulp magazine, AMAZINGLY FANTASTICAL TALES.

I certainly wouldn't have minded seeing a few extra pages from Castellan -- even if it would have messed up that great cliffhanger -- but Boom! serves up an out-of-left-field backup story, giving us part one of Alberto Savini and Abramo Leghziel's "Peg-Leg Pete and the Alien Band." This thing is just plain weird. To wit: (1) "Peg-Leg" Pete has both feet intact; (2) Pete is abducted bodily out of his bathtub in a manner not unlike that of the Elephant Girl in DuckTales' "Duckworth's Revolt" (the Elephant Girl's tub came with her, but I doubt that any force in the universe is powerful enough to lift both Pete's tub and his body at once); (3) Pete's alien abductors appear to be the "love children" of an unidentified Muppet and The Way-Outs. Evidently, the aliens intend to "change Pete's skin," for whatever cockamamie reason. A pre-story blurb attempts to tie Pete's travails, however loosely, to the events of "World to Come" ("With Mickey otherwise occupied, who will keep Mouseton safe from the sinister machinations of Peg-Leg [sic] Pete?"), but it hardly seems necessary. I will admit, though, that I can easily hear Jim Cummings providing Pete's voice in this story. I can hardly wait for Pete to snap out of his initial fright and try to sell the aliens a used spaceship...

5 comments:

ramapith said...

You should be able to see that original story in two months' time, as Boom has announced it for the upcoming "Mouse Mayhem" Classics compilation.

Chris Barat said...

David,

Great news! It might have been better had the original story preceded the debut of "World to Come," but I'm certainly not complaining.

Is the little boy inventor (Everett) who created the Atombrella going to appear in "World to Come" as well?

Chris

ramapith said...

As you'll see, Everett didn't create the Atombrella—Eega Beeva did. Everett was simply the only scientist who would deign to help Eega actually test the Atombrella; adult scientists thought Eega was too wacky to take seriously.

Aaron said...

I would have also liked to have had the "Mouse Mayhem" Classics compilation out in time to reference it for "World To Come"... but sometimes, you have to go with what's approved for print. :D

We knew we wanted to include that story in the compilation, but it wasn't approved for print by Disney, hence I didn't refer readers to the hardcover in case it fell through.

Sometimes there is a method to our madness!

Ryan Wynns said...

Chris,

I was hoping you'd review this one eventually - glad you did! When I saw that painted cover on Boom!'s web site, I was ready to cry, "Mouse comics Rennaisance! Thoroughly Gottfredsonian!" ... but realized I shouldn't jump the gun, and wait and actually read the thing. And now that I have, I've received it as well as you have. Color me pleased!

David, glad to see that you're involved at Boom! now!