A honest-to-goodness fist-fight between Scrooge and John D. Rockerduck to close out "Around the World in 80 Bucks"? We should only have been so lucky. Instead, after John D.'s last desperate attempt to scam world-traveling Scrooge into spending money fails, Scrooge and Donald merely complete their trip (catching Rockerduck's hapless henchman Lusky in an act of direct sabotage for good measure), and Rockerduck is sentenced to eat four-and-twenty hats as a punishment. John D.'s creation of a phony "lost civilization" in Australia and an equally bogus "archaeologist" who needs financial assistance to uncover its supposed "treasures" is a clever notion, I must admit, but it relies heavily on Scrooge's not finding anything amiss with the fact that the "long-lost" Mu supercomputer is in pristine condition. Surely Scrooge has uncovered enough buried cities in his day to find this situation at least mildly suspicious? The plot point is rounded off in believable style (Scrooge passes up the proverbial "chance to make millions in the long run" because he's unwilling to pay the small initial sum for excavation), but the Antipodean artifice is simply too childish to be taken completely seriously. Lusky's final fouling-up flop gives rise to an additional annoying question: why should John D., who is well-known as a free-spending sort -- especially when it comes to one-upping Scrooge -- have relied so heavily on the actions of a single operative? Even Flintheart Glomgold was willing to splurge to the extent of hiring THREE Beagle Boys to help him try to keep Scrooge out of Macaroon in DuckTales' "Firefly Fruit" serial. If this caper had been filmed, the use of Lusky as Rockerduck's main man "on the ground" would have rivalled the televised works of Irwin Allen when it comes to economy of casting.
Though it did have a handful of good moments -- largely thanks to occasional spasms of clever dialogue work -- "80 Bucks" makes it two "face-plants" in a row for the hugely disappointing Boom! version of $CROOGE. Purists may not appreciate the sentiment, but I think that the upcoming DuckTales-flavored issues will actually be more faithful to this title's distinguished past, if only because I expect them to demonstrate the true adventurous spirit that "80 Bucks" and the previous Scrooge vs. Magica story have so conspicuously lacked. So often DT has been accused of "sucking the life out of" Carl Barks' famed creations; I, for one, am looking forward to a couple of issues chock full of reverse vampirism.