Sunday, June 6, 2010

Comics Review: WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #707 (Boom! Kids, May 2010)

For the longest time, Boom! plugged this issue's contents as "TOP SECRET", but the editorial decision to follow up the immensely enjoyable "Mickey Mouse and the World to Come" with Andrea Castellan's second major MICKEY MOUSE epic was the easiest "call" since the hapless Orioles' latest defenestration of their manager. Given the parlous state of Boom!'s UNCLE $CROOGE to date, the desire to propitiate the longtime Disney comics fans was simply too strong to resist. (Not that the "sourdoughs" had a perfectly satisfactory week... Read on to find out why.)

Part one of "Mickey Mouse on Quandomai Island" cuts right to the chase, with a cruise ship carrying Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Pete and his paramour Trudy van Tubb (who appear to have come on board to... steal people's wallets?! Wouldn't it have been easier, and far more cost-effective, to have stayed in Mouseton and done that?) cracking apart under the duress of a typhoon. The gang wash up on a tropic isle that appears to have been inhabited by scientists not that long ago. Given that "half the lifeboats exploded" (sic) during the storm, I have to wonder how many folks weren't so lucky. Hopefully, the "Rule of the Disney 'Universe' Titanic" was in effect, and there were just enough lifeboats to save everyone. One bloke who definitely survived is the debonair Duke Hight of Konseet, accompanied by a mute body-servant, Maximus. The Duke already seems like a highly suspicious character, given that (1) he was putting the moves on Minnie before the wreck, much to Mickey's discomfort; (2) he is a gushing fount of long-winded stories of past "good deeds"; (3) despite the big talk, Maximus appears to perform all of the Duke's chores. Were this a Harold Gray story, the Duke's fate would be sealed right now. To be fair, though, he's only been an annoyance thus far. The flip side of Casty's cover (not pictured above) suggests that we're in for a gay old "prehistoric creatures on a deserted island" time, not unlike Floyd Gottfredson's classic "Land of Long Ago," but Casty has already proven adept at funnelling new wine into old Gottfredson-vintage bottles, so I think we have a few big surprises in store. One very modest gripe: what kind of cruise ship charges passengers for everything? Don't most cruise lines provide meals and "basic essentials" as part of the package, only charging for such "extras" as massages, alcohol, etc.? Nicky and I should know, having been on a couple of cruises.

As with "World to Come," we get a back-up story that will presumably accompany all the chapters of "Quandomai." "Minnie Runs out of Time," however, already promises to be roughly, oh, one quintillion times better than "Peg-Leg Pete and the Alien Band." In the noble tradition of DuckTales' "Time Teasers," the (ahem) remarkably similar Don Rosa tale "On Stolen Time," and the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea adventures featuring the evil Mr. Pem and his pocket watch, Minnie acquires a device that appears to have the power to stop time. It's not a time piece, however, but a coffee maker (espresso or cappuccino? Such things matter, given that this is an Italian story) with a clock attached. Minnie is in "complete bafflement" mode at the moment, but hopefully she'll be able to use the old bean (groan) to dope out the gizmo's secret.

Speaking of stopping time, the final inside page of the issue appears to have reversed time: we get a honest-to-gawrsh letter column, rather than an in-house discussion/interview feature. In the "return of MICKEY'S MAILBAG," Editor Chris Meyer lets slip the tantalizing news that a return of MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS may be on the cards, just in time to celebrate issue #300. That happy piece of information was quickly neutralized later in the week when I browsed through the "Extended Forecast" section of ComicList. According to the site, a whole slew of Boom! reprint hardcovers have been cancelled, including... gulp... DONALD DUCK CLASSICS VOLUME 2, which was supposed to appear in late July. (MICKEY MOUSE CLASSICS VOLUME 2 is still on the docket, but it has already been delayed for over a month, so it may also have been axed.) I sincerely hope that Boom! sees fit to reverse this decision or, at the very least, considers continuing the CLASSICS series in a less expensive format, akin to the softcover WALT DISNEY TREASURES volumes published by Gemstone. Boom! may have been inconsistent in its handling of "classic" material in the $2.99 books, but its selections of material for CLASSICS can hardly be faulted. If the company is dead set on sticking to hardbacks, then might I suggest putting an end to the relentless reprinting of material that has already appeared in the regular comics? That would "goose" sales of the $2.99's (since the option of "waiting for the collection to appear" would be taken away) and allow Boom! to reserve the hardback format for material that is truly worthy of the higher price. The "Extended Forecast" report also carried the news that STAR COMICS ALL-STAR COLLECTION Volume 4 has been cancelled by Marvel, which would be a shame, but nowhere near as disappointing a one as losing the Boom! CLASSICS line, the best thing the line has had to offer to date (sincere apologies to Casty).

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