Friday, August 20, 2010

Comics Review: DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS #357 (August 2010, Boom! Kids)

Remarkably enough, "Total Reset Button," the last Double Duck story in this title for the foreseeable future, is slated for the slightly undignified role of second fiddle to its backup feature in both this issue and the upcoming #358. After only nine pages' worth of the supposed "lead story" -- providing barely enough time for me to "reset" my VCR, let alone neutralize a former Agency head's reviving memories -- we get 15 pages of "Bugged Duck," a 2005 Egmont pocket-book pseudo-spy story drawn by Flemming "TNT" Andersen and written by Mark and Laura Shaw. This is peculiar enough -- but what's really strange is that "Bugged Duck" is 30 pages total, meaning that the caboose will outweigh the train next time, as well. Why couldn't "Reset Button" simply have been finished in this issue, with a brief gag story thrown in to make weight? Even a couple of oversize reprinted covers from TOPOLINO's DOUBLE DUCK issues would have been acceptable -- not to mention more respectful to a concept that has, by and large, provided reasonable entertainment value, which is far more than I would have expected when the Boom! DD&F began.

There's relatively little to say about the tiny smidgen of "Reset Button" we get here, except that my assumption that Kay K was "turning coat" once again appears to have been incorrect -- I think. (It's always good when reading these stories to hedge one's bets.) The lady who targeted Donald last time turned out to be an embittered ex-agent with a score to settle with ex-Agency honcho Felino Felinys. OK, so what about that whole business of assassins gunning for Double Duck? The goons helping Jana Smirnov here treat Donald as an annoyance, rather than a mortal threat, so the killers must be elsewhere. Is Kay lurking in a dark alley somewhere, wearing a slinky outfit and carrying a lethal weapon?

"Bugged Duck" is a blast from the thematic past, a "beaks-to-the-wall" rivalry story between Donald and the boys. Here, HD&L "cast the first zone" by eavesdropping on Daisy's house and embarrassing their uncle, who then tries to teach them a lesson by bugging them, subsequently letting them bug his person, and then scaring them silly by pretending that he's a spy on a deadly mission. (Andersen really excels in depicting Don's grimacing and bad acting when he's playing the spy con game.) The boys get wise and plan some revenge of their own, but two real agents have overheard the whole deal in the meantime and plan to bust up the "spy ring" (once they finish bickering over who's going to get the credit). Funny stuff, but, in order to make it work, you have to flush any memories of Donald being Double Duck that may have lingered beyond the opening nine pages. Schizophrenic issue...

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