Sunday, August 15, 2010
Comics Review: UNCLE $CROOGE #394 (Boom! Kids, August 2010)
After all my grousing about Boom!'s seemingly overwhelming desire to serialize everything -- including short gag stories that were always meant to be downed in one "5-Hour Energy"-style gulp -- I'm happy to say that the two-part "The Curse of Flabberge" is the best thing that could have possibly happened to UNCLE $CROOGE's flagging DuckTales experiment at this particular moment. The cliffhanger at the end of this issue's Part One doesn't truly compare with most of the crag-clingers Bob Langhans served up during "The Gold Odyssey," but it almost doesn't matter; the story's satisfying succession of locales (the Chickaboom country, Duckburg, Paris) and element of mystery (the whereabouts of the missing Flabberge Egg of Brutland) provide the epic "feel" that was lacking in #392 and #393's adequate, but generally uninspired, lead stories. Thankfully, the broader scope of the tale isn't accompanied by a backsliding in the area of characterization; everyone acts just as they should. Writer David Gerstein takes French author Regis Maine's original script and packs it full of clever references to DT episodes, Alfred Hitchcock films, more-or-less-obscure French roundelays, and even Boom!'s ongoing DARKWING DUCK title. We even get a fillip of sex appeal in the form of a comely "cat burglar" in a skin-tight black outfit. Add some nice artwork by Jose Cardona Blasi and you get a very appealing package that easily beats anything that Boom! has served up in U$ to date.
Scrooge's wild tirade following the failure of the Chickaboom Diamond expedition is a perfect example of a bit that would have rung false in a Barks-, Rosa-, or Van Horn-based Duck story but makes perfect sense in a DT context. (Launchpad provides the necessary frame of reference by referring back to the legendary "A sea monster ATE MY ICE CREAM!!!" scene from the episode "A Whale of a Bad Time.") Likewise, when Scrooge, LP, and the Nephews infiltrate the Palais Garnier opera house to obtain more info on the mysterious "Miss Mitzi," they dress in outlandish, quasi-Elizabethan costumes, even getting to do a quick "shuffle off to St. Lo" in them. The "cheesy disguise" routine may cause groans from the Duck-comics purists, but it certainly won't bother fans of DT, where such "stage business" was par for the course. It's nice to see a clear recognition that DT isn't simply "Barks lite sans Donald," but, rather, frequently follows its own (charming) approach to telling stories.
Giorgio Cavazzano's cover deserves more than the usual amount of interest apart from its inherent quality -- it's this issue's only cover. That's right, no cover variants this time! Boom! is apparently edging away from the "Cover A"/"Cover B" gimmick, and, IMHO, not a moment too soon. If the intent was to "goose" sales by encouraging readers to purchase multiple copies of each issue, then the strategy obviously hasn't worked.