Ian Brill and James Silvani pilot the remarkable "The Duck Knight Returns" safely into port with a slam-bang, surprise-filled final issue that segues perfectly into the start of the continuing series. As a bonus, several more DuckTales regulars make appearances -- one hopes that the burgeoning St. Canard-Duckburg connection, which was barely explored in the TV series apart from Gizmoduck's occasional teamups with DW, will continue to feature in the future -- and we get a "bonding moment" between DW and Gosalyn that's every bit as good as the best such moments in animation. We also get frankly chilling call-backs to a couple of terrible DuckTales eps, but such is the quality of this miniseries that it actually gets some useful mileage out of them. Meet you on the other side of the...
Well, we did get our heroes-and-villains "cooperation sequence," but without Negaduck getting involved. Indeed, we never did find out what happened to Negs after Taurus Bulba's Crimebots arrested him. (Perhaps Negs' apparent alliance with Magica De Spell had its roots in Negs' getting Magica's magical help to escape from the pokey.) Once Megavolt made his "positively shocking" move, however, the "knob contingent" receded into the background (or through the floor) and we were left with Taurus vs. DW, Gosalyn, and Launchpad, which is what we really wanted to see all along. Thanks to Gos' completely unexpected transformation into Gosmoduck, DW got quite a lot of help with the "heavy lifting," but I still cherished seeing him and LP eschew fancy gadgetry and deck The Steerminator with that tooth-loosening "two-fer" punch. DW's apparent decision to sacrifice his life for the sake of the others was even more impressive, with our hero completely foregoing any alliterative amplification of his daring deed and proceeding in an almost deadpan manner. (I was actually disappointed when DW's dramatic freefall was broken in tongue-flapping, slapsticky fashion. I suppose that such exaggeration simply comes with the territory where these characters are concerned.) Despite his final defeat, Taurus fully lived up to his self-proclaimed status as "the greatest enemy [DW] will ever have." Since it's tough to say he was defeated "for good" -- wasn't his physical body left back at the space station? -- he'll surely appear again at some point, presumably with more hi-tech hardware than ever before. Actually, there's an even more compelling reason to believe he'll be back, as we'll see below.
Anyone who's watched "A Case of Mistaken Secret Identity" and "New Gizmo-Kids on the Block" knows that the track record of folks other than Fenton Crackshell (and where was HE while the Gizmosuit was in the lockbox? Attending an accountant's convention?) handling the Gizmosuit can charitably be described as mixed. Needless to say, for Gosalyn to get a shot at the honor (thanks to Gyro -- he really needs to consider random selection of a codeword next time) was completely unexpected. She turned out to be just as adept at using the suit as was Webby in "New Gizmo-Kids," though the "shocking" climax was genuinely frightening, making Gos' brief plummet in "Darkly Dawns the Duck" look like child's play and fully justifying DW's emotional reaction. Given the broad hints dropped at story's end, will we ever see Gos as The Quiverwing Quack again? Since Fenton has to return sometime, I imagine we probably will. Besides, Gos' own original "secret identity" has a charm all its own.
The backstory of and motivation for Taurus' creation of Quackwerks -- so helpfully sketched out by that handily available "Tuskernini Production" (plot contrivance? What plot contrivance?) -- was fascinating but contained one big, fat hole (no, Taurus, this is not a joke about your weight). The end of "Steerminator" found Taurus defeated but very much "alive," surviving a plunge into a waterfall and flying away. So what "uncharacteristic mishap" (1) destroyed Taurus' cybernetic body and (2) suddenly gave him the ability to "travel through and possess electronics"? I smell, if not a fanfic coming, then at least another Taurus story that makes things clearer.
I had painful flashbacks to "Yuppy Ducks" when I saw the besuited HD&L who accompanied Quackwerks "caretaker" Scrooge. At least they didn't do anything egregiously out of character -- or, indeed, anything much at all. Delighted as I was to see Scrooge and the boys interact with the St. Canardites, I thought the wrapup was the weakest part of the issue. Scrooge's dialogue seemed a bit clunky to me, and would he really entrust the safety of Quackwerks to Launchpad? (I don't think that Launchpad could even approximate a CEO "close enough for government work.") It would be great if the upcoming Negaduck-Magica story gave Scrooge something more significant to do. Kim McFarland's WTFB-APA story "Darkwing DuckTales" got to the idea first, but that was a long time ago.
Needless to say, I have every confidence that the regular DARKWING title will continue at a high level. If CHIP AND DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS is as good, then we have every reason to expect that other Disney Afternoon series will receive the four-color treatment as well. Of all the things that I would have predicted when Boom! took control of American Disney comics, this development would surely have ranked "next-after-last" on the list...