Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Comics Review: DISNEY'S HERO SQUAD #8 (August 2010, Boom! Kids)

Time to pack away the "Disney Hero action figures," and none too soon, I'm sorry to say. The denouement of "Fight Before the Exams" demonstrates many of the basic weaknesses of the entire HERO SQUAD concept. The supposed "big fight" between Duck Avenger and Cloverleaf never comes to pass; instead, all of the Ultraheroes (plus "Doc Ock" Pete, who's roped into a "temporary alliance" with the gang for the duration) are rudely dumped into what appears to be a weird alternate world and forced to battle a three-eyed monster. Yeah, whatever, as the teenyboppers are wont to say. The abrupt shift in focus is just as abruptly reversed as the heroes find themselves in the Villa Rose Dynamic Room -- sort of the Ultra-equivalent of the Holodeck -- and realize that the challenge was just an illusion. An illusion that, as it turns out, was dreamed up by "The Masked Top Hat"... and no, this is not a stray piece of Sailor Moon's "universe" interfering in Disney's domain. This is Scrooge in a never-before-seen superhero disguise that I'm just going to forget I ever saw, if you don't mind. Why couldn't they have brought back The Masked Mallard to maintain at least a tenuous connection to something that had gone before? And, besides, isn't Scrooge's interest in "testing" the Ultraheroes here rather at odds with his crabby, misanthropic previous persona in these stories? Even the hinted excuse that Scrooge wanted his fortune to be secure by making sure the Ultras were well-trained doesn't hold up once you realize that the "construction of ingenious secret traps" in Villa Rose must have cost him plenty of money.

HERO SQUAD is Disney comics' ultimate "Throw Something at the Wall" title, featuring fights between characters we'd never seen before, Disney superhero i.d.'s whipped up from scratch, and characterizations that gave new meaning to the term "stick figure." I found it amusing and generally entertaining at first, but, the more I read, the more I realized just how shallow the whole concept was. With little additional Ultraheroes material available, I wouldn't be surprised if this were the last we ever saw of the creation.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

>>>This is Scrooge in a never-before-seen superhero disguise that I'm just going to forget I ever saw, if you don't mind. Why couldn't they have brought back The Masked Mallard to maintain at least a tenuous connection to something that had gone before?

Because this is an italian story and in Italy "Tuba Mascherata" (this is the italian name of "Masked Top Hat") is the secret identity of Scrooge. "Masked Top Hat" debutted in disney comics in 1987 in the story "Paperinik e il mistero di Tuba Mascherata" (litterally "Duck Avenger and the mystery of Masked Top Hat"), a very funny story never published in the USA. Therefore Masked Top Hat wasn't created by the creators of DHS/UH, he was created twentyone years before the creation of DHS.

>>>HERO SQUAD is Disney comics' ultimate "Throw Something at the Wall" title, featuring fights between characters we'd never seen before...

"we'd never seen before". In fact Boom was wrong to publish this story without publishing the origins of the characters! Boom had to publish at least "Paperinik e il diabolico vendicatore" and "Paperinika e il filo di Arianna" to show the origins of Duck Avenger and the secret identity of Daisy.
If one doesn't know the origins of the characters, he can't fully understand the story. For example why is "Villa Rosa" mentioned in DHS? Because "Villa Rosa" appeared in the first story of Duck Avenger: a day Donald won at lottery "Villa Rosa" and went there where he found out a costume belonging to Fantomius, a gentleman thief. He decided to use this costume and the gadgets found out at Villa Rosa to become "Duck Avenger". Villa Rosa is very important for Duck Avenger, so the authors of DHS decided to use it in the story!

Kneon Transitt said...

... The Masked Top Hat?

...

.....

......

... really?

Scrooge as a super-hero?

I mean... REALLY?!

*facepalm*

Chris Barat said...

Anon,

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I figured that MTH must have appeared before at some point, but to us Americans, he was completely new -- with no advance preparation for his appearance! THAT's what annoyed me.

<>

Amen, a thousand times. I guess Boom! was hoping that the "cool factor" of capes and cowls would obscure more fundamental questions about where the Ultraheroes idea actually came from.

Chris

Chris Barat said...

Kneon,

<>

The Masked Mallard (on DUCKTALES) at least made some sense IN THE CONTEXT OF THAT STORY... along with the fact that the episode was partially a parody of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Throwing a preexisting Italian superhero version of Scrooge at us, in the closing pages of a to-be-cancelled title, was another matter entirely.

Chris