Thursday, November 4, 2010

Comics Review: WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #712 (October 2010, Boom! Kids)

We now have incontrovertible evidence that the justly-praised Casty is not, in fact, bulletproof. I was considerably underwhelmed by the conclusion of "Mickey Mouse and the Orbiting Nightmare," and that was before I noticed that Magic Eye Studios' cover gives away the identity of the villain. Granted, he's not in his standard garb, but folks in the know will quickly recognize the "civilian" corpus of The Phantom Blot. Having infiltrated Project Space Hotel Olympus disguised as designer Alastair Zond and having "retrofitted" the orbiting hostel to fit the standard world-domination protocol, The Blot plans to hold the world to ransom with a "death ray." Hugo Drax would certainly be proud, but even the megalomaniacal villain of Moonraker didn't go to the lengths of redesigning his space station to look just like him. For a bad guy who's habitually hidden behind a cloak, advertising to the entire world what you really look like doesn't seem like the most intelligent thing to do.

My friend Brent Swanson once argued that, once The Blot was unmasked at the end of his origin story, he lost what made him special. I don't necessarily agree with that theory in general, but, in the case of this particular tale, I do see Brent's point. The unmasked Blot was fairly effective as the villain in the WIZARDS OF MICKEY continuity, but that was a "costume story" and such deviations from the norm were acceptable under the circs. Here, apart from the 50-cent vocabulary and the gargantuan, self-indulgent "personal ad," The Blot could literally have been any big-ticket baddie -- say, The Rhyming Man making his what-seems-inevitable-at-some-point comeback. As other comics writers and artists -- not to mention DuckTales and Mickey Mouseworks/House of Mouse -- have shown, there's a workable middle ground between rehashing the Floyd Gottfredson version of The Blot and using him as just another schemer in a violet sport coat and bumblebee turtleneck (hmm... perhaps The Blot should stick to what he knows, sartorially speaking, and remain in "basic black" at all times).

Casty also failed to take advantage of the large cast he introduced, Love Boat fashion, in part one. Everyone save Cassandra Dot bails when "the orbital stabilizers [are] destroyed," and, while Cassandra shows the ability to "grow" when she ignores her own far-fetched theories of aliens in favor of helping Mickey solve a very concrete mystery, adding stowaway Goofy to the mix doesn't really help much. Mickey even resorts to using his pal as an inadvertent "rogue missile" when beginning the fightback against The Blot. Additional business involving the passengers, however, wouldn't have fixed the flaw at the heart of the story.

The creeping "Gemstone-ization" of Boom!'s "classic Disney" output is amplified by this ish's backup story, the GOOFY four-pager "Tidy Friday" (DONALD DUCK #60, July 1958). This vintage tale, in which Clarabelle tries to clean Goofy's apocalyptically messy house, is just the sort of nugget that a Gladstone or Gemstone issue of WDC&S would have tucked into the magazine. Had the story featured Donald or some other "non-Mouse-oriented" character, I would have been even more impressed. Onward to issue #715, in which the "classics" come back with a vengeance.

3 comments:

Joe Torcivia said...

"Here, apart from the 50-cent vocabulary and the gargantuan, self-indulgent "personal ad," The Blot could literally have been any big-ticket baddie -- say, The Rhyming Man making his what-seems-inevitable-at-some-point comeback."

Anyone for Cheshire Charlie?

Anonymous said...

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=114295&id=133535668837#!/photo.php?fbid=147914733837&set=a.147180018837.114295.133535668837

This is the alternative final of the story, never published.

First panel:
Minnie: Oh, great! I knew you'd get in trouble if you took the sweather off.
Mickey: Eh eh... Sorry Minnie but I think that it just fits The Blot better!
The Blot: You laugh...
2nd panel:
The Blot: But this time I will be the last to laugh!
3rd panel:
Goofy: I heard that that ray hit a desolate place!
Mickey:... Fortunately!
Horace: Ehm...
4th panel:
Horace: Of course, that place was desolate...
Clarabelle: ...But...
Mickey: Wonderful! I like stories with happy... [ending]
The End

Chris Barat said...

Joe,

Great point! Never considered that analogy.

Chris