Saturday, December 4, 2010

Comics Review: MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS #302 (November 2010, Boom! Studios)

Sergio Badino and Giorgio Cavazzano's "Legend of the Robo-Presidents" turns out to have been a more substantial epic than I'd thought. I was expecting another "half-and-half" deal here, with one story closing and another opening; instead, "Robo-Presidents" takes up all the space. In said space, we learn that The Phantom Blot has retrofitted the giant robot Presidents that inventor Borzon Gutglum had been commissioned to build to complement the newly-sculpted Mount Rushmore attraction (make sure to read that again, slowly) with the help of software designed by Gutglum's slightly wayward grandson. For all of The Blot's pleonastic, pompous pedantry (at least translator Saida Temafonte is consistent on this score; s/he used the same characterization for vastly different versions of The Blot in the ULTRAHEROES and WIZARDS OF MICKEY tales), the villain's plot is what he himself might call a "dreadfully banal" strike at the gold in Fort Knox. This comes, it should be noted, on the heels of The Blot's channeling of Hugo Drax in Casty's "Mickey Mouse and the Orbiting Nightmare." Honestly, if The Blot's new image as an intellectual is to be taken entirely seriously, then he really should be above ripping off schemes by James Bond villains, much less relying on the help of goons with names like "Billy Bob." The Blot, in the tradition of Pinky and the Brain, seems not to realize that the flying Robo-Presidents couldn't possibly get off the ground if they were truly "stuffed" with gold, but at least he has writer Badino to blame for that little oversight. Morty and Ferdie get a rare chance to fill the HD&L hero role, and, as you might guess, the "Nintenduck" obsession that they displayed in #301 winds up being a key to the good guys finally winning. An absurd story, to be sure, but oddly engaging, with Cavazzano's energetic art, as always, a point in its favor.

In the wake of The Blot's appearing without his black hood and cloak throughout the WIZARDS OF MICKEY sequence and in civvies in part two of "Mickey Mouse and the Orbiting Nightmare," his partially-unmasked status here is notable. Once he captures Mickey, Minnie, Morty, and Ferdie, he pulls off his hood and spends the rest of the story with his head showing above the cloak. I suppose that this is an "Italian thing," and, after mulling over the events of both this story and "Orbiting Nightmare," it's a "thing" that I actually do understand. The Blot can't pretend that absolutely no one knows what he looks like anymore (otherwise, why use a disguise to infiltrate Space Hotel Olympus in the first place?) and, while he can still rely on the "full effect" of his costume to produce some "fright value," there is no real reason why his face can't be regularly shown. This, of course, provides the writers with a challenge, to make The Blot's schemes really imaginative so as to compensate for the "loss of mystery." If The Blot's next caper involves "toppling" Mousetonian rockets or swallowing up Duckburgian space capsules, then he has every right to lodge a protest.

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