Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Comics Review: DARKWING DUCK CLASSICS, VOLUME 1 (2010, Boom! Studios)

Actually, that title really should read "Darkwing Duck CLASSIC... and a Side Order of DISNEY AFTERNOON Ephemera." Fully two-thirds of this collection is taken up by John Blair Moore's four-part adaptation of the TV series' pilot adventure, "Darkly Dawns the Duck," for Disney Comics. Was this ever a bittersweet reading experience for me back in late 1991 and early 1992 -- enjoying Moore's lovably lumpy artwork (not to mention his diligent employment of much of the source's dialogue) while knowing full well that DW wouldn't be getting that supposedly inevitable continuing title, thanks to the "Disney Implosion." I can relish it with a much less troubled mind now that Boom!'s DARKWING title is now a going (and very popular -- hence this collection!) concern. For those who haven't had the pleasure of seeing the TV version of "Darkly," you pretty much get it here, along with the occasional "fourth wall"-breaking accretion (e.g., as DW plummets from on high to end part one, he shrieks, "This is an ideal place to end this episode!!!"). I imagine that, should sales of DW CLASSICS VOLUME 1 merit a follow-up, we'll be seeing Moore's adaptation of the two-part epic "Just Us Justice Ducks" in Volume 2.

A quartet of early-90s DISNEY AFTERNOON baubles fill out the package, the most notable of which is "Liquid Diet," a Liquidator-focused tale written by frequent Darkwing TV scribes Kevin Campbell and Brian Swenlin. Check out these markers: (1) Campbell and Swenlin basically created The Liquidator in the episode "Dry Hard," and this is the only other story of which I'm aware in which ad-schticky Licky soloes; (2) the inker is Steve Steere, who was Tony Strobl's inker at Western Publishing for a number of years and also worked on the SCAMP and MICKEY MOUSE newspaper strips. Campbell and Swenlin obviously know how Licky operates better than anyone, and they make good use of him here. Indeed, given that the story features Darkwing being turned into a water-creature -- a metamorphosis very much of a piece with DW's numerous "bizarre transformations" in TV episodes -- I wouldn't be shocked to learn that this tale originated as an episode script that, for one reason or another, was never produced. The best DISNEY ADVENTURES Darkwing writer, Doug Gray, is also represented in the Steelbeak/F.O.W.L. story "Turnabout is F.O.W.L. Play." I've only glanced at this week's DARKWING #9, but it appears to me as if Gray "got" Steelbeak's "dem, dese and dose" speech patterns more comprehensively than does Ian Brill. I'll be sure to retract if I review DW #9 in detail and find the truth to be otherwise.

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