Saturday, April 23, 2011

Comics Review: MICKEY MOUSE #307 (April 11, kaboom!)

The "MOUSE MEN" tour continues with this issue's first-ever American reprinting of Bill Wright's "Jungle Magic" (FOUR COLOR #181, February 1948). Of this 20-page story, I knew only the cover seen above, so I figured there must be something horribly "offensive" in it that precluded its reappearance, else we would certainly have seen it before now. And, yes, there are jungle natives about, but all it took to make them presentable for the hypersensitive 2011 readership was a quick, neat "lip-bob" and a recoloring in flesh-tones. Their dialogue was standard English, so that wasn't a problem. Of course, there's also the stereotypical Mexican helicopter pilot who ferries Mickey and Goofy to the Orinoco Valley... Well, however the story made it through the gauntlet, it did so, and it's a pretty good read.

"Jungle Magic" is one of those stories triggered by Mickey's employment in a "one-shot" job; in this case, flower buyer for florist Dan DeLion (clever name). When a filthy-rich customer demands an ultra-rare black orchid, DeLion feels duty bound to honor the store's commitment to customer satisfaction and sends Mickey and Goofy to the Orinoco to scout out the sprout. Wright stories usually feature very satisfactory banter between Mickey and Goofy, and this one is no exception; no "Useless Goofy Syndrome" here! Indeed, Goofy's sudden obsession with wanting to keep his shoes shined proves to be the key to getting Mickey and Goofy out alive with the ensconced efflorescence. The plot twists are fairly predictable, and there's no "Magic" to be seen anywhere (given the boys' resort to trickery to save the day, "Jungle Juke" might have been a more fitting title), but there are few real weaknesses. Wright adds a comically macabre touch by putting some scattered bones beneath the bowers of a "man-trapper tree" that nearly swallows Goofy and several of the natives.

The 1932 Floyd Gottfredson gag "Trade Secret" that wraps the book hides a seed of Depression-era seriousness within a husk of jollity, as a poor kid barters with Mickey to get an ice-cream cone. Before long, so many kids get the same idea that Mickey has to go into another line of work!

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