Sunday, June 26, 2011

Comics Review: DUCKTALES #2 (June 2011, kaboom!)

We now have the first tangible evidence that DUCKTALES will continue beyond the initial four-issue arc. I don't know how to take this news, to be frank. Obviously, I'm glad that Boom! is committed to the title's success (and, given the reasonably good direct-market sales of DT #1, they have pecuniary reason for so being). But Warren Spector has a L-O-N-G way to go to convince me that he can craft a decent comic-book adventure.



Part two of "Rightful Owners" is a little more coherent than part one, but mostly because all the action takes place on the island of Rippon Taro, where Scrooge has gone to return the Candy-Striped Ruby (sic -- insofar as DuckTales is concerned, anyway). The whole premise of Scrooge bringing treasures back to their places of origin deserved more of a globe-girdling approach than the one taken here -- and the chapter ends with Scrooge, HD&L, Webby, and Launchpad apparently no closer to getting off the island than they were at the start. The big problem with the concurrent "Stranger Danger" in CHIP AND DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS has been that Ian Brill's narrative has moved too quickly, without enough meaningful connective tissue between parts. Here, by contrast, the plot's "feet" appear to be mired in a bog of the sticky peanut butter that Rippon Taro's sweets-loving King Fulla Cola likes so much. Spector does realize that Scrooge has only two parts to go and about umpty-ump hundred treasures to return, correct?

Battling Scrooge et al. for the prized peppermint pebble are Camille Chameleon and a gaggle of Beagle Boys looking and sounding like no Beagles I've ever heard or seen. The Beagles look, on occasion, a bit like the DT Beagles (I'd recognize Bankjob's humongous chin anywhere), but Jose Massaroli and Magic Eye Studios (sharing the artistic duties again -- and it's dreadfully easy to notice where they "exchange the ball"; see below) more often than not fall back on the tried-and-true clone approach. Given that Spector is trying to blend together the DT, Barks/Rosa, and Darkwing Duck "universes," this is not so offensive, but, if it's the approach used, then a Beagle who is obviously not Baggy should not be referred to as Baggy. And the B-Boys' "dem, dese, and dose" dialogue is way off the beam, unless they have all suddenly morphed into Bouncer or something.

As for Camille, given that her shape-shifting shtick is needed to fool Scrooge's gang during the course of the story, I suppose that she was a logical villain to use here -- but what are we to make of the fact that Launchpad can't recognize her voice? So, will the "mega-crossover event" promised to begin in DT #5 be taking place before or after the events of "Darkly Dawns the Duck"? If the former, then how will Spector explain away the meetings of characters who shouldn't have met yet? I do hope he's thought things over carefully -- though, based on the available evidence, I wouldn't exactly be willing to bet big money on it. I am also bothered by the fact that Camille's plan relies on her shape-shifted alter ego being able to convince the natives of Rippon Taro that Scrooge is a bad guy. No matter which version of "The Status Seeker(s)" you choose to pay obeisance to, I think that Scrooge's well-established good-guy credentials with King Fulla Cola should have short-circuited this scheme from the off.

One area in which Spector has remained rock-solidly consistent is in his depiction of "Webby the Scold." Yup, we get yet another scene in which Webby righteously reduces a chagrined HD&L to simmering silence, this time after they make a crack about taking Scrooge's yacht back from the Beagle Boys being "man's work." I suppose the boys were asking for it there, but for them to then completely defer to Webby in the execution of her plan is out of character. Rather, I would expect HD&L to agree to cooperate with Webby in the crafting and/or polishing of a plan. So, ya think Spector is trying to make a point here? Me, too.

The save-the-yacht scheme (which involves that pesky jellyfish, who's still hanging around hoping to pick off some candy) is accompanied by a jarring shift in art style, back to the style used in the first dozen or so pages of DT #1. Perhaps these two pages were Leonel Castellani's work, but Castellani didn't get credit for it. That isn't the worst of it, as Launchpad's attempt to land his plane in the jungle on page 19 suddenly becomes Colorforms time, complete with bigger panels and weaker figure drawing. I've resigned myself to the fact that Miquel Pujol is not in our artistic future, but couldn't we find one artist -- one single artist -- and stick with him? (Sorry for momentarily channeling Gadget, there.)

"What will the heroes do? What will the villains do?" asks Spector in the final caption box. As a cliffhanger, this is, to say the least, lacking, and it may also reflect Spector's uncertainty as to what he is trying to do. He had better pull things together quickly, or this golden opportunity to produce a high-quality DuckTales comic may go glimmering, independent of any editorial decisions.

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