Friday, June 3, 2011

Comics Review: WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #719 (May 2011, kaboom!) ... with an Irritated Postscript

Pretty dull stuff in this issue, with the drab tone being set by William Van Horn's leadoff DONALD tale, "The Heat of the Moment." The Van Horn of 20 years ago would no doubt have taken the story premise of "volunteer emissions inspector" Donald searching for "hot spots" around Duckburg and turned it into a zany satire of the whole climate-change debate, complete with loonily obsessed oddball characters. Instead, this tale's climactic gag about City Hall producing the most "hot air" in town has been around since the days of Aristophanes and would certainly not have been considered nearly ridiculous enough to make Bill's "silliness cut" back in 1990. Donald's pale-pastels pseudo-feud with fellow volunteer Neighbor Jones and repeatedly frustrated attempts to uncover emissions are presented with an almost po-faced lack of real humor. The overall weariness is exemplified by Van Horn's spending 2 1/2 pages on Donald's laborious attempts to wring readings from a pair of smokestacks, as opposed to tattooing us with a series of short, sharp gags, which would seem to be the preferred approach here. You can't even get a real reading on the point Van Horn is trying to make about climate change. Does the climax suggest that Bill thinks that the issue is nothing but "hot air"? Then why does the TV newscaster who opens the story play his doom-saying perfectly straight?

The 1965 Jack Kinney-Al Hubbard DONALD AND FETHRY story "Water Sports" is what it is, as only the "Cool Kids" used to say before everyone got in on the act. Fethry ropes Donald into trying water-skiing and quickly gets his cousin in "hot cold" water. Strangely, though the two Ducks are clearly arguing in the last panel, Hubbard draws them in silhouette as if they are both smiling or laughing.

Thanks to a big assist from David Gerstein, the 1988 Dutch LI'L BAD WOLF story "Het Robotlinger" ("Pop's Army") is arguably the best thing in the issue. Buying an army of robot wolves (with what? Since when does he have a source of income? Or has he discovered the secret of getting credit from Acme?), Zeke tries to wear down the Three Pigs' defenses by sacrificing his metal minions one at a time. Geez, John D. Rockerduck isn't as profligate. Li'l Bad (charmingly drawn by Dick Matena) uses some impromptu pseudo-tech of his own to save the Pigs' bacon. Not exactly a complicated story, but David's clever references to the likes of Lost in Space, Hamlet, and Styx (!) make it fun.

kaboom! advertises the issue's last feature as "a classic Al Taliaferro DONALD story not seen in the U.S. in over 60 years!", but all this wonder-work amounts to is a one-page Sunday strip in which Donald literally must "cover his tracks" in order to ogle a bathing beauty without Daisy finding out. At least the gag ties in with the announced theme of "a slew of classic stories perfect for the beginning of Summer." The real question is: once next month's WDC&S #720 comes and goes, will we ever enjoy another Summer in the company of new issues of WDC&S?

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One of the other kaboom! books released this week was UNCLE $CROOGE #404. This is certainly not strange. What is strange is the ad on the back cover of U$ #404, extolling the new ongoing DUCKTALES series "drawn by modern Duck master Miquel Pujol (sic)." Uh, guys, the statute of limitations has expired on that particular claim. Time to put this ad to bed!

1 comment:

Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

It's too bad about Van Horn, but I suppose given the length and prolificacy of his run, one can't complain too loudly. I wish Boom had found time to publish his first Rumpus starring turn. Is it any good? Highly questionable, but at least it's something a little different, and given the rut the man seems to be in, that certainly couldn't hurt.