Monday, August 22, 2011

Comics Review: DARKWING DUCK #15 (August 2011, kaboom!)

Well, THIS title certainly isn't embarrassing itself as the kaboom! Disney line recedes slowly into that good night. Then again, what would you expect from a "flapping terror" who tends to inhabit said night?

The issue is a decided step up from the somewhat meandering #13 and #14, finally locking in the arc's main villain and also featuring a whole bunch of guest-starring villains, mostly from the shallower end of the DARKWING-foe wading fool. The appearances of a couple of "off-site" characters, however, come as a total surprise...

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Hands up, who had The Phantom Blot making an appearance in DARKWING DUCK even BEFORE any sort of crossover arc began? Anyone? And he's not even wearing his trademark cloak, but instead is in civvies as "Bob" (I suspect a reference to this story may be intended), an unscrupulous "campaign adviser" to DW and Launchpad's desperate political foe, Constance X. Dention. Why The Blot should even care about the identity of St. Canard's Mayor is beyond me at this point, but Mickey's great foe evidently thought the matter important enough to plant the seeds of super-villainy in the minds of One-Shot and Cat-Tankerous. I would buy the notion of The Blot leaving ink everywhere he touches a bit more easily if the semi-liquid Blot of ULTRAHEROES lore were responsible, though.

We also get a surprise appearance from Doofus well in advance of what I anticipated would be his return in the DW/DT crossover. Doofus was famously mischaracterized in a number of his comics appearances, such as the ones written for the Disney Studio program by Vic Lockman, but this is easily his most "recognizable" appearance outside of his role in Bob Langhans' "The Gold Odyssey." (We're also teased with a possible appearance by Gyro Gearloose and his Helper, but that turns out to be a somewhat contrived "red herring.")

Right now, oddly enough, the Blot doesn't appear to be the biggest threat DW faces. That particular dishonor goes to Suff-Rage, the purple-Q-tip-headed babe whom we saw ranting in several panels of #14. In order to test DW's mettle, Suff-Rage gladdens the hearts of DW "fanboys" and "fangirls" everywhere by bringing back a whole bunch of "Barely-Remembered Supervillains," including Tuskernini, Jambalaya Jake and Gumbo, Lillyputt (at least, that's the way I spell it), Moliarty, and The Bugmaster. Actually, I should think that Tuskernini and Moliarty would be insulted at being lumped in with those other folks, especially since they were originally supposed to be two of the major villains in the TV series. And it's a real stretch to call Jambalaya Jake a supervillain of any kind (heck, he barely qualifies as a villain). Still, it's great to see these characters again, even if they did turn out to be "figments of the imagination."

I have little doubt that Suff-Rage, whatever her present form, will turn out to be Morgana; I can't imagine Ian Brill letting the missing-Morgue plot thread hang past the end of the arc. But it would be a shame to limit The Blot's contribution to this arc to "mere" campaign-related shenanigans. That would be like using the proverbial elephant gun to shoot at mosquitoes. This arc hasn't been quite as consistently interesting as the others, but I have faith in Brill and James Silvani to steer us home in an entertaining fashion. Such could not be said of the creators of other kaboom! Disney comics I could name...

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Old Walt Disney TV Animation hand Mike Peraza has recently posted some interesting material related to Double-O-Duck, the prototype for Darkwing. Check it out here. In my clippings file, I have only one such piece of artwork: this illustration from a January 1, 1990 article in ELECTRONIC MEDIA magazine.

It's interesting to note that the proto-Gosalyn in this pic has the same pigtails as the one in the "tomboy bakes a cake" sketch from Peraza's site. Evidently, it took a while to (1) simplify the character's design just a bit, (2) give Gosalyn red hair. In color, the original version of Gos looks a little like a cross between a pigtailed Webby and a female version of Gene, the genie character in DuckTales: The Movie.

12 comments:

Comicbookrehab said...

I remember Tuskernini, Bushroot, Steelbeak, and Megavolt were promoted as Darkwing's main villains in a Disney Comics editorial, but Tuskernini never caught on, even though he appeared in more episodes than Liquidator or Chameleon or even Queakerjack (solo, I mean) Doctor Slug or Anna Matronic (who only had a couple of cameos and an appearance in a children's book - Silly Canine Capers). He was supposed to be like the Penguin or King Tut of Darkwing's bad guys. Some of his stories were okay. I liked the popcorn machine torture chamber.
On the other hand, I thought Moliarty was a great villain, and Jim Cummings did a great job with the voice - but they did just those two episodes - he seemed pretty powerful in that he had armies of moles doing his work for him and he was a scientist.
It seems once they came up with Negaduck, they just found it easier to write stories with him.

Gregory Weagle said...

Concerning Michael Perza: I also second the motion that he and his DTVA colleagues should get together and write a book about Disney Television Animation. If anything; it would serve a purpose of putting a lot of the Internet rumors to rest for good if there are official sources in writing.

I would like to hear Michael's work on TaleSpin if there are any juicy stories on that side of the fence.

Also good review on Darkwing Duck #15. I see Ian Brill's 15 year old fangirl writing is still leagues better than Ducktales #3 that's for sure.

I was tempted to show a picture of myself literally grasping at straws after you left a comment on my journal concerning my comment on Ducktales #3/Quack Pack, but then I realized that I don't have any real straws to grasp. D'OH!

Chris Barat said...

CBR: I remember that lineup of villains, as well. It's quite possible that you're right about the writers finding it easier to construct plots for Negaduck. Tuskernini may have been harder to write for since his shtick was relatively narrow in scope (the evil filmmaker). Bushroot and Megavolt, by contrast, had specific powers AND had very interesting back stories.

Greg: I'd love to see such a work myself. Mark Arnold (Fun Ideas blog, Harveyville Fun Times) mentioned doing a WDTVA book one time; perhaps I can nudge him a bit...

Chris

Ryan Wynns said...

Comicbookrehab -- yes, I remember that when the show's run began, those four villains being promoted as Darkwing's primary arch-nemeses...I just don't remember where. (A fast food tie-in? Or were they the villains that action figures were made of?)

Then, that went out the window with the forming of the Fearsome Five. (What was unfortunate is that when "Just Us Justice Ducks" premiered, I didn't know who more than half of the members of either team were. In a couple cases, that was because I'd missed their introductory episodes. But for some, their introductory episodes didn't air until later!)

What's strange about Negaduck: DW fandom has long held him as #1, but his appearances and role on the show were inconsistent. After the first version of the character in the episode "Negaduck", the "real" Negaduck was introduced with no explanation as to who or what he was was or where he came from! Off the top of my head, I think there were only two episodes in the first season (counting all 65 for The Disney Afternoon episodes and the first 13 ABC ones) in which he was the sole villain. Otherwise, he appeared leading the Fearsome Five, or in "fantasy" episodes like "The Secret Origin of Darkwing Duck" and "Darkwing Doubloon".

Tuskernini was the only member in #15's League of Barely-Remembered villains who I would consider to have been a regular, recurring villain. I see Jambalaya as a one-shot villain whose episode ended up having a sequel created. (Similar to what was done with Comet Guy, Splatter Phoenix, and the alien hats.) Moliarty is a curious case -- I would propose that he was only used in "Aduckyphobia" because there was a plot point that lent itself to him -- but I would have to rewatch the episode to really see if there's anything to that theory or not.

Gregory: Peraza's blog is great; packed with plenty of riches. But as far as him being the one to set the record straight on certain matters ... well, he cites a first-season and a second season DuckTales as having aired two days in row! I don't know if he's talking about premiere dates, or if he's remembering that a rerun of "Double-O Duck" was scheduled for the day before the premiere of "The Masked Mallard" (which we'd have know way of knowing, as we have no records of rerun dates).

(Oh, by the way, Chris -- Peraza's Darkwing post is actually from a year ago -- but again, it's an invaluable resource, and well worth drawing attention to!)

Ryan

Comicbookrehab said...

Ryan,

That editorial appeared in all the Disney comics issues that arrived in August of 1991, with the 1st issue of the DW mini-series, which showed the first 15 minutes of the origin special a month before it aired. I didn't have the Disney Channel, so I didn't the episodes offered as a preview over the summer - the comic was my introduction to the character and the show. Do you remember those commercials that aired during the summer months? A weekly countdown with a music video that had these kids dancing to "8 more weeks, 8 more weeks..."

You mentioned fast food tie-in - I remember Kellogg's cereal did a big promotion where you had to collect proofs of purchase and mail away for a set of little smurf-sized figures featuring all the Disney Afternoon shows - Darkwing Duck and Goof Troop were the last to be made into figurines. There was also a mail-away promo for a Darkwing Bubble Gun and magnifying glass. The last offer was when Bonkers debuted - there an electronic noisemaker wristwatch (powered by batteries that were hard to replace or remove with breaing the toy), and a fingerprint kit.
The best offer might have been a special issue of Disney Adventures magazine that was only available through this promotion. Man, I remember trying a lot of cereals that I've never tried again...in large size boxes...

Re: Negaduck - The writers just wanted to bring him back, and the closest we got to an origin for this 2nd Negaduck was the parallel universe, but another theory, one that seems to have been dismissed right away, was that he was simply a lookalike duck, and the Negaverse (which was never refered to again after that one episode, or Negaduck's escape from limbo at the end), could simply have been a construct - a virtual playground/hideout for Negaduck to hide away. I suppose that sounds more silly than what everyone went along with.

re: Peraza's blog - great site. as for Ducktales, I think what we refer to as the second season (with the new characters) was more like the 3rd season. I remember when ads in TV Guide would promote new episodes - Like the Golden Fleece story, and I remember the episode guides in Gladstone's Ducktales comics would refer to episodes like that as the 2nd season. It was about two years before we got to see Gizmoduck and Bubba in regular episodes.
The 4th season was a handfull of episodes tied-in with the release of the film and the launch of the Disney Afternoon, as well as the Valentine's Day special.

Chris Barat said...

Ryan,

"What was unfortunate is that when "Just Us Justice Ducks" premiered, I didn't know who more than half of the members of either team were."

If the phrase "WTF?!" had been more commonly in use back then, I would have used it when I saw that ep. Along with the characters suddenly appearing out of nowhere, Morgana suddenly became (1) an ally of DW, (2) a GIRLFRIEND of DW, (3) far less self-assured than the self-confident villainess of "Fungus Amongus." I'm not blaming the creators of "Justice Ducks" for these problems, of course; the fault lies with whatever knucklehead decided upon the episode broadcast order.

"Oh, by the way, Chris -- Peraza's Darkwing post is actually from a year ago"

Well, the link just showed up on the Disney comics forum, so you can understand why I thought it was contemporary.

Chris

Ryan Wynns said...

Comicbookrehab: I'd surely read that Disney Comics editorial -- that must've been where I absorbed the idea of those four being the "main four"!

And I definitely remember those Darkwing countdown promos that ran throughout that summer -- I was nine, and they had me so wound up!

Apparently the end of the countdown, aired on the day the series started on The Disney Afternoon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgwEDY249II&playnext=1&list=PL0CFE76B01E84E420

A long version (don't know where it came from):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF0T2LLuipU&feature=related

Ahh, memories. :)

...but some of the lyrics..."kickin' in the room"?! An awkward attempts to let kids know that this show was "cool"!

I particpated in the Kelloggs mail-away for that promo issue of Disney Adventures:

http://coa.inducks.org/issue.php?c=us/DA+1-00

Unfortunately, I no longer have my copy. Memory indicates that the DuckTales story might've been decent.

Re: Negaduck - The writers just wanted to bring him back

It's just funny how he had so few episodes as a "solo" villain, and was quickly used as an archetype!

but another theory, one that seems to have been dismissed right away, was that he was simply a lookalike duck, and the Negaverse (which was never refered to again after that one episode, or Negaduck's escape from limbo at the end), could simply have been a construct - a virtual playground/hideout for Negaduck to hide away.

That was my impression, when "Life, the Negaverse, and Everything" first aired -- I believe it's never stated in the episode that the Negaverse is where he's from! But given that he's shown living in that dimension's equivalent of Drake Mallard's house with Gosalyn and Launchpad's respective doppelgangers, him being the Negaverse version of Drake/DW is the only thing that makes sense (though that begs the question of why in "The Duck Knight Returns" Negs didn't already know DW's alter ego and address ;) ), and I've long been agreeable to what's pretty much canon amongst fans and fac-fiction.

re: Peraza's blog - great site. as for Ducktales, I think what we refer to as the second season (with the new characters) was more like the 3rd season.

I guess it rightfully is, since only "Time Is Money" and "Super DuckTales" premiered during 1988-89 (season 2), and the next 17 episodes not until 1989-90 (thus, season three). But I still trip up and refer to all 30 Bubba-or-Fenton episodes collectively as season two. ;)

Chris, it always really bothered me how the episodes had been run out-of-order! And perfectly understandable, re: Peraza's blog entry. :)

Ryan

Comicbookrehab said...

Ryan,

I remember how disappointing it was to see that DW didn't debut with a 2-hour 'special' like Talespin and Rescue Rangers - instead it was paired with a New Mickey Mouse Club special, which began with footage of DW complaining about it being placed in that time slot! I had no idea those 'kids' were going to dominate pop culture the way they did...
I also remember how 'SuperDucktales' and 'Time Is Money' debuted on weekends, like 'Treasure of The Golden Suns', and assumed that new episodes would start airing the following Monday. Ha!
I imagine Negaduck had odd ideas about where his goody-goody counterpart lived. He wouldn't live in THAT house with THOSE neighbors and THAT STATION WAGON. ;) Otherwise, that's an obvious plot hole, like the disappearing trailer that Optimus Prime hooked up to in truck mode.

Ryan Wynns said...

One more thing!

Chris wrote:

Along with the characters suddenly appearing out of nowhere, Morgana suddenly became (1) an ally of DW, (2) a GIRLFRIEND of DW, (3) far less self-assured than the self-confident villainess of "Fungus Amongus." I'm not blaming the creators of "Justice Ducks" for these problems, of course; the fault lies with whatever knucklehead decided upon the episode broadcast order.

Yes -- right ont the money! I had all the same reactions, for the same reasons!

This isn't the first forum where I've prattled on about the oddities in the history of Negaduck's appearances on the show. But I don't think I've ever had a chance to delve into the matter of Morgana, and the holes in her transformation from villain to being both a good guy and Darkwing's girlfriend.

"Ghoul of My Dreams" finds the sorceress still oriented towards beings a villain. But as the episode plays out, her and DW's mutual attraction comes to a head, and there's talk of her turning over a new leaf.

But her ultimate "making the switch" was never actually shown on-screen.

So, even if someone new to the series were able to watch all of the episodes in either production or "continuity" order (if those aren't the same thing), the Morgana found at the outset of "Just Us Justice Ducks" (provided "My Valentine Ghoul" is indeed supposed to come later) would still seem an abrupt, out-of-left-field development.

Also, "Ghoul of My Dreams" may not count -- if the Drake seen in the episode's last few seconds is the "real" Drake, the whole episode was a dream! (Or, one ultimate dream that involved several sub-dreams...paging Christopher Nolan!) But you can argue that those last several seconds are just a gag, and the preceding 22 minutes are actually in-continuity. (I'd like to consider the latter option to be the case.) It's really up for debate!

There's actually parallels between Negaduck and Morgana: after the episode "Negaduck", Tad Stones was eager to bring the character back. So when the creators did so, Negs was just there! In Morgana's case, after Morgana was introduced as a villain, the the crimefighting, DW-dating Morg was suddenly just there!

And both appeared in only several episodes out of 91. And yet, fandom long held them in veneration, ranking them as major characters. And ultimately, this was validated by the new comics!

Ryan

P.S. When I was 10, I had a huge crush on Morgana! *embarrassed* :D

Comicbookrehab said...

Ryan,

Morgana was so Elvira-esque in voice, character and mannerisms that I thought Cassandra Peterson was the voice, even though I had heard Kath Soucie used that voice for another character on Talespin. Another hot character in the Jessica Rabbit mode was Gandra Dee from Ducktales - though her vinyl pleather outfit seemed odd for someone who worked in a bean factory - poor Fenten never put 2 and 2 together and realized she was probably flirting with the boss (Scrooge?). In "The Bride Wore Stripes", Scrooge is shown getting advice from an attractive duck attorney - so that's how it was easy to forget about Goldie! Even in the comics, he had Brigitta McBridge grabbing his attention!
Personally, I had a crush on Peg, Pete's wife in Goof Troop. Her curves were ahead of their time. The designers at Disney were very into furries.

Chris Barat said...

CBR,

The duck attorney in "Stripes" was voiced by Russi Taylor, if I remember correctly. And, yes, Peg was quite sexy, though she tended to wear "baggy suburban homemaker clothes" that somewhat obscured the point. How did Pete, of all people, snare her? "He makes me laugh"??? :-)

Chris

Comicbookrehab said...

Chris,

I don't recall anything 'baggy' about Peg's pants - they looked like they were spandex pants, like Peggy Bundy. John Costanza seemed to pay a LOT of attention to Peg's posterior when he drew her in the first Goof Troop comics that appeared in Disney Adventures magazines. The show did one episode where Peg tried to squeeze through a gate to sneak into a dowagers mansion and her behind made that impossible! Oh, if they did more risque jokes like that on the show, it would've had a second season! There might have been a couple of episodes where she got to wear sexy outfits, including a bathing suit.
Supposedly, she was a cheerleader in high school and Pete and Goofy were on the football team - it's hinted that Pete showered her with gifts until after they were married, which is why in the two movies that followed, he appears to be divorced and living in more modest accomadations, as well as having custody of P.J., whereas Peg seems to have custody of Pistol and...well, joined the "Real Housewives of The Disney Afternoon." With Binky Muddlefoot and Ma Crackshell and Rebecca Cunningham. Donald Duck would count as a Mr. Mom.