Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Comics Review: DUCKTALES #3 (July 2011, kaboom!)

TRAIN WRECK!!!

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Now, I don't usually offer such bald, bad opinions of comics, movies, or anything else. I can usually mine something worthwhile out of any pop-culture dross that interests me. But DT #3 is SO badly put together that I'm forced to break my commandment in virtual self-defense. Where does the third chapter of the increasingly disastrous "Rightful Owners" fall short? Let us count the ways:

(1) Warren Spector still can't put a plot together to save his life. We finally get off the island of Rippon Taro -- that's one comfort -- and Scrooge gives the Candy-Striped Ruby back to King Fulla Cola. Now for a blitzkrieg of returns of Barksian artifacts all around the globe, correct? Not exactly. We close with Scrooge, HD&L, Webby, Farquardt, and Gladstone (huh?) traveling to return the Crown of Genghis Khan. Gluing the two strands together (does the proverbial "spit and baling wire" count as glue, I wonder?) is a return to Duckburg, during which Scrooge discovers that John D. Rockerduck has basically commandeered his museum, staffing it with Beagle Boys, no less. I have no earthly idea how Spector is going to pull all this together in part four, and possibly he doesn't know, either. But you can't tell me that the "return of artifacts" plot couldn't have been handled more cleverly, more artfully, or at a much sprightlier pace.

(2) After making such a big deal over his desire to meld the Barks, Rosa, DuckTales, and Darkwing Duck "universes" into one gigantic "heavenly hoagie" (there's my own spin on the Democrats' "talking point" of the day), Spector literally chortles right in our faces on page 14 for the sake of a dumb throwaway gag:

Launchpad: Aw gee, Mr. McDee, you've survived just fine while I've been over in St. Canard.
Webby: ...Speaking of St. Canard, how is it you're here with us instead of there? You can't be in two places at once, can you, Launchpad?
Launchpad: Of course I can't be in two places at once, Webby! That's just silly!


Okay, now... I would think that one of the FIRST things a writer trying to combine the DuckTales and Darkwing Duck worlds would do would be to establish a proper time line for Launchpad's departure from Duckburg for St. Canard and, if required, for Launchpad's subsequent return to Duckburg. Here, Spector simply punts the issue out of bounds. In this case, failing to make a clear decision on the matter was the WRONG decision. My hopes for a coherent DuckTales/Darkwing crossover story to end the kaboom! era just took a major hit.

(3) More old friends from DuckTales appear here, but, to anyone who's not at least reasonably familiar with the TV series, their appearances will be baffling in the extreme. Trying to escape from Rippon Taro, Camille Chameleon and her Beagle companions are picked up by Admiral Grimmitz's aircraft carrier. Sure enough, Grimmitz and "Seaman Donald Duck" are visible in the scene. Trouble is, they're visible ONLY in an extreme long shot, and you can only just make out the figures. The only way I could be absolutely sure it was Admiral Grimmitz was the character's comment about something "going kablooey." A little later, Cinnamon Teal from "Spies in Their Eyes" returns as an ally of Rockerduck's (let's pause while I shed a silent tear at her falling back into evil ways...) and hypnotizes Daisy and Gladstone, the latter so that he can go with Scrooge et al. and foul up their Genghis Khan mission in some manner. (Since we're on DuckTales turf here, if Gladstone succeeds, then shouldn't he lose his luck as a consequence? Why do I think that Spector won't address this?) Cinnamon, however, is never identified apart from her first name, so, if you haven't seen or don't remember "Spies in Their Eyes," you may not fully capiche what's going on. I do appreciate Spector's effort in reviving these folks, but couldn't he have tried to prime people's memories a bit?

(4) You already know that the joins between Jose Massaroli's artwork and that of Magic Eye Studios have been a problem in the previous issues. Here, the "gap" broadens into a chasm. After some reasonably passable art at the front of the book, we go straight into the tank with some of the worst art that I've ever seen in a contemporary Disney comic. Seriously, I'm amazed that it passed muster even for a soon-to-fold comics line. Some of the most elementary rules of comic-panel staging are scattered to the four winds. For example, here's part of page 17:

What's with all the pointing to no purpose, anyway? And what's the point of Mr. Billups, the museum caretaker, appearing in the first panel just to stare into space? Adding insult to aesthetic injury, the bottom tier of this page (which I did not show) features art copied directly from panel two of page 14. Cost-cutting much?

Page 19 is even worse:

Gladstone is supposed to be hypnotized here, which at least partially explains that goony Super Duck look he's sporting. But the sketchy "airport" behind the Ducks makes the "blandness" of the work of the Jaime Diaz Studios look snazzy and with-it. And in the bottom two panels, Rockerduck is talking to "persons of hench" Billups and Cinnamon Teal, but it actually looks as though he's talking to thin air! Avoiding staging of this degree of ineptitude is elementary stuff, or should be.

The manifest failure of this title really pains me. It seems as if we are fated to NEVER have a totally adequate, totally faithful four-color version of DuckTales (Bob Langhans' "The Gold Odyssey" being the one arguable exception). kaboom!'s sorry effort is the unkindest cut of all, because of the yawning gap between what we were promised (An enthusiastic writer who really loves the Ducks! A magnificent artist!) and what we have been given. I'll hope for the best in the remaining handful of issues, including those devoted to the big crossover, but I've switched into "damage control" mode at this point.

25 comments:

Ryan Wynns said...

It seems as if we are fated to NEVER have a totally adequate, totally faithful four-color version of DuckTales (Bob Langhans' "The Gold Odyssey" being the one arguable exception).

I would argue that there's one other exception (or near-exception -- a particular character is off) that seems to have been barely discussed or acknowledged since it was printed. To what story am I referring? I am planning to spotlight it on my blog in the near-future, so stay tuned! ;)

Joe Torcivia said...

Chris:

I’ve never been one to jump on this particular bandwagon… BUT…

The worst Disney comic book art I’ve seen throughout my life would be by Kay Wright. But, this BEATS it for sheer “badness”!

Wright’s renditions of the various characters may never have looked very good… but even HE had a sense of STAGING far superior to what you post here!

I don’t even know what else to say… (How often does THAT happen?)

Joe.

Comicbookrehab said...

Yeah, the story is not good. Worse, the covers by Castellini have better story ideas than what we're getting. I'd love to see that Dargon's horn story! It looks like it was inspired by The Hobbit!

Joseph Adorno

Debbie said...

The cover to this book is a swipe from Daan Jippes' cover to Gladstone's "Donald and Gladstone" comic album, which was recently reused by BOOM Studios as the cover for "Donald Duck Classics: Quack Up"

Kneon Transitt said...

Bad, bad Photoshop job.

I'd guess something went awry with their artist (forgot to pay him?) so they just traced some Duck art and hastily cobbled something together.

I may buy this just because it's the single worst Disney comic book I've ever seen. Ever.

Comicbookrehab said...

Re: Debbie - I didn't mind the Jippes swipe at all (I knew I'd seen it somewhere) - never mind the fact that the crown design is taken from the Ducktales episode and not the Barks story (which is used inside this issue). The trouble is clearly with the script - there's not enough staging, the dialogue is banal and gives no clue to what's happening, and the artist is interpreting it dead-on autopilot. When it works it works, and when it doesn't... Also, the book clearly suffered from the deadline crunch and changes in teams. Are we nostalgic for Cosme Quarteri and Jaimie Diaz now?

Chris Barat said...

Kneon,

I wouldn't go quite THAT far, but in terms of the ratio of delivery to expectations, it's one of the lowest points I've ever seen.

Chris

Chris Barat said...

Rehab,

Cosme and the Gang are looking mighty good to me now!

Chris

Anonymous said...

I can't get over how bad this artwork is... the person who said this looks like a quick tracing/photoshop job must be right. I don't think the person who made the pages posted here has even the slightest idea how to draw.

Joe Torcivia said...

Debbie writes:
“The cover to this book is a swipe from Daan Jippes' cover to Gladstone's "Donald and Gladstone" comic album, which was recently reused by BOOM Studios as the cover for "Donald Duck Classics: Quack Up"

I’d say, more likely, given that it was Scrooge and Rockerduck, it was some sort of tribute to Don Rosa’s cover to “Son of the Sun”, that did the same thing with Scrooge and Glomgold!

Not that I’d ever discourage any mention of “Donald Duck Classics: Quack Up”, which contained the first dialoguing job I did for Boom!

Let us keep that milestone issue in our hearts, always! :-)


Joe.

Ron said...

You also forgot to mention that the duck kids in panels 1 and 3 are just reversed. Same art. Ditto for panels 4 and 5. Same exact character art, simply reversed. Pathetic!

Aleks said...

It looks bad? EH! Who cares!? It's only for little kids! They can't tell what's good anyway, the little turds!

...see? I could be an exec too!

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

Ouch! Page 19 is just painful to watch.
Seems to be an emergency solution of some sort? Makes me wish to see what was drawn first, that was so bad they had to substitute it with this.

Chris Barat said...

Ron,

You're right! This "worst of messes" just became, if possible, WORSE!

Chris

Dan said...

Here's the soundtrack for this epic train wreck:

"DUCKFAIL" - The kaboom! DuckTales Issue #3 Theme Song

*** Sung to the DuckTales TV show theme song by Mark Mueller ***

(remember to replace the “woo-hoo” in the chorus with “third iss-ue!”)


P.R. like a hurricane,
Here at ka-boom!
Spin some bad news, make bold claims!
Book-shelves? Make room!

Artists and writers,
Will soon be fired!

DuckTales (third iss-ue!)
Every month, we hit a new low!
DuckTales (third iss-ue!)
Chip Mosher won’t reply to for-um posts or e-Mails!

The folks at Disney,
Ain’t found out yet!
The covers look fine!
It’s a sure bet,
They won’t inspect the pages inside of...

DuckTales (third iss-ue!)
Warren Spector’s cashed his check for
DuckTales (third iss-ue!)
Art copied, pasted - your cash is wasted
DuckTales (third iss-ue!)
The whole affair is just one great big
DUCK-FAIL! (from ka-boom!)

For an illustrated version, here's a link to the JPEG on Cartoon Brew:
http://www.cartoonbrew.com/comics/is-this-the-worst-disney-comic-of-all-time.html

Fernando Ventura said...

Maybe they would have contractual problems with the printer if they don't deliver the comic at time.

Ryan Wynns said...

I have never seen a storm of media buzz around a Duck comic like the one catalyzed by this issue! And with the Cartoon Brew and Bleeding Cool posts, it's actually intensified as the week's gone on, whereas I thought it would've died down by now!

And it's nice to see other articles, posts, and discussions covering this issue linking to Chris' review, recognizing him as an authority on the subject.

The weekend that "Treasure of the Golden Suns" premiered, I was set on the path that molded me into a lifelong DuckTales and Duck comics fan. I've long dreamed of there being more DuckTales comic book epics like -- and hopefully outdoing -- "The Gold Odyssey" -- heck, even "Scrooge's Quest", out of respect for its intentions. (Really, I now see both serials as flawed, but the scope of their ambitions remains inspiring.)

Thus, naturally, I was so, so excited about Boom's comic. It had so much potential. The mess that it has devolved into is really unfortunate.

I can only speculate as to what's going on behind the scenes there, but it'd be really honorable of them to come out and acknowledge the outrage stirred up by #3.

Ryan

Chris Barat said...

Ryan,

I find the level of interest to be amazing, too. Of course, in this case, that's a BAD thing!

Chris

Anonymous said...

Wow, page 19 looks incomplete, and needs to be redrawn to look better if they want to save this issue. I've only got the first issue, and that looks quite good, but those few pages on issue 3 look very weak. The plot description, and those two pages give me the impression that Warren Spector must've been asleep at the switch, and Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez took over just so they could get the book cacled, and get their own comics. Come on, Warren!

Comicbookrehab said...

Warren's interest's were really in intergrating characters from here and there, and there's probably a simpler way of going about it.
Maybe if they had just done a story with Donald returning from his stint in the Navy...

Anonymous said...

Agree with everything being said here. I am cancelling my pull on this comic. The art is ridiculuously terrible... and recycled throughout the stories. I thought issue #3 might be better but it's more of the same badness. Did anyone go see Patrick and Shelly Block at comic-con? They seem to be able to whip up better stories/dialog just sitting around with some fans!

Melissa Starks said...

I'm suprised that so few people aren't pointing out the horrible job the artist did of "flipping" the images in a lot of these pages. Page 19 is a fantastic example. Scrooge Panel 1 and panel 3 are the exact same image, just reflected. The ENTIRE panel 4 is reflected in 5. That's just awful. I'd take subpar art over lazy art any day of the week. It's a shame we had to settle for both here.

I'm not even that mad at the artist. I'm mad at the editor. Where in the blue WORLD was he?

Anonymous said...

the worst drawn disney comic? rly? i guess you never saw any of xavi or miguel. trust me, they are much more ... worse.

Chris Barat said...

August 28 anon: I'm not a fan of Miguel's artwork either. Xavi isn't too bad, though.

Chris

Comicbookrehab said...

Page 19 was redrawn for the trade and is better than what we saw - Rocekduck is no longer talking to himself and Scrooge and co. no longer look like "Flat" thumbnail sketches, but Page 17 is the same.