Saturday, October 15, 2011

Comics Review: DUCKTALES #5 (September 2011 [at least in theory], kaboom!)

kaboom!'s final kabash!, the "Dangerous Currency" crossover event, begins brightly enough with James Silvani's once-in-a-lifetime Cover A... and I mean that "once-in-a-lifetime" bit sincerely. After all, how else could you squeeze any additional DuckTales and Darkwing Duck principals into that rectangle. (Well, perhaps Bubba Duck and Tootsie could have been shoehorned in there in place of Moby Duck, who was probably shocked, shocked!, to find his name listed in the casting call here.) Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck is also absent, but that oversight is explained inside... or perhaps "explained" is putting it too strongly. Try "clearly referenced, but, to find out more, you'll have to continue reading." And that's not the only unexplained mystery in this baffling first chapter.



Well, it didn't take long for the "sitching rotation" of Warren Spector, Ian Brill, and James Silvani to throw out the first gaffe -- and it was a big one. So Drake and Fenton have never met, eh? A lot of "fanboys" and "fangirls" who aren't even particularly geeky beg to differ. The blooper is particularly bothersome because Fenton, who's apparently been off on a proverbial "secret mission" (and without the Gizmosuit!) for some time, says that he knew where to find his "old pal" Launchpad. How could Fenton have such knowledge and yet be unaware of Drake's existence?

If the "retconning" of Drake and Fenton's first meeting is a clear mistake, no matter how big of a DuckTales and Darkwing fan you are, then Drake's comparatively casual revelation of his secret identity to Scrooge seems almost calculated to set the serious Darkwing "bugs" to buzzing -- as indeed it has. There is something truly surreal about this sequence, and that doesn't even count the leaf-leviathans that have been created by the release of The Phantom Blot and Magica De Spell's "slime" (to what ultimate end, we are given ABSOLUTELY no idea as of yet) and are wrestling HD&L in the foreground. Consider that, while Drake's "reveal" has gotten almost all of the critical heat, Scrooge and Launchpad jointly blew Fenton's own secret ID just a few panels before, in such a transparent manner that even Drake immediately picks up on it. Was this an authorial case of, "Once you lose it, what does it matter"? Also noteworthy is the fact that Scrooge atypically doesn't seem to be particularly bothered by the Nephews' desperate struggle, preoccupied as he is with arguing that Gyro Gearloose needs to be brought to St. Canard.

Scrooge's characterization in DT #5 has also come in for something of a roasting (mmm... roast duck...), but abruptness and a touch of asperity strike me as reasonably believable reactions under the decidedly weird circs. Scrooge's response to Gosalyn's revelation that she had had possession of the Gizmosuit seems a little puzzling, however. What exactly is Scrooge reacting to when he declares, "You did the right thing, lass"? Gosalyn's admission that she tried to be a hero in the suit, or her new-found desire to see the suit be returned to Scrooge? Since Scrooge uses the past tense, I'm guessing that it's the former, but shouldn't the mere fact that Gos had the suit make Scrooge suspicious about how it fell into her hands in the first place? At least Scrooge and Gos get to have a nice verbal exchange, which is more than I can say for the kids as a group. Scrooge gets to declare his admiration for Gosalyn, Gyro and Honker get to repair the Gizmosuit together (and apparently bond as "kindred spirits" pretty quickly), but the kids don't get a chance to do what we've always wanted to see them do, which is to actively put their heads together and work as a team. We do see HD&L, Gosalyn, and Webby cooperate to lasso the Beagle Boys at one point, but the brief bit is given no setup whatsoever. Action needs to be mixed with character exchanges, or this will be a real lost opportunity.

Megavolt, working in cahoots with the B-Boys (who are Barksian clones once again, BTW), gets the funniest moment in the book when he momentarily swoons moonily over the revamped Gizmosuit. This is a funny call-back to the TV episodes in which Megs fell in love with and/or liberated light bulbs and other electronic devices. The bit really stands out because, to be honest, there isn't nearly as much humor in the script as one might expect. Perhaps reacting to the gravitas of the historic crossover setting, some characters seem more formal than is their wont. Megavolt describes himself as being "pretty offended" that he wasn't told about the Gizmosuit before; wouldn't a phrase like "You guys really busted my bulbs!" have been more fitting? And since when have you heard a Beagle Boy use a word like "elated," especially after Spector had gone the "dem-dese-'n-dose" route with the B-Boys during "Rightful Owners"? The stiffest line of the ish, however, is delivered by Cinnamon Teal, a member (along with Camille Chameleon and, strangely, F.O.W.L.'s own Ammonia Pine) of Magica's "League of Eve-il." Cackling with the gals over... well, something or other... Cinnamon declares, "It's been a long journey towards this." By all means, babe, fill us in when you get the chance, OK?

I still think that The Blot and Magica have the potential to be a great team, but the unleashing of "apparently pointless evil" (The Quackwerks Building and other "international objects" turning into monsters) seems a lot more like a Negaduck-style scheme to me. The scheme makes for some great visuals -- and Silvani, assisted by Jose Massaroli, deals out some nice eye-candy, with colorist Braden Lamb also doing excellent work, especially in the early, eerie "transformation scenes" -- but not a whole lot of legitimate momentum leading into part two, which is scheduled to appear this coming week in DARKWING DUCK #17. I'd be quite happy if kaboom! took only four weeks to finish this arc (and, in fact, DUCKTALES #6 is already being solicited in this very issue, which is a good sign in that regard). For good or ill, I've mentally "moved on" and am ready to see the kaboom! era end.


Aaron Sparrow said...

FYI, the credits here are extremely misleading. Although Warren Spector and James Silvani were involved in the early plotting of the crossover, neither were consulted when Ian Brill went to script, which is why no one noted Fenton and Drake have met (a fact of which Silvani is well aware) and why character voices are suddenly very different from previous DUCKTALES issues.

Odd that Boom would choose to credit Silvani on issues he didn't replot/repace after denying him credit on those he did.

Comicbookrehab said...

Yikes...I guess Kim McFarland has nothing to worry about.

I wouldn't mind seeing Moby Duck play a part in the story - it feels like it wouldn't do any harm at all. ;)