Saturday, November 19, 2011

Comics Review: DARKWING DUCK #18 (October 2011, kaboom!)

Strangely enough, there hasn't been a lot of reaction to the windup of the story that concludes in this final kaboom! Disney release. Far more attention, it seems to me, has been directed to the peculiar conditions under which "Dangerous Currency" was created. Go read the comments on The Old Haunt (the Darkwing Duck message board) if you don't believe me. I'll put that squabble aside and concentrate on the tale itself. That is, if I can ever get over the terrific headache that DARKWING #18 gave me...



This issue bears the artistic earmarks of a rush job. James Silvani does stick in a characteristically large number of character cameos, but they are all concentrated in one scene (or, to be completely accurate, a succession of brief scenes within a larger scene) and are not augmented by the many massive, detail-laced crowd scenes that graced "The Duck Knight Returns," "Crisis on Infinite Darkwings," and at least a few portions of "Campaign Carnage." Were it not for a sprinkling of background figures here and there and the presence of Scrooge's Money Bin, I would have thought that Duckburg was the Darkwing TV show's empty-streeted version of St. Canard. Come to think of it, the bare-bones TV version of St. Canard does make a cameo appearance of sorts here... but it's not THE "Regularverse" St. Canard. (Confused yet? Just wait.) The final two pages, which ought to have been a triumphal wonder, are clunkily staged and seem almost tossed off. They indicate that Duckburg and St. Canard are quite literally right next to one another, which makes that Thunderquack trip that the gang took in DT #6 seem rather unnecessary. Or maybe this was meant to be some sort of metaphorical scene, with Duckburg in daylight and St. Canard in darkness (for the "terror" to "flap in")?

Right off the bat, we get the obligatory Negaduck meme explaining how he was the ultimate fountainhead of the evil-establishing slime. There's a nice tie-in here to Negs' "Tron-split" fate at the conclusion of "Infinite Darkwings"... but why would he and Morgana both have been sent to an eerily sterile version of St. Canard? Perhaps this is the "Multiverse"'s version of Limbo? I'd personally have liked it much better had the duo simply been left floating in the object-choked "tweener-space" that we saw in "Life, the Negaverse, and Everything." As things turn out, the only real reason for the creation of the "holding city" is to give the good guys a place to dump the baddies when all is said and done without actually destroying them. Not that that action doesn't come without its own set of difficulties...

The best moment of the issue comes when Darkwing yanks Morgana back into the "real world" (which one?? I'm losing track), knowing full well that this will also allow Negaduck to escape the nether-dimension (or whatever). It's also a pleasant surprise -- to the reader, that is -- to learn that Magica De Spell had used a slime-flavored "foof bomb" to put The Phantom Blot under her power from the beginning. This may just be Magica's "proudest" moment ever, manipulating a villain for whom even Negs evinces a certain amount of respect (which is reciprocated -- The Blot refers to Negs as "Mr. Negaduck" at one point). Remind me again why this uber-Magica needs Scrooge's Old #1 Dime -- much less the help of the rest of the "League of Eve-il," who contribute absolutely nothing of note to the proceedings?

The reason for the exceptionally contrived "yell at the slime and it's neutralized" idea suddenly becomes clear when Donald is revealed as Scrooge's mysterious Agent 44. The discipline of the Navy (heh...) falls away as Donald implores the citizens of Duckburg (including such welcome figures as Glomgold, Bubba, Gandra Dee, Doofus, Duckworth, Gladstone, and even the transformed Genie of DuckTales: The Movie) to rabble-rouse and beat back the glop. A fun excuse for a slew of cameos, but savor the moment -- the rest of the issue is, quite literally, a mess, and not just because the villains literally decide to pool their resources and congeal into a single pool of slime, leading to a series of chaotic fight panels. Incredibly, Darkwing gets Negaduck to put his guard down by summoning up the power of "nice" and telling the latter that his real weakness is that he's never had any friends. I can imagine a certain purple-clad character using that approach, but it ain't DW. That giant sucking sound you hear isn't just the weakened Negs and his "partners in slime" literally being "drained away" into the conveniently available "wasteland city" of St. Canard; it's the last shred of dignity that was left in this well-meaning, but horribly constructed, story arc gurgling down the toilet. At least Scrooge and DW get to exchange a "heartfelt handshake" at the end. Imagine the two inhabiting this picture, with the body of the kaboom! Disney line at their feet, and you've about got it.

I can't help but think that the fate of Negaduck, Magica, The Beagle Boys, The Blot, and the "League of Eve-il" may have been intended as a big ol' bird-flip to someone. Despite my fervent wish that the end of "Dangerous Currency" not leave any loose ends behind, we close the books on the kaboom! era with a whole bunch of important villains... um, where, exactly? At least the rest of The Fearsome Five didn't get dragged along for the ride. Ironically, their defeat and "depowerizing" at the end of DT #6 apparently saved them from a fate that may actually BE worse than death... that is, if American Disney comics don't get back up off the canvas from yet another would-be knockout blow.

I may post some wrap-up comments on the entire Boom!/kaboom! experience in the near future. I do want to thank all those responsible for the DARKWING comic for a clear, if ultimately blighted, aesthetic triumph that was one of the highlights of Boom!/kaboom!'s all-too-brief moments as a first-class Disney comics operation. Perhaps we can do it again sometime? Or, at least, some of us?

1 comment:

Comicbookrehab said...

I believe THAT St. Canard was a nod to the pocket dimensions that appear in Marvel/DC Comics, like the one featured in Infinite Crisis or Heroes Return/Reborn or the Time Trapper's pocket universe, or Kandor or Doctor Who's 'Universe-in-a-bottle' theory applied to tie-in novels.

Yeah, Magica became a fan-fiction character here. Her main objective (Scrooge's dime) seems like small potatoes - or implies that she is simply a collector who's let her potential go to waste and gone half-mad with what might just've been a hobby - hmm... NOW where might I be going with that...? :P

I think Donald's cameo was a waste of what might have been - when I saw the cover to Ducktales #1, I thought it meant that Donald was back from the navy joining the gang full-time again, maybe even setting-up an intro of Duck Avenger in Ducktales continuity. Why Not? Duck Avenger in the Justice Ducks sounds like fun.

Oh, btw, I think this is the Genie's 2nd appearance in comics - the first was an adaptation of the movie, making this book his 3rd appearance in anything at all. They did more Dijon, and I recall Disney coming under fire with that character!

I feel like photoshopping my name under the writer credits, now. Everyone feel free to do so if this has enhanced anyone's reading experience in some way. ;)