response to Greg Weagle's decidedly negative review of "Duck In the Iron Mask" in October 2009. Since Greg is the only person of my acquaintance who wasn't entertained by this energetic and imaginative Dumas pastiche, I felt obligated to try to answer his objections point by point. I did so here, here, and here.
1. You simply can't beat the premise. Dewey decides to assert his individuality and tries to distinguish himself from his brothers by changing his appearance. The disguise itself is a bit on the silly side for the purpose...
Ducklaration of Independence" finds Dewey seeking privacy because his "loving" brothers won't leave him alone. As is its normal wont, QP took the palsy-walsy stuff much too far and, in Greg's words, "[made] Huey and Louie look criminally clueless in order for them to act like a bunch of no good jackasses."
2. The tying-in of the "lookalike Nephews" subplot to the main plot, based on Voltaire's version of the "Man in the Iron Mask" legend -- in which the title character was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV -- was a masterstroke. Writer Don Glut (whose rather... um... variegated career in comics fandom, comics writing, and fringe "cult cinema" is, let it be noted, completely irrelevant in terms of assessing the quality of this episode) definitely did his homework in this regard. Unfortunately, Glut hurt his own cause by portraying Count Ray as having a French accent, courtesy of Arte Johnson. Scrooge's inability to immediately pick up on the difference in his "old friend" Count Roy's voice doesn't really ring true. Glut at least tries to explain the difference in Roy and Ray's voices by creating the backstory of Ray being swept away in the river and growing up in France, but that revelation doesn't make Scrooge seem any less dense. In retrospect, it would certainly have been better had Maurice LaMarche, who provided the Ronald Colman-inflected voice of Roy ("roi" = French for king -- see a pattern there??), simply modified that voice slightly to use as the voice of Ray.
4. We get an unexpected, yet welcome, glimpse into another facet of Scrooge's past, thanks to the flashback scene in Act One. Judging by Scrooge's appearance during the fencing duel with Roy, I would have to assume that the characters' relationship developed relatively late in Scrooge's life. Scrooge already looks fairly old in this scene, and Roy is pretty clearly much younger than him. I wonder why Scrooge didn't think to convince Roy to invest in McDuck Industries back in that particular day, when, presumably, he already had quite a sizable fortune?
Duchy of Grand Fenwick. I'm sure that Barks could have made quite a bit of this idea in a Scrooge adventure.
So Montedumas (sic) is located in Egypt? Who knew?
6. It has never hurt a DT episode to have Pete involved, and Pete's costumed turn as the ticket-stuffing, tax-gouging Captain Pietro is a real hoot. Alas, after Pete crashes into the table during the sword-fight scene, we never learn his ultimate fate. If ever a villain truly deserved to take a turn wearing the notorious "iron pants"...
7. Far from being "protected" in this episode, HD&L are subjected to one of their more physically and mentally demanding tests of the series. Dewey may be the one who comes up with the escape plans, but Huey and Louie more than match him by scrambling through a chimney, falling down a sloped roof, and shinnying down a rope to the street below. OK, so it wasn't Kit Cloudkicker taking that "deep dive" from the Iron Vulture during "Plunder and Lightning," but could we please give the lads their due here? They can only be held "responsible" for the perils that are put in front of them, and they deal with the ones in "Mask" magnificently. My only real regret is that they aren't allowed to handle swords during the climactic duel. Wielding a halberd with intent to entrap is impressive, but it just isn't on the same level.
8. In what, for him, is a rather low-key role, Launchpad comes up with some extremely funny and clever lines:
- [Looking at Monte Dumas on the map] I see what you mean, Mr. McD. Or should I say, I can't see what you mean."
- "Don't worry, Mr. McD. If I miss [Monte Dumas], it won't be by much."
- "I AM doin' somethin' -- I'm crashin'!"
- "You can call us idiots or fools, but I draw the line at knaves!"
- "Thanks for sheddin' some light on the subjects."
The Duck in the Iron Pants" at the end; the fact that he did so symbolizes both his love for the Duck characters and his desire to link his story, however tenuously, to past Duck history.
No "DuckBlurbs" this time, because, well, I've been there and done that! So...
Next: Episode 59, "The Status Seekers."