Monday, November 24, 2014

DUCKTALES Fanfic Review: "The Reunion at Duckburg" by "Sosa Lola"

At long (and seemingly interminable) last, it's time to begin examining some of the very best Duckfic fantales!... Er, DuckTales fanfics!

Before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge my good friend Mark Lungo for his useful advice concerning these reviews should be organized.  In the Disney Afternoon apa WTFB, Mark developed something of a specialization in the assessment of fan-created prose works.  The "star" rating system for various features of the story is entirely my own.

You can find "Sosa Lola"'s "The Reunion at Duckburg" here on




THE STORY:  It's Spring Break time, and Goofy and a reluctant Max travel to McDuck Mansion for one of Goofy's periodic reunions with his old pals Donald and Mickey.  There are several reasons for Max' reticence: he's reluctant to get reacquainted with Donald's Nephews, who tormented him with pranks at the last reunion at Donald's house some four years ago; Uncle Scrooge, whom Max has never met, sounds like a grouchy old miser; Goofy's enthusiasm for the get-together just doesn't seem... cool.  (In case you're wondering: HD&L appear to be their DuckTales selves here, as opposed to the teenaged Quack Pack versions, while Max likewise seems to be in his Goof Troop form, rather than his older A Goofy Movie manifestation.)  Not wanting to be victimized yet again, and somewhat alienated by Huey and Dewey's slightly snarky attitudes towards him, Max tries to get "cold-served" revenge on the triplets with a prank of his own.  The gag winds up putting Dewey in bed with an injured ankle.  An angry Goofy grounds Max for the first time ever, meaning that he's left behind while the others go out to dinner.  Scrooge, who's been busy and absent up until this time, returns home to find the unfamiliar Goof kid.  The duo hit it off reasonably well -- so much so, in fact, that Scrooge brings Max with him to the Money Bin.  Scrooge has been fretting over a threatened attack on the Bin by the Beagle Boys, who are working for Magica de Spell.  Scrooge temporarily leaves his Old #1 Dime in Max' possession while he's investigating a suspicious noise inside the Bin, and Max is promptly knocked out.  He awakes to find himself in Magica's lair on Mount Vesuvius, where Magica is preparing to finish what she started in "Send in the Clones" and create an amulet out of the cherished coin.  One hitch, however: she needs some frogs' legs to complete the recipe.  (Um, since when?)  With a heavy load of guilt sitting on his shoulders due to his failure to protect Old #1 at the Bin -- not to mention his previous misbehavior -- Max must help the Duck, Mouse, and Goof rescue party set things right, a task that becomes all the more difficult when his beloved Dad gets turned into a frog by Magica...

Well, I certainly wasn't going to pick a dog (heh) of a story with which to start my review series.  This is a fine effort, a fanfic that both reflects the familiar and expected in a (mostly) accurate fashion and goes in several new, intriguing, and entirely believable directions.

Here are my evaluations of the individual components of the tale:

PLOT:  Just fine in Chapter 1 (which ends with Scrooge taking Max to the Bin), but gets a tad "overly convenient" in a couple of spots in Chapter 2, and goes completely haywire in one particular instance.  (***1/2 out of *****) 

"Sosa Lola" him/herself seems to have been uncomfortable about the notion of the Beagle Boys bringing the unconscious Max back to Magica's lair with them when there was no need for them to do so.  How can I tell?  Because Max HIMSELF wonders why they did it. Since Magica needs frogs' legs to complete the amulet spell (again, you tell me why) and later proves to have no compunction over turning both adults and kids into frogs and threatening to rip off their legs, you would think that this would be the main reason for going to the trouble of bringing Max along, but it turns out that Magica expected the Beagles to get real frogs instead.  What makes this all the stranger is that the Beagles don't even bother to capture Scrooge; Max is the only one that enjoys the privilege of being carted away.

The good-guy cavalry arrives at Mount Vesuvius very soon after Max does -- the others actually arrive in stages, with Minnie and Daisy (who, thankfully, are not on hand just to serve as eye candy; the same goes for Webby, BTW) flying in helicopters as backup.  I don't have a problem with this, given that Scrooge was left behind to raise the alarm.  But Louie insisting on parachuting out of Launchpad's plane beforehand, under the premise that a little kid like him would be able to infiltrate Magica's place more easily?  It rings true in a character-based sense -- at least in the context of this story, as we'll soon see -- but no way can I imagine Scrooge letting Louie do that on his own recognizance.

Which would be more likely to parachute solo into a dangerous situation?

Where I really must part company with "SL" is with his decision to set Max up to be the "fall Goof" by having Scrooge give Max Old #1 for temporary safekeeping.  Mind you, Scrooge had already taken a special precaution to protect the dime by removing it from its normal storage case and sticking it inside a "pencil box" filled with loose change.  It would make all the sense in the world to simply leave it in that atypical location, as opposed to putting it in the hands of a young kid whom Scrooge has just met.  Yes, Scrooge does treat Max with respect from the start.  Even given that fact, there's no bleeding way I can see him taking such a chance.

I can't even imagine Little Scroogie doing it.

CHARACTERIZATIONS:  The best part of the story, in both a good sense and a bad sense... if you can believe it.   (***** out of *****)

Apparently, "Sosa Lola" has written several other Goof Troop fanfics in addition to this one, so I would hope that he would have a handle on what makes Max Goof tick.  He turns out to possess rather more than that.  The Max that we see here is poised somewhere between the Max of Goof Troop and the Max of A Goofy Movie.  He's still the "polite kid" who desires to be "cool," is a mean foot (feet?) with a skateboard, and easily gets embarrassed at his Dad's pratfalls, but there are more than a few hints that Max' attitude towards his own "Goofitude" and his tendency to screw things up is beginning to sour into something rather more unpleasant.  "SL" ramps up Max' feelings of inadequacy as the story progresses -- making him feel bad over his prank going wrong, making him feel ashamed of embarrassing his Dad, giving him the guilt trip over "losing" Scrooge's dime, etc.  It gets to the point where Max is so filled with "guilt and self-loathing" that he even offers to sacrifice his life so that other characters won't be harmed for Magica's benefit.  Louie is so horrified at what Max had planned to do that he literally slaps Max in the face.  Even Goofy is tempted to do the same, except that he "doesn't believe in hitting children."  Now you see why I described Max as standing between two "poles."  If one wants to take this story as belonging to "Spoonerville canon," then this might be the very moment at which "Glad Max" morphed into "Sad Max."  It makes the "happy ending" seem just a bit hollow.

Louie's reaction to Max' intended self-sacrifice resonates all the more because Louie had previously treated the visiting Goof kid with far more thoughtfulness and kindness than either of his brothers.  When you realize that the Nephews are still their DuckTales selves, this is quite something.  Numerous other fanfics that I've examined, especially those set in the indeterminate future, have taken pains to give the boys distinct characterizations.  It's as if these writers wanted to go the Quack Pack route but didn't necessarily want to use the Quack Pack versions of HD&L.  This is the first fic I've seen in which such a distinction was applied to the DuckTales versions of the boys.  Louie's slapping of Max is all the more significant because Louie appears to be disappointed with Max for even contemplating such a thing.  Evidently, Louie had been determined to befriend Max from the start.

If you're wondering why Huey and Dewey had so much more of a negative reaction than Louie did to Max' presence... well, "SL" helpfully provides us with an explanation, straight from the Ducks' (in this case, Huey's) beak.  Apparently, HD&L had always been jealous of the fact that Max lived with and was cared for by his Dad, in part because of a guilt trip carried over from their own hell-raising days.  Add to this the fact that the boys were upset that Donald (who's still in the Navy) had been unable to get away for the reunion... The unanswered question here is, what caused Louie, in particular, to have a different attitude from his brothers'?  Was "SL" consciously or unconsciously drawing on the "big-hearted" Louie of Quack Pack, the kid who protected endangered "pugduddies" and so forth? 

You have NO idea, Donald...

HOMEWORK:  To be a really good fanfic, "attention must be paid" at some point(s) to what has gone before, even if only tangentially.  "Sosa Losa" is right "on point" in this area.  (***** out of *****)

There are many, many references here to "Send in the Clones."  In fact, the first part of the showdown at Magica's lair is close to a clone (heh) of what we saw in that first syndicated ep, right down to Huey giving Magica the most trouble.  Huey and Magica each make clear references to their previous encounter.  Some lines from "Don't Give Up the Ship" are shoehorned in, as well, and Dewey (who has to sit out the battle back in Duckburg because of his injury) is referred to by Louie as "always com[ing] up with great plans."

"SL" also makes references to several Goof Troop episodes, such as "Slightly Dinghy."  Goofy's "lucky horseshoe," which enters into the denouement, first appeared in An Extremely Goofy Movie, but it's easy to imagine Goofy having that object during the Goof Troop era, so I'll let the apparent anachronism slide.

Thankfully, "Sosa" didn't add "disco references" to his story. 

WRITING AND HUMOR:  The writing's serviceable, and, given that half of the tale is an adventure and some genuinely sober subthemes are present, there are some really funny lines.  It helps that "Sosa Lola" understands how these characters should sound.  (**** out of *****)

There's one really annoying misspelling -- "stake" for "steak" -- that should really have been corrected, especially since it appeared multiple times during the course of a couple of pages.  It's also difficult at times to identify who exactly is speaking; this is a particular issue during the character-choked finale.  Other than those nits, there are few problems here.

Launchpad doesn't have a whole lot to do, but, true to form, he does get the funniest line of the story.  Some of the banter between Max and Scrooge is  quite amusing, and it was easy for me to imagine the characters exchanging the dialogue in their "animated voices."

There is one peculiar moment at the very end of the story that I frankly don't quite understand.  Peg appears on the scene, and she and Scrooge appear to engage in a bit of.... innuendo??  Was this titillation really necessary?  I did get a chuckle about the plans that Scrooge has for Peg, though.  (They're NOT WHAT YOU THINK.  Remember, Goldie could always be lurking around the next corner inside a giant cake.)

OVERALL:  ****1/2 out of *****N&V RECOMMENDED.

This story is definitely worth DuckTales' fans' time.  "Sosa Lola" clearly put a good deal of thought into it, and the problems with the plot don't detract from the simple fact that it's an enjoyable read, albeit one with a slightly darker underside than you might expect.




Please feel free to send feedback on how I handled this first review.  Did I give away too much of the plot?  Do you approve of the categories I used?  Did you actually go and READ the darned story, and, if so, how did your reactions differ from mine?  I'd love to know.


Anonymous said...

I found your review good, and informative. I'm hoping you write more of them.

Maybe I'm just a prude, but it may help to give your own rating re: toilet humour, swearing, etc. On the subject of prudishness, "stuffy" Duckworth and co. are fine with Mickey and Minnie share the same room (!) - following in the tradition of "Back to the Klondike" rather than the separate hotel rooms in "The Duck Who Knew Too Much"

From what I remember of Goof Troop, I definitely prefer the "Glad Max" of the show v. the embarrassed Max of the movies. Max seemed far too depressed here, though I still enjoyed the story - especially the second part.

Chris Barat said...


Thank you for the praise!

The issue of appropriateness wasn't a big deal here, but there are one or two stories down the road where it will be a MUCH bigger deal. Your suggestion was a good one.

I guess that, in the mind of "Sosa Lola," Mickey and Minnie are married! That assumption HAS been known to happen.


Pan MiluĊ› said...

Nice review.

I always love interactions between characters that never meet(so called "crossovers") It's always a thrill, even if Max/Scrooge sound's a bit odd of an idea.

Did Goofy EVER got angry on Max on the show? The only example I can think of is from the movie and even then it took entire movie to build it up...

Mark Lungo said...

Hey, Chris! I tried to post a message last week, but it didn't go through so I'm trying again.

Anyway, thanks for the shout out! I see that you've acknowledged my reviewing techniques as an influence. Don't worry, you wrote a great review anyway. ;-) And yes, you made the original story sound like something I'd like to check out. Also, I love the motto in the last illustration.

Chris Barat said...


I don't remember enough details about GOOF TROOP to be sure about any possible Goofy blowups there, but Sosa Lola seems to have a very solid grounding in the details of the show. Since he made a big deal of Goofy grounding Max " for the first time in his life," perhaps Goofy never DID yell at Max in a GOOF TROOP context before that.