A Retrospective on Nostalgia Comics Featuring Anthropomorphic Ducks*
It was recently brought to my attention that these existed.
I grew up with the afternoon Disney block DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Tale Spin, and my personal favorite, Gargoyles. Darkwing Duck was a close second, and not at all surprising due to my overarching preference for Batman: The Animated Series. Since I’m not big on reading comics as they come out, preferring to borrow trades from my library, because — for reasons I don’t follow — they have a lot of them, I was unaware of the newly (2010) licensed Boom! Studios Darkwing Duck comics.
Return of the Caped, Crusading Canard
I’m sticking to the first 2 volumes of the new (5 year old) series, which roughly translates into 8 issues and 2 complete arcs. More than enough for me to judge its quality. Despite knowing that he never sounded this way on TV, I read DW as being voiced by Daffy. It just makes more sense and it’s not my fault WB and Disney are separate companies.
Needless to say, the first volume is full of Dark Knight Returns vibes. The collection even includes the obligatory lightning shot. The book follows the show’s light tone and comedy as well as mildly delusional lead. Essentially, though, I have Drake Mallard’s day job, so I also appreciated it on that level.
This volume also sets the pace for full speed gags in every panel. It rewards those who pay close attention to, say, the newspapers or people in the background. For those in the know, it’s effectively mainlining nostalgia.
My singular complaint for this volume is the resolution. I love the idea of bringing in Gizmoduck, but the plan makes no sense. Also, having a puppetmaster when the quad troop of villains was enough just isn’t necessary. The final resolution will appeal to all Duys in the audience.
Crisis on Infinite Darkwings
Fine, now we get to the real reason I am reviewing these 2 volumes, further mashup nostalgia. In this volume, the meta stuff starts getting good fast. A keen eye in the back or foreground is also a solid reward. Look at the foreground, perhaps, during scenes that take place on the sides of buildings…
A while back, we did a roundup of Crisis and Secret Wars. I don’t think Crisis had enough crazy infinite spins on characters and it could’ve and it’s certainly something Marvel has been playing with recently (e..g., Spider-verse). One thing Darkwing Duck gets right is pairing up Negaduck and Magica as the anti-Darkwing and anti-Morgana. It works a bit better because they drop the pretense of trying to be mysterious about what they’re doing. Also, I never recalled from the show that Negaduck was an alternate universe DWD, I just thought he was a Reverse Flash type.
Another positive from this is the sheer variety of different Ducks you see. One I like is what I’m calling Cavewing Duck, whom I also wish showed up in DuckTales. Using the Darkwing version of Gordon to announce Darkwing as public enemy number 1 was a nice touch and shockingly not too on the nose. For those of you who also want Disney princesses (obviously as anthropomorphic animals), they are also present in this volume. Basically, if you wanted it, Boom! threw it in.
There is even a full page spread of all the creative types of DWs these people created and DC didn’t really bother to in its Crisis. Even a Golden Surfer. Also, a bowling ball. Clearly, fun was a key priority.
My main complaint for this volume is the dialogue and some of the plotting. Even though Crisis probably does both worse, I had higher expectations for both from Darkwing Duck. If I went back and rewatched the cartoon, that feeling would most definitely diminish. As with the prior volume, the big bad behind everything sort of comes out of left field. I remembered Tim Curry’s Bulba, but not Paddywack.
Let’s get this out of the way first, the comics version of Darkwing Duck is probably inaccessible to the casual reader. However, the audience is geared toward ‘90’s nostalgia and not casual reading. And the series does deliver nostalgia. I chuckled to myself throughout and lingered over the group shots, finding Darkwing Simba, Prince, and what I believe to be the Ramones. Even if the stories can’t stick their landings or introduce a sensical villain, in what way does that make them weaker that what we’ve got now?
*Not named Scrooge