Home > Disney, Gemstone Publishing > Uncle Scrooge #342

Uncle Scrooge #342

May 27, 2005

Quick Rating: Excellent
Title: The Old Castle’s Other Secret or A Letter From Home and Other Stories

The greatest treasure in the world is waiting for Scrooge McDuck – and he’ll have to go home again to find it.

Writers: Don Rosa, Byron Erikson, Lars Jensen, Jack Sutter & Carl Barks
Art: Don Rosa, Wanda Gattino, Maria Jose Sanchez Nunez & Carl Barks
Colors: Susan Daigle-Leach, Egmont, Scott Rockwell & Marie Javins
Letters: Todd Klein, Jon Babcock & Susie Lee
Editor: Arnold T. Blumberg
Cover Art: Don Rosa
Publisher: Gemstone Comics

Three months ago I reviewed Uncle Scrooge #339, containing Don Rosa’s “The Crown of the Crusader Kings,” and at the time I thought it might well have been the best story Rosa ever told. That was before I read this one.

“The Castle’s Other Secret” is the sequel to that story, in which Scrooge uncovered the ancient Crown of the Knights Templar, only to lose it to the modern incarnation of the Knights. It was only a minor loss, though, as he found another important clue – the crown was crapped in an ancient orange and green tartan – the symbol of the Clan McDuck! It was another clue pointing to the treasure of the Knights Templar – the greatest treasure in the history of the world – and the trail was pointing straight towards his ancestral castle.

In this issue, Scrooge and his nephews return to Castle McDuck on the Misty Moors of Scotland to continue the quest for the treasure, but Scrooge is taken aback by the Castle’s new caretaker – his own estranged sister, Matilda, whom he hasn’t seen in 25 years. When Scrooge returned home from his travels around the world his sisters, Matilda and Hortense (Donald’s mother) abandoned him, disgusted by his greed. (This whole story, by the way, is detailed in Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, which Gemstone is releasing as a trade paperback next month). His sister hasn’t forgiven him in all those years, and now he not only has to deal with a sister who despises him, but a Templar racing him for the treasure.

Every good thing that can be said about a Don Rosa comic book applies to this issue. The art is detailed and beautiful, full of small touches and in-jokes that only the sharpest-eyed readers will notice. The story is rich and heavily researched – every historical fact Rosa uses in his stories is meticulously studied to match it up with actual history. But he managed to take this story one step further. He managed to make a story about the search for the greatest treasure in the world into a personal tale about family, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons. Just the panel of Scrooge visiting his parents’ grave alone is magical, but the way he connects with his long-dead father is uplifting and inspiring. There’s more depth, characterization and genuine emotion in this story than in any year’s worth of your average comic book. This is, simply put, one of the greatest comic book stories I’ve ever read.

We get three other quick tales in this issue as well, all of them pleasant enough. Lars Jensen, Jack Sutter and Maria Jose Sanchez Nunez present “The Door Trap,” in which the nefarious Beagle Boys get their hands on a magical door that transports anyone who steps through it to the middle of the Gobi desert. As always, they try to use it to nab Scrooge’s fortune – with predictably disastrous results.

Speaking of disastrous results, Byron Erickson and Wanda Gattino give us Gyro Gearloose in “The Customer is Always Wrong.” Fed up with Donald’s frequent mishandling of his inventions, Gyro severs his partnership with the duck, only to realize why he may need him after all. The book closes with a Carl Barks classic, “Raven Mad” from Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #265 (Oct. 1962). Scrooge puts his number-one dime on display at the Duckberg Bazaar, only to find himself again defending it from the machinations of Magica DeSpell.

The other three stories are all fine and would make for satisfying reading in any case. But the Rosa tale this issue is simply brilliant. I’ve come to expect a great read every time his name appears in the credits, but this goes far beyond even my expectations. If you’ve been thinking about trying out Uncle Scrooge, this is the issue to start.

Rating: 10/10

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