Uncle Scrooge #347
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Escape From Forbidden Valley and other stories
The ducks are on the run from the monsters of the Forbidden Valley!
Writers: Don Rosa, Pat & Carol McGreal, Frank Jonker, Dwight Decker, Lars Jensen, David Gerstein & Janet Gilbert
Art: Don Rosa, Maria Nunez, Bas Heymans, Jose Maria Manrique & Vicar
Colors: Egmont, Scott Rockwell, Michael Kraiger, T. Letterman, Pamela Rambo & Kneon Transitt
Letters: Jon Babcock, Susie Lee, Marshall Dillon & Willie Schubert
Editor: Arnold T. Blumberg
Cover Art: Don Rosa
Publisher: Gemstone Comics
A great headliner story by Don Rosa combined with a few really solid back-ups makes for one of the best issues of Uncle Scrooge in months.
Rosa starts off with his trademark – a sequel to a classic Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge tale. This time he picks up on threads from not one, but two stories – “Forbidden Valley” and “A Spicy Tale.” When Scrooge and his nephews take a trip to South America to find a new source for the rare nutmegs he so loves (his one indulgence is nutmeg tea), Donald gets abducted by a native tribe the ducks agitated on an earlier visit to the country. Scrooge and the boys set out to rescue him, only to find themselves prisoners of the Forbidden Valley, a mysterious land where dinosaurs still roam the Earth!
This story has everything you want out of Rosa – great artwork and clever dialogue, nods to the works of Carl Barks (in this case even going so far as dropping in flashbacks taken directly from the earlier stories), and a new exploration of certain facets of Scrooge’s personality. This time out, Rosa tackles Scrooge’s relationship with Donald, putting forth a new theory as to why the richest duck in the world may be so hard on his happy-go-lucky nephew.
Rosa also does great work on the dinosaurs – he’s clearly put in a lot of research, and takes advantage of the natural appearance of one of the creatures for a great last-panel gag. This is a sweet, fun story. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?
Next up, the McGreals and Nunez give us “Legal Beagle.” When the Beagle Boys pick up one of their brothers on the day of his release from prison, they’re dismayed to learn that the prison psychologist has convinced him to go straight. The reformed Beagle starts bungling their schemes, and they’re stuck trying to find a way to get him off the straight and narrow. This was a particularly funny tale, one that uses the Beagles in a creative, uncommon way.
“Don Quiduck De La Mancha,” by Jonker, Decker and Heymans, is a surprise treat in this issue. Donald is studying overtime to beat out Gladstone Gander in Daisy’s production of “Don Quiduck De La Mancha,” but as always, he takes it too far, and a moment of exhaustion convinces him he is the legendary hallucinating knight errant. As Donald sets out on a quest throughout Duckberg, he accidentally puts the combination to Scrooge’s Money Bin in jeopardy, and Scooge and the boys have to snap him back to his senses before it’s too late. I quite enjoyed this story – the writing is solid and fun, but the artwork by Bas Heymans was a revelation. I’m not very familiar with his work, but this story has put him on my radar. He has a great gift – the loose lines of Will Van Horn combined with the incredible layout and storytelling skills of Carl Barks. I was highly impressed with the look of this story and hope to see more work by Heymans in the future.
Jensen and Manrique bring us Gyro Gearloose and Fethry Duck in “Green Thumbs Down.” When Fethry’s fanatical devotion to his garden costs him his job, Gyro tries to help him find new ways to get by with his produce. I quite enjoyed this as a change of pace – it’s nice to see a Gyro story that, for once, doesn’t hinge on one of his inventions going haywire.
Finally we’ve got “The Scrooge Museum” by Janet Gilbert and Vicar. Scrooge is happy to allow mementos of his adventures to be displayed at the Duckberg museum, but is dismayed when he learns that a provision in the contract that allows government officials free admission. He angrily insists that everyone have to pay to get in, but then finds himself stuck when he can’t get in free to view his own possessions. This is a funny story, but seems to fall victim to the trap of one story per issue stretching Scrooge’s character. A lot of the later gags rely on him spending outlandish amounts of money to get out of paying a one dollar admission. Scrooge is a man of principle, yes, but I can’t help but thing his principles would give way to his frugality in this case.
Still, that’s a small misstep, and not enough to damage my appreciation of this issue overall. It’s a very strong issue, and I give it an enthusiastic recommendation.