Uncle Scrooge #349
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: The Doom Diamond and other stories
Will Scrooge’s newest acquisition spell the end of his fortune? Plus, the return of Launchpad McQuack!
Writers: Carl Barks; S. & U. Printz-Pahlson; David Gerstein; Wijo Koek; Donald D. Markstein; Kari Korhonen; Lars Jensen; Tony Isabella
Art: Carl Barks; Vicar; Mark DeJong & Daan Jippes; Kari Korhonen; Daniel Branca
Colors: Summer Hinton; Barry Grossman; Marie Javins; Egmont; Kneon Transitt
Letters: Willie Schubert; Susie Lee; Jon Babcock
Cover Art: Daan Jippes
Publisher: Gemstone Comics
This is a slightly up-and-down issue of Uncle Scrooge, with a few really good stories interspersed with one that isn’t so great. Fortunately, the good stories outnumber and outweigh the others, and that makes it easy to recommend the issue as a whole.
We start with “The Doom Diamond,” a late Carl Barks tale from 1967. While using some trained birds to rob Scrooge a pint of money at a time, the Beagle Boys learn that he will be taking an ocean voyage to pick up a massive diamond he just purchased. The crafty crooks find a way to glean all the information they need about Scrooge’s submarine and set up a trap. What neither Scrooge nor the Beagles know, however, is that the diamond they’re going to get is cursed.
This isn’t one of Barks’s greatest comics, but even a so-so Barks story is better than most anybody else’s work with these characters. It’s a solid story with a lot of strong gags to carry it through to the end.
“New Year’s Daze”, by S. & U. Printz-Pahlson with art by Vicar and dialogue by David Gerstein, is a surprise favorite for me. While preparing for a New Year’s Party at Scrooge’s cabin on Bear Mountain (site of the first-ever Uncle Scrooge story), Donald is forced to ride along with the disaster-prone pilot Launchpad McQuack. It’s rare to see a Ducktales character appear in any story aside from the reprints of that comic, and it’s even rarer to hear Launchpad reference his hero, Darkwing Duck, who (to my knowledge) has never crossed over to meet the Duckburg gang, except for the obvious link of having Launchpad as a sidekick. If this is a test run by Gemstone to see whether its readers would be open to new Ducktales or Darkwing Duck comics, for me at least, the answer is a definite yes. (Of course, I’m also the guy dying for resurgences of Spider-Ham and Captain Carrot. I’ve got a weird thing for funny animal superheroes.)
“Missing Money Mystery” by Wijo Koek, with art by Mark DeJong and Daan Jippes and dialogue by Donald D. Markstein is easily the weak link. As Scrooge tries to discern why the money his helicopter pilots are dropping onto his money bin isn’t making it to the vault, Magica DeSpell launches yet another attack to try to snare Scrooge’s number-one dime. This story doesn’t work for a few reasons. First of all, the dialogue is clunky, and there are certain pop culture references that simply don’t work coming out of the mouths of Disney characters. (And here I am referring specifically to Dewey Duck making a Paris Hilton joke – that utterly jolted me out of the story.) Second, the way the second panel of the story is drawn makes the solution to the mystery totally unfeasible, even in the realm of cartoon physics. It just doesn’t fit together.
“To Supply a Demand” by Kari Korhonen is a definite step up. This issue’s Gyro Gearloose story features the wacky inventor bemoaning his financial difficulties after a series of failed inventions leave him with empty pocketbooks. Scrooge, however, immediately sees practical uses for all of the so-called failures, and the money starts rolling in. Gyro soon finds himself overwhelmed by his new business, however, and he needs to find a way to renegotiate his contract before he’s left burnt out. Like last issue, this story works because it doesn’t rely on a haywire invention for comedy, but instead draws more on the characters of Gyro and Scrooge and how they interact with each other.
Finally we have Scrooge and Donald in “Tougher Than the Toughies” by Lars Jensen and Daniel Branca, with dialogue by Tony Isabella. When Scrooge takes Donald to Dawson City to relive his days as a Sourdough miner, he runs into his cousins Douglas and Whitewater, who are planning to enter a competition to see who has what it takes to be a real Sourdough. Never ones to back down from a challenge, Scrooge and Donald enter as well, and the two teams of ducks engage in a series of amusing challenges with amusing results. This is a dandy little story I enjoyed quite a bit.