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Posts Tagged ‘Barry Grossman’

Archie 3000 #14

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

December 11, 2011

Title: Oh, Christmas Transporter, Oh Christmas Transporter and other stories

Writers: Dan Parent, Paul Castiglia, Bill Golliher
Pencils:
Dan Parent, Bill Golliher
Inks:
Jon D’Agostino, Pat Kennedy
Colorist:
Barry Grossman
Letterer:
Bill Yoshida
Cover Artist:
Dan Parent
Editor:
Scott Fulop
Publisher:
Archie Comics

While Archie Comics, much to their credit, is doing some really interesting things with their comic books in the here and now, in the early 1990s they were trying a lot of fun things as well: new characters, new concepts, and new twists on their formula. None of them really stuck, but for people of my age who were reading Archie at the time, there’s a nostalgia factor here that makes me glad I can still find copies of stuff like Archie 3000 in the ether.

This issue of the title which re-cast Archie and company a millennia in the future is their Christmas special. Archie (the 3000 version) and the gang are knee-deep in Christmas shopping, which in the year 3000 seems to be done exclusively via the Home Shoppin’ Teleportation Network. (Boy, if they could have foreseen the Internet, huh?) Even Santa Claus uses teleportation these days, something which frustrates the parents of Riverdale, who evidently are old enough to remember the days when he delivered presents by hand. Whether this means that teleportation technology is still relatively recent in the year 3000 or that advances in medical technology have allowed the parents to live for hundreds of years is never really made clear. Anyway, when an atmospheric disturbance knocks out the whole planetwide teleportation network, both Archie and Santa Claus will have to do Christmas old-school. The book is fun, but like so many visions of the future, when you look back on it a few years down the line, it seems terribly, hysterically quaint.

Very few Archie Comics have just one story, though, so let’s look at the back-up features, non-Christmasy they may be. In “Squirm Assignment,” Archie and Dilton have a big sociology assignment due for school, and Archie makes do with a Dict-o-Text, a device that is intended to help focus one’s mind and structure a report, but runs the risk of just creating the entire presentation if you let your mind run away with it. I’m pretty sure you can guess where this is going. The story was funny, in a “Jetsons” kind of way, and led up to a good punchline.

And in “Teleportation Troubles,” Archie gets himself into classic trouble when he has dates with both Betty and Veronica at the same time. This being the year 3000, though, when travel is evidently much cheaper, the dates are actually on opposite sides of the continent. With a little help from Dilton, Archie tries to teleport back and forth between the two, with again, predictable results. Not a bad story, but pretty standard – you could do a contemporary Archie story with Dilton building a teleportation device and have the same effect, and it would be more impressive since we hadn’t read another story based entirely around teleportation eight pages earlier.

I do still have a fondness for this old series, though, and for the others of its era: Jughead’s Time Police, Archie’s R/C Racers, Faculty Funnies, Dilton’s Strange Science, Explorers of the Unknown… there were some gems there. It’s a shame that we don’t see their like anymore.

Rating: 7/10

Uncle Scrooge #349

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

January 3, 2006

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.

Rating: 8/10

Uncle Scrooge #345

August 12, 2011 Leave a comment

September 11, 2005

Quick Rating: Good
Title: King Scrooge the First and other stories

A trip to the past sends Scrooge on another treasure hunt.

Writers: Carl Barks, Terry Laban, Pat & Carol McGreal, Gorm Transgaard, Annette Roman, Paul Halas & Tony Isabella
Art: Tony Strobl, Rodriques, Jose Maria Manrique & Jose Colomer Fonts
Colors: Scott Rockwell, Egmont, Barry Grossman, Michael Kraiger & T. Letterman
Letters: Willie Schubert, Susie Lee & Jon Babcock
Editor: Arnold T. Blumberg
Cover Art: Daniel Branca
Publisher: Gemstone Publishing

Another month, another collection of Uncle Scrooge tales, and as seems to be the case lately, it’s been mostly decent, lighthearted fare. There’s nothing wrong with anything in this issue, but I personally prefer my Scrooge when he gets into high adventure.

First up is “King Scrooge the First,” a reprint of a 1967 tale written by Carl Barks with art by Tony Strobl. An underhanded Swami tricks Scrooge and his nephews into drinking a magic potion that sends them thousands of years in the past, where he hopes they’ll lead him to a magnificent treasure. This is the closest story in the issue to what I really look for in a Scrooge tale, and it comes complete with a really good twist ending. Strobl was a solid artist in his own right, but somehow, Barks drawn by someone other than Barks never quite hits that plateau of greatness.

Terry Laban’s “X-Treme Scrooge” is an example of a more modern Scrooge tale. When the world’s richest duck becomes immersed in the information age, he discovers a young dot-com entrepreneur who threatens to unseat his position at the top of the wealth ladder. Scrooge tries to enter into a partnership, rather than a competition, and winds up being coaxed into a series of “extreme” sports to keep up with him. It’s kind of a long set-up to get to the basic gist of the story – seeing Scrooge take part in ski sailing and upside-down snowboarding competitions, but it comes together okay.

“You’re a Boonehead Now” by Pat and Carol McGreal and art by Jose Maria Manrique casts a spotlight on Scrooge’s longtime foes, the Beagle Boys. Trying to escape the police, the Beagles inadvertently wind up volunteering to be camp counselors for a group of rowdy Boonehead Scouts – and the kids may be more trouble than the cops would have been. It’s your standard “bumbling villains in over their heads” story.

Gorm Transgaard writes “Feed For Greed,” with art by Manrique and English dialogue by Annette Roman. This time out, Scrooge invests in an invention that can make anyone greedy for anything, the perfect sales tool. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like this story at all, because it simply doesn’t ring true to the character. Although there is a passing reference to Scrooge needing to find a legal loophole to allow him to use the invention because he makes his money “square,” in-character Scrooge knows that “legal” and “square” aren’t always the same thing. The Barks creation, who always makes his money honestly, would never stoop to such a level.

Finally there’s “Lost and Found” by Paul Halas and Jose Colomer Fonts, with English dialogue by Tony Isabella. Gyro Gearloose unveils his latest creation, a “find anything machine,” which at first seems like an excellent idea, but which soon proves itself to be as buggy and dangerous as most of Gyro’s creations. It’s a cute story.

The Barks tale is good enough to be balanced out by the bad “Greed” story, brining this issue to just an okay average. Uncle Scrooge has had a string of so-so issues since #342’s knockout issue. Hopefully it’ll pick up again next month.

Rating: 7/10

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #672

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

August 24, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Deep Un-Pact and other stories

Donald Duck and Neighbor Jones’ feud goes to new heights of destruction.

Writer: Daan Jippes, Byron Erickson, F. Gottfredson, M. DeMaris, Pat & Carol McGreal, Bill Walsh, Gil Turner, Pat & Shelly Block
Art: Daan Jippes, F. Gottfredson, B. Wright, Tito Santanach, Paul Murry, Dick Moores, Gil Turner, Noel Van Horn, Santiago Scalabroni
Restoration “Love Trouble”: Ron Stark & S/R Labs
Colors: Egmont, Kneon Transitt, Marie Javins, Michael Kraiger, Barry Grossman
Letters: Willie Schubert, Todd Klein, Jon Babcock, Susie Lee
Cover Art: Daan Jippes
Publisher: Gemstone Comics

With a whopping seven stories this issue, Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories is giving us a lot of bang for our buck. Most of the stories, fortunately, are definitely strong entries in the Disney canon.

First up is Daan Jippes’ “Deep Un-Pact” (with English dialogue by Byron Erickson). Donald Duck’s eons-old feud with Neighbor Jones gets ratcheted up this issue when Donald finds out Jones’ land is sitting over a long-lost bomb, and the slightest tremor could set it off. Donald gets caught between continuing his fight with the neighbor and trying to protect both of their homes. Neighbor Jones has never really reached the popularity of villains like Pete or Magica DeSpell (at least not in America), but I’ve always enjoyed his stories as featuring Donald at his purest. He’s temperamental, over-the-top and just funny – as Donald should be. This issue is a great example of that.

Next is the third and final installment of Floyd Gottfredson’s “Love Trouble” serial, taken from the Mickey Mouse newspaper strips of 1941. When Minnie began dating Montmorency Rodent in an effort to make Mickey jealous, he retaliated by taking up with the new socialite in town, Millicent Van Gilt-Mouse. The two couples are fated to meet at the party of the year, and each has plans for the other. This is a really strong story, funny and very much in keeping with the classic feel of the characters. This last batch of strips didn’t suffer as badly from the repetition of the newspaper format as the second installment did, which makes for a smoother read. The story concludes in as satisfactory a fashion as it would had it been intended as a self-contained story rather than a sequence in an ongoing newspaper strip. Overall, it’s a good strip.

Following in the love theme, Donald and Daisy star in our next story, Pat and Carol McGreal and Tito Santanach’s “A Date With Daisy.” Tired of being taken for granted, Daisy makes up an imaginary suitor to make Donald jealous. Her plan backfires, though, in a pretty amusing romantic entanglement.

“Onerous Odor” is a decent – if not memorable – Panchito one-pager by Bill Walsh, Paul Murry and Dick Moores, and it’s followed up by a Gil Turner Lil’ Bad Wolf story, “Lamb Chaps.” Panchito’s date preparations gone awry and Lil’ Bad’s newest effort to teach his father a lesson are both just okay.

“Reverting Raptors” by Pat and Carol McGreal is a good follow-up to a Mickey Mouse story from the Gladstone Comics days. Mickey visits a scientist friend and a pair of vegetarian Velociraptor clones that are about to launch into a new modeling career. When the raptors appear to begin reverting back to their carnivorous ways, though, Mickey’s got to reign them in. The story is good and the artwork, by Noel Van Horn (son of the Disney legend William Van Horn) is just dandy.

The issue ends with the very cute “Believe!”, a Donald story by Pat and Shelly Block and Santiago Scalabroni. Donald gets frustrated with the boys as they try to chase a rainbow for the pot of gold at the end, blurting out that there is no such thing. His sourpuss attitude puts him under the gun when a real fairy shows up to prove to him that magic exists after all.

The Neighbor Jones story and the Gottfredson strips stand out as the best of this issue’s offerings, but it’s pretty strong overall.

Rating: 8/10

Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Comics-75 Years of Innovation

June 21, 2011 Leave a comment

July 31, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good

A collection of rare Disney comics from across 75 years and around the world!

Writers: Floyd Gottfredson, Ted Osborne, Walt Kelly, Carl Buettner, Hubie Karp, Bill Walsh, Carl Barks, Don Christensen, Romano Scarpa, Dwight Decker, Dick Kinney, Vic Lockman, Eirik Ildahl, Freddy Milton, Daan Jippes, Geoffrey Blum, Renato Canini, Marck Meul, Jim Kenner, Byron Erickson, Bruno Sarda, Gary Leach, Don Rosa, Janet Gilbert, Evert Geradts
Art: Floyd Gottfredson, Earl Duvall, Ted Thwaites, Wilfred Haughton, Al Taliaferro, Walt Kelly, Carl Buettner, Paul Murray, Dick Moores, Paul Murry, Bill Wright, Carl Barks, Gil Turner, Frank McSavage, Romano Scarpa, Giorgio Cavazzano, Al Hubbard, Tony Strobl, Freddy Milton, Daan Jippes, Roberto O. Fukue, Daniel Branca, Andrea Ferraris, William Van Horn, Don Rosa, Vicar, Mau Heymans, Cesar Ferioli
Restoration: Daan Jippes & David Gerstein (“Race to the South Seas”), Rick Keene (“Sauce For the Duck”)
Colors: Rick Keene, Kneon Transitt, Marie Javins, Scott Rockwell, Barry Grossman, Susan Daigle-Leach, Michael Kraiger
Letters: Susie Lee, Jon Babcock, Bill Spicer, Willie Schubert, John Clark, Rick Keene
Archival Editor: David Gerstein
Cover Art: Don Rosa
Publisher: Gemstone Comics

Borrowing a page from Disney’s DVD department, which has been putting out a line of Walt Disney Treasures collector’s editions for a few years now, Gemstone Comics has graced us with this new volume, collecting rare comics and imports, some never before reprinted, from the vast history of Disney Comics. Billed as containing “75 years of innovation” (which is technically true, as it collects stories from 1930 through 2004, a total of 75 years), this is a very nice sampler of some of the various comics Disney has graced us with over the decades.

The collection has too many stories (presented, more or less, in chronological order of publication) to give a full review of each one, so let’s just take an overview of what we get here. First, there are several short stories from the various Disney newspaper strips, including a really nice Sunday storyline about Mickey and the gang trying to conquer a mountain. (To give you an idea of how old this story is, Goofy is still referred to here by his original name, “Dippy Dog”.) We get a smattering of various characters from throughout the Disney library, including a Brer Rabbit story, a Lil’ Bad Wolf story, stories with Grandma Duck, Fethry Duck, José Carioca, Arizona Dipp, Bucky Bug and a great Gremlins strip by the immortal Walt Kelly. Goofy stars in two stories, one co-starring with the little-seen Ellsworth and the other featuring his alter-ego, Super Goof. Pluto faces off with Chip and Dale, the Beagle Boys co-star with Magica DeSpell, we have a Ducktales story with Launchpad McQuack and, of course, a healthy sprinkling of stories featuring the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck families of characters. It’s a testament to how rare these stories are that I’ve only read one of these (the Beagle Boys/Magica story) before I got this volume.

In addition to a nice mix of characters, we get a nice mix of creators as well. There’s the aforementioned Walt Kelly (best known as the creator of Pogo), and we see the work of Floyd Gottfredson (creator of some of the best Disney newspaper strips), William Van Horn on the Ducktales story and popular creators from overseas such as Romano Scarpa, Daniel Branca and Vicar among others. American legends Carl Barks and Don Rosa each contribute a story to this volume as well. With any collection like this, the stories are expected to vary in quality, but with the exception of the Bucky Bug story (I’m just not a Bucky fan) I didn’t think there was a weak story in the bunch. The Goofy/Ellsworth story (reprinted here for the first time since its original Italian publication in 1965) is particularly funny. Barks’s story features Donald and Gladstone in a race to save their lost Uncle Scrooge, each hoping to secure their place as his favorite. Rosa’s story is unusual in that it has no villains other than Scrooge’s thirst for wealth – the ducks attempt to conquer a mountain he’s purchased looking for rare gems or metals, and it’s his zeal or Donald’s ineptitude that cause all of the mayhem. The artwork is beautiful and the writing is hysterical – just what you expect from Rosa. Mickey’s last story, by Byron Erickson and Cesar Ferioli, features his friends suspecting he’s ready to throw Minnie over for a new girl and plotting to confront him. With the possible exception of the Barks story, the volume doesn’t contain any of the high adventure stories that mark my favorite Disney comics, but fans looking to laugh will be highly satisfied.

Gemstone went to great lengths to imitate the DVD style with this book, from using the same cover design (including a wonderful Don Rosa cover) to commentary by Archival Editor David Gerstein, taking the role filled on the DVDs by Leonard Maltin. In addition to an introduction discussing the history of Disney comics, he also takes time to discuss how some of the cultural stereotypes shown in a few of the stories were viewed at the time. Maltin has done similar things on some of the DVDs and, like there, I found it a little frustrating – not so much that the discussion was held, but that if Gerstein hadn’t addressed the issue himself there would inevitably have been some people who complained about the stories without thinking about their context.

Judging from the number of titles this volume has – Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Comics – 75 Years of Innovation – it gives me the impression that future Walt Disney Treasures collections are in the works. I certainly hope that is the case. This was a good read, but aside from their scarcity the stories collected in this volume don’t really have any connective thread or reason to be presented together. It’s like reading a particularly long, particularly good issue of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. Here’s hoping Gemstone comes back with more volumes collecting great works by different creators, characters, stories with the same themes or other volumes that feel more complete in the stories collected therein. As far as this book goes, though, it’s a satisfying read for any real fan of Disney comics.

Rating: 8/10

Uncle Scrooge #352

April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

March 24, 2006

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Isle of the Golden Geese and other stories

Easter greetings from the Disney gang!

Writers: Carl Barks, Lars Jensen, David Gerstein, Dick Kinney, Donald D. Markstein, G. Renard, D. Avenell, Gorm Transgaard
Art: Carl Barks, Jose Maria Manrique, Al Hubbard, Jose Maria Millet Lopez, Daniel Branca, Vicar
Colors: Susan Daigle-Leach, Egmont, Terry Letterman, Marie Javins, Sue Kolberg, Barry Grossman, Michael Kraiger
Letters: Susie Lee, Jon Babcock, Willie Schubert
Cover Art: Carl Barks
Publisher: Gemstone Publishing

In honor of Easter, the guys at Gemstone are giving us a seasonal goodie basket, with one all-out Easter tale and two more taking advantage of the theme to give us stories about eggs, of all things.

First up is “Isle of the Golden Geese,” a Carl Barks classic originally published in Uncle Scrooge #45 from 1963. In this tale, Scrooge stumbles across a golden feather and a few golden eggs. Thirsting for more, Scrooge sets out for the island of the geese that produced the golden items – and winds up in a race with his old enemy Magica DeSpell. This is one of the later stories from Barks’ legendary run, and the character is pretty well fleshed-out here, with a conclusion that cracks me up.

Jensen and Manrique follow this up with “Say Uncle.” When Scrooge recruits Donald for an overseas job, Donald gets his cousin Fethry Duck to look over Huey, Louie and Dewey in his absence. Fethry is determined to be a responsible parent, but when his overprotective urges go so far as to keep the boys inside instead of doing scheduled good deeds for the Junior Woodchucks, they have to take some drastic measures. A funny story, although Fethry just isn’t a character I’m really that fond of.

“The Great Egg Hunt,” by Dick Kinney and Al Hubbard, is the second egg story in this issue. In the hopes of scoring some good PR, Scrooge sets out to round up some condor eggs to bring back to the Duckburg zoo. He and Donald run across a native mountain man with designs on the eggs himself, however. This story isn’t quite as strong as the rest – Hubbard’s artwork, particularly on the caveman, doesn’t really pop for me. There’s no date on the story, but it feels kind of dated overall.

“Shake,” a one-page gag by Markstein and Lopez, may be the most talked-about story this issue – Louie orders a milkshake at a local soda shop… the Launchpad Special, and our guest chef is Launchpad McQuack! This is at least the second appearance of Launchpad in the regular Disney comics in the last few months, which seems to show more of a willingness to integrate some elements from the old Ducktales TV show into the comics. If Gemstone is doing this to see how the fans react – we love it! More Launchpad! And if you can work in Darkwing Duck too, well, I’ll be your new best friend.

“Magic’s Missing Magica,” by Renard, Avenell and Branca, is maybe the flat-out funniest story this issue. When word reaches Scrooge that Magica DeSpell is on the prowl yet again, he starts to go plain loony with worry. There’s a bit more slapstick in this story than you usually get with Scrooge, and that it’s done without fundamentally damaging the character is all we need to enjoy.

Finally, there’s this issue’s official Easter story, “The Bunny Song” by Transgaard and Vicar. Donald, absentmindedly working on his songwriting while on the job at Scrooge’s costume factory (how many jobs has that duck had?) accidentally puts in an order for 10,000 Easter Bunny costumes when he only needed 100. Stuck with 9,900 extra costumes, Scrooge and Donald go nuts trying to sell them all and save Scrooge from eating the costs. A funny story – not brilliant, but funny.

It’s an okay issue, overall. If you’re looking for something to put in your kid’s Easter basket to go along with all the chocolate and jellybeans, this comic would be a pretty good addition.

Rating: 7/10

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #671

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

July 26, 2006

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Zenith and other stories

Donald tries to scale Mt. Cranky – and Scrooge and Flintheart face off in the final lap of the Formula One tour!

Writers: William Van Horn, F. Gottfredson, M. De Maris, Wilbert Plijnaar, David Gerstein, Pat and Carol McGreal, Carl Buettner & Per Erik Hedman
Art: William Van Horn, F. Gottfredson, B. Wright, Dick Matena, Fransisco Rodriguez Peinado, Carl Buettner & Flemming Andersen
Colors: Egmont, Scott Rockwell, Marie Javins, Barry Grossman & Kneon Transitt
Letters: Susie Lee & Willie Schubert
Cover Art: William Van Horn
Publisher: Gemstone Comics

This month’s issue of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories is something of a mixed bag. There are a couple of really good stories, one disappointing one and several in-between.

William Van Horn’s “Zenith” is first. When the Mayor of Duckburg announces a contest to rename Mt. Cranky, Donald and the boys all want to be the first to the top of the mountain to secure naming rights. Unfortunately, they aren’t alone. Van Horn uses this story to drop in a lot of his own contributions to the Duck’s “Universe,” which is fine if you’re familiar with the characters. For those who don’t know them already, though, they’re all pretty much ciphers here – you don’t really get to know them except as obstacles for the ducks.

Next is “Love Trouble Part Two,” the middle segment of a classic Mickey Mouse newspaper strip story by Gottfredson, De Maris and Wright, originally printed in 1941. Minnie has spurned Mickey for a new boyfriend, Montmorency Rodent. To get back at her, Mickey picks up a new girlfriend of his own, and the two couples clash. This is a cute segment, but being the middle section of a run of newspaper strips, it has no real identity of its own as a story, even a serialized one. It also suffers from some of the usual problems when any newspaper strip story is transformed into a comic – frequent recaps and a pattern of a punchline every few panels. It’s not as problematic with more flat-out humor strips like PVP, but Mickey’s strip tended to have more expansive stories that made it a bit repetitive.

“Heat Wave Wolf” by Plijnaar and Matena with English dialogue by Gerstein is up next. In the midst of a heatwave, Zeke Wolf is looking for ways to keep cool. Meanwhile, his son is having fun with his new hobby and helping B’rer Bear keep his flock of sheep cool. This is basically an extended gag strip, bringing the two storylines together for a pretty amusing punchline.

“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – written by the McGreals with art by Peinado — is one of the two really good stories this issue. When Daisy wants to take her nieces to a tea party for their birthday, the girls trick Huey, Dewey and Louie into switching places with them for the day. The boys get stuck at the tea party, but it’s no party for April, May and June either when Donald catches them and sends them off to work on the boys’ chores. This is definitely one of the funnier stories this issue, with some of the strongest art as well.

Carl Buettner’s Bucky Bug story, “Way Out West” from 1945 is up next. When a visiting countess is kidnapped by a pair of bug bandits, it’s up to Bucky to save her. Frankly, the Bucky Bug series has always been among my least favorite Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories series. The entire story is told in rhyme and it gets pretty tedious pretty quickly

Finally, we have “Final Refuel,” the last chapter in the “Formula One” serial Hedman and Andersen (with English dialogue by Pat McGreal). Scrooge and Flintheart Glomgold have raced in tracks around the world and are neck-and-neck going into the final race on the Formula One circuit — in Japan. As Daisy and the boys make friends among the locals, Scrooge, Donald and Gyro guard their car to prevent sabotage. But Flintheart’s plan has nothing to do with busting Scrooge’s car – he’s out to soup up his own. This has been a really entertaining storyline from the first chapter. Each installment has stood on its own as a fun comic book tale, and combined they make for an excellent long-form adventure tale.

This book is definitely worth getting to complete the “Formula One” story, and for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” The rest of the stories I can take or leave.

Rating: 7/10