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Uncle Scrooge #360

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

December 9, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Being Good For Goodness Sake and other stories

Who has the most Christmas spirit: Scrooge or Donald?

Writers: Carlo Chendi, Carl Barks, S. & U. Printz-Pahlson, Donald D. Markstein, Kirsten DeGraaf, Tony Isabella, Kristian Hojsteen, John Clark
Art: Romano Scarpa, Carl Barks, Vicar, Mau Heymans, Daniel Branca
Colors: Scott Rockwell, Rick Keene, Egmont, Kneon Transitt, Marie Javins, Michael Kraiger
Letters: Todd Klein, Willie Schubert, Susie Lee, Jon Babcock, John Clark
Editor: Leonard (John) Clark
Cover Art: Marco Rota & Susan Daigle-Leach
Publisher: Gemstone Publishing

This year’s Christmas offering from Uncle Scrooge is well worth your money – lots of good stories and not a weak one in the bunch.

“Being Good For Goodness Sake” is first. Carlo Chendi and Romano Scarpa give us this lengthy tale, in which the Mayor of Duckburg offers a $10,000 prize to the citizen who demonstrates the most Christmas spirit. Donald and Scrooge, in an effort to win the money, begin dumping as much cheer as they can on a hapless individual they suspect of being one of the secret judges. Meanwhile, the Beagle Boys take advantage of Scrooge’s distraction to break out of prison and plan their latest heist.

Just when you’ve thought they found every way to twist around the Duck Christmas story, Vhendi and Scarpa have given us something utterly unique. Usually you have one or the other ducks trying to teach the others a lesson, but here the ducks are both squarely in the wrong, and even the nefarious Beagle Boys show more true Christmas spirit than they do. The gags are funny, and the twist put on the end of this story is really original – something I never thought I’d see in a Disney comic, but which nonetheless fits the story perfectly.

Carl Barks’ 1963 Gyro Gearloose story, “Snow Duster,” is the next offering in this issue. Gyro has invented a formula that can rapidly evaporate snow from driveways and sidewalks. When the owners of the local football stadium find out about it, they hire him to take a crop duster and clear out the stadium in time for the big game. Gyro’s power turns out only to be good at short-range, though, and it looks as though the experiment – and Gyro’s reputation – will be ruined, until his Little Helper comes up with a plan. This is a rare story in which Helper actually has dialogue (even if Gyro can’t understand him), and it works pretty well, even if it isn’t something I would want to see on a regular basis.

“Return of the Terror” is a sequel to issue #358’s “The Terror From Outer Space,” in which an alien from a planet of criminals was thwarted in his attempt to pull off the heist of a lifetime – stealing Scrooge’s money bin. This time, the insidious Tachyon Farflung returns, planning to ambush Scrooge as he takes advantage of a major light bulb sale. (Yeah, Scrooge is that cheap.) The ducks wind up doing battle with the alien in the midst of a crowded-to-bursting shopping center, which provides plenty of gags throughout the story.

“Trapdoor Trick” is a great one-pager where the nephews take advantage of Scrooge’s security measures to get the best of him. This is quickly followed by “Operation Vesuvius.” Magica DeSpell interrupts the ducks as they’re in the middle of their Christmas shopping, but she gets snagged. Scrooge knows the authorities won’t be able to hold her for long, so he takes advantage of her temporary incapacity to rush to her workshop on Mount Vesuvius to destroy her magical paraphernalia. The resultant battle royale is pretty good, but not quite a home run. Finally there’s another one-page, “Snow Intention to Pay,” in which Scrooge’s shrewd business acumen comes up with a way to get the path to his Money Bin shoveled for free.

Not a bad little collection, with a really good opening story to propel it along.

Rating: 8/10

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 #370

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

October 4, 2007

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Brother From Another Earth and other stories

Two Scrooges? Which one is the real one?

Writers: Rudy Salvagnini, David Gerstein, Carl Barks, Frank Jonker, Gorm Transgaard, John Clark, Lars Jensen, Chris Spencer, Joe Torcivia
Art: Giorgio Cavazzano, Carl Barks, Sander Gulien, Daniel Branca, Vicar
Colors: Disney Italia, Susan Daigle-Leach, Egmont
Letters: David Gerstein, Travis Seitler, John Clark
Cover Art: Giorgio Cavazzano
Publisher: Gemstone Publishing

It’s Halloween in Duckburg, friends, and let’s hear it for a rare American comic cover appearance by the would-be Mrs. Scrooge McDuck, Brigitta MacBridge! More of a staple in the European comics, Brigitta plays a nice sized role in our first story here too, “Brother From Another Earth.” Although none of the stories in this issue are explicitly Halloween-based, they all have a nice feeling of the creepy or a Twilight Zone-esque twist to qualify them to appear under a Halloween cover.

In “Brother From Another Earth,” a bored Scrooge is suddenly confronted with a second version of himself from another universe! The alternate Scrooge has an offer for him – they can take a vacation as each other for a few weeks, but when our Scrooge finds out how badly his counterpart has bungled things on “Earth-D,” he suddenly fears he can’t go home again. While too many Scrooge stories tend to distort the character to fit the plot, this story nicely shows just how an out-of-character Scrooge would lead things to ruin.

Gyro Gearloose stars in “That Small Feeling,” a Carl Barks classic about a Witch Doctor approaching Duckburg’s wackiest inventor to help spruce up his voodoo doll. While this story seems terribly politically correct in today’s environment… well… I hate when people sanitize old stories in the name of political correctness. This one rocks.

“The Spirit of Fear” once again pits Scrooge and Donald against that nasty witch, Magica DeSpell, who now has a plan to uncork a spell that will give life to their greatest fears. For a fun adventure, it gives a surprising insight into Scrooge that even Donald is sharp enough to appreciate.

Donald pops back for a “Nosy Neighbor” one-pager, and the book concludes with “Synthezoid From the Deepest Void,” a sequel to last year’s Halloween issue! Tachyon Farflung, the alien who tried to shrink and abscond with Scrooge’s Money Bin, tries to again display his criminal prowess, but an alien race that unleashes an enormous robot to hunt for Scrooge’s cash beats him to the punch. Tachyon and the ducks have to team up to save Scrooge’s money and Tachyon’s reputation.

The only real beef I have with this issue is, like I said, none of the stories are technically Halloween-based, despite the great cover. Fortunately, they’ve almost all got enough of a spooky or screwy flair that I can forgive that. Not bad at all.

Rating: 8/10

Uncle Scrooge #347

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

November 3, 2005

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.

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

Uncle Scrooge #401

August 2, 2011 Leave a comment

July 21, 2011

Title: The Universal Solvent

Writer: Don Rosa
Art:
Don Rosa
Letterer:
David Gerstein
Cover:
Don Rosa & Jake Myler
Editor:
Christopher Burns
Publisher:
Boom! Studios/Boom! Kids

Glory be praised, can it be? A Don Rosa story I’ve never read before? With Gyro Gearloose and a crazy invention and a couple of nods to Carl Barks and page after page of awesometude? It is? It is!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “The Universal Solvent.” Gyro Gearloose, the world’s nuttiest inventor, has developed a substance able to dissolve almost any substance known to mean, no matter how impervious. Only its crystallized carbon (in other words, diamond) container is safe from its power. At first, Scrooge is terribly excited about the applications of such a substance until his frustration s with a group of reporters leads him to spill the solvent on the ground. His “instant mine shaft” turns out to be a disaster as Gyro explains that the solvent will eventually eat into the core of the Earth itself, causing geological disasters of an apocalyptic scale. Now it’s up to Scrooge, Donald and the boys to brave the center of the Earth, capture the solvent, and save the world.

This is Rosa at his finest. It’s a grand adventure that takes the ducks to the heights of danger – this time a danger that threatens the entire planet – while still remaining true to the characters. Scrooge’s temper gets them into the mess, but his determination saves the day later on. Huey, Dewey and Louie continue to be brave and resourceful. Donald is… well, Donald is Donald. The artwork is funny, with brilliantly expressive faces on our heroes and plenty of good visual jokes and gags along the way. A surprise appearance by a group of characters that Barks created (and DuckTales fans will find familiar) helps to seal the deal on this issue, making it a true masterwork.

This may be the greatest issue of Uncle Scrooge Boom! released in their too-short tenure which the title, which appears to already have come to an end.

Rating: 10/10

Uncle Scrooge #344

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

July 30, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Fishpond Frenzy and Other Stories

Something is fishy when Magica makes a play for Scrooge’s number-one dime.

Writers: Paul Halas, Marco Rota, Janet Gilbert, Terry Laban & Carl Barks
Art: Marco Rota, Manrique, Romano Scarpa, Tino Santanach & Carl Barks
Colors: Egmont, Scott Rockwell, Pamela Rambo, Marie Javins & Summer Hinton
Letters: Willie Schubert, Jon Babcock & Susie Lee
Editor: Arnold T. Blumberg
Cover Art: Marco Rota & Susan Daigle-Leach
Publisher: Gemstone Comics

This month’s collection of Uncle Scrooge tales is a nice little assortment. There’s nothing mindblowing, but every story is above average and entertaining in its own right.

First up is “Fishpond Frenzy” by Paul Halas and Marco Rota. Scrooge attempts to breed a new species of fish to win a Koi Pond contest with a $10,000 cash prize, but when a ravenous pike makes its way into the pond, Magica sees the perfect distraction to go after his number-one dime. It’s a good story, only upset a little by a last panel that lapses into the cheesy.

Next is “Beagles, Boys and a Bin” by Janet Gilbert and Manrique. The Beagle Boys use a perfume that smells like money to lure Scrooge into a trap and begin a raid on his money bin. Now the only ones who can save his fortune are his great-nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie – with a little help from the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook. This is really a starring vehicle for the nephews, which is fine with me – this is the kind of story where they really shine.

“All You Need is Love” by Terry Laban and the late European superstar artist Romano Scarpa is actually my favorite story this issue. Scrooge’s admirer Brigitta MacBride is dismayed when he begins spending time with a diamond heiress. When she decides to try to become friends with her rival, though, she worries that Scrooge may be in danger. Scarpa is one of the few duck artists (along with William Van Horn, Don Rosa and Carl Barks) that has a really unique style all his own, and it’s a great one that will be missed.

Gilbert and Tino Santanach bring us this issue’s Gyro Gearloose tale, “Big Helper.” Gyro and Little Helper (his light-bulb headed assistant) are dismayed when another inventor and his “Big Helper” steal the show at the Duckburg Invention Convention, leading Gyro to try to improve on his own assistant. But some things, he learns, are perfect just the way they are.

Finally we have a lesser-reprinted Carl Barks story, “The Cattle King” (originally published in Uncle Scrooge #69, May 1967). Scrooge brings his nephews off to his ranch in Longhorn Valley to teach them the cattle business. Things get hairy when one of his old enemies from the McViper clan shows up and tries to rustle his herd, and again, it’s up to the nephews to save the day. It’s a dandy little comedy/western.

Overall, this is a highly satisfying issue, one that would be perfect to sit down and share with your kids.

Rating: 8/10