Title: The Four Seasons: Spring
Writer: Roger Langridge
Art: Roger Langridge
Letters: Litomilano S.r.l.
Colors: Kawaii Creative Studio
Cover Art: Elisabetta Melaranci & Silvano Scolari
Publisher: Marvel Comics/Disney Comics
Although Disney’s purchase of Marvel Comics a while back hasn’t hurt Marvel in the slightest, the same can’t be said for Disney’s presence in the comic book marketplace. The Disney comics, which were in very good hands with Boom! Studios at the time, quickly went away, and all we’ve gotten so far are a few Tron comics and a very lackluster Toy Story miniseries.
Fortunately, there was still one last Roger Langridge Muppet Show arc that never got to see print with Boom!, and finally, it’s seeing the light of day. In “Spring,” the first part of “The Four Seasons,” backstage at the Muppet Show is consumed with thoughts of love. Animal has fallen for one of the guests, an ape named Meredith, but a broken heart is left in its wake.
At its best, Roger Langridge’s Muppet comics have been an incredible examination of the wild humor and incredibly bizarre world that made the TV show so great. This issue isn’t quite as wild or as crazy, but he makes up for it with a nice little character arc for Animal. The issue is a little different from what you’d typically expect from this creator and these characters, but it still feels very much like a Muppet story. Langridge also continues to bring in the classic Muppet sketches and even the songs he did in the rest of his run.
We also get a lovely cover here by Elisabetta Melaranci and Silvano Scolari, a nice, lush image that’s very different from the interior art, but not in a bad way.
Although Langridge is done both with the Muppets and with Marvel, there’s still life in this property. With another movie being scripted, hopefully Disney and Marvel will be convinced to keep this property going.
Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!
TITLE: The Trouble With Toons & Good Neighbor Roger
Writers: Kate Worley & Doug Rice
Art: Rick Hoberg, Dave Simons & Bill Langley
Editor: Len Wein
Publisher: Disney Comics
PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: I know Roger Rabbit! He was framed, if my memory serves me correctly.
IMPRESSIONS: The comic seems to pick up shortly after the end of the movie. Roger Rabbit goes down to the Ink and Paint Club to find that it’s been trashed and rushes to his buddy, Detective Eddie Valiant, for help in solving the case. But Valiant has been swamped with business ever since he and Roger defeated Judge Doom (in the movie), so he sends Roger to his buddy Rick Flint. Roger and Flint set out to find the man who destroyed the club, and a new partnership is born.
This comic book felt like the first episode of a movie-spinoff TV show where the producers couldn’t get the original actors in for more than a cameo. Flint isn’t really that interesting a character – he’s a generic old-school detective who doesn’t seem to bring anything to the story that couldn’t have been served just as easily by using Eddie Valiant. I can understand how, if this had been a TV show, getting Bob Hoskins would have been rather difficult. But we’re looking at a comic book here. Why couldn’t they draw Valiant instead of coming up with a low-rent substitute?
The second story, “Good Neighbor Roger,” is much better. This one is set in Toontown, where Roger is upset to learn his new neighbor is a weasel. (Remember them from the movie? Roger, understandably, has a bit of an aversion to weasels.) Roger decides to make nice, though, and hilarity ensues. This one feels like an old-fashioned cartoon with more modern writing, and I liked it a lot on that level.
Not a bad comic book, I guess, but I’d be more interested in reading more of Roger’s Toontown adventures than the Adventures of Rabbit and Flint.
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.
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.
Wall-E #1 (Boom! Kids)
By J. Torres & Morgan Luthi
This is really the second issue of Wall-E, and like the zero issue, this Christmas-themed tale follows a pre-movie Wall-E as he roams a mostly dead Earth. As we saw in the film, Wall-E is collecting the objects he finds most fascinating, and that includes a curiously colored light bulb… if only he can figure out how to turn it on. The mostly wordless nature of this series really works well to hammer home the emotion here. This is a terribly lonely story, one that reflects the sweet, simple main character perfectly. The last panel is one of the sweetest, most simple expressions of the season I’ve seen in any comic I’ve read this year. The cover artist, for some reason, isn’t credited herein, but whether it’s Luthi or someone else, this cover is a real masterwork. If you loved the Wall-E movie, this issue is highly recommended.
Wizards of Mickey #1 (Boom! Kids)
By Stefano Ambrosio, Alessandro & Lorenzo Pastrovicchio, Saida Temofonte & Magic Eye Studios
Spinning off from the storyline in Mickey Mouse and Friends, this fantasy series casts Mickey, Donald, and Goofy as aspiring sorcerers in a far-off fantasy land. Our heroes are enrolled in a tournament in an attempt to gain powerful magic stones — Diamagics — that Mickey needs to rescue his master from the powerful Phantom Blot. This issue, they find themselves in battle with their friends, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Clarabell Cow, otherwise known as Diamond Moon. While Mickey needs power to rescue Nereus, Minnie needs a specific Diamagic for her own worthwhile purposes, leaving Mickey to make a choice. We also find out more about the Blot’s plan this issue. Initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of this storyline, but as it progressed over the four issues of Mickey’s title, it started to grow on me. Here we get a chance to dig deeper into the magic world Ambrosio and his art team have created for this book. It’s certainly not the same as the usual “Disney Universe,” but as a kind of side-continuity, it stands on its own pretty well. The characters are still themselves, but there’s a certain freedom here to mix things up that I like. The art is a nice mix of fantasy and comedy, and overall, I think this is a title that could have legs.
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.