Darkwing Duck is the best comic you aren’t reading
He is the terror that flaps in the night! He is the traffic light that never turns green even though there’s no other cars for miles! He is Darkwing Duck! And he is, apparently, the best licensed comic that is having trouble finding an audience.
In the 1990’s, there was a lot of dreck in cartoons; nostalgia-tinted glasses can make us forget how bad a lot of our precious memories really were. The Disney Afternoon, though, contained the kind of shows that hold up even today. That’s why Disney is looking to mine the period for a modern audience. So far that effort has included a remake of Capcom’s excellent NES Ducktales game, an upcoming collection of six of Capcom’s Disney NES titles, a Ducktales reboot set to launch this year, and a Rescue Rangers movie currently in the works. There have also been comics of many properties, but Darkwing has by far been the standout. Now, I am learning that the series, which started in 2010, went on hiatus, and came back in January of 2016, is endangered. Having just read the collected edition of the first four issues of the returned book, I can safely say this is an injustice the like of which would whip the Duck Knight himself into action.
Simply put, the Boom Studios Darkwing comic, written by Aaron Sparrow with no lack of love for linguistic loquaciousness and illustrated with the boundless energy of the show by James Silvani, is among the best uses of a license ever, not just in comics but in all media. It started seven years ago with Drake Mallard having divested himself of the daring demands of his double life as Darkwing and dissolving the dynamics of the duo between himself and Launchpad, resigning himself to a restless reverie of daily red ink as another corporate drone. Sparrow and Silvani delivered the kind of return fans of most franchises can only dream about. It was funny. It was exciting. It was colorful. Perhaps most surprisingly of all, it gave the show, which was well-known for not having any kind of serious structure, actual continuity while never losing the madcap pace that made it so much fun.
That story was intended as a mini-series, but it spun off into an ongoing one, which saw Darkwing dealing with classic villains and new threats, and in which the stories hung together surprisingly well, considering the cartoon character had about four different origins and constantly contradicted himself. There was even a crossover with Ducktales that…didn’t quite work out, despite their best efforts.
After this inauspicious “end” to the series, Sparrow, Silvani and crew battled hard to save Darkwing, and he eventually landed at Joe Books. When I picked up the first volume, “Orange is the New Purple”, I was worried. I was actually very interested in where the previous series had left things, and I thought for sure that after such a long gap Sparrow would just be made to start over.
Fortunately, I found the new book picks up where the old one left off (which I daren’t spoil), while still being accessible to newcomers. Darkwing and Gosalyn attend the opening of a new Arkham-style prison, and of course things go horribly wrong as some of his old enemies take the place over, lock them both inside and release the inmates. What follows is as funny as it can be without losing the plot, and as serious as it can be without losing the humor. This time around, it is a little harder to swallow the idea that Darkwing is in any real danger, as his “toonish” malleability is in full effect: from cars landing on him to being smushed by giant mallets, nothing sticks. It gives Silvani a chance to go whole hog, though, and his artwork resembles the cartoon even more closely than it did before. It’s also great to see almost all of Darkwing’s wacky Rogues Gallery in one place, including the new baddies introduced in the previous “Election” story. Every one is used creatively as Darkwing and Gosalyn play them off each other to affect their escape, and you can almost see the art moving in full animation in your mind.
Darkwing is, after Ducktales, perhaps the most in-demand show for a reboot from the Disney Afternoon. For now, the comic is as good as we’re getting, and I would argue it is actually a better fit for D.W. With series creator Tad Stones’s approval, Sparrow, Silvani and their team of clearly devoted fans have given us a deeply dedicated distillation of dreamy Darkwing delightfulness. As Liquidator would say, though, if you want to keep the webbed wonder around, act now! This book is a limited time offer!
P.S. I’m adding this a few months later to thank everyone for supporting this book and for using my post to do so. The book is on hiatus again, but from what I can tell the creative team is always fighting for the character.
In hopes I can be forgiven for being a little self-concerned, I’m also adding some links to some of my other columns you all might like. This blog essentially serves as my portfolio for writing work, so any followers, shares, comments or likes are very, very helpful to me. Thanks in advance. Now back to the Duck Knight!
I know Disney has this whole multiverse thing going, but just for fun I like to try and piece together which media could plausibly occupy the same setting even without the multiverse conceit, given similarities in worldbuilding, the presence or absence of magic, how talking animals appear to work, etc.
For example, you can draw a pretty clear line from Lady and the Tramp through 101 Dalmatians, The Rescuers and finally to Oliver and Company.
The Great Mouse Detective superficially seems like it ought to fit into the same setting, but actually doesn’t, since non-rodents don’t appear to be sapient in the GMD milieu.
Interestingly, the television series Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers slots in with no particular difficulty - except that Chip and Dale also canonically interact with Donald Duck, whose world has no humans. There are two possible ways to reconcile this: either Chip and Dale are multiversal champions and versions of them exist in many worlds, or else there were some off-screen dimension hopping shenanigans in between the timeframe of the classic Disney short films and the timeframe of Rescue Rangers. I’m not sure which I prefer.
For discussion: if we allow non-Disney films, does The Secret of NIMH belong in this setting?
Disney’s The Rescuers was first released on June 22, 1977, and was the last film for Milt Kahl and John Lounsbery.
The popularity of the film almost led to a spin-off TV-series in 1989; however, when the animation department green-lit its sequel, The Rescuers Down Under (1990), the project was scrapped. The series was still made, but Bernard and Miss Bianca were replaced with Chip and Dale, and the series was called Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers (1989). (x)
DISNEY AFTERNOON COLLECTION retro video games from CAPCOM available 4/18 on Windows, PS4 and XBox One:
SAN FRANCISCO — March 15, 2017 — Capcom, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games, today announced The Disney Afternoon Collection,
a compilation of six games that feature beloved Disney TV characters
from the 80s and 90s in fun-filled adventures. The beautifully restored
classic games feature crisp 1080p HD support and include all-new modes
that can be enjoyed by first-time players and long-time fans. The Disney Afternoon Collection will be available as a digital download across North America and Europe for $19.99 / £15.99 / €19.99 starting on April 18, 2017 on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One and Windows PC.
Players will be able to relive their childhood afternoons with Disney
and explore these pieces of gaming history with classics including:
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers
– This classic lets players team up with a friend in co-op play as they
assume the roles of the mischievous Chip and Dale as they take on
memorable villain Fat Cat and attempt to solve the mystery of a missing
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2
– Fat Cat has escaped and his plans are even more dastardly this time.
The titular heroes and supporting cast Monterey Jack, Gadget, and Zipper
must stop Fat Cat from his evil dream of world domination!
– Play as the original caped crusader and fight a city full of
criminals from the infamous F.O.W.L. organization in this action-packed
– In this iconic platforming adventure, players help Scrooge McDuck
fill his feathery pockets with vast riches from across the world.
– The sequel to the original game comes jam-packed with more action and
an even bigger caper set in new locations like the Bermuda Triangle and
– Take to the skies as Baloo the bear navigates his plane through
exotic and dangerous locations in this side-scrolling shoot-em-up.
six games are new and improved HD versions of the originals and feature
a number of filtering options that replicate a classic retro look and
feel. This collection also offers new ways to play with Boss Rush and
Time Attack modes for each game. In Boss Rush mode, players battle
through challenging boss encounters consecutively, while Time Attack
mode encourages time-based gameplay and provides online leaderboards
that track the fastest times for each game. A new “Rewind” feature makes
these challenging titles more accessible for newcomers, with the option
to rewind time and enjoy a swift recovery from blunders. Additionally,
the in-game Disney Museum will provide history buffs with a wealth of
content to celebrate the era of the original releases, such as concept
art, advertisements, character art, and music – all preserved in their