This is what happens when I listen to “Feel Good Inc.” after re-watching the Ducktales trailer for who-knows-how-many times. I tried to draw Darkwing with the new Ducktales style. Pretty happy with this.
A show about a greedy uncle and identical siblings going on adventures. That made me think of an idea to do a crossover with DuckTales and Gravity Falls. Except I had to imagine the DuckTales cast as humans. I can’t wait for that new DuckTales show to come out. It looks like it’ll be fun.
Stan meets Scrooge. Soos meets Launchpad. Wendy meets Webby. The twins meets the triplets.
When drawing this, I ended up having a thought about Huey, Dewey, Louie and their Uncle Scrooge. Donald Duck is their Uncle and Scrooge is Donald’s Uncle. So if Scrooge is Donald’s Uncle, and Donald is Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s Uncle, and the trio refer to Scrooge as Uncle Scrooge, then does that make Scrooge their Great Uncle Scrooge? In other words, Grunkle Scrooge? I dunno. Just a thought.
Either way, I thought this crossover would be interesting and fun to make up.
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!
This is more than we were hoping for, folks, and my hopes were pretty high.
Here are my scattered thoughts on the trailer:
I love the angle the series seems to be taking, which isn’t too far from the original series or the Barks and Rosa stories. Scrooge is a mystery to Huey, Dewey, and Louie. They’ve only heard the legends, but little do they know that he’s still an amazing adventurer, that he’s “tougher than the toughies and smarter than the smarties” (glad they included that all-important character-establishing line in the trailer).
Strangely enough, Scrooge’s voice, while distinctly different from the classic series, is close enough to not be all that jarring. It sounds like David Tennant is a worthy successor to Alan Young, much in the same way Chris Pine as Captain Kirk is a worthy successor to William Shatner. Different voices (although Young and Tennant both have tons of energy and vivacity), but similar enough you don’t think the character is different. That’s key to recasting any role played by one actor for ages.
Fantastic job, DT creative team!
I know this is only a 90-second trailer, but I think the nephews and Webby are going to be the biggest adjustment for me. In this teaser, they’re kinda loud and annoying at times, but I think I see the real characters in some of the snippets of dialogue we hear. For example, after finding out he’s taking them to stay with Scrooge, at least for the weekend, Louie says to Donald, “You’re finally going to sell us.” That made me laugh out loud.
I do hope the writers have given the nephews and Webby genuine moments of humanity (strange to say that about ducks, I know). Their “realness” in the original series was key to their appeal. Based on what I’m seeing here and what Frank Angones has said, though, I don’t think we’re in danger of DT 2017 misfiring too much, if at all.
A few other notes:
Donald and Scrooge are as fascinating as ever. I wonder if they have a prior relationship in this version of the series, and I wonder if they’re estranged.
I love the Barks paintings on the walls of Scrooge’s mansion. Nice Easter Egg, DT creative team.
Webby recognizes who the nephews are and seems to view them as celebrities. Curious and curiouser…
I love when Webby calls Donald “one of the most daring adventurers of all time.” Glad he’s getting his due as something other than a foul-tempered fowl.
We see Launchpad at the end of the trailer in another character-establishing moment (which the trailer excels at, BTW). Launchpad made me laugh. That’s a good sign for Beck Bennett’s take on the character.
The updated theme song packs a punch and made me feel five all over again, giving me that sense of anticipation I used to get (and still get with the DVDs) whenever DuckTales began each afternoon. It’s the perfect blend of contemporary music stylings and nostalgia.
I love that this series is about family. That was so important to the original DT and made it one of the less preachy, but more impactful series of the 80s and 90s because it demonstrated how a family works and how a family includes everyone who is close to you, not just your blood relatives.
Finally, adventure, adventure, adventure. The action, coupled with all of the character moments in the trailer, was invigorating and chilling and thrilling and almost made me cry, lol. My gosh, I’m so excited for DT 2017! And I think the kids will be, too! My two-year-old nephew watched the trailer and kept exclaiming, “More DuckTales! More DuckTales!”
No wonder Disney has already renewed it for a second season…
What are your thoughts? Which Easter Eggs did I miss? Anyone have a copy of the premiere episode they’d like to leak to me? Are the Russians still into DuckTales? ;-)