Darkwing Duck #8

Darkwing Duck 8

A

I think it’s time we talk about Darkwing Duck.

If you follow our weekly “Quick Hits” column, you might have noticed that every time a new issue of this series from BOOM! Kids comes out, I review it, and always favorably. It may have occurred to you to ask yourself why a grown man reads a kids’ comic based on a cartoon show that aired over 15 years ago. Well, I’m here to tell you that you should feel ashamed for thinking that, thank you very much.

In all honesty, looking back on my youth, I think the Darkwing Duck cartoon was one of the things that really taught me about comedy. That show, along with Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs, came to define what I would think of as funny for basically my whole life since. There was something about the way those programs broke the fourth wall and always threw a wink our way, the way that they could be outrageously goofy and full of slapstick but also throw in stuff that was a little more subtle… even then I found great appeal in that type of humor. It took multiple viewings to really catch all the humor in any given episode of Darkwing Duck. And, I mean, it was a show about super-heroes. Come on!

So I was an easy sell for BOOM’s new Darkwing comic book. I’ve been a faithful reader and enjoyer since the first issue, and I was really happy to hear it was making the transition from limited to ongoing series after the initial four-part story arc. To my mind, the series has basically done everything right so far. Month to month, it delivers a reading experience that somehow seems tailor-made to people like me.

But let’s get into the specifics of Darkwing Duck #8. This issue provides the conclusion of the epic “Crisis on Infinite Darkwings,” in which Magica de Spell and Negaduck have gathered together various Darkwing Ducks from across the multiverse. Their goal: to brainwash these heroes and turn them loose on St. Canard, thus tarnishing the reputation of Darkwing Prime. Of course our hero and his buddies have something to say about that, and as this issue opens we join them attempting to defeat the evil Magica/Negaduck duo.

If the description above doesn’t make it clear, writer Ian Brill has done a fantastic job combining several influences into one book. There’s no question that he’s playing in the world established by the Darkwing Duck cartoon. However, aware of his medium, Brill’s wisely managed to incorporate a lot of comic-specific humor. You don’t have to look further than a title that begins with the words “Crisis on…” to see what I mean. My very favorite joke in the whole series to this point has been the Frank Millerized version of Darkwing glimpsed in this story. We saw him for a few panels way back in issue #5, and a couple pages are given over to him here. I loved this character and absolutely want to see more of him. Is it too crazy to ask for a one-shot in his honor?

Beyond that, Brill’s scripts are legitimately funny. There’s certainly Disney Afternoon-style jokes, and comic-book jokes, but then there are jokes that are just topical, irreverent and clever. They seem to be perfectly constructed to appeal to people who grew up but retained the original cartoon’s sensibilities. This particular issue employed them a little conservatively (except for a pretty great swipe at Hot Topic), but if you peruse the series you’ll find your fill. I especially loved the bit at the end of the first arc that involved Uncle Scrooge’s reaction to the Great Recession, which apparently has reached all the way to Duckberg.

As for the art: this may be strange criticism, but artist James Silvani does an excellent job making things look like they should. His pencils clearly and strongly evoke the tone of the original cartoon, and I can’t imagine this book looking any better. And on the topic of humor, the real fun of Darkwing Duck #8 is checking out the alternate-universe Darkwings that Silvani has packed into the panels. On the first page alone we can clearly spot Darkwinged versions of Dr. Who, Optimus Prime, Simba, Robin Hood and some English band (Beatles? Stones?). From there the hunt is on, but I bet you could legitimately find 100 different DWs packed into this arc, including the ever-menacing Bowling Ball Darkwing.

I suspect that Darkwing Duck will only work for a particular audience, and that’s fine. It just so happens that audience includes myself. When I first imagined what a modern Darkwing comic might be like, what I came up with wasn’t as good as this. It’s at once familiar and new, respectful yet irreverent, and most importantly very entertaining. I hope BOOM keeps publishing this bad boy, because I will keep reading.

tags: darkwing duck, ian brill, james silvani

  • Laffinhyena

    The Frank-esque Darkwing you’re talking about was in the show. In the Episode where Gauz goes to the future and you see a future where she dissapeared (thanks to the time travel) Darkwing has become Dark Warrior Duck. That’s why he also makes the reference about “her”. He’s refering to loosing Gauzaline doing this to him.

  • Anonymous

    Whoah! Sorry, I completely forgot that. My mistake. I’ve only seen a handful of episodes since 1995. :)

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