Category Archives: reviews

A brief review of Issues 13 – 16: Campaign Carnage

Written by: Angeline S.

After a rather grim and muddled conclusion to F.O.W.L Intentions, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the next arc. Launchpad and Darkwing running against each other for mayor? A handful of new baddies? Where exactly is the story taking us?

When all was said and done however, Issues 13 through 16, “Campaign Carnage”, were a significant improvement. The pacing in particular was spectacular and it was something the F.O.W.L story severely lacked. The plot devices of this arc were unfolded slowly, with plenty of time for action-packed battles and humorous shenanigans. The story was not jammed with unnecessary characters or overwhelmed by philosophical exposition. A few of the gags fell flat and there were some inconsistencies in the storyline, but these were balanced out by James Silvani’s captivating imagery.

Although Issues 13-16 are all connected to the same plot, each comic contained an individual story featuring a different villain. And for the first time since Tad Stones’ Chronoduck, we finally get a chance to add a few more sinister supervillains to Darkwing’s ever-expanding rogue gallery.

Without spoiling any of the good stuff, I’ll briefly run through my thoughts on each issue:

Issue 13 “Done in One” continues off where the FOWL arc left us, with Darkwing searching for his missing girlfriend Morgana. Meanwhile, a former baseball star gone nutso has taken on the villainous identity of One-Shot. If you can’t figure it out from his name, his unique ability is that he can only throw the same item once– a gag which certainly must have kept artist James Silvani quite busy. Just for fun, I challenge everyone to go through the comic and count how many different items the obsessive-compulsive simian uses as a deadly projectile.

The events of this issue are the precursor to the election, which is not introduced until the very end. Darkwing’s reasoning for running as mayor was rather dodgy, but this wouldn’t be the first time the Terror that Flaps has gone overboard with a ridiculous idea.

Issue 14 “Cat-Tastrophe” jumps straight into the election, with Darkwing attempting to convince the citizens of St. Canard that he’s a surefire choice for running the city. Meanwhile, yet another villain is on the rampage: Cat-Tankerous. Former editor Aaron Sparrow coined the clever title for this deadly pussycat, while artist James Silvani fleshed out the background details and story. Without spoiling it, I’ll say that the flashback to his ‘how I became a villain’ story left me grinning. Very adorable and unexpected!

At the same time we are introduced to Constance A. Dention, a female candidate running against Darkwing for mayor. A female villain who resembles Spiderman’s Mysterio also makes a brief appearance. Slowly, the plot begins to tie itself together, revealing that a larger force is behind the villainous rampages.

Issue 15 “The Ballot of Darkwing Duck & Launchpad” brings us to the height of the election, with Launchpad now entering as a third candidate. More and more new supervillains are showing up; Darkwing has his hands tied with protecting the city and keeping up with his campaign.You’ll find a lot of eye-candy in this issue: Spreads containing old and new villains alike, as well as some amusing cameos.  We are also introduced to the previously unnamed female villainness, Suff-rage and The League of Barely-Remembered Supervillains (my favorite part, and also coined by James Silvani).

Issue 16 brings the election to a close with some surprising reveals. We find out who becomes the new mayor as well as the identity behind the strangely-familiar Suff-rage. The conclusion also kick-starts the beginning of next month’s DuckTales and Darkwing Duck crossover, featuring a familiar face from the Mickey Mouse comic books.

Campaign Carnage was definitely a nice break from the epic world-threatening chaos dealt out in both the Crisis and F.O.W.L stories.  It was a fun read, and even more fun to look at — James Silvani made sure to include plenty of his Disney Easter eggs. Next month we prepare a farewell as the BOOM! Darkwing series comes to an end with a double-dose of the ducks, starting with Darkwing Duck #17 and Duck Tales #5 and then finally Darkwing Duck #18 and DuckTales #6 in November.

Overall score for Campaign Carnage:

7.5 / 10

Review: FOWL Disposition (Issues 10-12)

Spoiler Alert! Haven’t read Issues 10-12? You might want to hold off on reading this in-depth review.

Due to time constraints, I decided that instead of writing three separate reviews for Issues 10-12, I will review the entire arc as a whole. Everything is intertwined and there’s a lot to cover!

***

Duckthulhu

As has been stated since Issue 9, FOWL wanted to regain power by waking an extremely powerful being from beyond the stars. For those of you who aren’t familiar with HP Lovecraft, Duckthulhu is a sphoof on the Sci-Fi phenomenon Cthulhu.

We don’t see Duckthulhu until Issue 12 and his presence is quite brief. But what little dialogue there was from him, I enjoyed immensely. His commanding speech and talk of souls seemed very appropriate for the character and it was also quite comical.

My favourite scene definitely had to be when Darkwing answers the door and Duckthulhu is standing there in a business suit.. The expression on our Protagonist’s face is priceless when his tentacled ‘boss’ hands him a bouquet of fish. I give full kudos to James Silvani for making this comic a joy to look at.

Launchpad and Morgana bond

While Darkwing and Steelbeak are busy infiltrating FOWL H.Q, Morgana and Launchpad spend Issue 10 and 11 embarking on their own adventure. They discover the Muddlefoots have fallen to the zombie-like side effects of Duckthulhu’s return and begin working on a plan to find Darkwing (who told neither of his close companions where he was going).

We see a few panels where LP and Morg engage in small-talk and get a feel for the dynamic between Darkwing’s best friend and girlfriend. I found these scenes to be interesting and felt it didn’t get too off-topic or take away from the initial story.

Femme Appeal

We are introduced to a very foxy (hah!) lady in Issue 10. I will say that I’m really excited to see another female character, as the cartoon and comics tend to lack in leading ladies aside from Gosalyn and Morgana.

Unfortunately, Femme’s insertion into the arc seemed rather pointless. She really didn’t do anything to further the story. She appears out of nowhere, tags along with Steelbeak and Darkwing, ends up being used as a makeshift sword, falls off a cliff, gets her butt kicked by Ammonia Pine, and then has a run-in with Morgana which ends surprisingly well.

Then, at the very end we find out she’s a Double-Agent working for SHUSH. I think the latter part was the only useful plot device Femme played in the comic, because it signified to fans that SHUSH is back up and running. I wouldn’t mind seeing her appear in future issues with a more prominent role. She has potential.

“He will lose her”

Issue 12 finally answers the question that fans have been worried about for more than half a year.

I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t like Morgana being dramatically written out of the comic. Even if it was temporary or there’s a chance she may return, I felt it went against the grain of what Darkwing Duck is about. Not only does it end the arc on a rather unresolved and depressing note (much like “Toy With Me” in the Annual) but the dismal situation bleeds into the next arc as well.

That being said, if we had to have Darkwing “lose” Morgana, I prefer what took place in Issue 12 over what I feared would happen. Based on Morgana’s angry monologue in Issue 9, her indecisiveness about her relationship with Darkwing, and the appearance of Femme Appeal (who DW shamelessly ogles), I thought their relationship was going to end on a bitter note. Specifically, I thought that Morgana, angry at being left behind, would march into FOWL HQ where she would discover Darkwing in a suggestive (but misunderstood) position with Femme Appeal. Without giving DW a chance to explain himself she would throw a huge fit and break up with him for good.

Instead, Morgana goes out with a heroic bang, sacrificing herself for the safety of her loved ones. It held less finality because it maintains a positive connection between Darkwing and Morgana, even if she is potentially lost forever. Being that (most) characters in comics never truly die, her loss still leaves an open opportunity for her return—without the awkward tension that would come from her and Darkwing breaking up.

Conclusion

I would have liked to see FOWL Disposition concentrate more on the action and intrigue of FOWL and less about Darkwing’s personal psychosis over balancing his family life with crime-fighting. The plot had a really good set-up with DW and Steelbeak teaming up, followed by Steelie’s double-cross and then the resurrection of Duckthulhu.

For the finale I would have preferred to see DW and Steelbeak foil Duckthulhu’s return in some sort of action-packed scene as opposed to what really happened: Steelbeak morphs into some sort of hideous Jabba The Hut monstrosity and Darkwing enters an alternate reality where Morgana ends up saving the day (yet again). I think this whole story could have done without Morgana entirely. As much as I like her, she only appeared in seven episodes of the cartoon without constantly tagging along on Darkwing’s adventures. I see no reason why the comic can’t do the same.

It would have been interesting to see some more back story on FOWL as well. Specifically, what happened to the organization during the rise of Quackwerks, how they pulled themselves back together, and maybe even a bit of general history about FOWL’s inner-workings.

One thing that really irked me: There is next to no humor in this comic anymore. If I were to plot a graph of gags per issue, I would say that as we move further into each issue, there are fewer funny moments and more attempts at being deep and metaphorical—to the point where there was next to nothing in Issue 12 that made me chuckle the same way the cartoon does.

There were a few pieces of dialogue in the whole arc that I found funny (Duckthulhu’s lines, a cellphone joke, the Eggmen insulting Darkwing’s hat) but I was overall unimpressed with the lack of comedy. The attempts at being serious are not working either. Because the comic is so cartoony, you may find yourself asking: “Should I be laughing?”

With the numerous themes that were thrown in at once, the plot was aimless and scattered. I would like to see future arcs narrow down the story and stay more focused. The insertion of numerous random characters (Femme, Ammonia Pine, Hot-Shot, and Fly Girl) suffocated a lot of the panels for me.  Even Gosalyn didn’t fit into the equation like she should, and only seemed to be there for the express intent of bringing in a Quiverwing Quack cameo. I also cannot stress the pacing issues this arc faced, which appears to be a reoccurring theme for BOOM’S Darkwing Duck series.

And please Mr. Brill, enough with the sandwich jokes already. It was only funny the first time.

Overall score for FOWL Disposition Arc

6.5/10

Darkwing Duck Annual Review

Spoiler Alert! Haven’t read the Annual yet? You might want to hold off on reading this in-depth review.

Written by Angeline S.

The Darkwing Duck Annual is finally here, which means we get an extra-long comic from the folks at Boom! Studios and you get an extra-long review from me.

Toy With Me

Written by Ian Brill

Drawn by Sabrina Alberghetti

I think “Toy With Me” will probably become one of the more controversial stories among fans, because Ian Brill has made some risky decisions for the characters, particularly Quackerjack. This is the first comic that has taken the series one step further by investigating the psychology behind one of Darkwing’s deadlier enemies.

Let’s take a look at a summary of some major plot points, which you may absolutely love, or come to completely despise.

Quackerjack Has… A Girlfriend?!

That’s right. Ian Brill has boldly gone where no Darkwing writer has gone before by giving the crazed toymaker a female companion. Er, sort of. It’s complicated. But hey, what relationship with a deadly supervillain isn’t fraught with a little heartbreak?

Say hello to Claire, a rather attractive young duck who has no problem with offering up cake to any caped weirdo that shows up on her front doorstep. How exactly did this polite woman end up with a lunatic like Quackerjack? It seems these two lovebirds met when “Jacky” and every other villain on the block was forced into blue-collar jobs during the Quackwerks takeover. After Quackerjack reunited the Fearsome Four, he distanced himself from Claire, which suggests a quick and painless end to their romance. But as you’ll see by the end of the story, his pseudo-girlfriend may return in future issues.

Ian Brill may be walking on egg shells with some fans after this reveal. Giving a well-established character a romantic interest has a tendency to upset fans that have become attached to the characters they knew and loved as children. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has participated in a fandom that unexpected canon relationships can cause a lot of heartbreak– even where buck-toothed ducks are concerned.

Not to mention that Quackerjack’s (ahem) preferences, are still widely debated among fans.

Beneath The Jingly Hat

Ian Brill went to great lengths to describe the thoughts and motivations behind Quackerjack.  In a rather wordy flashback, recalled by Claire, we learn about Quackerjack’s experience working as a “normal” citizen in the Quackwerks toy company.

Mr. Brill’s interpretation reminds me of the Batman comic “Going Sane” where the Joker believes he has finally killed Batman. Realizing he has no reason to be a villain anymore, he transforms himself into a normal person and finds himself a nice girlfriend. But upon discovering that Batman is still alive, he reverts into a psychopath and abandons his love. The concepts for the Joker and Ian Brill’s Quackerjack are similar: Both need an enemy in order to thrive. The Joker has Batman, and Quackerjack has Darkwing. In this case however, it isn’t Darkwing that brings Quackerjack back into the world of crime, but his own inability to trust others brought forth by intense paranoia.

I have mixed feelings about Ian Brill’s choice to take Quackerjack a level deeper. On the one hand, it gives us fresh insight into an old character. On the other hand, it doesn’t allow the fans to draw their own conclusions. Instead of having Claire explain Quackerjack’s mindset in a long narrative, we should have seen his mindset. After all, the purpose of a comic book is to tell the story through the pictures, with occasional dialogue to add some flavour to the story. Ian Brill’s method was very specific and detailed, leaving little room for alternate theories. I also found the massive amounts of text in the flashback scenes took away from the visuals.

Battle Of The Bananas

I definitely didn’t see this one coming. Admittedly, when I first saw this scene I thought it was a little ridiculous. But that’s what Darkwing Duck is about: Ridiculous cartoon gags that defy all logic. I get the impression Ian Brill was making a statement about Quackerjack’s personality in the cartoon versus the comic. We see the “old” Mr. Banana-Brain and the “new” version engaging in a tug-of- war with Quackerjack. This scene is reminiscent of online debates about whether Quackerjack is better portrayed as playful and jovial like in the cartoon, or more mature and sinister as Tad Stones originally intended. It’s certainly some food for thought… literally.

Holy Depressing Ending, Batman!

Seriously. The ending to this comic is pretty damn sad. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the Annual, but I could practically hear the sad violin music playing in the background. I think I gorged myself on like, three hamburgers after reading this comic and then wept tears of cholesterol (well, not really).

The upside is that the finale is not the be all to end all. An opportunity has been left open for a possible sequel, which would prove to be interesting.

The Artwork

Sabrina Alberghetti did an outstanding job. Her style is distinctly different from James Silvani, but it still succeeds at conveying the wide array of facial emotions and hilarious gags that are important to a series like Darkwing Duck. I loved the character models, especially the random background characters that were all very distinct in appearance. I was especially fond of how Gosalyn turned out in her style, even though she played a very minor role in this story. I hope we see more bonus comics from Miss Alberghetti in the future!

Conclusion

Ian Brill’s “Toy With Me” has some extremely intriguing concepts and insights, and the story itself is well planned, but it doesn’t quite fit with the Darkwing Duck universe. The cartoon has always been about light-hearted comedy, with a bit of action and suspense thrown in for good measure. The comic should stay true to this formula, and leave the fierce dramatics to the fanfiction writers. Darkwing Duck is meant to be a comic for people of all-ages, and although I love me a double-entendre or two, I don’t care much for sad, unresolved endings.  I prefer storylines where stuff happens, things get crazy, Darkwing saves the day, and everything goes back to normal. There’s no “return to normalcy” in this comic.

That being said, I think the basic plot is well thought-out, and would work well in an original story or the DC/Marvel universe. I also enjoyed many of the visual gags (especially the produce scene) and the concept of World of Whifflecraft, which I believe has potential for future stories. I would have preferred if this story concentrated more on Quackerjack’s plan to destroy The Whiffle Boy Franchise instead of his complex psychopathology.

If you’re someone who really enjoys a darker tale, and a lot of character development, this story may be right up your alley.

The Untimely Terror of the Time Turtle

Written by: Tad Stones

Drawn by James Silvani

You just know with a title like that, this story is going to prove interesting. Not to mention that it was penned by none other than the creator of Darkwing Duck—we fans all have a small shrine of Tad, made out of gum, hidden in the back of our closets.

This very brief tale is told from the perspective of Gosalyn, and introduces the first new villain to the series since its creation 20 years ago: Chronoduck. If you think the name is interesting, just wait until you see what he looks like.

I will admit, the first time I read this story I was a little confused. There is a lot of jumping back and forth between time frames, but once you’ve read it over it makes a lot more sense.

My favourite part was, without a doubt, the pet store scene. James Silvani didn’t hold back with the Disney cameos, and that combined with Tad Stones’ hilarious gags had me grinning like an idiot. This story was extremely funny, action-filled, and even had a touch of drama. It was definitely a good idea to place this comic after “Toy With Me” because it’s a real mood-lifter.

My only qualm with this story was the length. Because it was less than half the size of a regular issue, we don’t get much of an opportunity to meet Chronoduck. It was over before it started, and it left me wanting more. I would love to see BOOM! collaborate with Tad more often, because his ideas are full of potential for lengthier stories.

Overall conclusion

You might love the Annual to bits. You might hate it. It’s all a matter of how important the character elements are to you, and whether you’re someone who likes a darker story versus something more fun and carefree. The Annual offers both options, and the visuals are more than enough reason to purchase this comic.