Darkwing Duck #1 Review

Darkwing Duck #1

As with many comic book readers, I’m also a cartoon fan. Back in the very early 90′s, a show came on that I would have expected to really not like. Instead, it grew on me, treading the line between being something of a superhero parody without wholly making fun of the entire hero genre. The main character was dashing, with his skill and competence only matched by his out of control ego. He was a non-powered hero, one of the types I tend to like more than the super powered ones for some reason. I am, of course, talking about the Terror That Flaps In The Night- DARKWING DUCK! Disney has brought the purple powerhouse back for a comic limited series from BOOM comics.

Before I talk about the issue, let me clear something up. Many people have thought Darkwing was a Batman knock off. Not so! Look at his costume and equipment again. He wears a suit, hat, flowing cloak, and uses a gun that shoots gas and grapple lines. That’s not Batman. That, my friend, is the Golden Age Sandman! And how cool is it that there’s a cartoon parody of a really obscure JSA character?

The issue itself flicks back and forth between the present in St. Canard, Darkwing’s home city, and a time roughly a year ago. In the present, Darkwing has retired from the hero game. He works at a company called Quackwerks, which uses robots to keep the city peaceful. Darkwing, as Drake Mallard, has a desk job in an office, and is quietly miserable. His frequent flashbacks show how much he longs for his days of adventure and fame. His adopted daughter, Goslyn, is still her irrepressible self, getting in trouble for capturing most of the staff of her school after deciding they were super villains in disguise. Goslyn never lacked for talent or bravery. Her judgement, however… well, that’s never been that good.

From the cover of Darkwing Duck 1.  He's got 'em right where they want him.Also working at Drake’s office is Elmo, formerly Megavolt, one of Darkwing’s villains. They have a few run ins, but Elmo remains in the dark about Drake’s former double life. There’s a very well done, kind of melancholy two page spread of Drake commuting home on the bus, then going upstairs to his room after checking on Goslyn and her friend Honker. Drake sits on his bed and sighs, staring into his closet, past his suits for work at the hanging costume of Darkwing. He even calls his former sidekick, Launchpad, but can’t bring himself to speak. Launchpad is shown still working on Darkwing’s equipment- it makes sense he wouldn’t give up on things.

Two interesting bits at the end- the Mallard home is attacked by Quackwerks robots because Honker illegally downloaded a song by “Hannah Alaska” and is hauled off to a “detention camp,” despite Drake’s attempt to intervene. Goslyn encouragers him to don his old costume and straighten this out as Darkwing Duck. Meanwhile, Elmo is kidnapped and brought to a shadowy location by what turns out to be his former partners in crime, the villains Liquidator, Quakerjack, and Bushroot, who want to “put the band back together.”

Ok, I admitted up front I was a fan of the show. The comic was great. It sort of had a feel of a very toned down Dark Knight Returns to it, with a few elements of Kingdom Come, notably the city being patrolled by robots. Those robots, by the way, bear a strong resemblance to Darkwing’s former ally, Gizmo-Duck. Drake is very much not cut out for normal life, and he misses his glory days. We don’t find out why he quit, at least not yet, but he’s clearly not happy about it. This was fun, amusing, a great return of a character from limbo. Also, rarely, Disney seems to make fun of themselves throughout it. The Hannah Alaska reference, Quackwerks being a huge corporation with tentacles everywhere, these and a few more things seemed to show Disney parodying themselves. Also, as a very rare thing these days, this was a comic you could read with, or to, kids.

There really wasn’t anything I disliked about this issue. It was entertaining, admittedly silly, fun. If you’re a fan of the dark and gritty that most comics have become, you’ll likely want to give this a pass. If not, take a look. Me, I loved it, but then, I admitted up front, I’m a fan of Darkwing. Apparently I’m not alone- they have already announced that the “limited series” is going become an ongoing.

A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING

Pros Cons
brings Darkwing back from limbo, Disney self parodies a bit none really, aside from a lot of so far unanswered questions
Rating
80%

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I have been a comic collector and reader for decades now (wow that hurts to say). My major interests have been hero titles in DC and Marvel. At one time, I was co-owner of a small comic and gaming store, and at that point I read EVERY hero book coming out, Marvel, DC, Milestone, Malibu, and Valiant. I am pleased to have been asked to contribute here, for the moment on the Teen Titans title. I am a frequent poster on the DC Message boards, there under the name Kingsmythe. I hope you enjoy my posts, and feel free to ask questions or make corrections as needed.