From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.187
Hey ya’ll, and welcome back to our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! A chunk of years ago now, okay, like four years ago, Boom lost their license to Disney titles, and suddenly once again a big gap opened up with a rare lack of Disney comics in the American market place. Disney comics were offered digitally thanks to the Disney comics app and later comiXology, however, aside from nice collected editions of classic material that were aimed at adult collectors from Fantagraphics, print seemed long gone and only a pipe dream since Marvel, who was bought by Disney at the time Boom lost the rights, was showing no inclination of publishing them in print or digital. We may never know why Marvel decided not to tackle Mickey and friends. One can guess perhaps they had to bid out for the rights like any publisher would, but thank God someone got them, and that someone happens to be IDW.
Starting last month in April, IDW brought back Uncle Scrooge. This month in May a monthly Donald Duck title joins Uncle Scrooge. Next month Mickey Mouse will join, and finally in July Walt Disney Comics and Stories will be back as well, bringing four monthly Disney comic titles, clocking in at 48 pages each, which justifies the $3.99 cover price from an all-ages title in today’s market.
Like Boom, but unlike the publishers of yesteryear, the material is heavily translated stories from the Italian Disney comic titles. That said, these stories are still new to us and never published before here, and the translation is solid, re-written very naturally. IDW one-ups what Boom was doing four years back by having a higher page count for the price. My big complaint in this column is that at 24 pages, most all-ages comics, no matter how good they are, are not economically worth the money at $2.99-3.99 the cover price. However, 48-pages at $3.99 is a lot more desirable, especially in a day in age when I can get hundreds of hours of entertainment via streaming services or the like for what two or three comics would cost (and two or three comics may take you an hour or less to get through).
First awesome sauce thing to call out is the numbering. Yes, it is issue #2 published by IDW, however, in parentheses IDW notes it is actually issue #406 for Uncle Scrooge collecting purists. For a long-time comic book reader like me who is sick and tired of reboot after reboot, this goes a long way with a chunk of folks. Thank you, IDW, for deciding to do this.
The issue is composed of two long-form stories and a one-pager. In long form “Shiver Me Timbers,” Uncle Scrooge, Donald, and the nephews get on a ghost pirate ship and are taken to an island where they have to break an ancient curse. If they can pull it off, they’ll receive treasure, making Uncle Scrooge richer. In the second form “Meteor Rights,” after a meteor lands on Earth, Uncle Scrooge gets a hot tip off, and immediately goes to claim it for himself so he can mine it for cash. It becomes a race against the clock with his rival, Flintheart Glomgold. However, as they near the crashed space rock, they discover it has the strange effect to make everything pure of heart, leading to some unexpected turns. The one-pager is titled “Uncle Scrooge’s Home EC 101: Yo!”, but explaining anything would give it away, though of course it’s a one-page gag centered around Scrooge making money.
The highlight of the issue is “Shiver Me Timbers,” which has a more classic Disney comic look and feel to it. The gags laid out by Kruse are great, with some of the new characters introduced for the story instantly becoming favorites. Since the time of writer/artist Barks on the duck-comics, there has been a sense of wanting to live up to him and create the every-man thrown into the fantastic kind of story, and aside from Rosa, no one really lives up to the standard he set long ago. The standard Barks has set is impossibly high, as he inspired everything from the Disney mythology to filmmakers like Spielberg and Lucas. Kruse may not be Barks or Rosa, but none the less he has created a great adventure for characters to embark upon, full of imagination, memorable moments, and joy; something not every Disney writer can achieve.
Heymans’s art on this story is just as enjoyable, flowing fine yet putting a lot of story on the page by modern American-comic circumstances, but most importantly, looking like the older Disney stuff. Some of the newer Disney material exaggerates the facial features, thickens the lines and more, but not here. It looks and feels like the American tales.
Uncle Scrooge# 2 (#406) is on sale now. Very much worth the money and filling a much missed presence in comic shops for readers of all ages.
That’s it for this week, see you in two!