From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.194
Hello, and welcome back to our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week we take a look in comics at Uncle Scrooge, and on streaming Kong: King of the Apes! Let’s get down to it!
Uncle Scrooge, #15
Story: Francesco Artisan (main), William Van Horn (side)
Art: Alessandro Perina (main), William Van Horn (side)
The IDW run of Uncle Scrooge thus far has been an enjoyable affair, continuing to translate new material for the first time, and never letting fans down in terms of issue size and page quality. Now, yes, there has been some debate over the look from time to time these past fifteen issues, since the material is frequently pulled from both several different eras and origin sources, but that said, at the end of the day, you cannot deny it’s great to have fresh Uncle Scrooge material back in print for all of us to read.
The main story of this issue is Part 3 of 4’s “Scrooge’s Last Adventure,” originally published in Topplino in 2013, and seen here for the first time. Over the past few issues, Uncle Scrooge has been bewitched of all his money, run out of Duckberg as his businesses have been bought up, and finally at the proverbial gates of hell as he tries to get Magica de Spell her powers back, so she can get her wealth back. Without giving away too may spoilers, before we know it, Uncle Scrooge on his quest finds himself at the center of the Earth, meeting up once again with the Terries and Fermies.
The tale is excellent fun, despite being the weakest part of this multi-parter. It is a lot of fun to read, and has a cool poppy look, but isn’t as accessible if you haven’t read the previous parts, despite a summary at the start. That said, once again, it is still a great comic to read for followers, but new comers may have a hard time getting their pace in it.
The bonus story this issue is “The Stick-Up,” originally written and drawn by Van Horn, and appearing in Donald Duck & Co. in 2010. The bonus focuses on Uncle Rumpus, whom while everyone is away, grows incredibly bored, and decides to enter a contest. At the same moment, the Beagle Boys are plotting to make their move in Uncle Scrooge’s absence, and of course their paths cross in the best of ways.
Uncle Scrooge still provides a great read month after month, and always is recommended to add to your pull list. In print only from IDW.
Kong: King of the Apes
Airing On: Netflix
Back in April, Netflix released the first of two exclusive Arad Animation/41 Entertainment shows, Kong: King of the Apes (the other will be Tarzan and Jane later this year). Despite some initial hype thanks to the production company’s recent success with Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, as well as interest from the kaiju/tokusatsu fan community, after its release, not much was heard across the webs on this show. For folks wondering what happened, the answer is simple: a mediocre product.
The easiest way to sum up the 13-episode plot is by the synopsis supplied to us thoroughly already:
“Set in 2050, Kong becomes a wanted fugitive after wrecking havoc at Alcatraz Island’s Natural History and Marine Preserve. What most humans on the hunt for the formidable animal don’t realize, though, is that Kong was framed by an evil genius who plans to terrorize the world with an army of enormous robotic dinosaurs. As the only beast strong enough to save humanity from the mechanical dinos, Kong must rely on the help of three kids who know the truth about him.“
To start, if we are looking strictly at the animation quality, the show isn’t bad, and in fact improves much upon what we saw on their previous Pac-Man production. Farmed out to several Japanese studios (yes, folks, it’s just like the 80s again, and we’re going back to Japan over South Korea to farm out our animation), including OLM, a master of producing these types of shows in Japan, the look, feel, and other aesthetics are quite appealing.
But then the writing happens. As a fan of kaiju, I know it doesn’t take much to construct a plot to get giant creatures together to duke it out, yet here it feels forced and uninspired. If one can make it through the origin set-up, which is the first twenty-some minutes of the first episode (which is an extended seventy-minute pilot of sorts), then you move past the worst and into some more interesting set-up. Still, even after we get into the thick of it, there never feels like there is any real gravity to the situation, recalling very safe Hanna-Barbera fodder; and we are not talking action cartoon Hanna-Barbera, we are literally saying this show feels as safe as a baby kitten despite the type of exciting, action cartoon it is supposed to be.
In summary, I’m not sure if we will see more episodes in the future since we do not know Netflix’s viewership ratings, however, it would be quite unsurprising if nothing further came of this show and it laid in a vault containing digital dust.
For Kong fans, you still may want to check it out. Was it any worse than the 2001 cartoon that aired on BKN? No. Is it still worse than the 1960s Rankin-Bass produced cartoon or the films? Yes, very much lower than those on the totem pole.
That’s it for this week, see you next!