Disney is a company that has been on the forefront of both animation and entertainment for decades. The company has had its ups and down, while also having impacting the lives of many of its fans in various ways. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a favorite Disney show/movie. For me, my favorite Disney series will always be “Darkwing Duck”.
Darkwing was an interesting show for the time, serving as a parody of pulp superhero comics from the 40s and 50s. It revolved around a bumbling superhero named “Darkwing Duck”, who would fight crime and make tons of alliterative puns. Darkwing’s real identity was “Drake Mallard”, a hard-working duck who has to deal with his annoying neighbors outside of his superhero antics. Joining Darkwing is his daughter Gosalyn, who proved herself useful to Darkwing’s crime-fighting operations many times.
Darkwing Duck became a very successful series on the Disney Afternoon block, mostly due to its focus on action and occasional dark storytelling. The show did well enough to run for three seasons, and amassed a respectable 91 episodes. Even years after its cancellation, people still flock to the series to watch it.
A series this popular is just begging for a continuation, revival, or reboot. We finally got one this year, with Darkwing appearing on the new Duck Tales show. However, this version of Darkwing Duck is just a show within a show. As cool as his cameos are, they just don’t pack the same kind of punch a true sequel would have.
Something that most people don’t know is that we did get a Darkwing Duck sequel, several years ago in 2010. “Boom Comics” were given the license to Darkwing Duck and Ducktales, allowing them make comics for both franchises. While the comics were generally considered to be pretty good, their contract with Disney expired after a year. They tried to release new Darkwing comics in spite of the license expiring, but ended up sued as a result. Afterwards, the Darkwing franchise laid dormant for five whole years.
Enter Joe Books, a publishing company who Disney often contracts for work. They were given the comic book rights to Darkwing Duck, as well as the rights to previous comics in the series. This meant that when making their new series of comics, they were allowed to incorporate as many pre-existing elements as they wished.
The result was the 2016 Darkwing Duck comic, a perfect blending of 25 years worth of material. DW 2016 is a pretty interesting experiment, mixing the continuity of four different iterations into one: The original cartoon, the Disney Comics imprint, the Disney Adventures comics, and the comics done by Boom.
This allows for the newer comics to pull from a vast database of old characters and stories, a fair amount of which may be unknown to the average reader. So, is this a good comic book? I’d definitely say so. This Darkwing Duck comic won me over instantly with its artwork, which was of a very high quality. The comic’s art-style is near identical to the show it spun off from, making it feel like a legitimate continuation.
The writing is also top-notch, featuring the creative and subversive dialogue the original series was known for. In terms of writing and art, they captured the original show down to a tee. The stories contained within are pretty good as well. The first three issues contained within this volume are great, serving as the eponymous “Orange Is The New Purple” story arc.
This story arc revolves around Darkwing and Gosalyn getting trapped in a prison filled with all of Darkwing’s arch-enemies. DW must battle his entire rogue’s gallery, both the well-known and obscure parts of it. On the other hand, the fourth issue of this volume is pretty bad. After an amazing three-parter, Joe Books decided to follow it up with a single-issue story.
There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s good to give the audience a breather after something intense happens. However, “A Midsummer Gnat’s Spree” is not the way to do it. This standalone issue focused an entirely new villain, one who went by the name “Gnatmare”. True to his name, he was a pest.
Unlike most of Darkwing’s villains, Gnatmare isn’t that interesting. His backstory was that he was a bland henchmen who got picked on a lot, accidentally got zapped by a laser, and gained super-powers as a result of this. Nothing about him is all that interesting, and his design is pretty bland overall. Not only that, but the way they defeat him is pretty underwhelming.
On top of having the first four issues inside it, this volume also contains a lot of characters bios at the very back of it. I can always appreciate that even in a world where Wikipedia is prevalent, writers and artists are still willing to put character bios in their books. The bios themselves are super nice, containing a lot of great original artwork.
Overall, I think this volume was pretty darn good. The characters are well-written, the scenarios are interesting, and the character bios are fantastic. Again, the only major problem is that fourth issue. It introduces a new villain who is just lacking in terms of uniqueness, and comes off as just another bland comic-exclusive villain.
Regardless, this volume was certainly worth the investment. It was great being able to see new content from a show I grew up with, and done in a way that pays homage to 25 years worth of history. It’s far from perfect, but definitely a great send-up to an old show. I suggest buying this comic, especially if you’re a hardcore fan of the series like I am. As DW would say: “Let’s get dangerous!”