DuckTales rewatch – The Right Duck

Rewatching DuckTales! Remember when Launchpad went into space and made first contact with deadly aliens? We’re doing that all over again in episode 47, “Right Duck.”

Here’s what happens: Scrooge fires Launchpad after Launchpad destroys an expensive statue. After being called a “space case,” he and his sidekick Doofus apply for jobs as astronauts at DASA (the Duckburg Aeronautics and Space Administration). Because he’s an “Astro-not” the DASA scientists secretly want to test Launchpad alongside a chimp as an experiment to find the world’s dumbest pilot to test their new idiot-proof computerized spaceship. There’s then a series of gags where the scientists and the chimp sabotage Launchpad’s astronaut training.

Desperate to prove himself a great pilot, Launchpad takes off in the spaceship before completing his training. Doofus joins him, and the two blast off, leaving Earth far behind. They make it all the way to Mars (!). There, we meet Ping the Pitiless, king of the Martians, who is obsessed with priceless gems. Ping mistakes Launchpad and Doofus for burglars, and then threatens to invade Earth in response.

Launchpad and Doofus are put in the dungeon, but they quickly escape and highjack a Martian rocket. Meanwhile, DASA sends a rescue mission to Mars, led by the chimp. Launchpad learns DASA only chose him to be an astronaut because of how dumb he is, but Doofus encourages him to prove them wrong. Launchpad lands his rocket in Scrooge’s swimming pool, disarming the rocket’s weapons and destroying the expensive statue. Launchpad is publicly declared a hero and he thanks Doofus while on TV. The episode ends with the chimp taking over as the new king of Mars.

Humbug: We see that Scrooge has hidden safes in every room in his mansion. When he fears the Martians are invading, he locks up his valuables in them. These “valuables” include his desk.

Junior woodchucks: The Junior Woodchuck guidebook states how to diffuse a Martian bomb. I hope we get an origin for this guidebook one of these days.

Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad is portrayed as incredibly dumb in this one. His application for DASA is not a resume, but a stick-figure drawing of him flying a plane. This is all to set up his hero moment when he figures out how to fly the Martian ship in the end.

Do the Doo: Doofus is rewarded for his unwavering loyalty to his hero Launchpad. But this is his super-power of sorts, because he succeeds in getting Launchpad to save the day.

Foul fowls: While Ping the Pitiless is a stock evil alien type, it looks to me like the real villains are the DASA scientists and the chimp for not just manipulating and sabotaging Launchpad, but also laughing at him behind his back.

Down in Duckburg: This is the only appearance of DASA and its head scientist Dr. Von Geezer. Future outer space episodes will get into space without DASA’s help, it seems.

Reference row: Not only does the title reference 1983’s The Right Stuff, but E.T., Star Wars, and Star Trek are all referenced in one way or another. Ping the Pitiless is a spoof of Flash Gordon’s nemesis Ming the Merciless.

Thoughts upon this viewing: It’s fascinating when DuckTales does and doesn’t have continuity. This episode conveniently forgets that Lauchpad both went to space and met aliens in “Where No Duck Has Gone Before.” And that was also televised within the DuckTales world as well. Beyond that, this is a goofy comedy episode full of hacky jokes, and it’s pretty skippable.

Next: Going full Disney.

  • * * * *

Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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Fantastic Friday: Nice jacket

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. The FF are a family, so here’s a family sitcom episode in volume 3 #55 legacy #484.

We’re entering an odd transitory time in FF history. Writer-artist Carlos Pacheco and his co-writer Rafael Martin are out, but there are several issues before Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo take over for their famous run. Therefore, it’s going to be a revolving door for a bunch of creators for a while. First up is Karl Kesel and Stuart Immonen. Kesel is most well known for his work with DC, including Hawk and Dove, World’s Finest, Tales of the Legion, and the crossover event The Final Night. Immonen got his start with Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics doing biography comics, and became a fan favorite at both DC and Marvel, drawing part of the Superman Red/Blue event and the cult classic NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. for Marvel.

This issue begins with a domestic scene as Sue returns from grocery shopping to the Baxter Building, where Ben, Johnny, and Franklin have been watching baby Valeria. There’s a lot of comedy shtick regarding what she bought, followed by comedy shtick of Ben and Johnny fighting over the TV remote control. They end up trashing the living room while Sue is on the phone with Janet Van Dyne (a.k.a. the Wasp), and they wake up the baby. Reed enters the room, announcing that he’s made new modifications to the Fantasticar, and he needs an item to be picked up from a nearby warehouse. Johnny and Ben run off to give the new car a test drive.

Ben and Johnny continue to bicker on the way to the warehouse. The place is locked shut, and the Fantasticar is stolen by a Skrull named the Grand Acquisitioner. He plans to take it back to the Skrull homeworld and reverse engineer Reed’s tech. Johnny tries to pursue him, but the Acquisitioner activates a teleportation device and vanishes. Ben uses his mechanic’s smarts to trace the car’s ferrous oxide to the Yancy Street Wrecking Co. (A junkyard, basically.) A fight breaks out, as the heroes and the Acquisitioner trash the place while trying to take each other out.

The Acquisitioner escapes, and Johnny and Ben have a heart-t0-heart how easy it is for the two of them to cause destruction when they fight a villain. Johnny says he realizes that Ben has to be careful all the time, more than anyone else. Ben admits he realizes this is why Johnny always gave him a hard time, to keep him on his toes so he never forgets who he is.

The Acquisitioner reappears, returning the stolen Fantasticar. Johnny says this is a trick, and the Skrull reveals that yes, it is a trick. He transforms into… Yellowjacket. (Note that this is the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, who at this time had recently returned to active duty with the Avengers after many ups and downs. He’s also reconciling with the Wasp, although their relationship remained somewhat strained.) Yellowjacket was using a Stark image inducer to merely appear as a Skrull.

Everybody reconvenes at Avengers Mansion, where Franklin has been watching the fight via remote ant-cams. (Yes, tiny cameras attached to ants.) Yellowjacket further explains that the teleportation was him merely shrinking the Fantasticar to ant-size. Then the Wasp enters the room with baby Valeria, saying the whole thing was orchestrated because Reed and Sue are celebrating a special anniversary. Not their wedding anniversary (which was just five issues back), but their 256-month anniversary, which is four to the fourth power. Reed and Sue celebrate with a romantic evening alone in the Baxter Building. Reed tells her she looks… Fantastic.

Then there’s a five-page preview of The Call of Duty. This is not based on the video games. It was meant to be a tribute to real-life firefighters. But then, there was also a supernatural element to the series, making it kind of half Backdraft and half The X-Files. In this preview, the firefighters make their way through a burning building to rescue someone inside. That someone is revealed to be a creepy little girl who tells them, “There’s a war coming.” The story was continued in backups in other Marvel comics, and then in three miniseries, The Call of Duty: Brotherhood, The Call of Duty: The Precinct, and The Call of Duty: The Wagon.

Unstable molecule: This is the second new Fantasticar Reed has constructed in recent issues, but the Marvel Wiki continues to the call them both the “Mark II” Fantasticar, so I guess he’s just constantly rebuilding their most-used one.

Fade out: Sue’s grocery shopping includes oysters (which Ben is excited about) and a fake burning log for their fireplace. She tells Johnny she doesn’t buy junk food, but she makes an exception for Hostess Fruit Pies for herself. Also seen among the groceries are lettuce, tomatoes, a carton of milk, Cheerios, and Rice Krispies.

Clobberin’ time: Ben wakes from a nap after having a nightmare about the Wizard. This is played as a joke, but you’d think his teammates might be a little concerned.

Flame on: Ben and Johnny fight over the remote control because the new Baxter Building has only one television, with no VCR or DVR. Ben wants to watch football, but Johnny wants to watch a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon. (I guess this when the FX network was airing Buffy reruns.)

Also, Johnny mentions his girlfriend, “Nita.” The Marvel Wiki confirms that this is Namorita, so they’re still a couple during this time.

Four and a half: Franklin is shown playing with Avengers toys at the start of the issue, but then he’s at Avengers Mansion at the end, interacting with actual Avengers. Foreshadowing?

Our gal Val: Baby Valeria is depicted as having a full head of blonde hair at the start of the issue, but is bald at the end of the issue. Is she a mutant, or is it just the lighting?

Commercial break: I know this is supposed to be chocolate, but it just reminds me of the monster from Dogma. (You know the one.)

Trivia time:  The warehouse Ben and Johnny visit is the Forbush Warehouse. This is a reference to a famous Marvel inside joke. Stan Lee used to always joke about Irving Forbush, a lazy and pathetic Marvel staffer. Except Forbush was a fictional character, someone for Stan to make fun of in place of actual Marvel staffers. This led to a parody superhero character Forbush Man. Whether Forbush Man is canonical to the Marvel Universe is a matter of some debate.

Fantastic or frightful? This is a zero-stakes light n’ fluffy sitcom story, which is fine for what it is. It won’t be until the next issue that Karl Kesel makes his permanent stamp on the series.

Next: Back to the old neighborhood.

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Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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DuckTales rewatch – Raiders of the Lost Harp

  • Rewatching DuckTales! It’s time for another trip back to Greek mythology. I guess this is just going to be a recurring thing for this series. Here’s episode 45, “Raiders of the Lost Harp.”

Here’s what happens: Scrooge is leading an archeological dig in Greece, discovering the lost city of Troy. It’s filled with amazing treasures and relics. A minotaur statue guards the most valuable of all the treasures, a magical singing harp that once belonged to Helen of Troy. Scrooge and his nephews take the harp back to Duckburg. The minotaur comes to life and follows them. Elsewhere, the witch Magica De Spell learns Scrooge has the harp and she wants its power for herself.

Back home, Scrooge discovers the harp has the power to tell whenever someone is lying. Magica disguises herself as Helen of Troy with a plan to fool Scrooge. With the harp’s help, Scrooge sees through Magica’s ruse. She then transforms into a wrestler (!) to fight Scrooge. She steals the harp, leading Scrooge on a chase through downtown Duckburg. Scrooge gets the harp back, but not before crashing into Duckburg bay.

In the ocean, a submarine is no match for the unstoppable minotaur. The order is given to evacuate Duckburg before its arrival. The minotaur emerges from the ocean and fights the Army, Godzilla-style. Magica uses the minotaur attack as a distraction to steal the harp. She and Scrooge fight again. Scrooge gets back the harp and returns it to the minotaur. Scrooge says maybe it’s best that no one has the harp, but the nephews joking accuse him of fibbing.

Humbug: All the treasures Scrooge brought back from Troy are on display in a museum, which would seem to be Scrooge following the heroic “It belongs to a museum” rule. But then we learn that Scrooge owns the museum.

Junior Woodchucks: The nephews pay a visit to the Duckburg Arcade, where there’s a poster of a human woman! Humans DO exist in this world!

Foul fowls: Magica’s shape-changing powers are consistent with the types of spells she cast in previous episodes. She has a green-skinned chauffer quite obviously based on Frankenstein’s monster. I looked all over the Disniey wiki, but couldn’t find any info about who this character is.

Down in Duckburg: We have a return visit to Scrooge’s candy factory, where he uses chewing gum as glue to slow down the minotaur. It’s some impressive continuity, as it looks just like it did in the first two episodes.

Duckburg has two police chiefs! The chief in this episode is the character we last saw as the warden of Aquatraz in “Duckman of Aquatraz,” but we had another police chief named O’Hara in an earlier episode, “Robot Robbers.” The O’Hara chief and the warden chief will both serve as police chief in alternating episodes throughout the series.

Reference row: The series previously did The Odyssey in “Home Sweet Homer,” so this time they do The Iliad, with mentions of Helen of Troy, Achilles, and the Trojan Horse. And do I realy have to tell you that this episode title is a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark?

See the source image

Thoughts upon this viewing: This is a really fun one, with some of the best-looking animation the show has to offer. Lots of action, and even some of the jokes land. Episodes like this one are what DuckTales are all about.

Next: Get your duck to Mars.

  • * * * *

Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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Fantastic Friday: Our gal Val

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. This is a big one, people. If you’ve read any FF-related comic in the last 5-10 years, you know how big of a character Valeria Richards has become. Now here’s Vol. 3 #54 legacy #483, in which Valeria is born.

Gimmie a gimmick: This is the third of four issues with connected Mike Wieringo-drawn covers that create a single image, from top to bottom rather than from left to right. Also this is one of several Marvel comics published this month with 100 pages and their own “100-Page Monster” logo.

After a lot of buildup in previous issues, several plotlines are converging at this point. The Inhumans have returned to Earth, only to face anti-Inhuman sentiment throughout the nation. Dr. Doom showed up to offer them asylum in Latveria. Meanwhile, we met Senso, leader of the Hidden Ones. These are Inhuman-like psychics who have been operating in secret since World War II. With the armor-clad Guardsmen of the Vault in their employ, the Hidden Ones have launched a full-scale attack on the new Baxter Building, causing Sue’s pregnancy to go into crisis.

We start with Reed floating in a sort of limbo, having lost his memory, and human Ben inside a cell inside super-prison the Vault, unable to transform back into the Thing. Senso does a big villain speech, confirming that the Inhumans and the Hidden Ones have a “common ancestry.” At the Baxter Building, Sue is going into labor, but she is being consumed Negative Zone energy (because the baby was originally conceived in the Negative Zone). The Inhumans gather around her, and Sue cries out, “Get Reed!”

At the Latverian embassy in NYC, Dr. Doom sips some pinot noir (!) while Johnny fights his way through the Doom’s robot defenses. Doom meets Johnny on the roof, assuming that Johnny is there seeking a cure for his out-of-control powers. Johnny pleads with him to save Sue and the baby. He says that Reed is out of commission, and the last time this happened they had a room full of geniuses. This time, all they’ve got is Dr. Doom. Doom initially responds with a cold, “My deepest regrets.” But Johnny says that a baby is innocent, and not an enemy of Doom. “You’re the best chance we’ve got,” Johnny says. “The only chance we’ve got.”

Through sheer willpower, Ben manages to turn back into the Thing. He fights his way out of his cell and beats up a bunch of the Guardsmen. At the Baxter Building, Doom monitors Sue’s condition, while still trying to convince Black Bolt to accept his offer of asylum for the Inhumans. Sue tells Doom to back off, but Doom assures her that he’s her only hope, and she must trust him.

At the Vault, Ben frees Reed from a high tech “cerebral vortex.” Reed gets his memory back. Senso and the guardians return. After a brief fight, Senso reveals that she’s also a shape-changer. She explains more about the Hidden Ones, how they’ve been secretly behind the scenes in high positions of governments and other places of power. “To survive, we must stay hidden,” she says. Senso then teleports away somehow, promising that the Hidden Ones are everywhere, and anyone you know could be a Hidden One.

Reed and Ben make it to the Baxter Building. He goes into ER mode, ready to save the baby, only to learn see Dr. Doom step into the room holding the healthy baby girl after a successful delivery. Sue is also doing well, explaining that Doom used a combination of science and sorcery to save the baby. (A pentagram is painted behind Sue’s bed, creepily.) When Doom needed more energy, he withdrew Johnny’s excess flame, thereby returning Johnny’s powers to normal after all.

 Doom isn’t done, though. He says that in exchange for saving the day, he demands the right to name the child. Reed won’t have it, but Sue says she already agreed to it. Doom says he is a “man of honor and style,” so he won’t name the girl after him. Instead he names her… Valeria.

Before leaving, Doom says that little Valeria will forever be under his protection, and if any of the FF’s enemies endanger her, they will have to answer to him. Later, Doom watches a TV news report that sums up the rest of the plot. There have been a series of massive firings in high government and military personnel, which Doom recognizes as the Hidden Ones retreating back deeper into hiding. Without the Hidden Ones’ influence, the U.N. releases an official apology regarding the Inhumans and withdraws support of a planetwide energy shield to keep space aliens away from Earth. But then, the Inhumans rejected Doom’s offer of asylum, and have returned to space. The Inhumans will instead return to the Blue Area of the Moon, where they once lived.

Then there’s even more subplot wrap-ups at the Baxter Building, where Johnny learns he’s been fired from the Rawhide Kid movie, to be replaced by a lookalike. Johnny feels guilty for making a deal with Dr. Doom, but Reed thanks him, asking Johnny to be Valeria’s godfather. Then there’s a bit where the FF are reunited as a happy family, while the Inhumans are reunited on the moon, sad and alone.

To make this issue a 100-pager, we then get a reprint of Annual #6, featuring the birth of Franklin, and issue #167, the wacky return of the Impossible Man.

Unstable molecule: When rushing to save the baby, Reed suggests calling Hank Pym and Jane Foster for help. Hank is a genius, so sure, but why Jane? During this time in the Marvel Universe, Jane had just become an M.D. This is when Thor’s secret identity was the EMT Jon Olsen.

Fade out: Doom says he admires Sue’s strength, saying that even his own iron will would be tested with that much pain.

Clobberin’ time: Doom refers to Ben as a “boulder-bound brute” which I feel is pretty funny.

Flame on: This issue doesn’t say, but the lookalike who replaced Johnny in the Rawhide Kid movie is a Skrull named Lon Zelig, who we saw working on the movie set in a few previous issues.

Fantastic fifth wheel: While Medusa normally speaks on behalf of Black Bolt, Doom tells her to be silent, insisting on an answer from Black Bolt himself.

Crystal holds down the fort at the Baxter Building, eventually able to reach Reed through his FF communicator. We see her reunited with her daughter Luna upon returning to the moon.

Four and a half: Franklin is in one panel at the end, where he’s with the rest of the family welcoming baby Valeria home.

Our gal Val: If the miscarriage, the time-displaced teenager, and other alternate timelines don’t count, then this issue definitely counts as Valeria’s first appearance.

Commercial break: There are tons of ads for the 2002 Spider-Man movie in this one (I suspect this is why so many of this month’s comics were 100 pages). This one is especially gross:

Trivia time: What, exactly, is the significance of the name Valeria? The original Valeria was Dr. Doom’s first love, who he left behind when he went to college in the US and eventually scarred his face. Every time they were later reunited, Valeria broke Doom’s heart by rejecting his would-be world-conquering ways. She’ll show up again in just a few issues from now.

This is the final appearance of the Senso and her fellow Hidden Ones. Are we to assume they’re still hiding in the shadows in the Marvel Universe, secretly manipulating everyone? Were they the ones really behind Civil War?

Fantastic or frightful? For such a historically important issue, it’s a bit of a mess. All the stuff with Dr. Doom is really great, but then we keep cutting away from that drama to deal with the less interesting Inhumans/Hidden Ones crisis. Years later, many Fantastic Four comics will refer back to these events as if they’re a massive epic, but it doesn’t feel as epic to sit down and actually see how it all happened.

Next: Nice jacket.

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Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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DuckTales rewatch – Back Out in the Outback

Rewatching DuckTales! We’re going Down Under in episode 44, “Back Out in the Outback,” for cute animals and… UFOs?

Here’s what happens: There are strange occurrences in Australia, where strange lights appear at night, shearing and abducting sheep on land owned by Scrooge. Scrooge and the family head to the Outback to investigate. Webby is along for the ride, as she’s interested in seeing Australian animals.

Launchpad’s airplane is attacked by the strange lights and crashes. She chases a kangaroo off into the wilderness, and Huey, Dewey and Louie look for her. All alone, Webby befriends kangaroos, koalas, and more. They help her survive the wilderness. Scrooge leads the rescue mission, only to be attacked by the strange lights again.

In the morning, the nephews find a remote-control boomerang, which can spin so fast at night that they look like little UFOs. Elsewhere, Webby and her animal friends rescue a warthog fallen down a well, only to find the well full of precious opals. Scrooge also finds the opal wells, and he’s attacked again. Launchpad and the nephews fight the remote-control boomerangs with boomerangs of their own. Webby discovers that Duke, one of the ranch employees, is the culprit. She chases him off with her animal pals. She’s the hero, telling Scrooge that she defeated Duke thanks to teamwork.

Humbug: We’re told it’s been 12 years (!) since Scrooge has visited his Australian ranch in person. He is nonetheless buddies with the other ranch hand, Sundowner. Scrooge promotes Sundowner to manager at the end of the episode.

Junior Woodchucks: Huey, Dewey, and Louie act as Launchpad’s crew in this one, helping repair Launchpad’s plane after he crashes it.

Maid and maiden: Webby’s superpower continues to be her ability to befriend the local animals in any situation. She uses her doll to store jellybeans, which she feeds to the animals to gain their loyalty.  

Foul fowls: Duke says he’s out to get Scrooge because he’s sick of Scrooge profiting off of employees’ sweat and hard work. The episode gives no counterargument to this.

Reference row: All the Australia references are as basic as it gets. More interesting is that the writers include a variation of the UFO cattle mutilation phenomenon, stories of which often occur in farms in Australia. In the US in 1979, the FBI opened an official investigation into cattle mutilations, concluding a year later that the cause was “common predators.”

Thoughts upon this viewing: This is meant to be a cute animal episode for the very youngest viewers, but the weird UFO plot is what stands out to me. So even though it’s a low-substance episode, there’s a lot to like in it.

Next: Don’t you harp on me.

  • * * * *

Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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DuckTales rewatch – Time Teasers

Rewatching DuckTales! We’re freezing time, we’re time traveling, and we even have a time bathtub in episode 43, “Time Teasers.”

Here’s what happens: When Huey, Dewey and Louie are late for breakfast, Scrooge tries to impart the lesson “The early bird gets the worm” to them. Later, the boys are scheduled to make deliveries for Gyro Gearloose, but it conflicts with a ballgame they want to go to. Gyro also shows off his new “Time Teaser,” which makes its user move so fast that it appears that they’ve frozen time. The kids use the device to make their deliveries and see the game. Then they use it to cheat in the game, and then they stop the Beagle Boys from robbing the stadium.

The Beagle Boys investigate, and spy on Gyro and the nephews as they explain the Time Teaser to Scrooge. The villains swipe the Time Teaser, and easily use it to steal all the gold from Scrooge’s money bin. Scrooge follows a trail of coins to the Beagle Boys’ boat, with all the gold. The Beagle Boys drop the Time Twister and damage it, which sends them backwards in time to pirate days. A pirate, Captain Blackheart (played yet again by go-to Disney villain Pete) attacks and captures the Beagle Boys.

In the present, Gyro has gone ahead and built a second time machine out of a bathtub, and he follows the Beagle Boys to pirate times. Blackheart captures them as well. It’s Blackheart’s birthday, and he wants the captives to perform for him. Scrooge and the Beagle Boys realize they must work together to escape. The Beagle Boys distract the pirates with their singing (!) while Scrooge and Gyro affix the time machine to the Beagles’ ship with the gold. It’s a mad chase to get back to the ship, but everyone gets back to the present. Scrooge gets his money back and the Beagle Boys get sent off to jail.

Humbug: During their truce, Scrooge promises not to leave the Beagle Boys stuck in the past. When Huey suggests they leave the villains behind, Scrooge refuses, saying he gave his word and “My word is as good as gold.”

Junior woodchucks:  The three nephews cheat in the baseball game, but at the end of the episode, they learn that the opposing team bounced back and came from behind in the last inning. I guess that’s the timeline affixing itself.

Great gadgeteer: We learn that Gyro owns and operates the Invention of the Month Club, and these are the deliveries the boys are making. Fortunately, Gyro is not shipping time machines to people all over Duckburg. His other invention this week is a hokey combination hair dryer and popcorn popper.

Foul fowls: The Beagle Boys in this episode are Babyface, Bankjob, and Bebop. The scene where they beautifully sing “I Want a Girl” to the pirates is one of the DuckTales’ signature moments. It also sets up the Beagle Boys singing in future episodes.

Down in Duckburg: The pro baseball team in Duckburg is the Mallards, who have a long history of always losing. This week, they’re playing the Garfield Ganders.

Reference row: There’s a lot of stopwatches that stop time throughout sci-fi history. Arguably the most well known is 1963’s “A Kind of Stopwatch” episode of The Twilight Zone.

Thoughts upon this viewing: A really fun one, with some great visuals, a fun time-twisty plot, and the all-time great bit with the Beagle Boys singing. The idea Scrooge and the Beagle Boys having to make a truce and work together isn’t followed up on as much as it could have been, but other than that, this is a winner.

Next: G’day.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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Fantastic Friday: Sense and Senso-bility

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. For readers who’ve been wondering if any of these storylines are going anywhere, here’s vol 3 #53 legacy #482 with the answers.

Gimmie a gimmick: This is the third of four issues with connected Mike Wieringo-drawn covers that create a single image, from top to bottom rather than from left to right.

Continuing with what the previous issues started, this one begins with another flashback to World War II, where the original android human torch battles a bunch of no-good Nazis. The mysterious children with glowing eyes flee the battle and run off to live in secret. On that day, they became… the Hidden Ones.

Cut to modern-day New York, where Dr. Doom has stepped onto the main floor of the United Nations, to challenge Reed and offer sanctuary to the Inhumans, whose presence has caused controversy throughout the nation. Doom takes the mic, giving a big speech about how, as a child, he was once considered to be an outcast and outsider. But, he also states that the Earth needs protecting from dangerous space aliens, and not the Earth-born Inhumans. He also takes a shot at the FF, saying they’ve failed to stop alien invasions in the past.

Cut to Stern Academy in upstate New York, where Franklin is attending school. Anti-alien sentiment is here as well, with kids and teachers fretting about the likes of the Skrulls and Galactus, and one bully saying the FF are in league with aliens. Franklin, who is there in a secret identity, tries to stand up for his family, but gets shot down when the bully calls him a “freak lover.” A pointy-haired kid named Robert stands up for Franklin, and they’re friends now.

Anti-Inhuman protests continue in NYC, as the Inhumans debate whether to take Dr. Doom’s offer of sanctuary. Reed cautions them not to, saying Doom must have an ulterior motive. Medusa says the Inhumans can’t stay as guests in the new Baxter Building forever, but must find a home of their own somewhere. Johnny returns to the Baxter Building just in time for all the power to go out, allowing the protestors to evolve into rioters, storming the building. Sue gets a message from the Guardsmen, the iron-armored guards of super-prison the Vault, who claim they have secured the Baxter Building for purposes of capturing the Inhumans. When Sue, who is pregnant, tries to block the Guardsmen with a force field, she collapses with glowing energy, saying “Something’s wrong!”

Reed, meanwhile, is at the Vault to discuss the anti-Inhuman sentiment, only to learn that the Guardsmen have abducted Ben and locked him up. It’s here we finally get the reveal that the mystery woman with the glowing eyes we’ve been following for several issues is Senso, one of the Hidden Ones. She has Ben trapped in a special Vault cell that won’t let him transform from human into the Thing. She says she plans to destroy both the Inhumans and the Fantastic Four. She adds that if the FF had never made their original spaceflight, then the Hidden Ones would have been free to continue living in secrecy. But the FF opened the door to superhumans of all kinds running around Earth, so Senso demands revenge.

Ben’s willpower breaks through Senso’s influence. He transforms into the Thing and escapes his cell. But then Senso zaps him again and he falls under her mind-control once more. We abruptly cut to Reed and Vault warden, where Senso steps through the door and now claims that world domination is also among her plans. She says she’s the one who shut off the Baxter Building’s defenses, and she zaps Reed with her psychic powers. At the Baxter Building, Sue explains how her baby is the same one she lost years earlier, who has been “restored” when Franklin rewrote the timeline a few issues back. Except that was a dangerous pregnancy, and now history is about to repeat itself. While the Inhumans fight off the Guardsmen, Johnny leaves, saying he’ll save Sue, even if he has to make a deal with “the devil himself!”

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Reed mentions working on “Project Stellar Shield” with military leaders, but instead we later find him at the Vault. Did he skip the meeting? Also, he flies a new type of Fantasticar that has three seats, not four, which Reed named “Richards One.”  

Clobberin’ time: There’s a reference to Ben’s “new girlfriend.” This would be Kate O’Meara of Damage Patrol who’s been flirty with Ben in recent issues, but maybe it’s gotten more serious than that.

Flame on: Johnny equates losing control of his flame with losing control of everything in his life, which gives him drive to put things right at the end.

Fantastic fifth wheel: Crystal and Johnny are awkwardly reunited, with her giving up and admitting that Johnny’s obnoxiousness is just him being Johnny. She later speaks on behalf of the Inhumans, declaring “We’re not monsters!”

Medusa seems okay with the idea of the Inhumans relocating to Latveria. She asks Black Bolt what he thinks, but they’re interrupted before he can get any sort of answer.

Four and a half: This is the only appearance of Franklin’s friend Robbie. Several fan sites believe that Robbie is actually H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot in disguise, as we’re getting reintroduced to H.E.R.B.I.E. in the near future. But this is only speculation, with nothing in the text stating it. (Freakin’ H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot.)

Commercial break: It was nice of them to give Mignola a shout-out.

Trivia time: As noted above, the Guardsmen are the high-tech guards at the Vault. So why are they running around NYC in these issues? Turns out they have a history of aligning with supervillains rather than locking them up. They’re often seen partnering with Justin Hammer in conflict against Iron Man, and they took on Iron Man himself during the Armor Wars crossover. After the Vault was shut down, the government still uses the Guardsmen armor for whatever suit-of-armor mission are needed.

Fantastic or frightful? All the story threads of the past several issues finally start coming together into a single plot, which is refreshing. It’s mostly setup for the next issue, but it does the job.

Next: How many pages?

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Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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DuckTales rewatch – Ducks of the West

Rewatching DuckTales! As the series plays around with various adventure tropes, the tropes begin to repeat over time. We’ve had multiple sea monster episodes, multiple Greek mythology episodes, and now, in episode 42, “Ducks of the West,” we’ve got more than one cowboy-themed episode.

Here’s what happens: Gas stations all around Duckburg are out of gas. Scrooge, owner of McDuck Oil, heads to his Texas oil fields to investigate. The nephews enjoy staying at a local dude ranch, seeing real cowboys in action. Scrooge is confronted by local tycoon J.R. Mooing, who wants to work out a deal for Scrooge to buy his oil-rich land.

A cowboy named Tex tells Huey, Dewey and Louie about a nearby ghost town haunted by a ghost cowboy and a monstrous white buffalo. The ghost appears, and chases them around town. As they hide from the ghost, the boys find stores of oil hidden in town, and that the ghost is a guy dressed as a ghost. Meanwhile, Scrooge disguises himself as a cowboy oil tycoon in a failed attempt to out-swindle J.R. Seeing through Scrooge’s disguise, J.R. challenges Scrooge to a cowboy contest, where the winner gets the loser’s entire fortune.

J.R. cheats in the cowboy contest, claiming Scrooge’s wealth for himself. Huey, Dewey and Louie befriend the white buffalo and ride it back to the dude ranch. Scrooge and the boys return to the ghost town in search of the oil. They confront the “ghost,” and discover a secret underground pump draining Scrooge’s oil field dry. It’s a real Scooby Doo ending when Tex is revealed to be the ghost in disguise. J.R. admits to his cheating and lets Scrooge keep his fortune, and everyone gathers around a campfire for the happy ending.

Humbug: All this talk about controlling all the oil doesn’t make Scrooge look very likable. But he does have a moment of humility after failing the cowboy contest, when he admits to his nephews that he never should have tried to be someone he is not.

Junior woodchucks: Huey, Dewey and Louie are thrilled to live out their cowboy fantasies. Looking at previous episodes, we can see they’ve been camping plenty of times, but this is their first go at going full Western.

Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad has one short scene where he tells Scrooge there’s no gasoline for Scrooge’s private jet. This forces Scrooge to fly commercial on Glomgold Airlines. (We’re not told where Glomgold got his oil from.)

Foul fowls: While J.R. is set up as the villain, him and Scrooge swindling each other ends up being just business as usual. Tex acted alone, it seems, in his “pretend to be a ghost to steal all the oil” scheme. It’s also worth noting that his ghost outfit looks really freakin’ cool.

Down in Duckburg: Scrooge appears to have a whole other life in Texas with his own group of supporting characters working for him. I especially like the laid-back cowboy Wildcat, who responds to everything with a casual “Yup.”

Reference row: J.R. Mooing is quite obviously a parody of J.R. Ewing, the main character in the ‘80s nighttime soap opera Dallas. (Wanna know who shot J.R.? It was his sister-in-law Kristin Shepard.)

Thoughts upon this viewing: Yes, it’s more an episode of Scooby Doo than it is DuckTales, but that’s all right. This one has a cool ghost villain, and even some pretty funny gags. Good stuff.

Next: Double hypertime!

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Fantastic Friday: Fun with Dr. Doom

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. But there’s no regular post this week because of [INSERT EXCUSE HERE] so here’s some amusing Dr. Doom panels instead.

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Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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DuckTales rewatch – The Golden Fleecing

Rewatching DuckTales! The show does another attempt to bring ancient mythology to life in episode 41, “The Golden Fleecing.”

Here’s what happens: After his airplane is attacked by harpies (!) Launchpad’s psychiatrist tells him he needs to reduce stress in his life. At Scrooge’s mansion, Huey, Dewey, and Louie are reading Greek myths about harpies guarding the Golden Fleece. Scrooge suspects the treasure is real and enlists Launchpad’s help in seeking the fleece, while Launchpad insists that the harpies are figments of his imagination.

Scrooge, the nephews, and Launchpad fly to an uncharted island in the Black Sea, where the harpies abduct Launchpad. But, they mean him no harm, and instead invite him as their dinner guest. Scrooge convinces Launchpad to trick the harpies into revealing the location of the Fleece. This takes Scrooge and the boys into an underground maze, and a confrontation with a fire-breathing dragon. The boys distract the dragon while Scrooge nabs the fleece.

The harpies reveal that Launchpad was their dinner guest only to fatten him up to feed him to the dragon. Scrooge and the boys flee from both the dragon and the harpies. When the dragon corners Launchpad, Scrooge sacrifices the Golden Fleece to save him. Back in Duckburg, the psychiatrist is shocked to discover one of the harpies has followed Launchpad home.

Humbug: My hypothesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is Scrooge learning that his friends and family are more important than his money. This episode goes along with that, in that he gives up the Golden Fleece to save Launchpad. It goes a little farther, though, in that Scrooge’s nephews question him on whether treasure hunting is technically stealing. Despite his change of heart, Scrooge doesn’t exactly answer that question.

Junior woodchucks: To get around the island, Huey, Dewey, and Louie build a flying quadruple tandem bicycle. I get they’re ingenious kids and can come up with something like this on the spur of a moment, but this pushing it.

Fasten your seatbelts: Looks like Launchpad is moving up in the world. He’s fixed up that little shack he lives in. There’s now a sign out in front of it reading “Launchpad Unlimited.”

Foul fowls: We’re supposed to think that the harpies aren’t so bad at the end, even though they tried to feed Launchpad to a dragon.

Down in Duckburg: Launchpad’s psychiatrist is a classic Disney character, Ludwig Von Drake. First appearing on The Wonderful World of Color in 1961, Von Drake is the first Disney character created specifically for television. Canonically, he is another of Donald Duck’s uncles. We don’t know if that also applied to DuckTales continuity, because this episode is his only DuckTales appearance.

Reference row: The Golden Fleece is of course the treasure prominently featured in the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. Although modern interpretations show the fleece having magic powers, it was originally a symbol of rightful kingship, which is why King Pelias sent Jason and company to after it.

Thoughts on this episode: It’s always fun to play around with the Greek myths, but this feels more like going through the motions. Also, behind the scenes this one was farmed out to a Taiwanese animation studio, so the animation is a little clunky and the characters look slightly off model. This group will take over the series once we get to season 2, so we’d best get to them. For now, “The Golden Fleecing” isn’t DuckTales at its best.

Next: Yee-haw, y’all.

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Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

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