Rewatching DuckTales! The series takes on Hollywood and superheroes (timely!) in episode 19, “Hero for Hire.”
Here’s what happens: Scrooge is opening a new branch of the McDuck Bank, which he says is completely burglary-proof thanks to his new anti-Beagle Boy alarm. Launchpad wrecks the bank after a false alarm, so Scrooge fires him. Launchpad’s sidekick Doofus tires to cheer him up, saying Launchpad is a hero no matter what. After several failed attempts at heroism, Launchpad runs into Ma Beagle. She comes up with a plan to use Launchpad’s cluelessness to her own ends.
Ma Beagle and the Beagle Boys pose as Hollywood filmmakers, casting Launchpad as a movie superhero, “The Webbed Wonder.” They trick him into robbing the bank with him thinking it’s a movie role. The newspapers catch wind of what Launchpad has been up to, so he plans to go to the cops and tell them what the Beagle Boys are up to. The Beagle Boys outsmart him, holding Doofus hostage so Launchpad will do their bidding. Then they plot to have the cops arrest Launchpad in their place.
Launchpad escapes from the cops in his Webbed Wonder outfit, crashing his helicopter. Except it wasn’t him, but the chopper’s auto pilot. Launchpad then uses the anti-Beagle Boy alarm to track down the Beagle Boys’ hideout. Despite Launchpad’s dimwittedness, he manages to rescue Doofus while the Beagle Boys blow themselves up with a grenade hidden in a cake (long story). This is followed by a car chase, in which Launchpad leads the Beagle Boys right back to the police, and his reunion with Scrooge. Scrooge rehires Launchpad, but at reduced pay.
Humbug: Scrooge feels remorse and blames himself when he hears Launchpad has taken to robbing banks after being fired. This fits my thesis that DuckTales is the story of Scrooge learning that his newfound extended family is more important than his money.
Fasten your seatbelts: We get a rare glimpse of Launchpad without his pilot helmet. Just look at that hair!
Best brain: Gyro constructed the new bank alarm, and he’s mentioned several times in the episode. However, he only appears in one scene and has no dialogue.
Do the doo: Rather than just be a bumbling fool, Doofus encourages Launchpad to build up his self-esteem. He later leaves a secret message for Launchpad alerting him to the Beagle Boys’ schemes. This plus the next episode appears to be an arc of Doofus earning his cred as a bona fide adventurer.
Foul fowls: It’s the first appearance of Bugle Beagle, who speaks only in jazz lingo. The others are Ma Beagle, Bankjob, and Babyface.
Down in Duckburg: While a previous episode depicted Launchpad living in an attic somewhere, this one has him living in a small shack-like house adjacent to an airfield. The Beagle Boys’ hideout is the same one from “The Money Vanishes.” You’d think the cops would keep an eye on that place.
Reference row: Marvel’s Heroes for Hire got its start in the comic series Luke Cage: Hero for Hire. When the series was renamed Power Man in Iron Fist in 1978, the characters went by the name Heroes for Hire throughout the Marvel Universe for years afterward, even though that was never the title of the comic.
Thoughts upon this viewing: By this point in the rewatch, I’m not sure what to make of Launchpad. The audience wants him to be funny, but the audience also wants him to be the cool hero. This episode is all dumb Launchpad and not enough cool Launchpad.
Next: Camp classic.
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