DuckTales rewatch – Money to Burn

Rewatching DuckTales! Now that we’ve met Gizmoduck, how will he fit in with the show on a regular basis? That’s the question in episode 75, “Money to Burn.” This is the fifth and final part of the “SuperDuckTales” five-parter than originally aired as a prime time made-for-TV movie on ABC.

After the Beagle Boys tricked Scrooge into moving his money bin, increasingly ridiculous misadventures ended with the bin and all of Scrooge’s money lost into the ocean. Scrooge has also hired a new accountant, Fenton Crackshell, who got hold of a high-tech suit of armor and has been helping (or trying to) as the superhero Gizmoduck. This episode begins with the water full of treasure hunters hoping to stake a claim on Scrooge’s fortune. This includes Ma Beagle on a boat, and Scrooge, Launchpad, and Gizmoduck in Scrooge’s personal submarine. Gizmoduck links with a satellite to find the money bin. The same satellite draws the attention of alien spacecraft. Back in the ocean, Scrooge’s sub is the first to find the money bin, only to get caught in Ma Beagle’s fishing nets. Then the alien ship descends, and it steals the bin.  

Cut to later, when Launchpad has acquired the U.S.S. Jumpstart, the cheapest spaceship he could find on short notice. Scrooge, Launchpad, and Gizmoduck follow the spaceship’s trail to an all-metal planet. It’s an all-robot planet, as we see in a message from the Master Electronic Leader, and that all non-robots must be destroyed. Gizmoduck learns that the robots plan to melt the bin so they can use the gold to make more robots.

Launchpad escapes back to the ship, while Scrooge and Gizmoduck are abducted by the robots and taken before the Master Electronic Leader, or “Mel” for short. When Gizmoduck tries standing up to him, Mel removes the Gizmoduck armor, revealing to Scrooge that Gizmoduck was Fenton all along. Mel has Scrooge and Fenton taken prisoner, with plans to turn them into axle grease (!). Fenton gets away and challenges Mel to a duel. It’s a counting contest, where Fenton’s skill at counting manages to outperform the giant computer. Mel short-circuits, and Fenton gets the Gizmoduck armor back, just in time to rescue Scrooge and Launchpad. Gizmoduck fights the robots to get the money bin back while Scrooge and Launchpad get the spaceship up and flying again. Then the robot planet explodes (!) apparently taking Gizmoduck and the money with it.

Scrooge and Launchpad then meet up with the alien ship from the beginning. It’s now piloted by Gizmoduck, who barely survived the battle and now has the money bin on board, safe and sound. Except there’s five minutes left in the episode, so we need a last-minute complication. Launchpad accidentally jettisons the money bin. Scrooge leaps into space to ride the money bin all the way back to Earth. The money bin lands on the exact spot it originally was, destroying the fraudulent freeway construction the Beagle Boys started. Further, the destroyed freeway flies through the air and lands on Ma Beagle’s cabin, destroying it.

Scrooge is knocked out in the crash, but gets his mojo back when reunited with his money. And Gizmoduck is no longer fired, as both he and Fenton are back on the job as Scrooge’s accountant and top security guard. With newfound confidence, Fenton then stands up to his domineering mother, and even gets a date with the lovely Dandra Dee.

Humbug: Scrooge is a rich jerk in this episode. He constantly bemoans the loss of his fortune, saying that he’d rather die than not have money. There’s no some-things-are-more-important-than-money moral anywhere near this one.

Junior woodchucks: Huey, Dewey, and Louie show up at the dig site for some exposition about the money bin coming in for a landing.

Fasten your seatbelts: There’s a joke that Launchpad’s ship, the Jumpstart, is the only spaceship with a clutch. This then becomes a plot point later, when popping the clutch is key to getting the ship up and flying again.

Pro-rata: The status quo as of this episode is that Scrooge and Fenton’s mother (whose name is just “M’ma”) are the only ones that know his secret identity.

Your move, creep: We see Gizmoduck unleash a lot his weapons at once, and it’s really something. There’s a bazooka, bow and arrow, baseball bat, a slingshot, and an ordinary handgun (!). There’s also a live skunk and a live lobster, further raising questions about how the armor works.  

Foul fowls: How is the goofy Fenton able to out-compute a supercomputer? Mel is shown acting crazy and erratic throughout the episode, so we can speculate that robot society has grown creaky and is falling apart by the time we meet it.

Reference row: Scrooge riding the money bin back to Earth is totally a reference to Slim Pickens riding the bomb at the climax of Dr. Strangelove.

Thoughts on this viewing: And so SuperDuckTales ends with an outer space bang. While a lot of the robot planet designs are fun, the meat of the episode is Fenton coming clean with Scrooge about his past mistakes and his secret as Gizmoduck. In the end, it’s Fenton and not his armor that saves the day.  

Next: The duck gods must be crazy.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: The creator

  • Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #511 contains one of the most famous (notorious?) scenes in FF history, as the characters meet… the creator.

After more than a year’s worth of drama that included Reed’s face being permanently scarred and Ben dying, are heroes have traveled to Heaven – yes, the Heaven – to bring Ben back to life. This issue picks up with everyone reunited with a human Ben and Ben’s brother Daniel. But this is only the “outskirts” of Heaven. They find themselves before an impassable door that appears to be based on Reed’s designs. Everyone wonders how Reed’s tech got into Heaven, and Ben concludes that Reed is the one responsible for locking Daniel out of Heaven. Ben says that the spark of life Reed sensed in Ben’s body is not what’s keeping him alive, but instead it’s what’s preventing Ben from entering Heaven proper.

Ben says it’s time to say goodbye, permanently this time. Johnny becomes enraged. He attacks Ben, accusing him of being a quitter. Reed and Johnny then fight. Reed accused Johnny of leaving the team because he’s afraid Reed will be responsible for his death like with Ben. As the FF continue to fight among themselves, an earthquake (heavenquake?) occurs all around them. Daniel says everyone’s rage and pain are infecting the place, and Ben insists they have to get through the door.

Ben tries the door again. It opens, to reveal the Thing’s rocky skin on the other side. Ben goes to Reed as Heaven falls apart all around them, saying that Ben put the door there, not Reed. Reed wasn’t holding Ben back, but instead Ben was holding himself back. Ben says he’s not ready to let go. “I’m not leavin’ ya, Reed,” he says. “I’m never leavin’ ya.” With that, the quake stops, and our heroes are reunited with hugs and smiles. Ben says he’s ready to go home.

Only they don’t go home, because Reed remains fixated on the door. Daniel says they can’t blame Reed for being curious, and that he has a message from “the man upstairs,” which is simply to stay. He invites to the FF, and their kids, to remain in Heaven forever, where Reed will have instant access to the answers to every scientific mystery in creation. Reed gives the old it’s-not-the-destination-it’s-the-journey speech. Daniel says “Good answer,” and the door opens. Daniel tells the FF to enjoy their visit, establishing that this is not a one-way trip. Ben and Daniel say their goodbyes, and the FF jump, not walk, into the light.

The FF fly through some cosmic grandeur, made of both space stuff and mechanical gears, before arriving at another door. The open it to meet God himself, and… it’s Jack Kirby!

Kirby (I feel weird calling him “God”) explains “What you see is what I am to you.” He adds that his creations “find the humanity in God.” Kirby takes a phone call from his unnamed collaborator about a storyline involving Black Panther and Silver Surfer. The FF watch him draw a futuristic cityscape, which he calls his contribution a grand tapestry. He says creation is part of a process, describing words and pictures setting the stage for both the ordinary and cosmic. Kirby says his creations are his window into the future, and that the mystery of what is to come intrigues him.

Reed doubts that a pencil is the key to the universe, but Kirby tells him all of history’s greatest inventions began with simple tools. He adds that pencils also have erasers, and he uses his to erase the scars from Reed’s face. He tells Johnny that the FF are nobody’s puppets, but that “We’re all our own storytellers, and there are plenty of stories still left in you.”  He then returns Ben to his rocky form, matter-of-factly saying everybody knows that how Ben will come back. He also matter-of-factly adds that Reed’s machine that brought them there will never work a second time. “I admire your imagination,” he says to Reed. “I always have.”

As the FF are transported away from Heaven, Johnny asks for a souvenir, and Kirby says he’ll whip something up. The FF reappear back in the new Baxter Building, safe and sound. The souvenir is a pencil drawing of an older Fantastic Four with the words “To be continued!” on it. Reed describes the drawing as “a happy ending.”

Unstable molecule: What to make of healing Reed’s scars with a near-literal deus ex machina? The scars were a symbol of Dr. Doom, and how Doom’s menace is always lurking about Reed, even when it seems Doom is defeated. Dr. Doom isn’t mentioned in this issue, suggesting that all the darkness and intensity Reed has gone through during this arc has finally been lifted. We’ll see if that’s true moving forward.  

Fade out: Sue doesn’t fight with her teammates in the first half, and she has the least one-on-one interactions with Kirby in the second half. This suggests that reuniting her family is more important to her than all this cosmic grandeur.

Clobberin’ time: Ben’s big moment in this issue isn’t him turning back into the Thing and coming back to life, it’s his goodbye to his brother. Daniel asks if the old neighborhood is still the same, and Ben says, “Not without you there, Danny boy.”

Flame on: The conflict between Johnny and Reed begins and ends quickly. I wonder if there was more written than what we got in this issue.

Trivia time: Jack Kirby previously appeared as a character in Fantastic Four as a human when he and Stan Lee were kicked out of Reed and Sue’s wedding (this is canon) and when Dr. Doom burst into the Marvel Comics offices to demand into on the FF (this is also canon). The Marvel Wiki reconciles this by saying what we see in this issue is God taking the appearance of Jack Kirby. Further, it states that this is one of several deities who are alleged to be the lone creator of all life on Earth and the universe, and the exact nature of God in the Marvel Universe has never been officially confirmed.

The hardcover trade paperback includes a lot of behind-the-scenes material about this story. There’s a bunch of saved e-mails between writer Mark Waid and editor Tom Brevoort. Breevort’s advice included ensuring that the technology that brought the FF to Heaven is a one-use-only machine, and making sure the political situation in Latveria was resolved before the FF left for Heaven.

Also in the hardcover, Mark Waid writes about the Kirby character was written just general enough so that young readers not familiar with comics history would still get the point that the character is a comic book artist. Additionally, Waid says Marvel had instituted its policy of not depicting smoking in comics, but he wanted Kirby to appear with his trademark cigar. The compromise was to include an ashtray with cigar on Kirby’s desk.

Fantastic or frightful? How do you write a story of someone meeting God and/or their own creator, and how do not make that story all hackneyed and schmaltzy? I don’t have the answer, but Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo do a good job of it… mostly. The big scene plays out like Waid had list of points he wanted to make and fixes he wanted done, and it’s just him going down the list. But the intent comes from a good place, and the final result is, dare I say, cute. What bugs me, though, is how this is used to heal Reed. Did Reed earn this, emotionally? Does this have any transformative elements for Reed and Ben as characters? It happens so quick that there’s no way to know. Still, this storyline started in a dark place way, way back in Vol. 3 #67 ends in a light place at its conclusion, which is nice.

Next: Does whatever a spider can.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – The Billionaire Beagle Boys Club

Rewatching DuckTales! Our heroes fight crime by committing crimes of their own in episode 74, “The Billionaire Beagle Boys Club.” This part four of the “SuperDuckTales” five-parter than originally aired as a prime time made-for-TV movie on ABC.

Thanks to a Beagle Boys scheme, Scrooge relocated his money bin to a mountaintop, and he hired bumbling accountant Fenton Crackshell to help make the move. Scrooge then had a security robot built, only for it to go out of control. Fenton donned a robot suit of his own to become the heroic Gizmoduck. But now the Beagles have hacked Gizmoduck’s suit and forced him to bring the money bin to them. The Beagles hide the bin inside a mock donut factory, and Ma Beagle goes on a wild spending spree. Without his money, Scrooge falls on hard times. He’s forced to sell his mansion, and the buyer is… Ma Beagle!

Ma Beagle tries and fails to impress Duckburg’s high society snobs, while Scrooge tries and fails to find evidence that her newfound fortune is really his. Scrooge and his family stay over at Launchpad’s, while Huey, Dewey and Louie sneak into the mansion in their own search for evidence. They discover Megabyte Beagle controlling Gizmoduck with a remote. They grab some evidence and make a run for it. Scrooge returns the next day with the police. Ma Beagle has already paid off the mayor, though, and Scrooge is the one who gets arrested.

After a failed attempt to bust Scrooge out of jail, the boys get an idea for getting Gizmoduck back on their side. They switch Megabyte’s remote with a toy remote. Gizmoduck doesn’t want to help, feeling remorse for what the Beagles had him do, so the nephews use the remote to make him rescue Scrooge from jail. They pull off the rescue and Scrooge learns Gizmoduck didn’t betray him.

The Beagles make a run for it in that giant truck thing the money bin is attached to, driving the building through the city. Gizmoduck chases them, only for the entire building to go off the city docks and into the ocean. A grizzled old sailor tells Scrooge he better act fast, because in treasure hunting the law is, “finders keepers.”

To be continued!

Humbug: What’s this evidence that Scrooge wants to get from his mansion? His money, of course. He says he’s memorized the serial numbers of every dollar he’s ever made.

Junior Woodchucks: When the three nephews sneak into the mansion, they wear matching dark green stealth suits. This leads to jokes about the boys not being able to tell who is who.

Fasten your seatbelts: Launchpad is back living in that little shack by the airfield. He has hammocks strung up all over the room when Scrooge, the boys, Mrs. Beakeley, Webby, and Ducksworth all move in with him.

Maid and maiden: Mrs. Beakeley tries to get Scrooge out of prison by using Ma Beagle’s methods: A grenade baked into a pie. The plan, for lack of a better word, backfires.

Your move, creep: Gizmoduck’s only real high-tech wonder this time is his awesome strength, busting through prison walls with his fists. When the money bin crashes into the ocean, Gizmoduck doesn’t follow, saying he can’t do water.

Foul fowls: Not only did Ma Beagle pay off the mayor, but the Beagle Boys show up at the courthouse to all sit on the jury. Both Bebop and Bankjob show up dressed as judges. Also, this is the second and final appearance of Megabyte Beagle. The Disney Wiki doesn’t say that he’s the only Beagle Boy not to have a “B” first initial. Instead, it merely states that it’s “rare” for a Beagle Boy to have another initial.

Down in Duckburg: Look closely and you can see the snobs from “The Status Seekers” and the wacky characters from the Explorers Club prominently seen in “The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan.”

Reference row: The phrase “billionaire boys’ club” has had several uses over the years. I suspect this episode’s title uses it in reference to the 1987 miniseries, based on the true story of a criminal Ponzi scheme that ended in murder. The internet informs me that today, Billionaire Boys’ Club is the name of a successful fashion brand.

Thoughts upon this viewing: This is the fourth act in a five-act story, so here’s where the characters are at their lowest points before bouncing back for the finale. A lot of it is goofy sitcom stuff, but it works when taken as part of a whole.   

Next: Aliens of the deep.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: In Heaven everything is fine

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. The FF have been to space, to other times, to other universes, and to Hell. Now, in issue #510, they journey into… Heaven!

After the final battle between Reed and Dr. Doom that left Reed’s face irreparably scarred, Reed took control of Latveria to dismantle everything Doom had built. This caused an international crisis. Then Reed tried trapping Doom’s soul in an inescapable afterlife, only for Doom to escape and possess Ben’s body. Ben took a hit from a superweapon that stopped Doom, killing Ben in the process. Undaunted, Reed went back Dr. Doom’s original experiment from his origin story, where he tried and failed to free his mother from the afterlife. Reed says he perfected Doom’s tech, and now he, Sue and Johnny are attempting to bring Ben back by venturing into the unknown – into Heaven itself.

This issue begins with our heroes arriving in a grassy plain, and immediately being attacked by angels with flaming swords. The FF fight defensively, with Reed stating “We come in peace” the whole time. A flaming message appears on an angel’s face, stating “You don’t belong here,” and then all the angels disappear.

Johnny questions whether this world is actually Heaven, while Reed insists the team press on in their search for Ben. Elsewhere, outside some gigantic castle, we see a human-looking Ben and an unnamed man. Ben wants to talk to Reed, but the man says too many rules are being broken by Reed’s presence already. “We’ll have to hit your friends even harder once they’re completely through the veil,” he says.

The FF come across their next obstacle, a bunch of floating islands. Reed puts them together like a big jigsaw puzzle, allowing them to continue walking forward. Johnny and Reed get into quite an argument. Johnny blames Reed for everything that went down in Latveria, including Ben’s death. Reed says that if Ben would still be alive and Doom wouldn’t have gotten loose if Johnny had only stayed put and done what he’d been told. Sue plays peacemaker, saying Ben is the reason why they’re all there. They press on, and we see all these little floating islands are coming together to look like Ben’s rocky skin.

The FF pass through some fog, and end up in the new Baxter Building, not just with Franklin and Valeria but a whole bunch of Franklins and Valerias. Sue says this is “All the best days of their lives.” Sue questions Reed on whether this mission is the right thing to do, saying that maybe there are some mysteries mankind was not meant to solve. Everyone passes through another fog, where Johnny and Sue are reunited with their long-dead parents. It’s a happy reunion, except Johnny suspects something is not right about this afterlife. The heroes are then washed away in a wave of red liquid. (Is it blood?)

Ben and the unnamed man talk about opening a door in front of Ben. Ben says he doesn’t need anyone’s help opening it, as he struggles against it. Reed, Sue and Johnny wash up in an underground cave where they are attacked by small winged creatures. It’s the angels again, but now they’re tiny. Their little wings are razor sharp, and they cut up the FF real good. Just when it looks like our heroes are defeated, Ben appears to pull them to safety.

Ben is happy to see the other three again, but he says it’s for one last time. Reed says Ben belongs back on Earth, that he doesn’t belong there. The unnamed man agrees that Ben doesn’t belong there. Reed recognizes the man as Ben’s brother Daniel Grimm. Ben explains that they’re not actually in Heaven, just the “outskirts.” The real Heaven is on the other side of the big door Ben can’t open. Danny tells Reed to look at the door to see who built it. Reed examines the door and discovers that he, Reed Richards, is the one who built it.

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Reed says that what everyone is seeing in Heaven is beyond what mortal beings can comprehend, but instead everything they’re seeing is their own minds translating images based on their own preconceived existing theological conceptions. Sure, why not?

Fade out: The story behind Sue and Johnny’s parents, Franklin and Mary Storm, was told back in issue #32. Mary had died in car crash. After falling on hard times and making poor choices, Franklin sacrificed his life to save the FF from a Skrull bomb.

Clobberin’ time: Who is Daniel Grimm? His story was told in Thing #1. He was a former leader of the Yancy Street Gang, and he died in a brawl. Ben always thanked his brother for teaching him integrity.

Flame on: Johnny jokes (or not?) that his idea of Heaven is Britney Spears feeding him chocolate-covered strawberries in front of a hundred-inch plasma screen TV. Later, Sue jokes (or not?) that Johnny wandered off in search of Heaven’s lingerie department.

Four and a half/Our gal Val: The Heavenly versions of Franklin and Valeria are all the age they currently, although the different Franklins have different hair lengths.

Trivia time: Not surprisingly, Heaven and angels are inconsistent in their depictions in the Marvel Universe. In Ghost Rider, angels are villains, and there was an ongoing storyline about a fallen angel named Zadkiel leading a war in Heaven. In Amazing X-Men, Nightcrawler was in Heaven after he died. Although it was a paradise, he found himself battling the so-called “Heaven’s Pirates,” and then facing an invasion of Heaven from devilish father Azazel. In Howard the Duck, Howard ended up in Heaven where he had a lengthy conversation with God, all about the similarities between organized religion and corporate greed. Finally, in 1953, Marvel (then Atlas) published 5 issues of Bible Tales for Young People, which the Marvel Wiki states is canon with the Marvel Universe.

Fantastic or frightful? A fun romp that lets artist Mike Wieringo cut loose with the fantasy visuals he’s famous for, while also bringing out the tension among the characters over everything that’s happened during this storyline. Really exciting stuff as this arc nears its conclusion.

Next: Hail to the king.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – Full Metal Duck

Rewatching DuckTales! It’s the rise and fall of our new hero Gizmoduck in episode seventy-three, “Full Metal Duck.” This part three of the “SuperDuckTales” five-parter than originally aired as a prime time made-for-TV movie on ABC.

Thanks to a Beagle Boys scheme, Scrooge relocated his money bin to a mountaintop, and he hired bumbling accountant Fenton Crackshell to help make the move. Scrooge then had a security robot built, only for it to go out of control. Fenton donned a robot suit of his own to become the heroic Gizmoduck, and this episode begins with him and the security bot locked in battle. The fight does not go well, because Fenton lost the Gizmoduck instruction manual. But he wins in the end thanks to the suit’s durability and his own dumb luck. He gets the job as Scrooge’s new security guard.

Fenton tries to show off the armor to his mother, who is unimpressed. He’s unable to take off the armor, much to his and his mother’s frustration. The next day, he meets Huey, Dewey, and Louie, who have become big fans of his. At the Beagle Boys’ hideout, they concoct a new plan to swingle Scrooge. Back at Fenton’s mother’s place, he and his mom discover that her remote control can undo the Gizmoduck suit. Scrooge then calls for Gizmoduck’s help, and Fenton doesn’t yet realize the code word needed to reactivate it.

A lot of plot happens during the commercial break, as we see the Beagle Boys have stormed the Statue of Duckburg and taken hostages, including Scrooge’s nephews. While they threaten to torture the hostages with bagpipe music (!), Fenton and his mother struggle with how to reactivate the suit. When she says the exclamation “Blathering blatherskite,” which is also the codeword, she dons the suit. It still takes a few more minutes before Fenton figures out the codeword and dons the suit himself.

Gizmoduck defeats the Beagle Boys by distracting them with ice cream (!), and then becomes an even bigger celebrity throughout Duckburg. Later, Ma Beagle finds the instruction book for the Gizmoduck armor, which ended up in her car during the previous episode’s action scenes. There’s an extended prison escape where Ma Beagle gets her son Megabyte Beagle of the slammer. Megabyte is able to readd the instruction manual and come up with a plan.

When Gizmoduck is being interviewed on live TV, Megabyte hacks the armor and causes Gizmoduck to run amok on a crime spree through the city. This includes stealing Dandra Dee’s car, with heartsick Fenton apologizing the whole time. Public opinion turns against Gizmoduck as the Beagles send Gizmoduck after Scrooge. Huey, Dewey and Louie find Scrooge tied up, while Gizmoduck moves the money bin again, this time to Ma Beagle’s cabin in the woods.

To be continued!

Humbug: When the Beagle Boys are torturing their hostages with bagpipe music, everyone thinks it’s horrible except for Scrooge. The bagpipe tunes remind of songs from his youth.

Junior Woodchucks: Even before the Gizmoduck fan club is formed, Huey, Dewey and Louie are shown carrying Gizmoduck posters and buttons, suggesting they founded the club.

Maid and maiden: Mrs. Beakley is in one scene, to complain about the bagpipes.

Do the doo: Doofus has a quick wordless cameo when he sits on a seesaw and sends the other kid flying, only for Gizmoduck to rescue the kid.

Pro-rata: According to the Disney Wiki, Fenton’s mother’s name is simply “M’ma Crackshell.” Her running gag is that she’s obsessed with watching TV, including the TV screen on Gizmoduck’s chest. As for Fenton’s love interest Gandra Dee, she gets her car stolen during Gizmoduck’s crime spree, and isn’t too happy about that.

Your move, creep: We lean the Gizmoduck suit doesn’t just contain weapons, but gadgets of all kinds, including a car horn, wigs and glasses for a disguise, and a combined alarm clock and toaster. Also, there’s a gag where he pushes all his buttons at once, and turns into a giant spherical Gizmoduck that appears to do nothing. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism.

Fowl fouls: Instead of the usual three Beagle Boys, this episode has a group of seven – Big Time, Burger, Bounder, Babyface, Bankjob, and Bebop. And yes, this is the first appearance of Megabyte Beagle.

Down in Duckburg: TV reporter Webwa Walters (a parody of Barbara Walters) reappears after she was last seen in “Send in the Clones.” She’ll have quite a few more appearances after this, as well as in the Darkwing Duck spinoff.

Reference row: The episode title spoofs Stanley Kubrick’s 1989 war epic Full Metal Jacket. Gizmoduck represents the duality of man. Also, Fenton’s mother watches parodies of Gilligan’s Island and Let’s Make a Deal.

Thoughts on this viewing: The idea of the Beagle Boys threatening to torture hostages is a little darker than usual, bagpipes notwithstanding. Beyond that, this really feels like one part of a larger movie rather than a single episode. Perhaps this is what gave the producers the idea to make a DuckTales movie.  

Next: …and into the fire.

  • * * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: Getting the band back together

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Our heroes are in a dark place in issue #509, but there’s some light ahead. Also, the great Mike Wieringo is back on art duties, with Karl Kesel on inks.

Where were we? After the final battle between Reed and Dr. Doom that left Reed’s face irreparably scarred, Reed took control of Latveria to dismantle everything Doom had built. This caused an international crisis. Then Reed tried trapping Doom’s soul in an inescapable afterlife, only for Doom to escape and possess Ben’s body. Ben took a hit from a superweapon that stopped Doom, killing Ben in the process. The last issue ended several weeks later, with the FF having split up and lost their fortune.

We begin six weeks earlier, with Reed desperately trying to save Ben’s life after the big battle. Nick Fury isn’t having it, insisting that Reed be placed under arrest. Reed insists that every second counts, and Sue tells him he’s spent the last hour trying and failing to revive Ben. Cut to the present, where Reed is asleep in his lab, equations written on the walls all around him. He has a letter from the Pentagon, stating that Ben’s will insists that his body be turned over to the military for scientific study. He falls asleep and dreams about Dr. Doom, then wakes up proclaiming, “That’s it!”

Elsewhere, Johnny has gotten a job working in a garage, daydreaming about happier times with him and Ben. His jerk boss doesn’t like what the FF pulled in Latveria, and he says the FF got what was coming to them. Then we catch up with Alicia, tearfully making sculptures of Ben. We see Sue and the kids having been staying with Alicia since the team split up. On the phone with Johnny, she says she still loves Reed, she can’t find a way to reach him. She adds that all the FF’s finances are frozen until the UN’s accusations of treason are resolved. She says Nick Fury put in a good word for the FF, insisting they were fighting Dr. Doom, but that’s not how the public sees it. Then we see the scene that ended the previous issue, with Reed on the phone with Sue, saying he’s got a plan to bring Ben back.

Sue calls Johnny, and shortly afterward, they break down the door in Reed’s lab demanding an explanation. Reed says he’s invented a device to detected immeasurably faint brainwaves, and he found one. A door opens, and Reed reveals he has Ben’s body in a statis chamber. Reed says he stole the body from an army medical center, insisting that there is a faint spark of life still in him.

Reed further explains his plan. He has rebuilt the machine that originally scarred Dr. Doom’s face – the machine he hoped to use to free his mother’s soul from Hell. Reed says he has perfected the machine, and he will use it to return Ben’s soul to his body. Reed further argues that it   might not have been Hell but Heaven Doom hoped to reach. Sue says the afterlife is too big of a concept to deal with, saying it’s not an “Afterverse” they can visit like the Negative Zone. Reed says he’s insisting on making the trip, Johnny says he and Sue are coming along. Reed activates the machine, and the three of them disappear in a flash of light.

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Reed’s suspicion that Doom might still be alive is based on that thing where the body weighs slightly less after death. A lot of real-life people believe this has something to do with a soul, but based on what little reading I’ve done, it’s really air and gas leaving the body. Whatever. It’s a Marvel comic.

Fade out: Sue reads a Time Magazine with the FF on the cover and “Traitors?” as the headline.

Flame on: Johnny compares venturing into the afterlife with the FF’s first spaceflight, in which the four of them stealing their own ship to make the historic flight. This speech is what convinces Sue to come along.

Four and a half/Our gal Val: Franklin and Valeria are shown sleeping in a guest bedroom in Alicia’s apartment, letting the readers know they’re okay during all this.

Sue-per spy: The 2019 Invisible Woman revealed that Sue had a double life as a S.H.E.I.L.D. agent all along. Could this be part of the reason why Fury is vouching for the FF after he arrests Reed?

Trivia time: What’s Alicia been up to since we last saw her? Hard to say. The Marvel Wiki has no info on her between Onslaught and Secret Invasion. This issue establishes just how much she still cares for Ben, even though they separated way back in issue #358, and there was a lot of drama between her and the Silver Surfer over in his comic.

Fantastic or frightful? This is where we transition into the final act of this storyline, where our heroes are at their lowest and then come fighting back. How will they resolve all this business about souls and the afterlife, not to mention a personal crisis so huge it tears the FF apart? It’s going to take something big.

Next: In Heaven, everything is fine.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – Frozen Assets

Rewatching DuckTales! Now we’re talking. In episode 72, “Frozen Assets,” we finally meet fan-favorite hero Gizmoduck.  This is part two of the “SuperDuckTales” five-parter, which originally aired as a TV movie on ABC in prime time.

Last time, Scrooge hired bumbling bean counter Fenton Crackshell as his new accountant, to help move his entire money bin to make way for a new super-highway. Except that’s a plot by the Beagle Boys to nab the money. Through increasingly outrageous circumstances, all the money ended up in a lake, which was then lost when Fenton accidentally destroyed a nearby dam. This one begins with the money washing down river and ending up at Ma Beagle’s cabin. Fenton apologetically returns to Scrooge, again suggesting that Scrooge have frozen assets rather than liquid. This gives Scrooge an idea.

The Beagle Boys and Ma Beagle celebrate their newfound wealth, only for Scrooge to use giant fans to freeze the water containing the money. Launchpad and a fleet of helicopters carry the money away with a giant ice pick. While the money bin is relocated to a mountaintop, Scrooge ponders how to make his security even more failsafe. Fenton calls Scrooge for an update, revealing that he used Scrooge’s lucky number one dime to make the call at a pay phone. Scrooge tells Fenton to get the dime back or else he’s fired.

Scrooge next goes to Gyro, asking him to build a robot to guard the money bin. Fenton, meanwhile, goes on a wild chase around town searching for the missing dime, only to run into the Beagle Boys again as they’re about to rob a bank. Later, Gyro reveals he’s built an unstoppable robot to guard the bin. The robot goes out of control, believing everyone to be a potential thief, including Scrooge and Gyro. Scrooge tells Gyro to build another security measure, this time one with a brain.

The Beagle Boys manage to steal a bag of dimes that originated from the phone company, not knowing the bag contains Scrooge’s number one dime. Then there’s a series of comedy skits with Fenton trying and failing different ways to get the dimes back from the Beagles. Scrooge then meets with Gyro, who presents a “self-propelled security system” called Gizmoduck. Because Scrooge asked for security with a brain, that means a person has to wear the Gizmoduck armor. To prevent the armor from falling into the wrong hands, Scrooge tells Gyro to set a password, using words that no one ever uses. Fenton overhears their conversation, and he wants the suit.

For the password, Gyro picks “blatherskite” out of the dictionary, unaware that “blabbering blatherskite” is the exclamation Fenton keeps saying over and over. Fenton sneaks into Gyro’s lab and can’t figure out how to get the armor to work, until he says those fateful words, “blabbering blatherskite.” All the pieces of the armor seem to spring to life and start floating around the room, attaching themselves to Fenton one by one. He is now… Gizmoduck! He hides his face behind the armor’s visor and tells Gyro he’s the new security guard.

At Ma Beagle’s cabin, Gizmoduck arrives and demands the Beagles turn over the dimes. The Beagles hop in their car and lead Gizmoduck on a wild chase throughout Duckburg. After a lot of action, it ends on a goofball note, where Gizmoduck pretends to be a fast-food drive through kiosk, and he grabs the dimes when Burger Beagle tries to order food. Gizmoduck returns the dime to Scrooge, pretending to be an anonymous security guard Fenton hired. Now all Gizmoduck must do is defeat the giant robot still guarding the money bin.

Humbug: We see groove on the floor in Scrooge’s worry room are now a deep pit. Duckworth the butler jokes that Scrooge is “in a rut.”

Junior woodchucks: Huey, Dewey, and Louie are support characters in this one. Notice that in the worry room scene, they’re standing frozen in the background, no doubt the animators saving some time and resources.

Fasten your seatbelts: Who are all these helicopter pilots that Launchpad is apparently friends with? I want to see that episode.

Great gadgeteer: Gyro doesn’t want to build a robot at first, wanting instead to finish work on an automatic pancake flipping machine.

Pro-rata: Fenton’s plans to get back Scrooge’s dime from the Beagle Boys include dressing up like a tooth fairy, and impersonating a vending machine. His best bit is pretending to be a long-lost Beagle Boy, which almost works until Ma Beagle can’t find him in the family album.

Your move, creep: Gizmoduck is a combination of Robocop, Iron Man, and Inspector Gadget. His gear in this one include a floating umbrella and suggestive-sounding midriff missiles. His most important tool, though, is how both his legs are now a big wheel, which doesn’t make sense but comes in handy during a high-speed chase.

Fowl fouls: The classic Beagle Boy trio of Big Time, Burger, and Bouncer are joined this time by a fourth, Baggy. Ma Beagle is here as well, and this cabin of hers is both down river from the dam, as well as a short drive to downtown Duckburg.

Down in Duckburg: Fenton visits the phone company to get Scrooge’s dime back, and there’s a funny bit where the receptionist talks only in automated phone message speak.

Reference row: The robot guarding the money bin is an orange van that transforms into a huge fighting robot. Looks to me like he’s Ironhide from the Transformers.

Thoughts on this viewing: After a run of sitcom/comedy episodes, the DuckTales animators get to flex their action/adventure muscles again, as the chase through the city has a lot of fun action beats. Fenton gets a lot of moments to shine as Gizmoduck, and we’ll see in upcoming episodes how he does (or doesn’t?) fit in with the main cast.

Next: Battlebots.

  • * * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: One last Thing

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Dr. Doom has escaped from Hell, and in issue #508 he’s possessing our heroes’ minds. Only in comics, I guess.

Recap: After the big battle between Reed and Dr. Doom in issue #500, Doom was sent to Hell and Reed’s face was irreparably scarred. Reed then took over Latveria in hopes of dismantling everything Doom had once built. Both neighboring nations and U.S. troops led by Nick Fury threatened to march on Latveria to stop Reed. For the final phase of Reed’s plan, he trapped Doom and himself in a Mobius room – a pocket dimension where Reed could keep an eye on Doom and keep him out of trouble, for all eternity. When Reed’s teammates learned of this, they attempted a rescue, only for Doom to use his rarely-seen possession/mind-swapping powers to put his mind in Sue’s body. Got all that?

This issue begins with a big fight, as Doom-in-Sue’s-body attacks everyone with invisible force fields, arguing the whole time about how Sue’s teammates always took her great power for granted. Doom-in-Sue’s-body manages to outfight Ben and Johnny in such a way that the two destroy the portal machine leading to the Mobius room. Doom-in-Sue’s-body escapes, and the UN troops open fire on the FF, thinking they’re working with Doom. Nick Fury steps in at the last minute and saves the FF, saying he knows there’s no way that’s really Sue.

Doom-in-Sue’s-body escapes from the castle and out into the Latverian streets. He sees Latverians happy to see him, but then realizes they’re happy to see Sue. As Doom-in-Sue’s-body realizes that the FF took over Latveria in his absence, Reed, Ben, Johnny, and Nick catch up to him. More fighting, as Ben and Johnny use their powers to put pressure on the force fields, causing feedback to overwhelm Doom-in-Sue’s-body. Just when it seems Doom is defeated, he then transfers in mind into Johnny’s body. Doom-in-Johnny’s-body flies off, while Reed and Fury have a quick talk. Reed insists that non-lethal ordinance be used against Johnny, adding that without Doom’s body, there’s nowhere for Doom’s soul to go. Fury says that even if they find a way to stop Doom, Reed will still be responsible for causing an international incident in Latveria.

 Doom-in-Johnny’s-body returns to the castle, only to find all his weapons, technology and fortune gone. Reed and the others catch up to him again, with Reed saying “You have nothing now!” They fight some more, destroying a painting of Doom’s mother, which Reed says is all that was left. Reed fires a weapon that opens a tiny portal to deep space, creating a vacuum in the room. “I won’t even leave you the air in the room, Victor,” Reed says. Doom-in-Johnny’s-body escapes the vacuum, flies up to Ben, and then Doom transfers his mind from Johnny to Ben. Doom-in-Ben’s-body snaps Johnny over his knee like he’s Bane with Batman. He tells Fury that Fury has to kill him in order to save Johnny. Reed tries desperately to think of another way out of this, but with Sue still weak and the vacuum gun recharging, it seems there is no other way.

For a moment, Ben’s personality reemerges, pleading with the others to kill him rather than let Johnny die and let Doom run amok with Ben’s strength. Reed is the one who fires the shot, blasting a huge hole in Ben’s chest. It looks like Ben is dead, but then he come to, barely hanging on. He says he can feel that Doom is gone and not coming back. He tells Reed, “This ain’t yer fault.” Ben says that even though he and others screwed up Reed’s plan, they won anyway. He asks Reed to give his love to the kids, and says he always thought he’d die on Yancy Street, and not someplace as distant as Latveria. His final words are, “What a revoltin’ development this is.” And then he dies.

Cut to six weeks later, where we revisit the Fantastic Four gift shop seen at the start of this story arc, only now it has an “Out of business” sign on the front doors. A news report states that Latveria just held its first democratic election in many years. Despite this, public opinion has turned against Reed and the FF because of Reed’s actions in Latveria. Sue and Reed have a chat over the phone. It appears they have separated, as Reed says he hopes she and the kids are okay, and that he hasn’t heard from Johnny. He says that he turned all his patents over to the government in exchange for dropping the charges, which is making money tight for the family. Reed then admits his biggest mistake was not letting the FF in on his agenda in Latveria, so he promises no more secrets. Then he admits he’s got a new plan – to bring Ben back from the dead.  

Unstable molecule: Reed has put posters around Latveria that are a picture of his face with the words “truth, justice, mercy” below him. He says he was trying to free Latveria, but this looks pretty oppressive.

Fade out: What is this gun that can blow a hole in the Thing’s chest? It’s one of Doom’s last remaining weapons, originally designed to be able to shoot through Sue’s force fields. At the start of the issue, Doom-in-Sue’s-body disables the gun before it can get a shot, so I guess Reed does a quick repair job on it.

Clobberin’ time: At the start of the issue, Ben says it was worth it to let Dr. Doom escape the Mobius room if that meant getting his best friend Reed back. This nicely foreshadows the end of the issue.

Flame on: Although it looks like Doom-in-Ben’s-body is breaking Johnny’s back, the captions state that only Johnny’s collarbone is broken.

Trivia time: She’s not named in this issue, but the winner of Latveria’s first democratic election is Lucia Von Bardas. Her story is later told in the 2004 Secret Wars event. She was revealed to be secretly funded by the Tinkerer, and later became a villainous cyborg.

You’re probably suspecting that Dr. Doom isn’t really dead. You’d be right. He’s going to make a big comeback during the build-up to the controversial Civil War mega-crossover.

Fantastic or frightful? A wild issue, with the FF basically all fighting one another, and in increasingly brutal ways. In terms of this overall plot, this is our transition from act 2 to act 3, and I know things are going to go to some interesting places before it’s all over.

Next: Getting the band back together.

  • * * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – Liquid Assets

Rewatching DuckTales! One of the reasons I wanted to do this series on this blog is to revisit the Gizmoduck episodes, and we finally meet him in episode 71, “Liquid Assets”… except we don’t.

What’s all this, then? The second half of the 10-episode season two is a five-parter known as “SuperDuckTales.” Like the first half, these five episodes originally aired as a two-hour made-for-TV movie. Except not in syndication this time. These episodes aired on prime time on ABC, as movie on Wonderful World of Disney. Not only that, but this was in May, the all-important sweeps month where the networks brought out their best to get those sweet ratings. Not only that, but this was Mother’s Day that year, with a big push to get the whole family to watch. All this plus the introduction of a new main character meant that even though the series is winding down at this point, someone at Disney was intent on keeping DuckTales going.

Here’s what happens: As part of an elaborate plot to give a birthday gift to their mom, the Beagle Boys mess with some blueprints at City Hall, tricking everyone into thinking the city’s new super-highway must be built across the land where Scrooge’s money bin is. When construction workers show up at the money bin, Scrooge tries to get the mayor to turn them away, but instead gets the old “you can’t fight City Hall” treatment. Scrooge is faced with the conundrum of having to physically move all his money, with a speech about how he prefers liquid assets over frozen assets.

Cut to a bean factory, where hapless accountant Fenton Crackshell is a literal bean counter. He longs for a better career, and he has a crush on hot coworker Dandra Dee. He finds an ad from Scrooge asking for help counting his money during the move. Fenton decides he’s the perfect choice to be Scrooge’s new accountant. Fenton shows up at the interview (it’s some sort of audition, with a bunch of accountants all showing up). Scrooge throws Fenton out, but he keeps coming back for more, not taking no for an answer. Frustrated Scrooge fires a shotgun at Fenton (!) and Fenton impresses Scrooge by counting all the shells as they fly past him. He gets the job.

Cut to a trailer, where Fenton lives with his mother. Fenton wants to celebrate the new job, but s his perpetually-disappointed mother wants nothing to do with him. It’s also here where we establish that “Blabbering blatherskites!” is an expression Fenton uses all the time. Later, the Beagle Boys as real estate agents, offering Scrooge a deal on mountaintop land as a new home for the money bin.

As Scrooge plans to physically move the entire bin, Fenton encourages him to invest his money rather than keep it all in a bin. Scrooge again insists on keeping his money liquid. Fenton takes that literally by dumping all the money in a nearby lake. Thanks to amazing counting powers, Fenton can tell in an instant it is all accounted for. Scrooge, Fenton, and Scrooge’s nephews watch over the money while pretending to be camping.

Launchpad, meanwhile, transports the money bin building to a new location (it’s on the back of some impossibly huge truck). The Beagle Boys set off dynamite to cause an avalanche, and then somehow make off with the entire building. They present the building to Ma Beagle for her birthday, only for them all to find it empty. Scrooge then impersonates a tax man, dropping all sorts of fines on the Beagle Boys for owning an unregulated money bin. Launchpad sneaks the building away (I guess?) while the Beagle Boys investigate Scrooge’s campsite and learn the location of the money.

There’s a lot of comedy bits as the Beagle Boys connive ways to get Scrooge’s money out of the lake. Finally, Big Time Beagle says the best plan is to do nothing, because Fenton is such a screw up that he’ll play into the Beagles’ hands without knowing he’s doing so. Sure enough, when the Beagle Boys override the nearby wooden dam with termites, Fenton tries to save the day by using termite-eating woodpeckers. The woodpeckers destroy the dam, losing all the money, and Scrooge is furious with Fenton.

To be continued!

Humbug: Scrooge’s exact fortune is given in this episode as “600 sentillion, 386 zillion, 947 trillion, 522 billion dollars and 36 cents.”

Junior woodchucks: Huey, Dewey and Louie were initially not invited to Scrooge and Fenton’s camp, but they went anyway. They say whenever they get a strict rule, the “unstrict” it.”

Fasten your seatbelts: Not sure where Launchpad got this huge money-bin-moving truck. It looks like that big thing they drive the space shuttle around in.

Pro-rata: When the show introduced Bubba the cave duck as a new main character, I wondered how much story potential they could get out of him. Someone must have had similar concerns, because Fenton is given tons of story potential before he ever becomes Gizmoduck. This includes his jokey banter with Scrooge, as well as his own cast of supporting characters with his mom and Dandra Dee. Also, we learn Fenton is a “near graduate” of the “banana bran business brochure course.”

Foul fowls: The Beagle Boys in this one are again the classic trio of Big Time, Burger, and Bouncer, with a quick appearance by Ma Beagle. Big Time takes off his cap at one point, and we see he’s balding underneath.

Down in Duckburg: The money bin is on the other side of town from Scrooge’s mansion, rather than right next door. Also, we see Scrooge’s worry room, where he paces in a circle around a statue when he’s worried, causing deep grooves in the floor. The nephews join him in his worrying in one scene.

Reference row: Dandra Dee is named after ‘60s model turned actress Sandra Dee.

Thoughts on this viewing: Another all-jokes-all-the-time episode. I wonder if someone on the DuckTales production wanted the show to be nothing but hacky comedy rather than treasure hunting adventure. But don’t worry, we’re about to get into some outrageous robo-action!

Next: Your move, creep.  

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Fantastic Friday: Fun with She-Hulk

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Except I was busy this week, so here’s some She-Hulk pics 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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