Monday, October 19, 2009
Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #699 came out a couple weeks ago, the first issue from Boom! Studios (short review: Awesome). The plot of the issue is that Mickey's alien pal Eega Beeva (seriously) assembles all the superheroes in the Disney universe to rescue Uncle Scrooge and the Money Bin from a dastardly team of supervillains.
The issue has a lot of fun playing with the conventions of superhero comics, such as the gathering of the team, the uneasy alliance of supervillains, and the heavy use of captions and Editor's Notes that you used to see in Marvel books all the time.
Like all of the Boom! Disney titles, this comic is a reprint of a story that first ran in Europe. This particular series ran in Italy as the Ultraheroes. Having grown up on Gladstone Comics, with their heavy reliance on classic Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson, this issue was quite different from the type of Disney comic I'm used to. But, it's different in a good way.
A little research tells me that the concept of the Standard Characters as superheroes didn't originate with The Ultraheroes series, however. Super Goof of course had many adventures in the old Gold Key comics. Interestingly, Donald Duck has also had a long and storied career as a costumed adventurer in Italy, dating back to the 1960's.
The excellent website Disney Comics Worldwide has a lot of information about the Italian Paperinik series. Apparently inspired by Diabolik, Donald Duck dons a mask and cape to seek his revenge on those who have wronged him. Especially his relatives Uncle Scrooge and Gladstone Gander.
Over the years, the Duck Avenger became more of a heroic superhero type, more of a Batman than a costumed thief or whatever. In true superhero fashion, Paperinik was rebooted and relaunched a bunch of times, but maintained his popularity with readers.
As a fan of both Disney and superhero comics, I sincerely hope that Boom! puts out some trade paperbacks of this stuff in English. The idea of semi-serious superhero sci-fi comics featuring Donald Freaking Duck is just too bizarre not to share with English-speaking readers!