Donald Duck #364

A comic review article by: Rafael Gaitan
ADVANCE REVIEW! Donald Duck #364 will come out on March 9, 2011

BOOM! Studios is blowing up the kids’ comics market. Between their reprints of classic Scrooge McDuck stories to the brilliant ongoing Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck revivals, BOOM! is publishing some of the best comics out there, period. The Donald Duck ongoing is mostly reprints of older Carl Barks stories, and in this month we get the 1951 classic “The Big Bin on Killmotor Hill,” in print for the first time in almost 20 years, as well as a story by Italian writer/ artist Federico Pedrocchi: the long out-of-print “Special Correspondent.”

Barks is revered as one of the most talented writer/ artists of all time, and his beloved stories have influenced such major motion pictures as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Inception. “The Big Bin on Killmotor Hill” features the first appearance of Scrooge’s money bin, a delightfully Rube Goldberg-esque “safe” house that causes way more harm than intended. The biggest question this story raised, however is why hasn’t Scrooge not had those Beagle Boys killed with all that money he doesn’t spend? Rather than built a fortress to keep them out, he could spend a few hundred taking them out! (Assuming 1951 murder prices -- inflation may vary in your era.)

This story features Barks’ clean yet kinetic illustrations as well as his typical flare for visual gags and his excellent comedic timing. While Scrooge and Donald and their nephews trying to ward off the Beagle Boys isn’t as wacky as anything Axe Cop did this week, it’s incredible how fluid and lively a 60-year-old comic can be -- a true testament to the talent of the Disney Comics empire.

The followup story, “Special Correspondent,” may be the most striking story. While Barks’ is entertaining and lighthearted, this issue finds Donald and his dear friend Peter Pig being recruited as photographers by the best-named… thing... in comics, newspaper owner Lucius Linotype. While it is indeed a fun story with its share of laugh, “Special Correspondent” is reminiscent of an espionage film starring Donald, and it’s the best. Why anyone would give him a job is beyond me, especially with his lack of pants, but he and Peter Pig manage to go from getting their credentials taken to almost being executed as spies, and this is just Part One.

Pedrocchi’s art is vivid and bold, and his attention to detail is perfect for the manic pace of the story. Any story that ends its first chapter with Donald and Peter falling into a river and headed into a soon-to-be warzone is a story I want to be a part of. Some might be turned off by the Disney license, to which I say, c’mon, dawg.

Barks and Pedrochhi have crafted some stories that are timeless, hilarious and exemplary. Stories like these are enjoyable by anyone with a pulse, and literal examples of the axiom “They don’t make ‘em like they used to anymore.”

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