Sunday, August 8, 2010

Comics Review: DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES # 24 (February , 1994)

Over at his Blog, “Duck Comics Revue”, our friend GeoX discusses William Van Horn’s opus (…and apparent tribute to THE TWILIGHT ZONE and THE OUTER LIMITS) “The Black Moon”.

To see this nicely illustrated review, click on THIS LINK. Be warned that there are major spoilers.
Reading this inspired me to dig up my own write up of this issue, prepared about 15 years ago for my APA and fanzine column “The Issue At Hand”.

If you don’t mind SPOILERS to a story that was published in the USA at the end of 1993, please read on.

The Issue at Hand Is: DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES # 24 (February , 1994)

Published by Gladstone Comics Series II

The Black Moon” 21 pg. Story and Art by William Van Horn.

The planet “Ronald” has been discovered beyond the orbit of Pluto (…the planet, not the dog!), but that’s not all, folks! Orbiting Ronald is a “Black Moon” consisting entirely of high-grade petroleum. …And, I’ll assume, just a little internal gravity to keep it held together. Nevertheless, a “moon-sized ball of oil”, out there for the taking!

Competing for this prize, among the nations, corporations, and high-powered individuals of the Earth, is rich Scrooge Mc Duck – armed with an ace in the hole, a “thought-ship”, produced by inventor and (…all together now!) accommodating source of miracles, Gyro Gearloose.

This spacecraft, which can “operate by thoughts alone”, is capable of reaching the Black Moon at the speed of… well, uh… thought! Having incurred yet another debt to his miserly Uncle Scrooge, Donald and his three nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie are tapped for the mission.

First to reach the destination and file a claim in the name of Scrooge, the ducks collect a sample droplet of the oil, and all seems well. That is, until the droplet, no longer inhibited by the cold vacuum of space, “doubles” to two droplets! Then four, eight, sixteen… Yike!

The Ducks are soon overwhelmed by the murky alien substance, the increasing volume of which, eventually blows the ship apart! Temporarily kept alive by their space suits and gear, the Ducks face the prospect of extinction in the void, until a second ship appears. A rescue tanker ship piloted by Scrooge, who thought it wise to follow at a safe distance.

It’s all aboard for Earth, as Scrooge elects to leave his unstable treasure behind, vowing that Gyro will eventually “tame the stuff”. As we fade out, a droplet of the oil, unnoticed by the Ducks, falls from Donald’s boot… and begins to expand! Oooooh!

William Van Horn is best known for his unique and always funny series of “ten page” Donald Duck comedies, which primarily appeared in Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. Continuing the series in the tone of its originator, Carl Barks, Van Horn is perhaps the only other American creator to achieve regular and consistent success working within this deceptively difficult art form.

His forays into the realm of adventure, unfortunately, are all too few and far between. (Though, thankfully, Don Rosa has more than ably taken up any slack in this area.) Van Horn’s previous effort, Disney Comics’ Donald Duck Adventures # 15 (August, 1991) “A Tuft Luck Tale” was met with universal praise from the Disney comics faithful, as was “The Black Moon”.

Though decidedly in the traditional Carl Barks vein, Van Horn’s adventures are as unique as his “ten-pagers”. How often does a Disney comics story end on as ominous a note as this one? Has Van Horn taken a page from Rod Serling, as well?

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