Thursday, June 20, 2024

Limited Comics Review: Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime.

It's here! It's out! It's the subject of our post!  It's UNCLE SCROOGE AND THE INFINITY DIME (Marvel Comics, Released June 19th, 2024)!

I dub this a "LIMITED Comics Review" for two reasons... ONE: Time and my usual state of being (...all together now) HORRIFICALLY BUSY, which is even more so than usual lately.  TWO: My status as a member of the Fantagraphics team that handles these very same characters finds me in the unlikely position of discussing the wares of a larger and... um, more influential "competitor"! 

So, I'll tread lightly, fairly, honestly... and with some (unusual for me) degree of brevity.  

First and foremost, I think that everyone would agree that it's great to see a new Uncle Scrooge story even partially produced in the USA!  I add "partially" because it seems to be a collaboration between Marvel and Disney Italy.  ...And, if (Disney owned) Marvel doesn't have the resources to do this, then who does?  

The story itself was good.  An epic, sweeping, universe-shaking tale that is common today.  Structurally reminiscent of "Scrooge's Last Adventure" - seen in the USA in IDW's UNCLE SCROOGE #13 (legacy #417) thru #16 (legacy #420).  If you liked that, you'll like this.  

And while I DID like both "Scrooge's Last Adventure"  and "The Infinity Dime",  I find myself sorta burned-out on epic, sweeping, universe-shaking tales from other publishers.  Early Scrooge adventures with a more tightly-focused and specific scope, such as Carl Barks' great "Back to the Klondike", "Tralla La", and somewhat later ones like "The Twenty-Four Carat Moon" and "The Flying Dutchman" were more than stirring enough to make them forever classics without the now-seemingly-requisite universe-shaking. 

That said, "The Infinity Dime",  works well on a number of levels, including at least one that "strictly Disney" fans may or may not get.  

Writer Jason Aaron is to be commented for his efforts. I personally felt better about this project upon learning that he was its writer - having enjoyed his work on the limited series BATMAN OFF-WORLD (DC Comics, 2024) a series whose most notable flaw is the extraordinary gap between issues!  

(DIGRESSION:  Issues 1-3 were cover-dated January, February, and March , 2024.  Issue 4 was cover-dated JUNE, 2024... and Issue 5 is still... still "Off-World", I guess!  I bought # 1-3 in one purchase, waited a very long time for #4 and expect to wait another good while for #5!  I read # 1-3 in one sitting, but will need to review the WHOLE THING before resuming!  END OF DIGRESSION)

Jason Aaron clearly loves the character of Scrooge McDuck, as is evidenced by his foreword - literally titled "Why I Love This Duck"...particularly as characterized by Don Rosa.  Thus, "his" Scrooge falls squarely into the "mythically invincible hero" mold of Rosa, more so than the "classically adventurous hero" of Carl Barks. Given this, Aaron, quite effectively, takes his tale to a level even Rosa might not have imagined.  

You might expect Rosa's "Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" to permeate Aaron's epic, and indeed it does - spreading itself thickly throughout "Infinity Dime's" 30 pages... but there is another influence decidedly at work here (as hinted at above), Marvel's six-issue limited series of 1991, "The Infinity Gauntlet" , with an alternate universe's version of Scrooge taking on the role of "Infinity Gauntlet's" villain Thanos and substituting  alternate universe versions of "The Number One Dime" for the "infinity gems" of the original.  

I'm not a fan of post Silver Age Marvel Comics, and have never read "The Infinity Gauntlet" , but the obvious title homage was enough to tip off even me.  

One unexpected - and impressively clever - additional influence, a reference to Carl Barks' "Christmas on Bear Mountain", occurs on page one and sets the events of Aaron's story in motion.  

The art, by a number of different Italian artists, is sometimes over-rendered and hyper-colored, but good overall. 

Brimming with enough oversized or full-page panels, and Jack Kirby-esque, cinematic two page spreads to satisfy even Marvel movie fans!  

Why, there's even a nice little nod to RICK AND MORTY's Council of Ricks...

...With this story's offhanded mention of a Council of Gyros!

Right now you're probably asking yourself "WHERE'S DONALD?"  Well, you won't find the answer to that question until PAGE 24, but it'll be worth it!  NO SPOLIERS HERE!  

To sum up, "Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime" is just enough on the "comfortable side of things" to satisfy a Barks traditionalist like me, while decidedly falling on the (all together now) "epic, sweeping, universe-shaking side of things".  

That means it should appeal to a wide swath of comics consumers, whose individual mileage will vary per their personal preferences. 

...And a big salute to writer Jason Aaron (we Disney comics writers and scripters must stick together) for walking such a fine line so successfully.  

I doubt I'll be able to say the same for Marvel's next foray into the world created, or otherwise enhanced, by Carl Barks, July's "What If...?  Donald Duck Became Wolverine", not written by Jason Aaron. 


And here's the classic cover it's based on...

It will be followed up by September's "What If...?  Donald Duck Became Thor"... 

...Neither of which appeal to me!  Heck, I don't even like Donald as "Duck Avenger"! 

These are just too far removed from "my everyman-duck" Donald...

...But, again, your "traditionalist" or "non-traditionalist" mileage will vary.   I'll be passing on those, but do act according to your personal taste, and not some fogey blogger. 

I opted for the Alex Ross cover, not only because Alex Ross is such an amazing artist... 

...But because it's also (...all together now) more traditional!  

SO traditional, in fact, that Scrooge even appears to be diving into his MONEY CRIB, the 1951 precursor to his iconic MONEY BIN!  

But there are 13 (...count 'em 13!) variant covers, catering to all tastes!  While you're wondering why they didn't squeeze out just one more so as to avoid the potential bad luck in publishing 13 variants, you can see them all HERE at the GCD index that I'm presently preparing - and that should be completed soon. 

There are a host of additional features for your $7.99, including "Uncle Scrooge Cover Faves!" a gallery of Carl Barks Dell UNCLE SCROOGE covers and the wrap-around cover illustration by William Van Horn for UNCLE SCROOGE #250 - with no mention of Mr. Barks and Mr. Van Horn over its three pages. 

To tie in with events setting  "The Infinity Dime" into motion, there is also a reprint of Carl Barks' ultra classic "Christmas on Bear Mountain", which marked the first appearance of Uncle Scrooge - apparently using Fantagraphics' clean version of the original Dell/Western Publishing color, seen in The Complete Carl Barks Library Volume 5. 

A two-page preview of "What If...?  Donald Duck Became Wolverine", and other extras. 

I said I'd be brief... guess that didn't work out!  But, MY verdict on this much-awaited event is in.  Now, how about YOURS?  

Comments have been slower than usual lately... but I'm expecting you all to LIGHT IT UP for this one!  Have at it!  

When THIS Scrooge "lights it up"... he LIGHTS IT UP!  

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: The Day Vic Lockman (or Carl Barks?) Wrote Blackhawk!

Anything's possible when I'm rooting through my comic boxes... even the unlikely notion of longtime Disney/ Dell/ Gold Key/ Whitman writer VIC LOCKMAN writing DC's Blackhawk!  

...Or so it might seem by the cover of BLACKHAWK # 207 (DC Comics, Cover Date: April, 1965)!

Yo-Ho-Ho! They'll soon be in the dough!  

Yes... EEEK! 

"The Sign of Vic Lockman": Three "EEK!s" in one story... from what I call "The Ultimate Vic Lockman Story" better known as "The Feast on Planet Fuddo" in BUGS BUNNY # 117 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: May, 1968)!  

Or, given THIS...

...Perhaps it was CARL BARKS who took a turn at our favorite WWII fighting men turned sixties-sci-fi adventurers!  

UNCLE SCROOGE # 58 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: July, 1965) - which means that this issue and BLACKHAWK # 207 were on sale at almost the same time!  ...Another of those COINCIDENCES that I'm so fond of pointing out! 

But, no... "when the musing stops" we must reveal that the Blackhawk story was written by BOB HANEY, perhaps my favorite individual DC Silver Age writer, who was known for his unusual and imaginative stories!

...And, if you stand out for "unusual and imaginative stories" at Silver Age DC, you're REALLY doing something!  

Come to think of it, Bob Haney would have given Vic Lockman and 1960s Carl Barks a run for their... er,  (stolen) MONEY! 

...Ain't comics grand!