Disney’s original Darkwing Duck animated series is a bit of an underrated classic to my fellow Gen Y-ers, who can still recite the dreadful Captain Planet theme song on command. A spin-off of the way-more-popular Duck Tales cartoon, Darkwing Duck was an adventure toon following Drake Mallard, an average duck by day who, joined by former Duck Tales character Launchpad McQuack, becomes the Batman-like vigilante Darkwing Duck. There was a lot of slapstick.
Now it’s back thanks to BOOM! Studios’ Disney license. Interestingly, writer Ian Brill chooses to kick off his book with a story arc taking place several years after the original cartoon, with Drake Mallard long retired having traded his Shadow-like duds for a tie and sweater vest after a company called Quackworks has hired everyone in town and enlisted robots to patrol the streets, doing away with the need for vigilantes and policemen alike. Now Mallard is a bored Quackworks “Data Accounts Networking Officer” and co-workers with one of his own enemies, who is reduced to an irritable office drone.
It’s strangely adult fare that caters more to the show’s grown up original fans than it does the show’s target demographic. However, Brill appeals to both camps by including flashbacks to Darkwing Duck’s wacky superheroic escapades (complete with an amusing running gag of Darkwing’s arms turning into various objects) in addition to scenes of Drake calling Launchpad but saying nothing when he answers the phone.
James Silvani renders Drake Mallard as a haggard, slump-shouldered depressive, dwarfed by the people around him and half asleep with bags under his eyes. Also, he’s the only character in the comic that doesn’t wear pants, Donald Duck style. Despite the somewhat dark trappings of the first issue, Silvani’s art is fun and cartoony, giving the story balance and keeping it from being depressing.
Even though it sounds like a dreary start to what should be a fun all-ages comic, by the end of Darkwing Duck #1 it’s clear that the expected superhero action and slapstick aren’t too far off for this series. Plus, Darkwing Duck is an ongoing series, so it won’t be over in four issues. Let’s hope it’s a success.
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