NOTE: Darkwing Duck Annual #1 comes out on March 2, 2011.
I seriously hope the kids are reading Darkwing Duck and the book doesn’t just appeal to the Gen Y age group I hail from who grew up watching the fondly remembered cartoon. Surely a few of them have kids old enough to read comics now, and they’re handing them the adventures of the masked mallard or whatever the hell he’s called. I don’t want to talk about my age group having kids anymore — that’s creepy. Either way, Darkwing Duck is the perfect kid’s comic — while kid-friendly, it doesn’t talk down to that age group thanks to its equal amounts of maturity and humor.
Darkwing Duck Annual #1 features two stories. The first, by Ian Brill and Sabrina Alberghetti, follows Crackerjack’s attempt to take revenge on his own toy company employer (now a video game developer of the popular World of Whifflecraft) by turning players all around the world into toys. As Darkwing Duck investigates Crackerjack’s first victim, he meets the villain’s ex-girlfriend, who details his origin, which injects a surprisingly human element into his scheme. Which, by the way, really elevates that Killing Joke parody cover from being a cute gag to being actually meaningful. Just like how Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s story humanized the Joker a bit (if you believe that origin),
Ian Brill’s script is sharply written. The company’s move from producing toys to producing video games is especially notable, being akin to the way video games have supplanted the comics industry as the popular medium for the young’ns. And then there’s the ending, which is surprisingly touching and a testament to Brill’s great character work in this series. With Alberghetti, the pair create some great comedic sequences, too, like when Darkwing tries to bid online on one of Crackerjack’s favorite toys.
Original Darkwing Duck creator Tad Stones drops by to write “The Untimely Terror of the Time Turtle,” a backup story featuring Darkwing Duck’s daughter Gosalyn as she helps her dad fight the Chronoduck, who has a glorious character design. It’s a standard time travel story, complete with messages left for characters in the past from their future selves, but it’s amazing to know that some kids are going to have their minds blown by the time travel tricks, and Stones himself pokes fun at the paradoxes of time travel at the end of the story. I hope he contributes more stories to the series, because it’s very cool to see the original creator having fun with his old character. Stones also writes an essay at the end of the annual detailing the origins of the Darkwing Duck cartoon, which is a must-read for fans curious about how one of Disney’s better animated series of the 1990s came about.
Darkwing Duck: great for kids, great for fans, great for everyone. Also, great comics.