Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Around the World in 80 Bucks"

Just a dang ol' amazon review I wrote, mainly to counter the crazy dude who raved about the story and gave it five stars. Seriously, what's WITH that dude? Even if you like it (somehow), how can you just not NOTICE the obvious, massive flaws? Dude's also apparently under the impression that Glomgold is the antagonist here, which maybe indicates something.
Allow me to begin by pointing out the following: the Hunt for the Old Number One trade paperback featured five pages of ads for other Boom! titles in the back, but that was okay, because it ALSO featured a meticulously complete cover gallery, featuring each variation cover from each issue of Uncle Scrooge in which the story had previously appeared. This Around the World in 80 Bucks features…well, there's no cover gallery, but Boom! makes up for it by including--no joke--TWENTY-SIX pages of ads. You can just FEEL their respect for the material, can't you? Don't be fooled by the page count that Amazon provides; that does indeed include the ads--the actual story is only ninety-six pages.

It's too bad, really--Old Number One was may have been excruciatingly awful, but at least it had some rather nice covers! 80 Bucks here is marginally less bad--not a difficult feat--but…well, let's just say the cover gallery would STILL have been the best thing here. I know this is just a cynical business move--the second volume of the pretty-good Double Duck does the same thing--but I like to pretend that they were actually just trying to avoid heightening the ol' contradictions. To which I can only say, nice try, but not very.

Actually, the IDEA of a Scrooge story inspired by the Verne novel is a perfectly good one; it provides ample opportunity for the sort of globe-trotting adventure that one expects from Scrooge. Romance! Adventure! Elephants! Unfortunately, this opportunity is entirely squandered on a story that studiously avoids becoming exciting by consistently relying on dopey contrivances and deus ex machinae rather than any particular resourcefulness on the part of our heroes. This is a common fallback for your less-accomplished duck writers, but it nonetheless disappoints whenever you see it.

So the plot's in the title, more or less: Scrooge makes a bet with the rarely-seen-in-the-US-but-super-popular-in-Europe John D Rockerduck that he (with Donald in tow) can make it around the world without spending an amount of money that was chosen entirely so the title could mimic Verne. This turns out to involve some extremely non-pulse-pounding exploits. Seriously, no joke, here's what happens on the first leg of their trip, when they're driving across the country from Calisota to New York: Rockerduck's lackey tries to goad them into speeding to get a cop to ticket them and make them spend money. Lackey fails and gets pulled over himself. Lackey pretends to be a cop and tries to himself ticket them. Real cop stops this scheme. Finis. Really. That's ALL there is to it. The only remotely interesting thing here is that they pick up the almost-NEVER-seen-in-the-US Romano Scarpa character Dickie Duck (Glittering Goldie's granddaughter, allegedly--I'm not buying it, though); she doesn't actually DO anything, though, and she disappears after the segment, no doubt causing some head-scratching among the less-well-versed-in-duck-lore: what was THAT about?

Anyway, things proceed from there more or less dumbly. Example Of Dumbness A: they cross the ocean on a ship that also conveniently features Gladstone as a passenger. After the voyage, they're stranded, and so is Gladstone. What to do? Scrooge comes up with the idea of following Gladstone around. Thanks to his mad luck, Gladstone finds and discards some paper, before finding a ticket back to Duckburg. What was it he had discarded? Two tickets to India, exactly where our heroes need to go! Phew! I was worried that our heroes would, I dunno, have to DO something or something. Also: MorboGLADSTONE DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. Example Of Dumbness B: a part where, for reasons far too dumb to get into, Donald and Scrooge have to pretend to be special effects gurus and animate a giant asura-type statue. Oh no--what to do? I know! Let's call Gyro! Oh crud! He's on vacation! Looks like we'll have to figure out our OWN way out of this one! Oh, wait, never mind; conveniently enough, he's on vacation RIGHT HERE! So he magically solves the problem. We're not even gonna make a perfunctory effort at showing HOW. He just DOES, okay? The important thing is, our heroes didn't have to do any actual work.

Example Of The Story Threatening To Get Interesting, But Then Not Getting Interesting: in Sri Lanka, for no reason that's ever explained, they encounter Daisy and Brigitta (another character sure to elicit some blank stares). That's not the potentially interesting part. That's just another dumb part. But just ROLL with it, okay? They have a nice double date, and Brigitta waxes romantic for a bit, until it's revealed that, BAM, Scrooge was just using them for a meal ticket. And their crushing disappointment at learning this is played up to such an extent ("Rockerduck can't defeat you, Scrooge! The strongest feeling you have is GREED!") that you're certain for a moment that Scrooge is going to have a change of heart, and the story will move in an unexpected, potentially interesting direction. But nope; doesn't happen--he and Donald abandon the wimminfolk as planned, and that's the last we see or hear of them. And the book staggers on to its deeply uninteresting close.

After reading all this, you may be thinking: how could it POSSIBLY not be as bad as The Hunt for the Old Number One? That's only because you haven't READ The Hunt for Old Number One, however. Actually, though, that story DID have significantly better art than that on display here, which is consistently entirely pedestrian. Neither of them is worth reading, however. If you HAVE to choose one for some perverse reason, choose this one. If you just have to read a Boom! duck story, though, go with Double Duck, which is surprisingly entertaining. I WISH that Boom! could get its act together, but I don't think they deserve to be rewarded for publishing crud like this. I KNOW there are good Scrooge stories out there that haven't been published in English. Why the current brain-trust can't seem to locate any of them is an abiding mystery.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Kevin Johnson said...

Your comment here actually points to a certain dilemma concerning people's interpretations of what is perceived to be "young" entertainment. Not too many people spend a good amount of time actually thinking (let alone analyzing) comics, cartoons, or live-action aimed towards young people. If it looks cute and is 'whimsical', that's all that matters.

Kudos to you for applying a level of criticism to this. I'm trying to do that over at my blog but for every interesting point I bring up in, let's say, Care Bears, I get a 'OMG I WATCHED THAT AS A CHILD!' Which pretty much misses the point.

October 15, 2010 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Thanks! I think I saw some Care Bears movie or other when I was small, but I don't remember it even a little bit. What I DO remember is the My Little Pony movie I saw, which I found quite terrifying--can it REALLY have centered around the characters being menaced by an ocean of evil slime? Because that's what I REMEMBER about it.

Re 80 Bucks, yeah, you're probably right, but gosh. I don't want to come across as some sort of crazy solipsist (too late, probably), but I feel like a number of people who aren't me are just CRAZY here. The AVclub's Comics Panel--more rigorous critics than Some Dude on Amazon, one would think--gave it a B+. What the hey, AVclub?

October 17, 2010 at 2:32 AM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

Geo,

My web site has a link to an interesting blog article that discusses Boom!'s handling of the Disney comics. The relevant article was posted on 10/25.

Chris

October 26, 2010 at 8:09 PM  

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