The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Chapter Five: "The New Laird of Castle McDuck"
Well, here we are, back in Scotland! A chance to see a little more of Scrooge's family, which is always fun.
This story has one bit that I consider a bit problematic, but generally, it has a really nice atmosphere to it, as evinced by the above.
And hey, Hortense chasing Whiskervilles with a broom! What more can you ask, really? Granted, the whole little-girl/hellion business is a bit of a broad comic type, but I still like it, especially the way she's not even looking at the guy as she's whapping him in the third panel there.
Long story short, the clan needs cash to keep the castle, which Scrooge has from the last chapter. But this Whiskerville jerk provokes him into a fight. The choreography here is a bit stiff, like they're robots going at it--seriously, what's the deal with Scrooge in that middle panel? Well, maybe it's meant to be funny.
At any rate, even if the question of Rosa's ability to depict natural-looking sword fights is up in the air, this climax is badass, absolutely. Pretty much exactly what you'd want from a story like this.
But then...well, there's the part where he falls into the water and temporarily dies, and we're treated to a surprisingly long segment with his ancestors playing golf and sniping at each other in the clouds (as far as the theology of Rosa's comics goes, it's this and Finnish mythology. Make a note of it). This is something of a momentum-killer to put it mildly; I could definitely do with less of it, and good LORD, what a hellish afterlife this would be.
(An' also: how come there are no female McDucks here? I know I know--because Barks didn't create any. But it's still extremely noticeable.)
On the bright side, here's "Matey" McDuck from Barks' "Back to Long Ago." Rosa has named him "Malcolm;" this place claims that, due to chronological discrepancies, they're two different characters, but that strikes me as a pretty dumb bit of over-explaining for an obvious slight slip-up on Rosa's part. Really now, how plausible is it that Rosa didn't include an actual Barks character in his family tree, but DID include his heretofore unknown identical twin? Not very, I'm gonna say! Of course, either way, the mystery of how he could possibly have served in the British navy with Donald's ancestor remains.
Granted, I DO like the fact that all of Scrooge's ancestors seem to have been killed in unpleasant ways…
But man, even if we HAVE to have this bit, this allegedly-comical denouement really doesn't work for me. Should Scrooge die here? It's a serious theological question that requires OH HOLY SHIT HE'S GONNA LOVE MONEY?!? SAY NO MORE! It feels as though Rosa was having a bit of difficulty finding a graceful way out of this situation, and…well, came up with this. In any case, it seems to me that any Barksian evidence that Scrooge's ancestors were all as stingy as he is requires some extremely tenuous inference.
Anyway, he comes back and pwns the Whiskervilles, and I'll grant that this is a pretty good climax to the whole thing. Yeah yeah, that "last of the Clan McDuck" business relies on patriarchal assumptions, but whadaya expect from a bunch of crazy, dead Scottish ducks? Although the question of how they KNOW he's not going to have children--given their apparent unfamiliarity with his life-book--is an open one.
And here's the ending. You don't, or I didn't, exactly register the fact that it was raining throughout the entire story 'til you see the sun come out. In his commentary, Rosa declares that this rainbow looks, in retrospect, "too stupid." I think he's doing himself a disservice. Yeah, when you point it out like that, I can see how it's not exactly "realistic," but it remains one of my favorite images in the series, and I just love the "always another rainbow" reference. It has a lot of emotional resonance for me.
(Another thing Rosa does in the commentary is expend a LOT of space telling an incredibly pointless story about how he vaguely remembered seeing a movie that seemed relevant to this installment, but he couldn't find it on video anywhere, and he searched and searched, and finally he found a copy, and it provided no inspiration for the story. Riveting!)
At any rate, tomorrow it's off to, sigh, Africa in "The Terror of the Transvaal." If you know my opinions about the common portrayal of a certain Barksian character, you can probably guess wherefore that "sigh." Nonetheless: imagine how dumb you'd feel if you forgot to check it out. Doesn't even bear thinking about.