Here we have the second-ever story featuring good ol' Magica. The main thing I always wondered here was this: is the perfume on the valentine meant to literally be magic, or is it just a natural aphrodisiac of some sort? Upon further consideration, though, I'm pretty sure it's the latter. Note that Magica's not using it here to trick Scrooge or get him under her power in any way. I think it's just meant to emphasize the "sexy" in "sexy sorceress."
In response to that, you might say, "oh yeah? Well it sure seems to work like magic on Donald.
True, and that's the main reason I'm not one hundred percent sure of Barks' intent. I don't know if he was either. But I think that this is just meant to be indicative Donald's tendency to go gaga over pretty girls, as in stories around this time like "Queen of the Wild Dog Pack" and "Mythtic Mystery." That just seems to make more sense than the alternative--ie, that the aroma arbitrarily does and does not work as a mind control thing as needed.
The ending seems to confirm this? Maybe? Donald's all verklempt, but no one seems worried that it's sorcery or anything like that. Also, Scrooge seems to be having a similar reaction to the recover of his dime. I would guess that it's really just a natural thing.
Anyway, if we've established this much, I can go on to say that I just think it's really funny for Scrooge to be smitten like that. True to character? Hmm…let's not get carried away. This was, after all, published at what was probably the nadir of Barks' career. You betcha if Don Rosa had written this, the scent woulda reminded him of Goldie, for better or worse. Finally, I'd like to note that Magica's doggerel there actually isn't bad. The stresses are slightly off on that fourth line, but that's really the only problem, and I highly approve of the word "snaffle."
I also like Magica turned into a jogger, and especially her bizarre dialogue as she shoves Donald out of the way--another sign that this is sixties-era Barks! You will note that she had previously been disguised as Miss Quackfaster. Along with Magica herself, this was only the character's second appearance (or not, as it's not actually her) (both had debuted in "The Midas Touch"); since she hadn't really been established yet, there was no need to establish what happened to the actual Miss Quackfaster. Barks probably wasn't even envisioning that there was a "real" one, even though he used the same character design as he had in the earlier story. But from today's perspective, it's hard not to wonder with what sinister device Magica got rid of her.
The other question is: how come Donald apparently doesn't recognize Magica here? True, he only saw her in one previous adventure, but she's nothing if not distinctive-looking, and given that Scrooge was quite forcefully bemoaning her earlier on, you'd think she's be on his mind. Once again, it's probably that Barks hadn't quite got the template settled; hadn't realized that she couldn't simultaneously be Scrooge's arch-nemesis and constantly be seducing him and his family members.
Do I have anything hugely profound to say about this story? Clearly not. Writing this was basically just a chance for me to pose miscellaneous nitpicky questions which occurred to be as a I reread it recently. It's not any kind of spectacular story, really; it's basically the exact same thing that later writers would reenact thousands of time over, and not, on the whole, to substantially worse effect than we see here. Still, this one came first, giving it pride of place if nothing else.
Labels: Carl Barks