Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Scrooge's Last Adventure part one: "The End..."

 Well, here we go.  Let's do this.  I actually had this story in French some years before the English version came out--all four parts were published in a single Super Picsou Geant.  But at that time, I didn't really get into it.  I read the first part but then did not have the motivation to continue.  Why?  Well, we shall get to that.

You can see it does have some nice art, in that loose Italian style.  The kind of thing you might shy away from if you're more used to Barks-type stuff, as indeed I did back in the day.  Art by--let's see--Alessandro Perina?  Don't know him, sad to say, but not surprising; I'm definitely not too up on my contemporary Italian artists.  Or writers: this is written by Francesco Artibani, another stranger to me (okay, so it transpires that he's actually written a lot of US-published stories; I still don't know his name!).  What can you do?  I guess there are a lot of things you could do.  But I'm not doing them!

So the fact that can't be denied is, I'm kind of prejudiced against villain team-up stories like that.  I think you know that about me.  And when I try to think why, I come up with several reasons: first, there's the sort of meta-reason: there's always the sense--the accurate sense--that this is being done because some writer has decided that I am supposed to be excited about this.  "Look!  All your favorites together at once!  ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"  I suppose in a sense this is a meaningless complaint, since obviously EVERY story is meant to appeal to readers, duh, but I always feel it with things like this.

Still, I do like the characterizations here.  Good writing from Gray.  I especially like how Glomgold is done here: I've certainly complained over and over again about how this guy bears little resemblance to Barks' original conception, but let's face it, there's only so far that that could go if he's to be a recurring character.  If he just exists in a kind of liminal state between being redeemable and not...it could get tedious real fast.  And although as far as I know this doesn't have any precedent, it really is rather clever to have him be the more hard-edged, serious villain as compared to the more hapless, childlike Rockerduck (I guess that's sort of a spoiler at this point in the proceedings.  Welp.)

But to return to my complaining, the other thing that bugs me about team-ups like this is the way they seem to implicitly devalue the characters.  Now, I hope it doesn't count as a spoiler for me to tell you that no given villain is going to end up defeating Scrooge.  Absolute worst-case scenario for him, you'd kind of be looking at a tie.  And yet, I don't know how you read these stories, but for me, you're always sort of engaging in a little bit of magical thinking in the back of your mind: you know he's not going to lose--but what if he does?  Whereas here, it really rubs in the idea that the villains are really just a buncha goofy bumblers who could never win anything.  That's not what I like to see!

But, I mean, to be clear, I think this is a very well-done story that handily transcends whatever problems I may have with this premise.  Just in case it seems like I'm being excessively negative here.

Of course, another potential hurdle is that you have to actually WANT Scrooge to win.  That's true of any story, but to me it somehow feels more crucial than ever when the story is billed as a super-climactic thing like this.  This was definitely a sizable problem in "A Little Something Special," but this one does a mostly reasonable job, I think.  This is pretty funny, although you have to wonder: Quackmore presents two reasons why the klaxons didn't go off, but surely it's only one?  Ie, they didn't go off because of who it is?  Otherwise...they'd never go off, surely?  Hmm.

Considering how many of Scrooge's treasure hunts Donald has tagged along on, you'd think he' understand that him giving her a present from his stash of artifacts would actually be incredibly generous.  Is this slightly questionable writing on Artibani's part?  Maybe.

Okay, probably, given that you can flippin' well see how cool his trophies are in this picture.  Would you rather be given a small cash gift, or that rad-ass gold-and-ruby falcon?  The question answers itself.

That "too many...for one man" looks like it's meant to be suggesting something, but I don't think it actually is.  This is fine, although it is sort of Scrooge 101--memories inhering in physical objects.  And I'm just gonna say it: as a person who, no denying it, gets way too attached to Things, I don't think this is a healthy way to live.  I just don't.

Anyway.  This Bin-raid stuff does feel a trifle pro forma; I suppose there are only so many ways you can depict things like this.  It has good energy, though.

...is garlic good against Magica?  Is this implying she's a vampire?  Well, okay, fair enough, according to this page, "garlic is a magical plant which keeps people safe, protects animal stocks & households from dark energies, evil spirits, ghosts, evil-eye & various diseases."  And this is per someone called "White Raven," so clearly they would know.

...is it an obstacle course disguised as a doomsday funfair, or the other way 'round?  I like this, even if I can't quite get my head around it.

That's actually cooler than how it looked before, and potentially just as deadly.  Good stuff, good stuff.

Great sense of movement here.

And this is just cool as heck.  Is it an intentional visual reference to Marco Rota's "Money Ocean?"  Maybe so and maybe not, but it definitely makes you think of that one.

Hooray!  I mean, she definitely said it for the rhyme; there's no doubt about that.  But also, the rhyme is the magic.  That's how it works.

This is why I was sort of bored with this story the first time I read it: it's like, oh boy, the Beagles and Magica BOTH do this at the same time?  Such things have never been seen before!  OMG etc.  I mean, it's fine.  But in isolation, it's kind of uninteresting.

I like how the story attempts to sorta-kinda make this a realistic thing on the part of the villains: like, a real financial move that you could make.  Of course, it doesn't pay to think too hard about it.  We don't generally think much about the structure of McDuck Enterprises, and admittedly I don't understand business, but it is hard to imagine that Scrooge himself is not the majority shareholder here.  But IN ANY CASE, I just refuse to believe that there are no safeguards to stop random people from taking over any company they want!  It doesn't make sense!  Blargh.  I know this isn't really an important thing, but still.  It would definitely be interesting to see a story where the point was that everything the villains did was one hundred percent legal.

Oh no!  My hat!

I'll admit it: these characters are pretty cool-looking.  In a way it seems like cheating to just invoke these random people we didn't know existed to advance the plot, but it's fine.  Sure.

Hmm.  That would be "thine endless stream."  You wanna replace "thy" with "thine" when the next word starts with a vowel sound: "To thine own self be true."  It's the same as my/mine: "Mine eyes have seen the glory," but if I had other glory-detection methods, it would be "my nose hath smelt the glory."

I don't want to harp on this too much, it seems petty, but given my background it's extremely noticeable to me, so: let it first be noted that there's no single, monolithic "old-timey English."  Rules varied in different areas and different times--and in any case, if you're using it for a story like this, there's obviously some intentional anachronism, so maybe it doesn't even make sense to complain about these things.  But as someone who's spent just WAY too long studying English, and also is a fan of traditional folk music--some of this stuff really jumps out at me as wrong.  That's all I'll say about that.

(I do think it would be kind of funny if their dialogue were written in actual factual Old English, such that nobody, myself emphatically included, could make head or tails of anything they were saying.)

They set up a fun mystery, though; there's no denying it.  Certainly makes you want to keep reading.


Okay okay, I just can't not point this out: unless you're trying to sound like a pirate, you really only want to use that unconjugated "be" in subjunctive constructions--ie, counterfactual phrases generally using "if" or "whether" or the like.  As in, "if he be a married man, hanged he shall be/and if he be a single man he shall marry thee."  And that's seriously ALL I am saying.

I always like when Magica changes forms, so I find this part very funny.  But again, best not to think too hard about it: why do those "good faeries" only use happy magic with balloons and lollipops and horrible striped stockings?  I'm pretty sure it's because their outward form and behavior matches what's in their heart.  A bad-good faerie is probably a contradiction in terms.

Magica glumly giving up and wandering off is interesting.  Not the sort of think you really ever see from her, but appropriate under the circumstances.

Seriously, Scrooge HAS to have a board of directors or something that would prevent things like this from happening, or at the very least ties them up in court forever.  That would actually be a funny premise for a story: Scrooge's enemies try to win using this sort of skulduggery, but there's so much bureaucratic red tape that they never get what they want.

I mean, yeah, okay, fair's fair, ya definitely want to continue.  I wonder where the inspiration for this story came from.  Was it meant to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of Topolino?  If so, it was a year late.  Also, you'd think they'd want a Mouse story for that.  Well, I guess there's no conceivable way of anyone finding out ever.

Anyway, writing about this was fun.  Let's continue!

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Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Some Italian-Magica related trivia (by acident all things I wanted to bring up so happen to revolev around Magica... Must be that dark magic. HA!)

1) The garlic effecting Magica (like a vampire) is a running element in Italian stroies since like forever...It won't kill her but it will knock her down. It's a element popular enough that when a recent episode of Duck Tales had Magica eating garlic it got a WTF reaction from some fans.

2) I'm almost sure that the witches that
appear to punish Magica are a thing in Italina stories. Not the same exact witches per say but I recal some stories where Magica has to awnser to some magical hierarchy that where A LOT like these here - dark, sinister and intimidating looking old hags - and some stories even got them angry fron not geting the dime yet (or wating her time on it... I don't remember)

3) Magica costume after the fairy transformation is a wink to the heroines of comic book series W.I.T.C.H. - which Disney also own (you can even find it at INDUCKS)

December 1, 2020 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

...wasting her time on it*

(sorry, a typo)

December 1, 2020 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

This story is just another overblown Italian affair that falls into a trap that American superhero comics have done to death – but American Disney comics (…at least when there WERE American Disney comics) managed to avoid. The piling-on of villains.

If Lex Luthor isn’t enough to thrill you anymore, what about Lex Luthor and Brainiac? No? How about Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and The Parasite? Still no? Well let’s borrow The Joker from Batman’s rogue’s gallery! Before you know it, you have the whole “Legion of Doom” – and that’s what this thing feels like. Too much of (what was once) a good thing!

Scale it back to just Rockerduck and Glomgold and you might have an interesting story that highlights the similarities and differences between them. But, you don’t need to invite “the whole universe to the party”. If I recall correctly, even the Terry-Fermians find their way into this one! …And the fact that I don’t remember this definitively, just shows how much of an impression it made on me!

Something that works (or *did work* up to the point of dilution) in one genre doesn’t always work in another! Carl Barks knew that, and kept his villains in their proper place. But, that’s just not how modern comics work, I’m afraid. Some, like Casty, do it very well (often magnificently)… others, it seems, do more of (all together now) “what’s expected of them”!

On the plus side, it does have the saving grace of Jonathan Gray’s dialogue! Just imagine how it would read if published today!

Oh, and Magica did “the swirling and churning money thing” SOOOOO much better in Marco Rota’s “Money Ocean”! …Tell me that she didn’t!

This is not a “bad story” by any stretch… Just too long, too populated, and not nearly as interesting as it tried to be! Perhaps, for an audience not raised on American superhero comics, it might even be “epic”!

December 1, 2020 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

For me villians team-ups are great since It's always cool to see these characters play-off each other, since some never get to interact much (I bearly recall any stories where Glogmold and Magica meet)

In this particular case it was actualy thrilling for me as a fan since before this story Glomgold and Rockerduck only meet twice in entrie Duck-comcis history (and even in that first story they only interacted in one panel) not to mention that people always like to compare the two and point out personality diffrance/similarities so it was cool to finaly after some many decades have a story that focus on their team-up and showcased what diffrent people they are

(And not necessary in their interaction, I like later scene where we see two of them doing buisness with the Majaraga sepretly and Rockerduck is trying to play all polite and diplomatic while Glomogld has the "Shut up! I'm seting the rules" attitude)

December 1, 2020 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...


December 1, 2020 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

You know, Joe, it's not that your comment isn't interesting (it is!), but you come across as a mite indecisive here. One post you're beseeching our gracious host GeoX to be more positive… and then, when he delivers a very positive review of a story (albeit not a 1960s Gold Key one), you spend the better part of your comment maintaining that, aside from the dialogueing, it's not that great!

At any rate, while often used as a crutch on the way to "epicness" in mediocre superhero comics, I can't help but find crossovers fun. As Pan said, even laying aside any question of "grandiose epic" pretenses, villains are generally fun characters and it's therefore a hoot seeing them interact, which they wouldn't often do.

December 1, 2020 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Our friend Achille Talon writes:
“ You know, Joe, it's not that your comment isn't interesting (it is!), but you come across as a mite indecisive here. One post you're beseeching our gracious host GeoX to be more positive… and then, when he delivers a very positive review of a story (albeit not a 1960s Gold Key one), you spend the better part of your comment maintaining that, aside from the dialoguing, it's not that great!”

Try looking at it this way, Achille…

Saying “it's not that great!” is nothing like the all-out assault I’m bracing for when the Donald Duck Christmas Album 1964 (a book dear to my heart) is eventually discussed. It’s more of an off-hand opinion, which I do my best to support, and show why I feel as I do.

What I am “beseeching” (more like challenging) Geo to do is break out of the mode that continually tells us how bad (or, at least inferior) the non-Barks Dell and Gold Key stories are – because they’re not! And, because his reviews make “a little too much fun” of creators’ honest efforts to put out serviceable material. I would like nothing more than for him to surprise me – and prove me wrong! Not go against his honest opinion… Heavens, no! Just don’t pile on, as he can do, for instance with Del Connell. Moderation, supported by example, makes for a better and more insightful read.

Also, that this view is almost blanketly directed at one group of Disney comics – when all publishers, in all eras, had their share of clinkers! When something is particularly bad, I call it out too – but singularly, not blanketly by publisher, creator, or era! And always with more fact or solidly expressed opinion than derision.

I didn’t make fun of this story. I just told you why it didn’t work for me. In fact, I go as far as saying that those not raised on American superhero comics would find this “epic”. Me? I just find it “more of same”. If I made fun of anything, it was the constantly “making things bigger, badder and more epic and special” that has afflicted the comic book world since about the mid-eighties. Not this story and/or its creators in particular!

I hope you can see the difference between this and what I said earlier.

…It took longer for the “bigger-badder-epic-special syndrome” to take hold of Disney comics, but this story (whatever its virtues, or lack of same) is proof that it did.

Modern comics have yet to learn that, when EVERYTHING is “epic and special”, NOTHING is “epic and special”! And this story is exemplary of that!

I said I didn’t want to “bog things down” with anymore discussion on Dell and Gold Key reviews, and I mean it. Let’s use this thread to discuss the story at hand…. but, I hope I’ve left things clearer for having done so. On with the show…

December 1, 2020 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

If I've ever written an unfair review, feel free to point it out--but be warned, I will counter you by pointing to the many reviews I've written of old, obscure Western material that are almost certainly FAR most self-indulgently positive than the material really deserves. I said positive things about "Bird-Bothered Hero." If you don't believe it, feel free to go back and check; it is verifiably true. I mean COME ON; I really think you are criticizing an imaginary version of me.

December 1, 2020 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Oh, don’t take it so seriously! :-) I’m not.

You could say NO review is “unfair”, if that’s what the reviewer thinks, or if that’s his or her personal style. You’re offering opinion, not fact.

But, when you say things like “You know they're going to be bad, but I must warn you: they're generally both somewhat less awful and significantly less interesting than the Western stuff I covered two years back, so adjust your expectations accordingly.”, not only do I *know* what’s coming but I also get the feeling that your heart isn’t really into fulfilling what your readers (myself included) have come to expect from past experience.

The book in question is really not a bad one, and I’m just looking to you to bring some of that out – that is *IF* it’s your honest opinion! And not do so, if it isn’t!

It’s not “Lost in the Andes”, and it’s not “Bird-Bothered Hero”, so why try to “set it up as bad”, even as you also say that it’s not? Established expectation is the only reason I can come up with. But that, too, is nothing more than an opinion on *my* part.

I didn’t even want to go back to this, and it’s time we stop, just sit back, and enjoy what each of us does best. It’s not as if there are many other such Blogs remaining, so we might as well give our all!

Please have a last word, if you’d like. I’m just going to enjoy what’s coming – as I always do! Agree or not, you always make it worthwhile. – Blogger’s honor!

December 1, 2020 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Depiction of Scrooge's trophy room is directly lifted from the opening panels of Rosa's "The Crown of the Crusader Kings", specifically including the Maltese Falcon, the Philosopher's Stone on its pedestal, a shield bearing the McDuck coat of arms and two mask-like objects.

December 21, 2020 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Specialist Spectrus said...

It's interesting to read these entries. I'm going through them one by one. The story had no special event tied to it, which makes it cooler, because those things often tend to be forced, whereas this simply came from the idea of making villains collaborate that never did (at least not in that constellation). Artibani said that the great thing about Disney characters is that they "write themselves", i.e. he just puts them on a stage and watches how their interactions unfold. Despite its flaws (the takeover and the dime problem), the story was very popular here in Germany and got voted into the 5-part "Fan-Edition". I must also admit I'm a big, big fan of Alessandro Perina, who also drew "The Wonderful Wishing Crown" and IMO is even better with Mickey and company. He's just got this perfect mixture of "calm" (the general surroundings) and "slightly deranged" (the facial expressions) going.

"Still, I do like the characterizations here. Good writing from Gray."

Actually, good writing from Artibani, whose texts are sometimes on a par with Faraci's when it comes to cutting and biting dialogues. Gray simply embellished the wording a bit (you could also say made it more wordy...) but the impetus is exactly the same as in the German version.

By the way, Artibani is the guy who wrote a short story set in Duck Avenger New Adventures universe that's *entirely* on the meta level - DA explains how important it is for a comic superhero to talk a lot, because otherwise the fights would be duller!

Artibani also dug into Glomgold a bit more in another 120-page story (again drawn by Perina, though his art is a bit weaker there), which even works in quotes by Barks, Rosa and Scarpa to pretty spectacular effect: https://inducks.org/story.php?c=I+TL+3230-1

Although it's not a sequel inasmuch as it doesn't reference the events of "Last Adventure", it does feel like the next installment and a logical next step.

"Quackmore presents two reasons why the klaxons didn't go off, but surely it's only one?"

Yes, nothing of that sort is in the German version. "Maybe the system has a milder assessment than you... because the intruders are your nephews?" No mention of power consumption. Unncessary addition.

(The German translation does take its liberties too - Where Scrooge says "Measure that temper", in the German he addresses Donald with "You talk like a man without a head!")

Garlic (in various forms) has always been the standard response to Magica in utterly many stories. Can't really blame Artibani for using this trope.

The squirrel quote is more over the top in German: Rockerduck says "That's the law of economics - if a squirrel sneezes in Norway, the nut market in Peru collapses!" :D

December 31, 2020 at 5:41 AM  

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