Monday, July 31, 2023

"Mission to Mangomoa"

 And now, the grand finale of the DCRCIJS!  Well, you can judge for yourself how "grand" it is.  But it's DEFINITELY the finale.

The good news, maybe-kinda, is that this is a Bob-Gregory-penned story.   This wasn't written in his egregiously dumb period, so there's a certain modest level of quality guaranteed, but I wouldn't call this one of this best efforts.  And, even knowing nothing about the specifics of the story, "Mangomoa" might give you vague misgivings.  And, spoiler, those are not unjustified.  But we'll get there when we get there.

But before we do that, why not make yourself some beachy snacks to munch on?  "Sprouting apples" is just odd.  I'm sorry, but I'm just not convinced it is a favorite with the gang.  It's not like apples, celery, and peanut butter is a weird or unappealing combination, but somehow cramming all that stuff into a whole apple just seems...excessive.  Do you really want to eat all that?  Well, especially if you're a kid, you probably find it preferable to "carrot and olive dumbbells," which seems to have been created just because it looks like a thing.  Are you really going to find this delicious?  Olives are kind of an acquired taste, and unless you're one of those weird kids who grew up eating healthy food, I have my doubts.  On the other hand, en gee el, that "pickle in a blanket" sounds kinda delicious to me.  Yes, that might make me weird, but I like all the ingredients  (no, I don't eat bologna, but acceptable vegetarian facsimiles are easily obtained).  Maybe I'll try making one of these.

Moving on to the main event, at least the story opens nicely enough, in contrast with "The Gem Jam."  Though compare with "The Giant Pearl:" in that one, Donald and HDL are desperate to avoid Scrooge out of the unfounded fear that he'll make them do adventure-related stuff, whereas here they just blithely stroll into his clutches.  Go figure.

You might appreciate this goofiness here, anyway.  Somehow, Donald's expression of bemused skepticism in that last panel seems like a quite good stand-in for the reader's likely attitude.

...and the cereal concern declared this entry the winner?  What kind of deranged advertising campaign is this, anyway?  Surely "why I like your cereal" contests are aimed at kids, yeah?  Is "demented billionaires who like to stare at food and imagine it's made of gold" really your target demographic?  Good lord. look, I know your colonialism klaxons are going off like mad here, but before we deal with that, let's just note, political issues aside, how incredibly bizarre this is: a cereal company is giving away an atoll as a prize?  Are kids these days just crazy about atolls?  I don't know what's going on.

But as far as the main thrust of this goes: why the hell does this company own the atoll in the first place?  I should note that the story DOES specify that it's uninhabited, so I suppose it could be worse, but seriously, what the hell?  Is it even possible to conceive of a non-awful way that they could've gotten their hands on it?  And any possible reason they'd be getting rid of it other than that they've already ruthlessly stripped it of all possible economic value?  It is to be doubted.

Well, if we can put all that aside--big if, admittedly--at least Scrooge isn't being overly dickish here.  That's a plus.

Okay, here is my very serious question: does Bob Gregory know that "flying boats" are typically called "planes?"  Okay, granted, "flying boat" could conceivably be the name used for this specific type of plane, but it features a fair bit in this story, and the words "plane" and "airplane" are not used once.  It is never, ever referred to as anything other than a "flying boat."  Weird.

"The McDuck Elevator Company has taken a terrific drop" is definitely sub-Barksian wordplay.  Nonetheless, it at least demonstrates some degree of effort, so I'm going to allow it.  Although really, with so many dang companies in the McDuck empire, one or another of them is always going to be having problems at any given time.  You can't personally see to each one of them every time.

Hmm.  Well, I mean, it could be worse.  Or better; it could also be better.  Those cannibalism hints are just misdirection that never comes to anything, so there's that.  Still, I don't know if that gets you off the hook; even if you just hint that Jews include the blood of Christian children in their matzo but never make that something that actually happens...I'm still going to look at you funny.

Look how weirdly-proportioned Donald is in that lower right panel.  No other observation; just that.

Yeah, you probably should have remembered that.  Note Donald lusting after human women; that has precedent, of course, in animation, but not so much in comics.

I mean, I know the indigenous people are the antagonists here, but the ducks were incredibly idiotic, it must be allowed.  Is salt that important, though?  Is this for their own dietary needs, or for export? Hum.

Oooookay, now we're getting into the kind of shit you expect.  I mean, yes, you're right: as I said above, things could be worse, and often are.  But there's just something about the dreary predictability of these "superstitious natives" tropes.  As much as I feel ambivalent about Disney deciding not to republish certain stories, or the Seuss estate letting certain books go out of print, at the same time, I DO extremely sympathize with the idea that all this shit should be consigned to the past.  Bleh.

...I mean, in fairness, the ducks amongst the bamboo DO make for a pretty nice visual.

Those rascals!  Can't trust 'em.  Scrooge is quite good at hut-building, I must say.  In contrast to his proficiency in this story what I translated.

I feel like if it feels like you're sleeping on a row of bats, that's your own dern fault.  There are very few bamboo shoots just lying around.  You would have to really make an effort to lie on them.

Can humans eat bamboo?  That is the kind of question one finds oneself asking google.  And the answer is: yes, but only some species, and you have to cook them first to get rid of the cyanide.  So...this probably isn't the greatest idea.  Not a good example for kids to follow, certainly.

I have a comment to make here: LOL.  And also, come to think of it, another one: WUT.  I mean damn, Gregory, seriously, what is this?  Couldn't you even find a superficially plausible way to accomplish this?  Jeez.

My attitude exactly.

...oh, okay.  So this may work, but it doesn't work well.  That would be crazy.

I'm skipping a few things, but you get the picture, surely.  How did we get to generic Hostile Natives like this?  It seems like the story had a sort of gravitational force in that regard that couldn't be avoided.  So here we are.

And now, White People Overwhelming the Natives with Superior Technology.  Awesome.  Like and subscribe.  A++++.  Would buy again.

But if you're thinking "the problem with this story is that it doesn't contain a sufficiently potent metaphor for colonialism then I am glad (is "glad" the right word?) to say, the ending has you covered.

The specifics of this are a little bit confusing, but suffice it to say, they tow away the atoll.

There's a part in Gabriel García Márquez' novel The Autumn of the Patriarch where the titular patriarch--the dictator of a Caribbean nation--sells the sea to American interests in the most literal way possible: they come and take the water away, and all that's left is a barren wasteland.  For some reason I just remembered that.

But seriously, people, what's the deal?  Just because you "own" property doesn't mean you're allowed to just...move it to a different country?  I don't know who has jurisdiction over the Friendly Islands--is that the name of a sovereign country? this was clearly not something Bob Gregory troubled himself overly with, or even conceived of existing--but they cannot be happy with this.  I'm not!

...and, you know, it's too bad, because if you take away the context, this actually may be the most pleasing ending to one of these stories we've encountered.  So it goes.  Although I will not dignify Donald's closing pun with any comment beyond this sentence.

These have even nothing to do with the main story, but as ever, they may be the highlight.

And hey, here's a first and last!  One that's multi-panel!  And even beyond that, it's pretty darned awesome!  So at least we end on a high note.

So that's the Duck Comics Revue Christmas in July Spectacular, ending anticlimactically, as these things do (there's one Gold Key Beach Party--though not a giant--but it just reprints "Sea Breeze Sailors").  Will there be another?  It's not inconceivable; I was toying with the idea of doing the same thing next year with Vacation Parades.  The problem with that is quality, though.  The good news: the average quality level is actually much higher than here.  The bad news: that is wholly because of Barks "Vacation Time."  Take that away, and the quality plummets in meteoric fashion--far, far lower than we've seen this month.  If they had had any self-awareness, the authors of those other stories would NOT have appreciated Barks showing them up like that.

"Why is that a problem?" you ask.  "You love writing about terrible stories."  Well...that's actually a little complicated.  On the one hand, yes.  Kind of.  But a little of that does go a long way, and there's a difference between "mediocre" and "oppressively bad."  I have a certain amount of affection for the former--which is how I'd categorize all of these Peach Parties--whereas the latter, while it can be fun to write about in moderation, does get old pretty fast.  Blah.

Still!  One never knows.  I might find another story from some one-shot giant or other to make up the difference.  There are some interesting ones out there.

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Anonymous Lugija said...

Thanks for these reviews! The stories were all unfamiliar to me and made long before my time, but they had that old "charm" I remember well from when I read reprints from this time as a kid.

I read compentary four-tiered duck comics rarely these days, as the short lengths they have don't allow for much of a story (Kari Korhonen's Klondike diary stories could be as low as 7 pages, what's up with that?). Could be fun (or "fun") to compare how randomly picked non-classic stories from different eras compare.

Stories having a gravitional force that pulls towards Generic Hostile Natives is well said. There's some heavy well that affected everyone, even greats like Gottfredson, so that when they set their stories in tropical zones, the result is not just horribly stereotypical, it's also filled with cliches and lazy storytelling.

What is that in the middle apple in the first image? A dynamite? That would make a blast on every picnic.

August 1, 2023 at 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I do like the “usual charge for towel service”!

On the snacks: I agree that the celery-and-peanut butter-stuffed apple would be rather a challenge to eat. (And I have no idea what step in the process that middle apple is meant to represent!) On the other hand, I have known a bunch of small children who enjoyed *black* olives. Admittedly, they mostly enjoyed wearing them on the ends of all ten fingers late in the Thanksgiving meal…but then they quite happily ate them off their fingers as well! Green olives, that’s another matter entirely.

August 1, 2023 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Adamant said...

Those pickle snacks are pretty common, though they're typically made with ham rather than bologna. I can't imagine a bologna variant being very good.

I think those celery-and-peanut-butter apples sound kind of good though. Am I just weird?

August 1, 2023 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

@ Lugija And thank you for the kind words! I'm one of these people who gets hella self-conscious about praise, but it still means a lot.

@ Adamant It's a good combination; it's just that as written, they seem unwieldily huge to me.

August 1, 2023 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Fantastic reviews. For whatever reason I missed the part when you said you are only covering the front stories so I was waiting for a Mickey Mouse or (especialy) Brer Rabbit story to see your take on them - "ho, ho, possible problematic stuff aside" It just would felt refreshing to see your takes on them here.

Still, great stuff! Waiting for more soon :)

August 1, 2023 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Written Dreams said...

The carrot-olive dumbbells actually sound like a tasty idea. I might try that sometime.

August 3, 2023 at 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Oh! I just figured out what the middle apple picture depicts. It’s the process of de-coring. The core and stem are partway out of the apple. So the temporal order of the pictures is: 2, 3, 1.

August 4, 2023 at 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A flying boat is a type of aircraft equipped so that it can land and take off from water. It was common in the interwar years, but would already have been declining in use by the time this story came out.

September 21, 2023 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Natteravn said...

I'm not sure if you're being facetious or not, but flying boat was a very common archaic term for what we now call seaplane. Since it is technically both a boat and a plane, both terms are equally accurate. Not sure what "Anonymous" is talking about, seaplanes are still very common everywhere.
Also, the joke with the natives being hungry and Donald being relieved is not a cannibal joke, note how he immediately stuffs himself with food! His initial panic thought is "Oh, no! If the natives are hungry, it means there is no food that I can eat!" It's a "haha, Donald only thinks about food" joke, not a "haha, they are going to be eaten" joke.
Not sure why you thought the incident with the chief said anything about superstition. I'm pretty sure every modern nation in the world has a law against striking their leader. Taboo is just another word for law, and the volcano was just a form of capital punishment, nothing ritualistic is mentioned.

September 26, 2023 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

"Not sure why you thought the incident with the chief said anything about superstition. I'm pretty sure every modern nation in the world has a law against striking their leader. Taboo is just another word for law, and the volcano was just a form of capital punishment, nothing ritualistic is mentioned."

You're wrong about this, you know. Sure, every country, probably, has special rules about assaulting government officials, but you're ignoring the entire cultural context of the story. The word "taboo?" Throwing someone in a volcano? You know perfectly well that it would never be framed in those terms in a story that didn't involve a "tribal" society. That context determines the entire nature of the story.

October 13, 2023 at 7:17 PM  

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