Saturday, June 22, 2024

"Uncle Scrooge and The Infinity Dime"

Should I say something about this "Infinity Dime" thing?  I probably should, shouldn't I?  I mean, if I'm pretending that this blog still exists to any extent.  My recent silence is only partly my usual flakiness; it's also because I'm dealing with shit.  Not life-threatening shit, but shit shit.  You know.  I think I'm going to be at least a little more active here for a while.  Inshallah. 

This story was met--at least if my facebook feed is anything to go by--with considerable skepticism: Marvel making Disney comics?  How will this not turn into a bad joke?  Certainly, the 703 variant covers they released didn't inspire a great deal of faith in the proceedings.

To start, we get one of these intros like you do from the writer, Jason Aaron, where he's like you guys, I've been a fan FOREVER, Scrooge is THE BEST, and...I really shouldn't mock.  Obviously I get the impulse.  It's fine, and there's no use shaming anyone.  THAT SAID, I just have to point to this:

"I've been a massive Disney fan for about as long as I've been reading comics, which is all my life.  But I didn't read my first Uncle Scrooge story until my son was born."  Hmm...what can one say in response to that?

Phoenix Wright would NEVER let that slide.

(Kidding, Jason; all in good fun.  You seem cool, and what's more, my brother said he'd enjoyed some of your superhero work.)

So, then.  The final result, I have to say, is pretty surprising, because for better or worse, you've got to expect that something like this is going to be, you know, memorable, for better or worse.  The previous effort do something like this was the infamous "Rightful Owners," which you may or may not have blocked from your consciousness.  But no!  The most notable thing about "The Infinity Dime" is how notable it isn't.  I don't mean that as a criticism; it's mostly-well-constructed story that does some fun things, with nice art and competent writing.  But it's also very, very easy to imagine it as an Egmont production, to the extent that you sort of wonder why they bothered.  It doesn't have any connection with superhero comics, apart from, I guess you could argue, the whole "multiverse" concept (I mean, I'm sorry if I'm belittling important superhero concepts, but seriously, it's not that special).  Oh well.  Let's go through it.

It's actually such a good--and, I'd think, fairly obvious--premise that I sort of HAVE to imagine that it's been done before.  People have futzed around so much with Scrooge's origin story, you'd think they'd've had to hit on this.  

The other question is, is the implication that Donald and HDL skidded off the road and died?  'Cause that's what it looks like.

But, I mean, look at this: I'll grant there is one tiny problem, which is that the signs meant to denote that this is Evil Scrooge we're talking about don't look appreciably different than the ones Good (?) Scrooge deploys, but what the hey.  There's just something about that steam shovel.

Does the story have its somewhat didactic parts?  Clearly (I mean, not that it's terrible, but it's a thing that may well appeal more to you than me.  When you're self-conscious about these things, I don't think they work as well).  It's one of those things that make you think, who exactly is the audience here?  Because--as we'll see--the story is absolutely choked with Rosa references bound to go over proles' heads, and yet stuff like this seems to be aimed specifically at them.  I dunno.

Seriously, though, look how cool that looks.  Quite cool, is how.  That's something I can just appreciate on its own merits.

This, too.  Trying to get some of that double-page-spread je ne sais quoi that Carpi had on occasion.

I hope there are no plans to make Evil Scrooge a recurring character, because, as fun as the concept is, he's not a super-interesting character, or least he wouldn't be in the long run.  Such is my belief.

And what the hell is the deal with that expression on Gyro?  Imagine waking up with that expression in your face.  Wak!  Do you think it matches the dialogue?  It just looks really weird to me.

Anyway.  Please enjoy this helpful explication of the Dime.  I guess.  It's not inconceivable that you've seen something like it before.

(And come to think of it--just stirring up a little shit--I sort of regret that Scrooge's character is so set in stone now that you couldn't have his dime be "lucky."  Let's do something weird and interesting and very likely terrible!  YOLO!  What's the worst that can happen?)

You do have to admit that a Money Bin of stolen Money Bins is pretty epic, and it continues to be amazing that no one did earlier, if they didn't.  Gotta give credit.

Okay now look.  I'm not married to nerdy criticism necessarily, but I do think there's one fairly gaping hole here which needs to be addressed, which is: these are not alternate-universe Scrooges.  Most of them are Normal Scrooge from the past, and a few might be Scrooge Ancestors; it's a little hard for me to tell.  If we want to be sticklers, none of this makes any sense.  "We found our missing bins?"  What the hell are you on about?  They were so desperate to shove all this Rosa stuff in there that they lost track of things.  Too much focus on Rosa is the story's undoing!  To be honest, I'm not all that het up about canon these days, but still, it's a pretty big fuck-up.

And here's what else I have to say, regarding these bits of explaining Scroogian philosophy and stuff: I get, I guess, that you want to get people up to date, but man, we'd been analyzing this shit as subtext for years, and to have you just regurgitate it back to us is a bit...irksome.

Colorful!  I'm not sure who Space Scrooge is; maybe that's a legit alternate-universe version.  The others are not (also, the story seems weirdly fixated on the idea of Africa Scrooge riding a lion).  Are we suppose to think that Shoe Shine Scrooge has...what, a mini-money-bin?  Dangit, I said I liked this story, and I did, and now I'm getting all het up about it.  Bah!

Anyway, it is what it is.  The question--a question--is, where do they go from here?  What exactly are they trying to accomplish in the long term?  There are these Donald-as-Wolverine and Donald-as-Thor things coming, and I'm sure they've got a few other gimmicky things planned, but you cannot live on novelty alone.  If the idea is to create a sustainable line, they're really gonna have to think less about Big Events and more about normal ol' Disney stories.  Do you think they would be able to just do a straight-forward Barksian Scrooge treasure hunt?  Not "could they do it well?" but "could they do it, period?"  I think the jury's kind of out on that at present.

I don't think they've disgraced the name of Disney comics with this first effort, but I dunno.  Those Disney by Glenat books feel kind of seismic.  This does not.

And now, since that was a relatively short entry, let's kill time looking at the covers for the book.  I know a lot of these are by big-name artists, but this book isn't indexed on inducks yet, and I'm having trouble finding clear information.  It's also why I haven't mentioned any of the several story artists.  Sorry!  Get to work, inducks peons!

A bit ugly--like a CGI recreation of a classic Barks pose.

Why is his neck so elongated?  I can think of nothing else when I see this.

Yeah, I guess it's okay.

This is the Frank Miller one, isn't it?  It's...huh.  Um.  I actually read the first volume of Sin City back in the day.  Found it kind of psychopathic, but the art was a lot...better than this.  Also, as I oft like to point out, he did the cover for a Penguin edition of Gravity's Rainbow that I liked.  In any event.

He's a little dopey-looking, isn't he?  And why a cover that seems to be illustrating a story that isn't in the book?  Gag covers are normal, but instances like this are pretty weird.

Not technically terrible, I suppose, but not something I really like looking at either.

I cannot even.

Bugly as heck.

Why is his beak so huge?  And is this meant to be a Darkwing Duck pose?

Extremely inoffensive, and for that reason probably my favorite of these.  Nice lighting.

Evil or not, that is one bugly-ass Scrooge.  Am I overusing the word "bugly?"


(The analytical part of my brain wants to concede that this at least tries to do something interesting, but 

my conscious sentiment runs entirely to DO NOT WANT.)


Okay if you like that sort of thing, I guess.

I have to wonder: can doing all these variant covers possibly be profitable?  Are there truly maniacs eager to acquire them all?  I mean, okay, sure, no doubt there are a few, but enough to justify all this?  I dunno.  Iffy.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fight like Scrooges!

June 24, 2024 at 5:48 AM  
Anonymous BrianL said...

Woohoo, you're back again!

Though it's a bit TOO gaudily coloured and has too many dramatically-meant poses for me, I think the art of the story itself is quite good-looking. The vista of the Bin o' Bins is pretty great, for example. Those covers though...exactly zero of them appeal to me and that's ignoring that a number simply don't fit the story.

Some trivia:
That last picture includes so many characters and so few at the same time. I see Donald, Scrooge-of-many-shapes, Fethry, Gyro, Gladstone, Daisy, Grandma, Brigitta...and that's about it. Have I missed any others?
I notice Scrooge refers to Donald as a 'waterfowl'. Hey, are the Ducks true birds and not humans through a filter here?
What a wasted opportunity not to have true alternative Scrooges here instead of older versions of the character. I remember an Italian story that actually had Scrooge meet an alternate version of himself and changing places with him, only to find himself in a situation where he was married to Brigitta, was bankrupt, in debt to his nephews and considered a big joke, leading to 'true' Scrooge having to turn that situation around. That was, I think, a far more interesting take on an alternative Scrooge than what we have here. This version reminds me far too much of Dexter's Laboratory's 'Ego Trip' (which I remember enjoying, by the way) and, perhaps because of that reason, feels like a dime a dozen. I share your worries about what Marvel will do next.

June 25, 2024 at 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

With Aaron's intro, I think we need to parse it carefully. "I've been a massive Disney fan for about as long as I've been reading comics" does not actually state that he's been reading Disney comics for that long. He probably means that he's been a fan of Aladdin and DuckTales etc. since around the time he started reading Spider-Man comics (or whatever). As for "all my life," that should be understood as "for as long as I can remember."

The glimpses we get of the different moneybins returned to their own worlds seem to me to indicate that at least three of them actually are alternate-universe Scrooges: Cowboy Scrooge with his log cabin bin, Knight Scrooge with his castle bin, and Space Scrooge with his asteroid bin.

Finally: My fave covers are "I cannot even" and especially "DO NOT WANT"

June 25, 2024 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

With Aaron's intro, I think we need to parse it carefully. "I've been a massive Disney fan for about as long as I've been reading comics" does not actually state that he's been reading Disney comics for that long. He probably means that he's been a fan of Aladdin and DuckTales etc. since around the time he started reading Spider-Man comics (or whatever). As for "all my life," that should be understood as "for as long as I can remember."

I actually did think along those lines a bit; in the end, I just thought it would've been a little unwieldy to stick it in the story (yeah, imagine me complaining about digressiveness). And you're definitely right re the explicit meaning of the text. But I dunno; "I've been a massive Disney fan for about as long as I've been reading comics" certainly strongly suggests that this Disney fandom involved comics. I know; most trivial question ever, but there you go.

June 25, 2024 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

The "waterfowl" reference is to a line from the original Bear Mountain story, where Scrooge references Donald similarly as a "quivering waterfowl."

June 26, 2024 at 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I have posted my own summary review on Joe Torcivia's blog, since he got to this issue before you did! Summary of my summary: I like some of the art, especially some two-page spreads; I like some of the dialogue; I'm good with the Rosa-inspired premise, that Thanos-Scrooge developed because he didn't have the ameliorating influence of Donald and the boys (family, adventure, etc.) to offset his greed. The line "I am Scrooge...uncle to no one!" very nicely sums up this core difference.

What I don't like is that despite the verbiage about the importance of adventure and human (Duck) connections, the assemblage of Scrooges (plus Donalds) win over Thanos-Scrooge simply by physical fighting. Kind of undermines the explicit moralizing. Also, boy-Scrooge particularly expresses an eagerness to "beat him senseless" which I found unfunny, distasteful and inappropriate to the character.

I absolutely think that Jason Aaron is saying that he was since childhood a fan of other-than-comics-Disney and of non-Disney comics, and discovered Disney comics only with his son, particularly (exclusively?) Don Rosa. I do appreciate the fact that his favorite Scrooge story is Guardians of the Lost Library, since that's very, very high on my personal list. I wonder, though, how can one love that story without the background of many Barks stories where the Guidebook saves the day?

I don't think one needs to think that Donald and the boys fell off a cliff to their deaths, though that's certainly one possible interpretation based on the first panel. One could also think that they got lost (panel two) or stuck in a ditch and gave up on getting to the cabin but survived and got home somehow. The story still works, assuming Scrooge wouldn't try again to engage Donald in some sort of test, having been stood up once.

{break to eat breakfast, after which I will return to discuss the idea of Alternate Scrooges based on chapters of Rosa's L&T}

June 28, 2024 at 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

So, the thing that doesn't quite work is that the alt-Scrooges other than Thanos-Scrooge are mostly all based on the Scrooges from different chapters of Rosa's L&T. The Scrooges on p. 18-20 seem to be drawn from five chapters of the L&T plus space-Scrooge (on the right in p. 18, first panel on p. 19)--does he come from any specific story? Interestingly, on p. 19, he's the one who is said to come "from different worlds", while three L&T-Scrooges are shown in the next panel with the text "from different points in time." Two of them are explicitly named in narration boxes as "the laird of Castle McDuck" (not a medieval ancestor!) and the "buckaroo of the Badlands." This idea of bringing Scrooges from Scrooge's own timeline in this world is fuzzily mushed together with the idea of bringing Scrooges from alternate universes. Since Thanos-Scrooge is clearly in an alternate universe, the other Scrooges have to be alt-universe Scrooges, too. But most of them are plucked out of the Rosa timeline. On the two-page spread of the Scrooges with their fortunes restored, it appears that the laird-Scrooge and buckaroo-Scrooge have in their respective universes built themselves thematically appropriate money bins (although these did not show up in the Bin of Bins!), which is undeniably cute but logically incoherent. Are these alt-Scrooges somehow supposed to have remained stuck in their Rosa-cartouche avatars while building bins and developing relationships with the nephews and adventuring? And for another complication, the Council of Gyros appear not to be drawn from chapters of Rosa's L&T but from different historical time periods. It's a mishmash.

If Aaron had stuck to Scrooges drawn from Scrooge's earlier life in L&T, it would still have made sense to have each of them (in their respective universe, caught at a different stage in Scrooge's parallel lives) have his own Dime. But not to have his own bin. And where do all those identical bins in the Bin of Bins come from? There would have to be eight other universes where Scrooges have built identical bins. Are those the same universes the L&T Scrooges come from, but later in those universes' timelines? Can you choose where in the timeline of an alternate universe you insert yourself when universe-hopping? And again, the identical bins don't accord with the two L&T chapter-avatar-specific bins (plus the one space-Scrooge-specific bin) shown in the later two-page spread of fortunes restored.

June 28, 2024 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Miguel Madeira said...

"Hey, are the Ducks true birds and not humans through a filter here?"

I think the "filter" theory is a bit fringe, no (and perhaps more from some fans that from the creators)?

June 28, 2024 at 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Lugija said...

I personally think that if there's a filter, it applies also to the dialogue.

At first I was a bit shocked to see the deep-cut Rosa imaginery in this first Marvel duck comic, but they aren't really deep-cuts anymore, are they? Life and times is thirty years old now, and is the most famous duck comic since Barks (citation needed but I'm fairly confident). It was maybe five to ten years ago when I wondered when will the duck artists who grew up with Rosa's stories start to fill up the comic pages themselves, and what will that look like, since Rosa's style in writing and art is so different than the others. But as kids we knew that his stuff was the most exciting and funny, so it must have also influenced many aspiring artists.

And what I've seen, Rosa elements have started to show up in many places. Hortence and Matilda are seen in stories set in the past, Korhonen uses many Rosa-created elements and the established timeline in his Scrooge diaries, and I recently saw part one of Rockerduck's life story, starting with his father's meeting of Scrooge at the copper mines.

June 30, 2024 at 4:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The heavy focus on Rosa makes sense, the kind of primarily superhero-focused American comic book fans that both created this and who are the targeted audience have a tendency to hyperfocus on Rosa and particularly Life and Times as "the most important Disney comics ever", while even Barks gets reduced to this also-ran whose stories you see occasionally referenced in footnotes.

July 1, 2024 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I think that's an accurate point. Not an ideal situation, but what can one do?

July 1, 2024 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I haven't seen this story yet but I also would prefer Marvel simply doing regular Duck stories (stuff like Donald trying a new job and geting mix-up in some crazy adventure) rather then some BIG EVENT stuff with Scrooge meeting alternative versions of himself in some big battle, but then again it's Marvel so it's almost expected and It's their way of geting attention.

I'm sort of supprised it took them this long to have "Donald as Wolrverine" or "Minnie Mouse as She-Hulk" given for how long Disney owns Marvel. An actual crossover where Scrooge tries to strike-up a deal with Tony Stark while Magica teams up with Red Scull would sparkle my intrest a little.

And yes - Rosa "Life and Times" is from what I can tell the most recognisable Duck thing at the moment. I can only speak for Poland but a lot of people from my generation remember it as one of the most impactful comics from their childhood (not just Disney but in general), even new Duck Tales refrence it as much as they did thrown in-jokes to Barks stories.

But aside for "Let's thrown in something people know" it's simply easy that it was among writers/artists favorite stories so he wanted refrence it.

As for the covers...

Honestly I like the one stylized after Barks paiting the most and I like the one with Scrooge holding the money sack even if both aren't perfect.

In general I must say - I honestly don't like most of these cover variants. Frankly a lot of them just feel sloppy and Frank Miller one only comfirms I don't get appeal of his artstyle. I would prefer if they they would go for more regular Disney covers or even reused some of European ones.

July 4, 2024 at 3:29 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

BTW -> Funny. I remember years ago Don Rosa awnser to my question on some forum what where the strangest art request he got on convention and in a long monologue he mention he don't do take requests like:

"Drawn me Daisy Duck as Vamprie or draw Donald Duck as Wolrverine".

BTW vo2 -> And I look on some pages of "Donald Wolverine" thing and apperently it has Micke Mouse as Hawkeye in it so it's a bigger mush-up combining both universes. I must say - art looks very nice.

July 4, 2024 at 3:39 AM  
Blogger tymime said...

I think only two of those cover variants were drawn by an actual cartoonist.

July 5, 2024 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

I left a few comments at Joe Torcivia's blog, but now that all the smoke has cleared and the novelty has worn off...

...this book sits in a stack of comics that I've read once and don't really think much about anymore, like the end of IDW's run (Uncle Scrooge: My First Millions and so on). The Glenat albums and Fantagrpahics collections are the books I'm going to return to.

July 14, 2024 at 1:19 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

That seems like an extremely fair assessment and comparison.

July 17, 2024 at 8:20 AM  

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