He is the terror that flaps in the night. He is the critic who mocks your webcomic. He is Darkwing Duck. And he is back!
For the uninitiated among you, let me explain: Darkwing Duck is a superhero cut from the same cloth as Batman, The Sandman and The Shadow. And he's a duck, who occupies a little-visited corner of the same universe that Scrooge McDuck and the rest of the DuckTales characters inhabit. Using a variety of gadgets, including a gas gun and a near-supernatural ability to sneak around and appear dramatically at will, Darkwing protects the city of St. Canard from a motley crew of supervillains. Among these are the electrically empowered Megavolt, the plant manipulating Doctor Bushroot, insane ex-toymaker Quackerjack and the fluid fiend known as The Liquidator.
Darkwing Duck was easily the best cartoon to emerge from The Disney Afternoon line-up in the early 1990s and one of the best cartoons I grew up watching as a kid. At the time, it was one of those rare shows that could be watched by anyone - the kids would like the slapstick and the superhero elements while their parents could enjoy the sly asides and parodies that made up most of the series' plots.
Small wonder then, that as BOOM! Studios brings this character back in comic book form, that they would elect to bring Darkwing Duck back with a parody of the most famous "superhero returning to crime-fighting story ever". Look at the above cover art and consider the title of the opening arc - The Duck Knight Returns.
Yes. It's a parody of grim-and-gritty Frank Miller's Batman run. Hidden in, of all things, a Disney Comic!
Is it just me or is that all kinds of awesome?
The story opens on a flashback of Darkwing Duck's final publicized adventure, some 18 months before the comic opens. Since then, a company called Quackwerks has moved into St. Canard, taking over most of the businesses and the police force. Order is kept by a series of robot "Arrestoids" and the various criminals - super-powered and mundane - have been given day jobs, putting their talents to work for the company.
Darkwing is working for them now too, in his secret identity of Drake Mallard. He's working a job he doesn't understand to pay for his foster daughter Gosalyn's schooling and shares a cubicle with Elmo Sputterspark (a.k.a. the super villain Megavolt). And for some reason that isn't explained at first, he had a falling out with his best-friend and sidekick, master-pilot Launchpad McQuack. Drake is, in a word, miserable.
Drake is forced out of retirement and back into action after Quackworks' new-and-improved Arrestoids prove to be a bit overzealous, breaking down walls to subdue middle-school students who illegal download music... including Goaslyn's classmate Honker. Somebody has to investigate the power behind Quackwerks. Somebody has to stand up against the machines that fight crime without any sense of scale.
Meanwhile, Elmo is abducted by his former villainous comrades in the Fearsome Five... er Four and recruited for a complicated revenge scheme against the company that is crushing their spirits and wasting their talents. Their leader in this plan is Quackerjack, who it seems has become more Joker than Toyman in the last year and a half, becoming psychotically unhinged whenever the name of Negaduck - the former leader of the Fearsome Five and Darkwing Duck's evil twin from a parallel Earth - is brought up.
I won't spoil the rest of the issues for you any further. Suffice it to say this is best book for a juvenile audience I've read in a good long while. If you're a fan of the show, you'll love the comic. If you're not, you should check it out and see what you've been missing as they do a great job of introducing the characters and the universe to those who aren't familiar with it. Despite this, there's plenty of in-jokes for those of us who are familiar with it as well as a few cameos which prove that some - if not all - of The Disney Afternoon Shows were set in the same universe. Check out the last panel of this page for another familiar face.
Yes. Apparently Launchpad sought work with The Rescue Rangers at one point. And while I've refused to spoil the details of this storyline past Issue #2, here's some motivation for all of you crossover fans to get issue #5.