If you’ve been enjoying what IDW has been doing with DUCKTALES, DARKWING DUCK, and their various other Disney “reboot” titles… you may not enjoy this over-sized issue. The two stories featured aren’t originals. One is a re-print of a German comic, with this being its first US publication; the other a Goofy tale from 1959. It isn’t there aren’t merits to these types of books. There is much to be gained from a cultural perspective and comic fans who consider themselves historians of the medium could find them interesting. What I’m trying to say, in a circulatory fashion, isn’t this book ain’t necessarily for kids, but not for your typical adult reader either.
“Prisoners of Zartac 2” was originally printed in Germany in 2008. It places Donald Duck on a sci-fi adventure that feels like a combination of STAR TREK (more DEEP SPACE NINE than TNG) and a PG-rated version of SPACE DANDY. Our short-fused “hero” is in a rush to get home to Earth before his nephews “wreck [his] home and Gladstone dates Daisy.” Of course, when he takes matters in his own hands to reroute the navigational coordinates, things go very wrong very fast. Donald and his space exploration team, including a cousin who has a new-found love of psychology based on the book Head Cases by Dr. I.Q. Lo, are stranded on a prison planet. Hi-jinx ensue as per predicted for a Disney comic.
What makes “Zartac” a worthy read is the difference in humor between a German Donald Duck tale and an American story. Disney insisted on consistency in storytelling during the early and mid-20th century, including creative control for foreign releases. But even the iron fist of the Mouse himself couldn’t keep international artists and writers from bringing in their own cultural flair to the dialogue and morals. Now, or then in 2008, the aim for a singular, global canon is not pushed as much and this is clearest in the style of humor. I hate to use the word high-brow, but when most of the jokes are based on Freudian and Jungian theories, it isn’t the type of sophomoric, slap-stick humor one would expect.
That’s what “Riding High” is for. This Goofy tale is plucked right out of the era when Disney’s comics were still capitalist propaganda (don’t believe me, read How to Read Donald Duck). Really, don’t let your kids read this. Those comics were designed to shun lackadaisical attitudes, promote the reward of a hard’s day work rather than financial recompense, and have the kids always correcting the adults. For that last reason alone, don’t let your kids read this issue. That last thing you want is to turn those little squirts into capitalist monsters that think they know more than you and will deride ya for spending your days reading comics when you should be at work. Oh, and the story just doesn’t stand the test of time. It’s stereotypical slapstick with groan and cringe-inducing predictable jokes. Perhaps it is a good thing Disney doesn’t give credit to the writers of yore.
Lyzard is Lyz Renshaw, a graduate student at Michigan Tech pursuing a doctorate in Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture… which is just a fancy way of saying she plays a lot video games, watches far too many horror films, and then tries to pass it all off as “research.”