Review: Darkwing Duck: The Duck Knight Returns!

There are some things that can make you feel like a kid again and today I got to read one of those things.

Yesterday I was the proud recipient of Darkwing Duck: The Duck Knight Returns, the miniseries that brought an all-too-short revival of the character. I had read many reviews online about the story and how much people raved about how great it was to see Darkwing get some love after all this time. I, as ever, was skeptical. Let’s face it, most times when people start saying that it’s a return of a classic, better than it’s ever been, etc. it tends to make me flinch. In the end, stories that go that route, usually mean that a writer has ideas on how to make the story edgier than normal. If this were a normal character, I would’ve almost expected that. And while I will say that there is something almost adult in this, there is definitely the inner kid that’s laughing himself silly over the things that he found inside those pages.

For those who don’t know Darkwing Duck, I’ll give you the Wiki on him. My suggestion to get to know him is find the DVDs, this is a worthwhile show! For those who don’t want to do that, the easiest way to explain him is that he’s a duck superhero. Part Shadow, part Batman, part Donald Duck. This equals out to a hilarious package of awesome. With the help of his sidekick; Launchpad McQuack (from DuckTales), adopted daughter; Gosalyn, and her best friend/neighbor; Honker Muddlefoot, he battles the likes of Quackerjack, the Liquidator, Megavolt, Steelbeak, Bushroot, and Negaduck. This isn’t a typical Disney cartoon, and the people working on it knew that.

The Premise: It’s been a year since Darkwing Duck was last seen. In the meantime, a company called the Quackwerks has grown in strength as the number one business in all of St. Canard. They deal in everything toys to law enforcement. The Quackwerks uses its crimebots, in place of “human” police, because they don’t get hurt and they are more frightening than the Masked Mallard. In a cubicle, Drake Mallard (Darkwing) sits doing a boring job that makes him reminisce over his former life. Behind him, in the same cubicle, works Elmo Sputterspark (Megavolt); a criminal that has given him trouble time and again. Elmo has been trying to place where he has seen Drake before and the comedy ensues. As it turns out, all criminals aren’t causing crimes anymore, because they work for the Quackwerks.

As with the other characters; Launchpad has since moved away and hasn’t seen Darkwing for around that same year. Gosalyn has been put into a private school and is doing all she can to try and bring Darkwing out of retirement. It isn’t until Honker gets himself arrested, while at Drake and Gosalyns home for illegally downloading of a song, that Gosalyn finally convinces him to do just that. The villains Quackerjack, Bushroot, and Liquidator also decide to come out of retirement. They kidnap Megavolt and all talk of how fed up they are with life in the Quackwerks. Quackerjack, who used to be fairly jovial, has become far more bitter than he has in the original series. The very mention of Negaduck sends him into violent spasms as he wrecks several crimebots who make the mistake of calling to the gang’s former leader.

Now, Darkwing must figure out why the Quackwerks has started to go out of balance with the law, and deal with the return of his multiple-nemeses, in this very fun story.

The Good: The people who recommended the title were right. This would have made a fun movie for the character to come back to his own series. It has all the classically funny bits to it, while still telling a fairly serious story, and adding those caring Disney moments. Even if you didn’t like the story, for whatever your reason may be, the artwork is on point! They had the models down perfectly, which only helped to add to the overall story. It speaks to the care that went into this book. The nostalgia in it as you got to see the flyer and Gadget from Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Ranger, Scrooge McDuck, and his nephews. It would give a person a good introduction to the character, make them want to go back and watch the old shows to see what they missed.

There’s also a much deeper sense of continuity to it than the cartoon ever had. Most cartoons of that day were known for shoddily keeping a cohesive story. Basic elements at best, because they felt kids needed fun and not necessarily consistent. That’s why Darkwing had multiple backstories to how he became a hero. This shows a lot of thought and planning on their part, which is why this book went to series, love and cohesion. Unfortunately, BOOM! Studios lost eventually had to stop the book, likely due to the fact that Marvel was bought out by Disney. Since they owned a comic company, there wasn’t a reason to let another continue with their property. If there were ever a reason for them to have allowed a company to keeping going with a book, this was it.

The Bad: I found so much good in it, that it’s hard to say something negative. The one real drawback I found was that it was too fast to get through. It wasn’t just me being a speed demon through the book, but I thought it could use more pages. The story it parodies (after a fashion), The Dark Knight Returns, clocks in a 224 pages. This story comes in at 128. I don’t think I would have asked for another 100 pages, but I do think another 40 of 50 wouldn’t have hurt. I would’ve paid another 5 to 10 bucks for the privilege. Still, if that’s the worst complain I can make for this book. Then I count myself very fortunate.

Recommended?: Absolutely! This is one of those titles good for kids and adults. I can’t push for this one enough! I’m very fortunate that they’ve printed other graphic novels of the series so that I might have a good time. I’ll hate to see it end once more, but my hope is that someone with as much love and appreciation for this character will push to put him out there again soon.