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Traded Up: ‘Uncle Scrooge: Timeless Tales #3’ (review)

Uncle Scrooge: Timeless Tales #3
(Collects Uncle Scrooge #13-#18)
Written and Illustrated by Francesco Artibani,
Alessandro Perina, William Van Horn,
Daan Jippes, Romano Scarpa
Published by IDW Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1631409356
Released 9/19/17 / $29.99

 

The back cover’s pluggy paragraph does its job rather well here, promising pretty much everything it can to lure in a Duck family fan this side of promising you your own Number One Dime.

The name dropping is fairly warranted with the likes of Magicka DeSpell, Flinthart Glomgold, the Beagle boys, Romano Scarpa and William van Horn. (The only names missing are Carl Barks and Don Rosa, but then the book might just implode in on itself.)

It also proves a bit of warmup for the new DuckTales animated TV series, featuring the ball-like Terries and Fermies in the first big story, prepping readers for the fifth episode. But I digress.

Although it collects IDW’s Uncle Scrooge issues #13 through #18, it really collects stories from all over the globe and time, back to the 1960s. But calling this a collection of Timeless Tales is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, most Scrooge stories usually have a bit of agelessness to them but the early half of the book is really setup for a more modern rogue-splosion and a video game-centric story later in the book that uses a rather modern convention to try to conjure memories of Scrooge’s older adventures.

The book begins with “Scrooge’s Last Adventure,” a four-part story from the Italian mag Tropolino featuring the Beagle Boys, Flintheart, Magika and McDuck-a-like and bazillonaire wannabe, Mr. Rockerduck, teaming up to try to defeat Scrooge. It’s the Duckburg version of the Legion of Doom (Legion of Ducks?) where they do the unexpected for the duckverse by crossing their purposes. As usual, you can never really trust a thief but, in tried-and-true form, Scrooge manages to talk his way out of a seemingly impossible situation. As if four villains across four parts weren’t enough, we also get the additional treats of Scrooge actually teaming up with one and a guest appearance by Duck Avenger.

It’s certainly a more modern story (2013, to be precise) with the more fluid European art style but, even so, long-time Duck fans will enjoy the twists. Maybe the most throwback moment is when Scrooge haunts his own mansion, a big nod to Disney’s retelling of the classic Christmas Carol.

Dipping back into the ’70s, a couple short stories feature Uncle Rumpus McFowl, a lesser known of the Duck family members who looks as if he’s always wearing a fake beard. They have that older house style with scratchier textures, less crowded panels and more dialog. A couple others feature Belle Duck, an old friend of Scrooge’s who rather enjoys innocently spending his money. As if she’s be rubbed by his lucky dime, she always seems to turn any accidental moment into new fortunes for the ol’ duck.

A few others are a bit more recent and come from the Netherlands and Poland, although they have that familiar look and feel. One of those is a surprise, multi-part story that really mixes the old and new.

In “Scrooge vs. Scrooge,” our rich duck plays as his own avatar in a video game he, along with Gyro, created about his life. Published in 2009, just before Epic Mickey was released, it goes a bit more futuristic than that inky game. In this incarnation there is an “encephalo interface dongle” – think virtual glasses – so they can play using brain waves. And, as you can imagine, it proved yet another way for Scrooge to get joy from earning money.

That is followed by a bit of a weird one, titled “Gyro’s Manager,” were a smooth talking sales guy invaded Gyro’s life, twisting his inventions into diabolical purposes. The story has that older look and feel to it, feeling right at home with the timeless portion of the book’s title.

The final long story is “The Miner’s Daughter” which introduces Dickie Duck, a cheerful, yellow-haired girl who enjoying jumping into any situation. The story is a bit out of place in that if feels a bit disjointed with no real focus or adventure. Instead, we see Scrooge traveling as cargo and the three nephews breaking into song in a baby carriage. It’s one of the weirdest, longest character introductions I can recall.

A bit of a throwback to Disney’s comics are the stories about the writers and artists that’d occasionally be incorporated. Early in the book, before the stories, is a write-up titled “Honor Among Thieves: The McDuck Rogues Gallery Team Ups.” It’s actually an interview with comics writer Francesco Artibani, focusing on the multi-villain team up story. Likewise, the book ends with a brief bio of artist William Van Horn followed by a couple of his short pagers from the late ’80s. He always had a slightly more bubbly style than, say Barks or, yet managing to straddle the old and newer visual styles without abusing either one. It’s a proper way to close out the book, reigning things back in to the “Timeless” title.

I always enjoy seeing Disney stories from other countries but mixing in the more modern, brightly colored, rubbery European stories with the more house style American adventures doesn’t really say timeless to me.

But, then again, I’m taking the book’s name a bit too literal. Scrooge will simply never really age, despite his crotchety ol’ self. Whether you put him in a video game, send him to the planet’s core or launch him into space, he’ll manage to remain firmly grounded in his big adventure, hard-working, penny-pinching past.

 

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