The recent spate of Disney Duck releases from Boom! Studios has swung back and forth from over-the-top cartoonish to Carl Barks faithful. “Donald Duck and Friends” falls somewhere in the middle, using only slightly more exaggerated art than classic Duck tales, with a storyline that fits in with today’s pop culture without being reliant on it. Donald is a James Bond-esque “Double Duck,” all right, but that’s just the means to the end.
In the story, Donald doesn’t realize he’s a superspy, and gets thrown into the middle of an adventure that he’ll no doubt have to fight his way out of. We’re just at the point where Donald is being introduced to his double life, when — the issue ends. Yes, this is another case of an Italian Duck story lasting longer than a single American comic book, complete with an awkward pause point.
I enjoyed the art from Andrea Freccero very much. It doesn’t try as hard as the art from “Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories” did to separate itself out from the classic work of Barks, et. al. It’s restrained enough that all of the characters are on model, while still carving out a style of its own, just enough to add extra visual interest and excitement to the page. The color scheme is a wonderfully dimensional one, with lots of little shadows added to give the art an extra three dimensional feel. The overall color scheme is clear and consistent, fitting the art perfectly.
The oddest thing about the issue, though, is the use of animal puns. When the police officer offers to place Donald Duck’s parking ticket “on his bill,” it sticks out like a sore thumb. The officer is a duck, himself! A couple other examples of such humor stick out, too. The Duck universe is filled naturally with mice and bears and ducks and dogs. They think nothing of it. All of a sudden, it’s pun-a-palooza? Weird.
While this is definitely outside the mold of the classic Barks mold, it’s nevertheless an entertaining tale that works hard to stand up on its own, and not be just another James Bond spoof. The art and colors are great to look at, but I just hope Donald gets to do more in the next chapter of the tale, due out no doubt in another four weeks.