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Ian Brill Looks Back on “Darkwing Duck”

by  in Comic News Comment

To wrap up two series — the crossover also marked the end of “Duck Tales,” which Spector had written for its six-issue run — Brill had to test the limits of his “pack stuff in” approach. “That crossover, ‘Dangerous Currency,’ might just take the cake for how much stuff was packed in. When I knew the series was ending, I put in the big story elements that I wanted to do, and that was to have the Phantom Blot take on Darkwing, that he has this substance that turns people into villains, that this substance is the remnants of Negaduck from his last appearance in ‘Darkwing Duck’ #8, and that Negaduck and Morgana were stuck in this alternate world, this wasteland and that Darkwing would have to make a choice,” Brill said. “Speaking of the tension between Darkwing’s superhero and civilian life, I really wanted to touch on that in a big, dramatic way as we closed out this book. We gave Darkwing a choice: both his girlfriend and his greatest villain were away, and he could only bring both back or neither — he couldn’t bring back just Morgana. The choice is whether the best thing and the worst thing of his life were going to come back. Is he going to have this dramatic life of these great highs and horrible lows, or is he going to choose to put both those things at bay and perhaps live an easier kind of life. Based on the experiences he’s had in the series and discussions with the older and wiser Scrooge, the only choice he could make is to bring them both back.

“James did an excellent job on that spread in ‘Darkwing’#18, where Darkwing pulls Morgana back and Negaduck is holding on to Morgana. When we were planning the second year of ‘Darkwing,’ I knew that was how we were going to end the crossover,” he said.

Working on a childhood favorite like “Darkwing Duck,” especially so early in his writing career, gave Brill plenty of proud moments. “I really liked the first issue because I think that set the tone of the book well. I’m really pleased with how successful the Annual was and I’m proud of the way the story I wrote came off, as well as the story that Tad Stones wrote, featuring the new villain Chronoduck,” the writer said. “My story with Quackerjack — I know Tad Stones in interviews had said he wanted Quackerjack to be more menacing than he ended up being in the show. I used that as a jumping off point to get more into his character. I’m interested in the psychology of what would make someone a villain, someone who chooses selfishness and greed and goes to such absurd behavior based on a selfish, immature outlook. Quackerjack seemed perfect for that. When this company, Quackworks, took over St. Canard, he had a shot at a normal life, but his ego would not let that happen. We see behavior in real life where people have an outsized sense of entitlement that leads them to take more than their fair share. I think that’s at the root of a lot of villainy. Seeing a villain making the wrong choices that lead him to become a villain to me is interesting.” Brill said, though, that some fans wondered if the story was too dark for a kids’ comic. “I don’t think so. I do hope people still find something funny in it, the Mr. Bananabrain stuff, telling jokes with Darkwing and Honker and Gosalyn — I wanted to make sure there were still jokes in it, and all the villainy was wacky, people turning into toys and stuff,” he told CBR. “But I never felt I should shy away from the psychological aspect of it just because this is a book that would reach children. I know I enjoyed lots of film and cartoons — especially some of the stuff in ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ — that looked at villains in this way. Growing up, I loved the ‘Heart of Ice’ story in ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ I think that was an influence on me doing ‘Toy With Me.’ I enjoyed those stories as a kid, so I thought it was perfectly fine. Sabrina Alberghetti, Lisa Moore, and Deron Bennett — artist, colors, and letterer — also did a brilliant job. It was very rewarding to see them do such wonderful work on a story of mine.” Brill added that he was also very pleased with the final issue #18.

“Looking back on ‘Darkwing,’ I feel as a writer I’m always seeing ways to do things better, ways to improve myself. But I am proud of what we did, because I think this is something people didn’t expect,” he concluded. “You see a bunch of material that’s aimed at a younger audience with the feeling of, well, if it’s all-ages material, it doesn’t have to be as deep as other comics; this was a comic where I felt — and thankfully my collaborators agreed — that because this was truly reaching all ages and because the characters are so great, we should do as top-notch a job as any book. Looking at ‘Darkwing,’ we lived up to that.”