Brill on "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers"

BOOM! Studios caught many by surprise when it announced earlier this year that it would be publishing new comics featuring the adventures of Darkwing Duck, a popular but long out of syndication Disney character. Clearly, this was the comic book series people didn't know they wanted so badly, and what had been thought to be a four-issue miniseries was immediately expanded into an ongoing, and "Darkwing Duck" #1 sold out its first printing. Now, BOOM! hopes to catch that level of excitement again with "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers."

The original cartoon launched in 1989 and fleshed out Disney's classic chipmunk pals by giving them an adventuresome spirit and colorful cast of friends and villains, and became the most-watched show in the programming block known as Disney Afternoon. Chip, Dale, their mechanically-handy mutual love interest Gadget, the cheese-fixated Australian mouse Monterey Jack, and Monty's buzzing housefly sidekick Zipper took on the causes of animals in need.

BOOM!'s "Rescue Rangers" ongoing series will be written by editor Ian Brill, who is also the writer on the "Darkwing Duck" ongoing, with Leonel Castellani on art. CBR News spoke with Brill for more details on the comic, which launches in December.

Though each episode of the "Rescue Rangers" cartoon stood alone (with the exception of the feature-length pilot), Brill told CBR that the first arc of BOOM!'s series will span four issues. "When strange animal activity happens all over the world, the Rescue Rangers have to span the globe to stop it," Brill said of the first arc. "This story takes full advantage of Monterey Jack's experience as a world traveler and Gadget's unique inventions. We'll see how this particular story affects our characters personally, as they work together on mission that's bigger than anything they've seen... maybe ever."

As to whether early stories would see classic villains like Fat Cat and Nimnul or if Brill would be bringing a new crew to town, the writer said, "There are plans for both those characters, solid plans. But I dare not reveal anything now. They are important characters in the Rescue Ranger mythos and do have roles to play."

Speaking broadly about the essence of "Rescue Rangers" and what makes it fun, Brill described the series as one that "takes our world and has us look at it in a whole new way; small animals become larger than life and everyday items become breathtaking inventions. This all happens around characters you can't get enough of. You want to join them, let them show you how the common place because extraordinary."

Joining Brill on the series is artist Leonel Castellani, who is perhaps best known for his work on Marvel's "Super Hero Squad." "Leonel Castellani is doing a brilliant job on art. His cover for issue #1 sets the tone for what this series will be," Brill said of the series artist. "We tested a few candidates. And he was the most awesome."

"Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" represents Brill's second revitalization of a popular Disney Afternoon property, following the successful "Darkwing Duck," which was expanded from a miniseries to an ongoing before the first issue hit stores. Asked what lessons from "Darkwing" he'll carry over into "Rescue Rangers," Brill said, "'Darkwing Duck' was my first continuing series so that was a crash course in telling a long-form story. I had to learn how (and hopefully I was somewhat successful at) pacing, developing character, and communicating the challenge for our protagonist. It also meant I had to learn how to end every issue in a way that will make the reader coming back for more!

"Now," the writer continued, "I have to take those lessons and apply them to a team book. There are a lot of characters to balance and they're all in the action simultaneously. These characters are fantastic, so it's fun to figure out what to do with Chip, Dale, Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper."

Unlike with "Darkwing," however, in which Brill set up a return to action for the Masked Mallard after a period of retirement, "Rescue Rangers" will see the cast pick up right where they left off. "We have the team in action, working to protect the small creatures in our world. I wanted us to be able to go right into the action, so the team is still active. There are elements of the past, before the Rescue Rangers were even a team, that come to a head in this story, though."

As to how the energy of "Rescue Rangers" differs from that of "Darkwing Duck," Brill noted that the humor and genre vary quite a bit between the two. "There humor in it, Chip and Dale are nothing if not a comedy team, but this doesn't reach the heights of absurdity that I can reach in 'Darkwing Duck,'" he said. "It's not a superhero book either, it's an adventure book. Even though 'Darkwing Duck' is a spin-off of 'Ducktales,' it's for 'Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers' that I am delving into Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge stories, as well Pixar films like 'Up' and 'Finding Nemo.' Those are stories that provide tense thrills and chills, in an intelligent and engaging way."

"Rescue Rangers," like "Darkwing Duck," is another cartoon that has been off the air for some time-the final episode aired in 1990. "This series has a little more recognition factor, because Chip and Dale are still out there," Brill noted. "Now anyone, young or old, can see the two world-renowned chipmunks in an adventure where they save the world the only way they can! It's exciting to know young readers will discover Gadget, Monterey Jack and Zipper for the first time here."

Finally, asked whether he's more like Chip or Dale, or possibly Monty, Brill replied, "Zipper, except less intelligible."

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