Sunday, April 18, 2010

COMIC REVIEW: Uncle Scrooge: The Hunt for Old Number One TPB (BOOM! Studios)


The Amazing Race, Uncle Scrooge-style

Foundation and symbol of his untold wealth, Uncle Scrooge keeps the first dime he ever earned close to heart. The fiendish sorceress Magica De Spell recognizes the inherent magical powers of the dime and will stop at nothing to steal it from the gazillionaire of Duckburg.


Collecting issues 384-387 of the Uncle Scrooge series from Boom! Studios, Uncle Scrooge: The Hunt for Old Number One TPB follows Scrooge and Magica as they square off across Europe for possession of this talisman of prosperity.

The saga plays out like a season of the reality TV show The Amazing Race, with Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck and Huey, Dewey and Louie either a step behind or a step ahead of Magica and Ratface (her talking raven assistant). We follow Scrooge as he takes a tour of Europe on various money-making opportunities while fending off Magica's devilish schemes.

The comic is a lightearted mix of adventure, magic, mystery and history masterfully woven together by author Per-Erik Hedman. The tales have a delightful internal consistency to them, becoming a whimsical blend of Indiana Jones swashbuckling and Disney fantasy.

There are six distinct chapters which each occur in a different European locale. Hedman creates a unique atmosphere in each story which really gives you a taste for the individual countries:

1. The Ghostly Carriage (Germany)
2. Salt and Gold (Poland)
3. His Ancestor's Diamonds (the Netherlands)
4. The Weapons of the Vikings (Denmark)
5. The Gold Hunt (Finland)
6. The Fateful Hour (Italy)

Inventor Gyro Gearloose, perpetual ne'er-do-wellers The Beagle Boys, and arch-rival Flintheart Glomgold appear in different chapters as guest stars, ensuring that the race between Scrooge and Magica doesn't devolve into meaningless repetition.

Though older readers might find some of the stories too simplistic, Hedman continues the honoured Uncle Scrooge tradition of Carl Banks and Don Rosa in making this the thinking fan's book in the Disney stable - always adding little twists and turns to each episode and crafting them with care and precision.

The artwork by Wanda Gattino is disarminly beautiful in a similar vein to Charles Schulz's classic Peanuts strip. With very few lines she manages to convey emotion, tension and action. It's a wonder that sometimes less can be so much more, especially amongst a world of overdrawn superhero comics.

Although Boom's policy of multiple covers can seem unnecessary or exploitative, the 13 covers in the appendix to this volume contain some real gems which serve to enhance the character and largesse of Uncle Scrooge.

These 96 pages of stories may seem linear to some but will provide hours of pleasure to avid fans and an excellent introduction to the world of Scrooge for newcomers.

Adam Paige
Senior Reviewer

No comments: