The first Duck Universe comic I covered for Blastoff, Don Rosa’s Uncle Scrooge & Donald Duck: A Matter of Some Gravity, was trippy in a challenging and engaging way. I found myself in a completely different world when I moved on to a tale by writer Carlo Chendi and artist Luciano Bottaro. This one, Donald Duck and the Treasure Island, is the first of a two-part series. This issue alone clocked in at forty pages, all of which are, like A Matter of Some Gravity, brimming with action. However, that’s about where the similarities end. Most noticeably, the comic itself is crazier. There is little logic to the plot twists, which the characters often acknowledge. But let’s start at the beginning.
It starts with Donald Duck sleeping on the couch, before awaking to the alarming situation of his house being flooded. His nephews ride the flood out on a little boat, pretending to be pirates. Donald’s reaction? Pure, white hot fury. He collects their books which contain the “adventure stories” he believes responsible for their idea… and burns them. Satisfied, he sends them to bed and returns to his resting.
As the kids are complaining to each other about their uncle’s insane reaction, a pirate’s ghost visits them and tells them that he’s going to transport them to a time when pirates were really around. They don’t believe he’s a ghost, so he says he’ll allow them to hit him to prove he’s incorporeal.
It, uh… doesn’t go well for him.
But anyway, he seems legit because they wake up in a different time. A pirate shows up in the house and Donald thinks he’s a tramp, so his obvious reaction, being a sociopathic duck, is to shoot him in the ass with a musket. It’s Looney Toons-esque, but the complete lack of reaction to the absurdity of it makes me feel like I’m descending into madness while reading it.
Which, of course, means I’m kinda starting to like it.
Anyway, things get weirder. The kids explain the situation to Donald, and he doesn’t buy it. However, the prospect of a possible hidden treasure allows him to accept the situation at hand. This doesn’t last too long, though, because he and his nephews are kidnapped by a pirate version of Uncle Scrooge – they all recognize him, but he claims to not be their uncle here – who is working with the Beagle Boys to find the hidden treasure.
The Beagle Boys are as bloodthirsty as Donald, though it seems a bit more normal coming from them than our protagonist.
Uh, kind of.
Anyway, Donald launches himself out of a cannon, mostly by mistake… and he ends up on Treasure Island. The ship finds him, Donald gets his butt kicked, and the crew turns on Scrooge. The comic ends there, and we’re left with a good amount of intrigue for the rest of the story, about equal amounts of confusion, and – not going to lie – a bit of lingering uneasiness at this version of Donald Duck. It’s bizarre and more than a little mean, but it’s also irreverent and more careless in its choices than malicious… which makes it all the more interesting. It’s not particularly great, but it’s a very different take than offered in the, perhaps, more popular Donald Duck stories, which is cool in and of itself.
But I may be haunted by a book-burning, ass-shooting Donald Duck until the end of my days.
PAT SHAND is a comic book writer (Robyn Hood, Charmed: Season Ten, Grimm Fairy Tales) and pop culture journalist (Sad Girls Guide, Blastoff Comics). He lives in San Diego with three cats, his girlfriend, and an outrageous beard.