After seeing the premise of Ducktales: Silence and Science, I expected a little more.
If you earned your share of student debt in writing workshops, you might have heard the words “missed opportunity” one or two thousand times. They’re classic filler. The kind of thing you say because you’ve heard a dozen other people say it, or because you have nothing to say yourself. It takes a lot to pad out a thirty-minute discussion of someone’s diary, and student writers are surprisingly bad at finding original words.
This issue’s something of a missed opportunity. Writer Steve Behling sets up a simple (a cynic might say contrived, but I give that a pass in the youth market) premise: everyone in Duckberg gets magically silenced so that Donald Duck can catch a nap. That idea appealed to me for three reasons: I share Donald’s general misanthropic streak, the jokes in the dialogue were falling flat, and it was a chance for a classic formal experiment.
Namely, a dialogue-free issue. That trick’s been done a number of times before (off the top of my head, there’s a semi-recent issue of The Sixth Gun), but it’s always engaging to watch it land on its feet. Think of it as addition by subtraction: removing dialogue allows the unique aspects of the medium—and the creators’ mastery of them—to shine. Unfortunately, Silence and Science skips all that and shifts the burden of exposition and lukewarm humor from word balloons to post-it notes. So it goes.
That might seem like a high standard for a Disney Channel tie-in. But Donald Duck has a higher stake in the comic book game than Mickey, Buzz Lightyear, or Xenon: Girl of the 21st Century. He’s been the face of some of the most widely-read and beloved comics in Europe, with no small following in Eagleland. The kind that come up in self-conscious classrooms that insist upon the term graphic novel and side-eye you for wearing a Hulk t-shirt. So by my rules, when you put Donald’s face on the cover you need to come correct.
That said, the visuals are in a decent state. I can imagine the artist’s Mickey MouseTM-shaped ankle bracelet exploding if he veered away from the show’s character models, but Silence and Science still pleasing to the eye. Of course, I have a bias in favor of cartooning in general, so take that recommendation with an asterisk.
In short, while IDW regularly converts nostalgia into shareholder value, I don’t see Ducktales going as far as, say, the TMNT revival. Now excuse me while I get the theme song out of my head with a diamond drill.