Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"The Alternate Duckiverse" (alt. title: "Is St. Canard In Callisota?")

Darkwing Duck is 25 years old. No news yet about an animated revival of the Disney TV series, but there is an ongoing comic book series published by Joe Books that's available at your (hopefully) better-than-average comic shop currently on it's 4th issue.

Series creator Tad Stones was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter about the milestone and dropped what's been reffered to on social media as a "bombshell": he never really saw Darkwing Duck as a direct spin-off of Ducktales and believed both shows took place in separate universes.

It always seemed like a natural assumption that Ducktales and Darkwing Duck were linked together, first because the latter program featured Launchpad McQuack and Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck, two major Ducktales supporting characters who were introduced in said series. A later episode of Darkwing Duck ("In Like Blunt") featured the major Ducktales villains - Flintheart Glomgold, Magica de Spell and the Beagle Boys - in non-speaking cameos. And while Scrooge McDuck and Huey, Dewey & Louie Duck remained offscreen, there was an infamous "Welcome To Duckburg" billboard with Scrooge's face appearing in the episode, "Tiff of The Titans". More-obvious examples of Disney TV shows that likely took place in separate universes, yet featured anthropomorphic talking ducks in the main cast were Bonkers, Quack Pack, The Mighty Ducks and House of Mouse. Those three series depict their lead characters inhabiting worlds that include cartoon humans, yet neither would mix well, unless you add a conceit that one or the other is a fictional series of cartoons being "filmed" within the world of another series, and the protagonists are ret-conned as actors, which is what House of Mouse does.

What supports Stones' logic is that both shows featured stylistic differences that set eachother apart..and I don't mean drawing style. Darkwing was a sendup of genre cliches featuring spies and superheroes. It also featured a lot of broad slapstick and cartoon violence in the vein of Tom & Jerry and the Looney Tunes shorts. Characters were often acutely self-aware and would break the fourth wall, knowing they were in a cartoon. Ducktales was a more conventional adventure-comedy series. Whenever there was any broad slapstick, it stayed firmly in relation to how things would happen in the real world, not cartoon physics. There were exceptions, but Darkwing would often survive a barrage of explosives and heavy metal objects and would shake it off; Scrooge suffered head trauma/amnesia after getting hit on the head with a skateboard in one episode. For Darkwing Duck to get amnesia, it would probably happen with twelve pianos falling on his head. You see what I mean?

The only way to reconcile this revelation with what's already established and all in the past is that a different version Scrooge McDuck and the Ducktales cast of characters exists within Darkwing Duck's..cartoonier universe. That's all. Not knock-offs, just apropos of Darkwing. By the same token, we can assume a different version of Darkwing Duck and his cast of characters exists apropos of the Ducktales universe as well.

And what if they crossover? Which universe does the episode take place in? Well, if it's a self-contained one-shot story, it's set within the context of the respective series. If Darkwing appears in the new Ducktales episodes premiering on DisneyXD in 2017, it'll be within the context established by that series. Same deal if Disney ever thought of a "The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones"-esque TV movie featuring these characters.

And if they really want to run wild...there's the cake gate. It was established in Darkwing Duck that portals/wormholes to parallel universes exist disguised as giant decorative cakes. There could be a cake to the Ducktales universe, a cake for the Super Goof universe, a cake to the Double-O-Duck universe*, a cake to the Carl Barks comic book Durkburg, a cake to the DC Comics universe, a cake to a mashup universe, a cake to the real world and the Disney Parks..and even a cake where Darkwing and Scrooge accompany Sorra instead of Donald and Goofy in Kingdom's a piece of cake.

Happy Anniversary, Darkwing Duck. :)

*Double-O-Duck was the original incarnation/concept for Darkwing Duck in it's early stages of development..I'm actually surprised that the team got as far as creating a press-kit for the character before revamping it into the character/series that we're familiar with today.

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