First there was the 1934 animated short Wise Little Hen which introduced the world to Donald Duck, then the 1937 newspaper comic strip that introduced the three mischievous nephews ,afterwards an artist named Carl Barks began his decades long venture into Disney comics with the 1942 comic Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold which was based off a scrapped Mickey Mouse short entitled Morgan’s Ghost. But the most important event in Disney Comics history happened in 1947 with one story called Christmas on Bear Mountain as a certain old miser uncle was introduced, yes this was the debut of Scrooge McDuck. The rest is as they say history as all of these factors would bring about the birth of Duck Tales in 1987.
As the original Duck Tales was created to celebrate the 40th year of the creation of Scrooge McDuck, this new take on the beloved animated series was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original premiere of the television movie Duck Tales : Treasure of the Golden Suns as well as the 70th year of the character.
The first episode of Duck Tales is an hour long episode called Woo-Hoo ! , the series gives us a look at how much of a troubled relationship Donald and Scrooge have had since they parted ways from their adventuring antics 10 years ago as Donald took on a new responsibility, taking care of his sister’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie after the former had disappeared.
The nephews help Donald prepare for a job interview as he soon drops the boys off reluctantly to his uncle to keep them busy for a few hours. The nephews are excited to spend time with their great uncle but he ends up locking them in an old room with a bag of marbles insisting that family is nothing more than trouble after what happened with Donald.
The three soon escape the room and bump into Webby Vanderquack, who is the grand daughter of Scrooge’s caretaker Mrs. Beakley. She has never gone outside and wishes to go on adventures after having done research on both Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge as the kids soon sneak into a room full of ancient artifacts. Scrooge catches them as he soon unleashes great evil by accident including a gold obsessed dragon. This chain of events kick-starts his renewed interest in treasure hunting as he takes them and Launchpad Mc Quack (who in this series was merely Scrooge’s chauffeur soon turned pilot) to the lost city of Atlantis.
Donald Duck soon gets the job he was applying for, but this was merely a ruse by rival billionaire Flintheart Glomgold to get the once legendary treasure hunter on his side for his own trip to the city of Atlantis. The rest of the episode plays out like a expedition showing the lost city albeit very briefly and its many traps to protect its treasures.
Duck Tales has a strong start focusing on introducing the characters to the audience along with the changes done to them but unfortunately the second half had some pacing problems and most of the characters are side-lined to only focus on Scrooge and Dewey with a hidden Donald protecting his nephew from the traps he was setting off on purpose. Flintheart Glomgold is a strong villain in the original series but in this new one, he feels more like comic relief albeit with some good jokes here and there. His minions barely get screen time to feel a connection to them, this is important if they are to be re-used in future episodes, the Beagle Boys would have been a better choice to give fans a sneak peek at them.
But where this new take on Duck Tales is especially strong is in its animation and its love of the original source material. In the museum, you will find plenty of references to past adventures including the head of Armstrong the Robot from the original television series and some relics from a few Carl Barks comics including many real life paintings done by the artist. In an early scene, some cities from within the Disney Afternoon Universe are mentioned including Cape Suzette from Disney TaleSpin, Spoonerville from Disney Goof Troop and of course St- Canard from Disney Darkwing Duck ( a certain resident of that town has already been confirmed for the show later on).
One aspect I like with the new series are the changes done to the core characters, Scrooge McDuck (David Tennant) is essentially the same as he always has been, Donald Duck, however has had a lot of changes. While still the foul tempered duck ( voiced again by Tony Anselmo, this will be his 30th year as the duck), he is now more of an over protective parent wanting his nephews to stay out of danger at all times. Its why he has an estranged relationship with Scrooge these days because being around him was too hazardous and full of risks. Donald reluctantly agrees to go back on adventures with Scrooge but only keep an eye on the nephews to keep them out of harm’s way.
The nephews and Webby are the characters with the biggest changes done to them. While the original versions are iconic, they were essentially the same character copied and pasted 3 times with no real personalities between the three. But this version fixes that with Dewey being more of the leader eager for adventure, Huey being the one obsessed with planning and Louie being the more laid-back of the trio. Webby is no longer the doll carrying toddler that angered many fans, but rather a stalker-ish very hyper adventurer wanting to find mysteries like her idols Scrooge and Donald. The rest of the characters such as Launchpad are essentially the same as their original counterparts.
Duck Tales is how a reboot should be done, by going in a new direction while respecting and referencing its past. While the style may not be for everyone, its writing and characters make up for it with an adventure that Disney fans and kids will never forget. The series will properly premiere in September on Disney XD.