|hyaroo (hyaroo) wrote in scans_daily,|
@ 2009-05-19 11:25:00
|Entry tags:||char: scrooge mcduck, creator: don rosa, publisher: disney|
Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck (2/2)
And we're back, with the second and final part of my run-through (with commentary) of Don Rosa's marvellous recounting of Scrooge McDuck's eventful life.
(In case you missed it, here's the first part.)
It's my hope to manage conveying that just because the main protagonist is a three-foot-tall duck in a funny animal world, the story is not necessarily pure and toothless kiddie fare. (And it doesn't have to be "erotic furry" to have something to say to adults either. ...Not that Omaha the Cat Dancer wasn't a decent comic, but... uh... well. That's a post for another day, don't you think?)
In any case...
When we last left Scrooge, he'd just struck it rich. And finding the goose-egg gold nugget was only the beginning; five years of hard prospecting, banking and financing several profitable businesses later, Scrooge has gone from prospector to billionaire businessman and is already starting to build what will later become the world-spanning McDuck business empire.
So when chapter nine, The Billionaire of Dismal Downs (15 pages) starts, it's back home to Scotland and the family to settle down for good and set up the base for his world-spanning business empire.
However, it's a changed Scrooge McDuck who comes back to the highlands, and the reception he gets isn't quite what he'd expected.
After several, as they say, hilarious attempts at fitting in and getting the highlenders to accept him, Scrooge realizes that probably the highlands isn't right for him anymore, and that maybe a world-spanning business empire would be better off with its base somewhere else... and so, he breaks the news to the family.
Hortense and Matilda, jump at the chance to move to America, but ol' Pa Fergus, who is getting on in years, claims to be too old and weary to move from what's been his home for so long. And one early morning, Scrooge and his sisters leave the castle McDuck to start a new life in America... and Fergus watches them from the window as they leave...
..well. It's not often we see an actual death scene in a Disney Duck comic, but this has to be one of the better death scenes I've seen in any comic. Made all the better, of course, by the fact that Fergus evidently had a long and rich life, and died happy. He couldn't have asked for more.
But now we get to chapter ten, The Invader of Fort Duckburg (15 pages), which is probably my favorite of all the chapters -- and now we really begin to see the beginnings of the later years, not to mention later generations, of Ducks.
Scrooge and his sisters reach Duckburg and meet several familiar faces -- among them Ma and Pa Duck (later to be known as Grandma and Grandpa Duck), and their three grown children, one of whom takes an immediate shine to Hortense...
And thus, the historic meeting of Donald Duck's parents. Is it any wonder Donald turned out the way he did?
However, the fact that Scrooge is moving into Fort Duckburg gains the interest of not only local groups like the newly-started Junior Woodchucks (whose name Scrooge keeps getting wrong throughout the chapter) and the good old Beagle Boys, who have also moved to Duckburg and remember the young riverboat duck from Mississippi, but it also gets the attention of a certain President in Washington.
Cue the Battle of Fort Duckburg!
And its somewhat bizzarre developments!
In the end, there's not much left of old Fort Duckburg, but not to worry -- some time after the events are over, Beagle Boys have been arrested, and billionaire and President have reconsiled, a new building is raised on top of Killmotor Hill, that in time will be a famous landmark.
The money bin has been eluded to several times before in this series, and here it finally is, fully built and ready to be filled up with the cash from the various McDuck businesses all over the world.
And now, when everything is in place, the business empire started and the "base" established with the money bin, now is when Scrooge seriously ups his quest and goes all out to fill the money bin up. Chapter eleven, The Empire-Builder From Calisota (24 pages), spans nearly thirty years as Scrooge travels the world in his never-ending hunt for profit.
Because now Scrooge has been completely caught up in his greed. It's no longer enough to merely be rich and successful... now, Scrooge has one goal and one goal alone: To become the richest person in the world, period.
And this goal consumes him. He's getting more and more short-tempered and more and more cold-hearted. He's even beginning to skimp on his rock-solid ideals of honesty and "making it square," often taking shortcuts and resolving to cheating in order to turn a profit.
Hortense and Matilda keep trying to get their old brother back, even going so far as to accompanying him on trips to see that he keeps to the straight 'n' narrow, but it's no use. Scrooge can only think about money and how to get more of it, and this eventually causes him to go way too far...
When a tribe of Africans, imaginatively calling themselves "The Voodoo Tribe," refuse to sell him their profitable rubber-plant land for the measly price he offers them (he tries giving them a cent and telling them that it's an invaluable metal engraving of "Great Chief Ayb-Link-Kun"), he loses his temper and resolves to threats, after having insulted their religion. Naturally, this does not make them any more friendly towards him, and he's kicked out of their village.
Blinded by his own rage and hunger for profit, he returns with a group of lowlifes, and they completely destroy the village, smashing and burning all the houses and chasing the inhabitants out in the jungle. This deed is what causes Hortense and Matilda to leave him and break all contact with him... and it's also the deed that brings upon him the vengeance of the Voodoo Tribe.
Meet Bombie the Zombie, who for several years chases Scrooge around the world, trying to extract the vengeance of the Voodoo tribe (causing a few disasters along the way), while Scrooge tries to make new business deals wherever he goes.
With the help of some friendly native islanders in the South Pacific, Scrooge finally manages to get rid of the zombie and can (after roughly ten more years of globetrotting and profit-chasing) return home to Duckburg.
But -- just like before, the homecoming is anything but ideal. If the Scrooge who returned home to Scotland was a changed duck, the Scrooge who returns home to Duckburg (which thanks to the businesses brought in by Scrooge has grown from the sleepy little shacktown to a modern city) is almost unrecognizable, more hardened and spiteful and nasty than ever. This very quickly turns not only the population of Duckburg but even his family against him...
In many ways, this can be seen to be the end of the story. The tale of the poor boy from Glasgow that went out in the world to earn his fortune, and who worked his way up to become the richest man in the world end here -- Scrooge has finally reached his goal... but in reaching it, he has lost everything else.
Most of the family members he drove away, and forgot about in his joy over being the world's richest, he'll never see again. Most of the city people whose praise and adoration he's spat at, will forevermore loathe and despise him for his continued despicable behavior. And the self-respect and the ideals he once had, the things that kept him going through the hardest of times, are gone; everything that matters now is money and his own new status as the wealthiest guy on the globe.
The triumph-and-tragedy moment from the end of chapter eight has reached its total completion here.
Now, there's nothing left but the epilogue.
Chapter twelve, The Richest Duck in the World, (19 pages) opens on Christmas day almost twenty years later, and sees an old and tired and bitter Scrooge who has retired from business, and from the world in general, and lives alone and unhappy in a big mansion in the outskirts of Duckburg -- forgotten by everyone. Matilda and Hortense are gone, as are almost all who would have remembered him from old... even the once-so-famous money bin is just regarded as a curious historical landmark, and few people, if any, remember just what it contains.
Now, the only close relative Scrooge has left is his deadbeat nephew Donald, who has grown up to adulthood in the meantime and is currently the legal guardian of his three nephews: Huey, Dewey and Louie, sons of his sister Della. (Just what happened to Della is uncertain: what is certain is that the nephews first came to stay with Donald after their father had been hospitalized when a firecracker went off under his chair. Though they only stayed for a few weeks at first, the following year they came back for a visit that was just supposed to last "for a few days," and ever since then they have lived with their uncle permanently.)
And this Christmas Day, which takes place directly after Barks's Christmas on Bear Mountain story -- you know, the first story in which Scrooge appeared and declared his hatred for everybody -- the old duck has invited his nephew and great-nephews for dinner.
And the historical meeting takes place:
(The story about "sleeping with bears" is told in Christmas on Bear Mountain. Rest assured that it's not at all as dirty as it sounds.)
Okay, that "Eisner Award" plaque is really a joke from Don Rosa's part... Life And Times of Scrooge McDuck did win the prestigious Eisner award back in 1995, but what the award is doing on Scrooge's wall is anyone's guess.
It's obvious that there's not much left of the Scrooge McDuck of old; the one who travelled the world and worked hard and kept true to his ideals. All we have is the frail old duck we see here, who is tired of life and tired of himself and tired of just about everything. Still, of course he can't let anyone get away with implying that he's less-than-rich, and so he takes his young relatives out on a trip to show just how rich he really is.
But, of course, it's not a good idea to brag too much about how rich you really are, especially when it turns out you've been followed by some old enemies in disguise.
Yep -- for the third and final time in the series, Scrooge meets the Beagle Boys -- or rather, Beagle Boys: The Next Generation. Captain Blackheart Beagle (now known as Grandpa Beagle) has brought his grandsons in to once again try to commit dastardly thieving deeds.
And this is when it happens; the last big turnaround of Scrooge's life. When the Beagles make away with several bags of money, and Scrooge feels too old and sick and tired of it all to follow, it's Donald's sarcastic comments that brings him over the edge: Don completely refuses to believe that "rich old uncle Scrooge" could ever have been the great adventurer and hard worker that he claims.
And possibly, this is the last straw. The final insult. Scrooge may be old and frail, but he is still Scrooge McDuck, dammit, and he's not going to let anyone get away with stealing from him -- or spread doubts about his glorious past!
The chase is on!
After an impressive display of using old tricks and half-forgotten knowledge to completely trounce the Beagles and save the fortune, Scrooge goes into what can only be described as a post-high downer and laments what a sad shadow of his glorious past life he now leads.
Luckily, his three great-nephews know all about how to handle difficult uncles.
And as we close on the story (and get ready for many, many more adventures in the future), it is with the firm and secure knowledge that Scrooge McDuck, when all is said and done, really did become a truly rich man in the end. But his greatest wealth isn't the three cubic acres of money, but the well of adventures and memories that he's collected over a long and eventful life.
It took a long time for him to truly figure out and appreciate this, and he lost sight of it sometimes, but he has regained it -- and with it also his sense of adventure and thirst for new experiences. And while Donald doesn't quite understand it yet, his nephews do... and we know that all four of them will have their lives enrichened greatly by their newly-revitalized old uncle.
Scrooge will never be a generous man. He'll always be greedy, miserly, short-tempered and hard-hearted... but he'll also forevermore be a great adventurer and explorer. And his new family, so much more inclined to join in on his adventures than his old one did, will continue to have a positive effect on him and make sure he doesn't lose sight of his ideals again.
It's the best sort of ending to a long story, namely the promise of a new beginning.
And that's it. I've gone through the entire twelve-part, two-hundred-plus page story of Scrooge McDuck's life. Don Rosa would later on revisit the young Scrooge in additional tales of his past, with stories he didn't get around to include in this series (most notably the real story about Scrooge and Glittering Goldie, which was deemed to not fit in here but made for two additional stories that really explored the characters and the circumstances), but these aren't part of the main story -- they're "bonus material," additional information.
The main story is what I've shown you here: One of the most thoroughly-researched (both from Barks comics and from actual history), ambitious, well-told and decidedly adult Disney Duck tale... for anyone who realizes that you don't need bloody murder and graphic sex for a good story, for anyone who realized that "kid-friendly" doesn't necessarily mean "childish" or "worthless"... and for anyone who just appreciate a good, solid adventure story about the struggle for greatness.
Any questions? ^_^