Note: This review is spoiler-free!
After years of impatient hand-wringing and gritted teeth, it’s finally here: A brand new Darkwing Duck comic series! Words cannot describe how excited I am to see my absolute favourite superhero back in action after what has felt like an eternity of waiting (okay, it was actually six years, but that is basically an eternity).
For those unaware, the new Darkwing Duck series picks up after the events of the Definitely Dangerous Edition. Thorough reading of the previous series is not necessary to understand the present plot, although it certainly adds another layer of entertainment to the story.
The first storyline, Orange is the New Purple, spans three action-packed issues filled to the brim with cameos and Easter Eggs, brought to us by none other than artist James Silvani. The new Darkwing team doesn’t hold back any punches. From the very first page, the series hits the ground running – literally—with a high-speed parade float chase that segues into the first story arc of Darkwing Duck’s newest adventure. There have been a lot of changes in St. Canard since the titular cartoon series, including a brand new state-of-the-art supervillain prison. Our story begins here, when an inevitable jailbreak leaves Darkwing trapped inside with nearly all of his known foes, cartoon and comic characters alike, including some brand new faces created by writer Aaron Sparrow. It’s up to the masked mallard to fend off an army of super-powered fiends using his typical array of gadgetry and arrant alliteration (with a little help from a certain spirited daughter of his).
Without spoiling too much, I will say that Orange is the New Purple never fails to deliver on entertaining dialogue, diabolical plots, and villainous team-ups you never knew you wanted until you see them in action. It’s clear that Aaron Sparrow has a solid grasp of the characters, and does an excellent job at integrating them into a modern-day St. Canard where change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Darkwing himself has updated his wardrobe by discarding his turtleneck for a more sophisticated tie and adds a second gas gun to his arsenal – a redesign by creator Tad Stones. But one thing remains constant, and that is DW’s sarcastic, witty banter which only gets better throughout the plot’s progression.
What I find most impressive about this entire arc is that a ridiculously large number of villains are crammed into each issue, and yet the storyline never feels rushed or laden with unnecessary prose. A balance has been struck by making each character feel pertinent to the storyline. Aaron Sparrow did an excellent job of selecting villainous partnerships that were complementary to one another – every interaction flows naturally and is filled with the type of silly jokes one might expect from a comic about talking cartoon ducks. I am also enjoying the colours by Andrew Dalhouse – they add a real ‘oomph’ to James Silvani’s artwork – especially the scene where the “Big Bad” looms over our masked hero as a threatening silhouette.
Personally, Issue 3 was my absolute favourite for a number of reasons: Our Big Bad of the story is shown in his element, and I absolutely love the stretchy, expressive faces this character makes. Not to mention there are a number of Frozen references that had me laughing out loud.
One of my favourite new additions to this comic series actually comes after the end of each issue. Aaron Sparrow shares with us bonus material such as storyboards from the cartoon, and interesting tidbits of trivia about the creation and development of the series. Issues 2 and 3 also contain short one-page biographies for a number of villains appearing within the comic, straight from Darkwing Duck’s “secret files”. This plethora of information is excellent for readers who are unfamiliar with the cartoon or simply want to learn some extra facts about their favourite baddies.
Everything about this series is top-notch. I get a sense that there is a combined effort happening behind the scenes by a harmonized team to bring us the type of story we’ve always wanted. Between the writing, the artwork, the colours, the lettering, and the editing, this new Darkwing Duck comic will not fail to disappoint fans. Hats off to Team Darkwing for all of their hard work!