UNCLE SCROOGE dives into the multiverse

Welcome back to the Marvel Rundown! This week, jump into the world of Duckburg, as the House of Ideas takes a stab at corporate synergy, with Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1! Plus, head on down to the Rapid Rundown for quick hits on Black Panther: Blood Hunt #2 and Ultimate Spider-Man #6

What did you think of this week’s batch of fresh Marvel Comics, True Believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Paolo Mottura, Francesco D’Ippolito & Lucio De Giuseppe, Alessandro Pastrovicchio & Vitale Mangiatordi, Giada Perissinotto
Colorist: Arianna Consonni (Arancia Studio)
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Alex Ross; Lorenzo Pastrovicchio & Francesca Vivaldi (Arancia Studio)

Reviewed by Beau Q.

A difficulty of Marvel publishing all their IP under the same umbrella is how different their worlds can taste from one another; separate palettes even. Marvel Comics proper was borne of its own needs, so the wider breadth of superhero titles evolved naturally from one another while Star Wars and some of the Disney books had to gestate in their own incubators. This often leads to books published by Marvel, but feeling wholly different than Marvel. Well, for Marvel’s first official collab publishing with Disney, editors Mark PanicciaMikey J. Basso, and Danny Khazem have found the perfect way to ingrain the modern Marvel comic style in an Uncle Scrooge comic.

Ya start by throwing a modern Marvel voice on the project to guide the ship. Enter star Marvel Comics writer, Jason Aaron. With his documented [as of this printing] love of Scrooge McDuck comics, he does a lowkey What If? take on fave Donald Duck story that is reprinted in this very issue! In doing so, he answers the age old question, “what does the richest person do after getting it all?” Why, condense all that wealth onto one multiverse’s Scrooge. If it isn’t obvious by now, Aaron is doing The One with Scrooge McDuck instead of Jet Li, which doesn’t just make sense for the character, but allows Marvel to cast this Disney property in a very Marvel light. By opening Scrooge’s world to the multiverse, sliding this in continuity alongside other fan fave Scrooges, and crescendoing on an “Avengers assemble” moment, Aaron can build this one-off into a teachable moment for Scrooge! Narratives like this certainly help put over the Marvel editorial shuffling going on, though that level of snowballing feels coincidentally more Disney than Marvel, but I digress.

Not having previously read much Scrooge McDuck, Aaron’s narration provides a voice I remember not from any one story, but rather as an incorrect amalgamation that feels correct for this particular plot. What also feels innate to this brawl for all is the wide array of artists working on different parts of the same issue! Having four different art teams draft and illustrate the same story is a testament to their style consistency, however it makes it more readily apparent how differently each team approaches a panel layout! Let’s investigate:

Paolo Mottura responsible for the first four pages chooses more intense closeups and darker moments, though that’s mostly related to the assignment. He relies on internal composition dictating reading lines than a traditional layover of panel borders, but in doing so is able to work up to a moment where breaking that formula unleashes the Scrooge-Above-All unto our story. Francesco D’Ippolito & Lucio De Giuseppe get the background heavy Duckberg chapter where their love of inset panels and BD style illustration approach fills every panel with an entire world [no matter how small]. Chapter Two’s team make earnest attempts to hook their style up to the thicker style of Chapter Three! They also use a page to mirror Carl Barks’ 8-panel grid to great effect! Across the board, art teams keep their lineart along style guides, however Alessandro Pastrovicchio & Vitale Mangiatordi are the easiest team to spot out for using a thicker brush and less panels. With lots of hatching on every surface/shadow/face, each shot feels like there’s less and less space– of course, this is a consequence of requiring room elements to have thick outlines to help contrast a panel’s different planes. Chapter Three is the big brawl, so Pastrovicchio & Mangiatordi prioritize fluid movement and character design consistency over everything else. And though Giada Perissinotto only has two pages to wrap up the issue, her role was to orchestrate a donnybrook of Donald Ducks that must’ve easily taken one month on its own! Kudos! Feel free to tag yourself; I’m the “hat getting pulled over him” Donald next to the cake!

The hand keeping this art consistent from one team to another is Arianna Consonni (Arancia Studio) who does an invisibly wonderful job getting four distinctly different artists to subtly evolve into one another with each scene’s mood. However, requiring all shots to feature ambient occlusion shadows, glows, and reflections not only taxes the colorist physically/mentally, but brings more graphic chaos to the pages rather than honing it in. The Scrooge Infinity Dime team really shot themselves in the foot reprinting the Carl Barks’ Donald Duck story after this– you can see how far flat colors work and how much is obfuscated by overrendering in Consonni’s pages. Conversely, you can see how Consonni brings a mood to each scene in a way Barks couldn’t. Barks went for local coloring to inform, but didn’t craft any focal points for himself; something Consonni’s compositions consistently struggle with.

With a double page spread in one chapter going against the established reading grain, and the next spread reverting back, there’s some great eye-wrangling by VC’s Joe Caramagna to try to keep readers on the intended path and reduce immersion breaks. I’ve got a grievance to pick on here with giving an outer stroke to a bolded word in-balloon. I understand its necessity in differentiating such small important markers from one another, but it doesn’t scale well on digital screens. Another missed opportunity is not splitting the nephews’ dialogue up across three balloons like the Christmas on Bear Mountain reprint does to great effect. Their moments really lose charm with all them three-tailed balloons poking about, but whether that’s a consequence of Wordy McWordsmith Jason Aaron giving the nephews longer lines with no clear moments to cut on, we’ll never know.

One thing is for certain: if you make yours Marvel, this is as Marvel as it gets. BUY for fans of a Scrooge time, BROWSE if you’re not a Duckhead.

Rapid Rundown!

  • Black Panther: Blood Hunt #2
    • If you haven’t kept up on Marvel’s latest event Blood Hunt, the events of this issue happened before issue #3 of the main title. Writer Cheryl Lynn Eaton and artist Farid Karami craft double tales, first showcasing the ancient battle between gods and monsters in the past and the Panther’s forced search for the temple that will secure Blade’s rule over Earth in the present. Both story and art are intricate pieces to this wider story, exploring the various African gods from different pantheons banding together to fight one of the proto-vampire Varnae. The artwork from Karami and color artist Andrew Dalhouse create this lush, sometimes sensual visual from Eaton’s story that crosses into the mystical realism genre, as much as I dislike events, this side excursion of a turned T’Challa exploring his people’s past, even under duress, is a pleasure. —GC3
  • Ultimate Spider-Man #6
    • Issue six brings to a close the first arc of Jonathan Hickman and Marco Checchetto’s modern take on the wall crawler. The Peter Parker and Harry Osborn team try to take down Wilson Fisk to really bad results. The Beat’s roundtable on issue 1 talked about waiting for the shoe to drop in regards to Uncle Ben dying or something truly terrible happening Peter’s delightful family. However, Hickman seems content in letting this Parker deal with his own issues than repeat the past. This is a new universe with new problems. The beatdown from Fisk works because this is an adult who has no experience fighting. Someone who went from losing against the Shocker to taking down a top dog. This Spider-Man has a lot to learn. Marco Checchetto and colorist Matthew Wilson once again nail both the Peter and Spider-Man sides of this book. Checchetto really emphasizes the constrained space and the massive size of Wilson during the fight scene. At home, there’s an openness that thematically matches a pretty significant event in the last few pages. These last six issues have been such an entertaining read. This really is the best and most consistent Spider-Man book in ages. —DM

Next Week: The Infinity Watch begins in Thanos Annual #1!

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