Look For Me in Duckburg

ducktalesrebootposter-1-600x900On the one hand, the world is once again on the brink of nuclear annihilation. On the other hand, tomorrow is the premiere of the first episode of DuckTales in 27 years, so things can’t actually be that bad.

I need you guys to understand something. This new DuckTales series, which I haven’t watched yet as I write this, has me excited. Like… really excited. I’m talking The Force Awakens levels of excited. Wonder Woman levels of excited. The McRib is back levels of excited.

Because DuckTales isn’t just a cartoon for me, not really. It’s not even just a great cartoon, one of the best of the 80s, with the catchiest theme song ever written in the history of music. DuckTales is special to me in a way very few cartoons are.

Ducktales OriginalThe original DuckTales premiered in 1987, when I was about to turn ten years old, and I watched it, like every other child in America. I liked it. I enjoyed it. It was a fun show, with lots of adventure on top of the humor. Scrooge and his nephews went out and found lost cities of gold and plunged the depths of the oceans. They encountered a spacecraft full of miniscule alien ducks and a subterranean race of creatures that looked like nothing more than rubber balls with arms and a face. It was glorious. But I was at an odd age, one where I started to feel like I was a little too old for certain things (this was not a stage that lasted very long for me, but there it was nonetheless), among them, Disney comics. I was into comic books by then, big-time, but my reading time was devoted to things like Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and a mysterious superhero group that has been lost to time called the Fantastic Four. I was ten. Nearly a teenager. Who had time for comics with a bunch of ducks?

I was a moron, is what I’m getting at.

But even so, I watched DuckTales. And oddly enough, parts of it seemed… familiar.

Uncle Scrooge 1I got older and I got over myself, which is something that a lot of people never figure out how to do. I realized the notion of “outgrowing” something that is legitimately good is ridiculous, and I found my way back to Disney comics. Specifically, I found myself reading more and more of the works of Carl Barks. Barks, a one-time animator at Disney, really made his mark when he switched to comic books. It was there that he created Scrooge McDuck and made him a globe-trotting adventurer, one who found lost cities and sunken continents, tiny aliens from outer space… and… underground dwellers who looked like rubber balls?

Holy crap. DuckTales had pillaged Barks shamelessly.

I wasn’t bitter, though. Far from it. Realizing that the show I watched as a child had drawn so heavily from the Disney comics somehow made me appreciate both of them even more. And if Barks wasn’t enough, I soon discovered his spiritual successor Don Rosa. Not only did Rosa continue telling Scrooge and Donald stories in the vein that Barks had for decades, but he was writing and drawing beautiful sequels to those stories. Then, in a work that I maintain is not just the masterwork of Disney comics, but one of the finest comic book stories of all time, Rosa wove together all of Barks’s classic Scrooge stories into an outstanding, comprehensive history: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck V1(Side note: If the people at Disney have a brain in their heads, they’ll lock in David Tennant to star in a big-screen adaptation of Life and Times RIGHT THE HELL NOW.)

Barks and Rosa, to me, are up there with the likes of Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, and Jim Henson. They are creators who prove that you can do something magnificent that truly belongs to all ages. Work intended for children doesn’t have to be tedious and boring for adults. Stories that thrill an adult don’t have to include elements that make them inappropriate for children. These creators are among the finest of those who make work that sincerely belongs to everyone.

And now DuckTales is coming back, and if everything I’ve seen is to be believed, the new series seems to draw even more from Barks’s Scrooge than the old one did.

There’s one other reason I’m ecstatic about this new DuckTales, and it may be the most important one.

2017070395115943

He’s supposed to arrive some time next month.

I’m going to be a father, something that (if I’m going to be honest) I never thought was going to happen. And not only is it happening, but it’s happening right now, just as one of the greatest things of my childhood is returning to the world. I’m going to have a son, and I’m going to have a new DuckTales series to share with him.

And after the year Erin and I have had, that little bit of joy is almost enough to make me burst.

The premiere of the new series plays all day on August 12 on Disney XD, or on the Disney XD and ABC apps for free. So that’s where you’ll find me for a while: riding a hurricane into the quaint little town of Duckberg, racing giant robots, seeking treasure, chasing crooked Beagles. And a little down the line, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with an armored accountant and the terror that flaps in the night.

It feels like coming home.

Episode 323: Rebirth Roundup

Two weeks in, Blake and Erin take in the beginning of DC Rebirth. They kick things off by delving (in spoileriffic detail) about the DC Universe Rebirth one-shot, then pick their way into each of the Rebirth releases to date.

And what’s cool this week? Both our hosts were wild about Disney’s Zootopia, and Blake gives his praise to Valiant’s A&A: The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 323: Rebirth Roundup

Episode 321: Summer Movie Preview 2016

It’s the merry, merry month of May, and that means the summer movie season is about to kick into gear. This week Blake and Erin take a look at all the big releases from Captain America: Civil War through Suicide Squad, with stops along the way for some X-Men action, a visit with Pixar’s favorite fish, and a heated discussion over this summer’s most divisive movie, the Ghostbusters remake!

And what’s cool this week? Erin is continuing her Stephen King kick with Pet Sematary and Blake has enjoyed Avengers: Standoff and The Final Days of Superman.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 321: Summer Movie Preview 2016

 

Three Wishes: LEGO Dream Sets

Welcome to Three Wishes, one of several new semi-regular features I intend to start putting in rotation here at AllNewShowcase.com. In Three Wishes, I’m going to choose a theme and then give a list of three things I’d like to see happen – products made, TV shows or movies produced, comic book dream teams, whatever. And I’m going to start with both one of my oldest and one of my newest obsessions: LEGO.

LEGOs

Like most of you reading this, I loved LEGO as a child. And, like most of you reading this, as I got older I wound up putting it aside in favor of other pursuits. In recent years, though, I’ve drifted back. There’s something about building a LEGO model that’s very cathartic. I think it scratches the same itch as those “adult coloring books” that are so popular now – it allows you to do something creative while at the same time (if you’re following instructions) not requiring you to put any really heavy mental effort into it. Plus, it’s just fun to watch a miniature version of something awesome come together through the effort of your own two hands.

I’m old enough that, when my halcyon days of LEGO ended, they had not yet started branching out beyond their own themes to licensed properties. In fact, many credit the licenses for taking LEGO from the brink of death to being the largest company in the world that specializes in only one kind of toy. They first began by licensing Star Wars and Harry Potter, and have spread out to licenses as diverse as Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Scooby-Doo, The Simpsons, and Doctor Who. What’s more, with the LEGO Ideas program, anybody can design a LEGO model and submit it for consideration to be possibly manufactured as a LEGO set. So that in mind, any one of the sets I’m about to propose could theoretically be made real, if a talented designer submitted it. Sadly, I’m not that person. I’ve got no skill for design. I’m just a builder and a fan. Here, in no particular order, are the three sets I would most like to see created, if money and licensing issues were no factor.

DC Special Series 26Wish #1: Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.

LEGO has set a precedent for huge builds with their 3800-piece Death Star and 4600-piece Ghostbuster Firehouse. With the recent announcement of a gargantuan Batman ’66 Batcave, Superman’s Fortress seems the next logical step.

But which version, then, should it be? The Fortress has gone through many, many incarnations, from the original Earth-2 mountaintop retreat to the Silver Age arctic classic with the giant yellow key. Neither of those would be particularly challenging to build, however, so I propose the exterior be based on the crystalline look that originated in the 1978 Superman: The Movie, and which has informed many of the redesigns since then. It would look amazing, but with the crystals all at strange angles, it would take some clever engineering to make real. Ah heck. Throw in the giant key anyway.

Fortress Mortal KombatInside, we need all the best parts of the Fortress from the assorted varieties: the crystal control panel, the statues of Jor-El and Lara, and the cosmic zoo (complete with a few alien animals, like the metal-eater). But a LEGO set isn’t just about construction, it’s also about playability. We need some characters. Superman, of course, should be included, as well as the Fortress’s other part-time resident, Supergirl. We could also include Lois Lane in arctic gear, a Superman robot or two, and Kal-El’s robotic valet, Kelex. And you can’t have a superhero playset without villains, can you? Coincidentally, the two best battles ever to take place in the Fortress both come from stories by Alan Moore. I would throw in Brainiac and Lex Luthor from “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” (bonus points if they can make the figures combine), and a maxifigure of Mongul with the Black Mercy flower from “For the Man Who Has Everything.” Alan Moore would probably despite seeing a toy set inspired by his stories, which of course is the best argument to release it.

Money BinWish #2: Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin

Although LEGO has had many Disney Licenses (including the Marvel Super-Heroes, Star Wars, the Lone Ranger, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Disney Princesses), as far as I know the classic Disney characters have never appeared in LEGO form, although I think a few of them have adorned LEGO’s line for younger builders, DUPLO. With a new DuckTales cartoon scheduled to premiere next year, it’s time for that to change. Although the mass-market version of Scrooge’s iconic money bin couldn’t be as detailed as the fan-made version that turned up online some time ago, there’s still plenty of room for play. Scrooge’s office should be a segment, along with a display for his number-one dime, as well as his famous worry room. The exterior should have a variety of hidden traps (which would be particularly fun to build) to ward off thieves. And of course, there’s the money vault itself: a large open section with a diving board and a bag of loose gold-colored one-peg flat pieces to pour in the center so that Scrooge can dive in and swim around.

Money Bin InteriorSpeaking of Scrooge, he wouldn’t be alone in minifig land. He’d be accompanied by his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, as well as his ward Webigail. (Look, I know she’s not everyone’s favorite character, but there just weren’t enough females on that show, and we need her.) For villains, we’d have Ma Beagle and her Beagle Boys attempting to break in.

I’ll cheat a little on this wish and say that I’d love to see this expand to an entire line of DuckTales LEGO sets: Gyro Gearloose’s shop with Gyro, his helper, and whatever apocalyptic invention he’s whipping up that week; ace pilot Launchpad McQuack and his plane; and a Battle For Duckburg set with villains Flintheart Glomgold and Magica DeSpell vs. Scrooge’s accountant Fenton Crackshell and his buildable Gizmoduck armor.

Water TowerWish #3: The Warner Brothers’ (and the Warner Sister) Water Tower

If you don’t know that I loved the 90s cartoon show Animaniacs, you don’t really know me all that well. Perhaps the best animated series of the last two decades, I want to see a Water Tower set complete with Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. Although he’s not really an enemy, we also need Ralph the Guard trying to catch them, along with Dr. Scratchansniff and Hello Nurse. It would be easy to throw cameo Animaniacs characters in too – perch some Goodfeathers on the side of the tower, have Rita and Runt roaming on the ground, and so on.

But a Water Tower seems like a kind of simple, almost boring build. That ends when you open it up, to find one of the most ridiculously complicated LEGO builds ever to branch out from the Technic line. Inside the tower we’d find one of Wakko’s insane Rube Goldberg-style devices, with one feature activating the next over and over until it finally triggers a comically underblown finale, as in the episode where he did exactly that simply to make a fart noise with a whoopee cushion. Ah Wakko, you genius.

Some may notice that I neglected to mention two of the most popular characters from Animaniacs in this wish. I didn’t forget, guys. But come on – Pinky and the Brain and ACME Labs deserve their own separate build.

That’s it for Three Wishes. Please feel free to chime in with your own ideas for dream LEGO sets, or to suggest topics for future Three Wishes installments!

Episode 319: Star Wars-The Showcase Marathon

This weekend was the cultural event of the century, the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To prepare for it, Blake and Erin spent a week watching and reviewing the first six Star Wars movies one-by-one, before finally finishing up with a massive spoiler-rich analysis of The Force Awakens. (Don’t worry, the spoilers don’t come until after they’ve discussed the other six movies.) In this extra-sized episode, they talk about everything they love — and hate — about the seven movies of the Star Wars saga.

And what’s cool this week? While Erin is still too enraptured by Star Wars to think of another recommendation, Blake is there to talk about the first half-season of CBS’s Supergirl and the first issue of IDW’s Mickey and Donald Christmas Parade.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 319: Star Wars-The Showcase Marathon

Episode 317: Star Wars Land and More From D23

This weekend was D23, the big biannual Disney convention out in California, and some massive nerd news hit the internet. In this episode Blake and Erin chat about the announcement of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land, as well as some tidbits about upcoming Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm movies, the expansion of Frozen at Epcot Center, a new Jungle Cruise restaurant, and more!

And what’s cool this week? Erin picks the first season of the freshly binge-watched Arrow, and Blake enjoyed the first issue of DC Comics Bombshells.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 317: Star Wars Land and More From D23

Your Turn to Pick Episode 3: Dragonslayer

It’s time for a Your Turn to Pick movie episode! This week it’s Erin’s turn, and she’d pulling out a film from her childhood, the 1981 fantasy film Dragonslayer. How does it hold up to an adult pair of eyes? And will Blake (who’s never seen it before) enjoy it without the filter of nostalgia?

And what’s cool this week? Blake gives us a double dose of comic recommendations with Superman #42 and The Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars #4!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Your Turn to Pick Episode 3: Dragonslayer