Darkwing Duck: Volume 1 (review)

After Disney revived animation on the big screen in the late 1980s and early 1990s with films such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, it moved on to TV and a Saturday morning that had become a vast wasteland of barely disguised toy advertisements (Transformers, etc.). Its Darkwing Duck, the 1991–1992 animated series that ran in syndication as well as on ABC on Saturday mornings, is mostly interesting as an historical document: it primed the field for the slew of toons later in the decade and into the 2000s that would appeal as much to adults as to children, but it’s not terribly riveting on its own. This comic-book sendup of superheroes — particularly Batman — features the adventures Darkwing Dark (the voice of Jim Cummings) “the terror that flaps in the night,” a masked avenger out to make the streets of the great city of St. Canard safe again. His secret identity? “Drake Mallard,” of course. The puns fly fast and furious but are more than obvious, and there’s little of substance among the slapstick action and array of goofy gadgets Darkwing and his sidekicks deploy while fighting evil. We can thank Darkwing Duck for paving the way for the likes of the far superior, far more subversive superhero parody The Tick, but it suffers greatly by comparison. This first volume includes the two-episode pilot and the first 25 episodes of the series, but no extras.

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