Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ducktales Character Assessments, Part Four: Villains

Magica de Spell
If you asked me to rank Barks three* main villainous legacies to the world in order, Magica would undoubtedly have come in dead last. But if we're talking Ducktales, I have to put her first. Not even close. I still don't understand why an Italian witch living in Italy has a Russian accent, but I still really do like the portrayal for the most part. And when they really embrace her full potential--as in "Raiders of the Lost Harp"--she can be very effective indeed. Let's not forget the Forgotten Plot Point that Ratface "Poe" was originally supposed to be her transformed brother (apparently, their parents knew this transformation was coming when they named him). It's actually too bad that they forgot about that, because storylines involving their history and their relationship could really have given Magica some additional depth. As it is, she's just the Evil Witch. A mostly well-done Evil Witch, for sure--but nothing more.

*Okay, four if you count Rockerduck, but that doesn't have much to do with anything Barks did.

The Beagle Boys
It's sort of funny: if you look back at my earliest entries, you'll see that I was all tentative and circumspect in my criticism of the Beagles. Soon enough, however, that gave way to the Moral Clarity that I now enjoy. I suppose there's little point in my taking this opportunity to heap even more vitriol on them. I've said my piece a whole bunch of times. But damn…I just can't get over it. Perhaps it was inevitable that something like this would happen; maybe the cartoonish aspects of the Beagles couldn't help but dominate any animated version of them and metastasize in unappealing ways. I dunno. Regardless, fuck these guys.

Ma Beagle
I really liked her at first…well, maybe "really" would be pushing it, but she seemed like a pretty good idea, and she was certainly better than her stoopid kids. But presence made the heart grow…less fond. Familiarity bred contempt, let's say. Whatever! Point is, by the time episodes like "Beaglemania" and--god help us--"The Bride Wore Stripes" came up, I started questioning my anti-death-penalty absolutism (not actually).

Flintheart Glomgold
I can't blame the show itself, particularly, for its uninteresting portrayal of Glomgold as a garden-variety baddie, since every comic I've ever read that's not "The Second-Richest Duck" or "The Money Champ" has done exactly the same (okay, so "The Island at the Edge of Time" gets credit for once again making him and Flinty pretty much morally equivalent--but that's it!). Fact remains, though: regardless of the origins of the uninterestingness, there it is. And Ducktales does compound the problem by transplanting him from South Africa to Duckburg, making his conflicts with Scrooge seem even more flimsy and silly.

Black Petes
There are a number of incarnations of Pete in this show (I cannot at this time remember what their status is vis-à-vis peglegs). Some of them aren't even villains! I generally like these guys; as I've noted, they can actually be pretty darned adorable, especially my favorite, from "Pearls of Wisdom." Hmm. Pete, The Phantom Blot--what other MM villains should have appeared on Ducktales? The Professors X, surely. Also, Eli Squinch.


  1. An animated Eli Squinch has the potential to be a marvelously funny bad guy—with his temper, his body language, and especially his old-fashioned Boston dialect. I think he's the only comic character I've ever known with that accent.

  2. What were your thoughts on El Capitan from the five-part pilot (I think he made three appearances, is that right?) I always liked the idea that he kept himself alive for hundreds of years through sheer willpower, and his comeuppance comes from the fact that he was going to spend the rest of his life digging in dirt.

  3. I must admit, my memory of the pilot is imperfect. I do, however, remember thinking that him not being killed off was sacrificing something dramatically for the purposes of being more kid-friendly.