Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: The Seven Cities of Gold Hardcover – 29 Oct 2014
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Carl Barks... was probably the best artist and writer working in the entire field of comics. ... Ingenious, clever, and funny, the Barks Duck Books... are as readable and immediate to me as an adult as they were when I first discovered them as a child.--Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL)
[Carl Barks's] richest characterization is that of a mallard he created from whole cloth: Donald s skinflint uncle, Scrooge McDuck, a proudly self-made gazillionaire whose avarice is offset by his bravery and sense of honor. Barks flair for combining humor with thrills is unmatched, as are his clear, expressive cartooning and his command of visual storytelling. The full-color restoration of the artwork and the useful historical notes give Barks consummate work the deluxe presentation it richly deserves.--Gordon Flagg"
Barks is considered to be one of the all time comics greats and his greatest creation, Scrooge McDuck, is his lasting legacy. Fantagraphics has been lovingly reprinting Banks' classic Uncle Scrooge comics into beautifully designed and recolored hardcover collections.--Rich Barrett"
I ll never experience these tales from a child s perspective -- but there is no question of their quality from my point of view as an adult.--Jerry Beck"
Let me be perfectly clear: The Don Rosa & Carl Barks Duck books are as good as comics get. Period. Nothing surpasses -- only matches -- the pure imagination, humor, adventure, and heart of these Donald Duck Uncle Scrooge stories.--Vince Ostrowski
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If you’re reading this review then I assume you are at least mildly interested in Disney comics and if you are this purchase is a no brainer. I can only assume this is the finest presentation this material has ever received and the price is great for what you get. For completionists this is perfect because eventually Fantagraphics will be producing every single Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge story ever produced by Carl Barks. That will be a massive amount of material but given Carl Barks consistency at producing high quality it’s worth it. That is if you have the storage space for it all. The only thing I can imagine that might irk purists is that the images are significantly cleaned up from how they appeared in the comic books. As far as I’m concerned I much prefer seeing the images as the artist intended not as they appeared limited by printing technologies and budgets from 1954. I think it would be the rare reader who would be disappointed with this series.
In this chapter, while attempting to find a business he doesn't own, Scrooge sets out with Donald and their nephews on an arrowhead hunt, but ends up on a quest finding the Seven Cities of Cibola, with the Beagle Boys in tow. The interesting thing about this tale is the fact Barks includes a human within the Duckburg Universe, specifically when the Beagle Boys are getting ejected from the Relief Check office. Other than that, this adventure genuinely puts any Raiders story to shame.
Other tales include Scrooge and his nephews dealing with a stone ray, chasing down a lemming with a locket, uncovering the Philosopher's Stone, entering a steam boat race, and many others which shows Barks' work at his finest.
But the most memorable story in this anthology happens to be 'The Golden Fleecing,' mainly because this one specific tale had given Barks fits just to get Western Publishing to print it. Due to the censoring of comics in 1955, especially with Western Publishing heavily censoring Barks' mid-to-late Fifties work, 'The Golden Fleecing' was once considered unfit for publication.
One problem was the fact the mythical characters in this story, the female bird creatures were originally known as Harpies, but back in the Fifties, the term 'Harpy' or 'Harpie' was an obscure slang for a streetwalker. But fortunately, Barks saved the story by renaming the characters as Larkies instead.
Otherwise, I love how the story develops simply because Scrooge wants to make a coat out of gold, and learns the Golden Fleece does exist. But not in the way he expected.
The collection is rounded out by Scrooge short gags, including McDuck's cunning on getting free coffee from Joe.
Considering this collection brings back my favorite adventures with Scrooge McDuck, I find 'The Seven Cities of Gold' as one of Carl Barks' more unforgettable volumes. Even if you've never read an Uncle Scrooge comic before, I definitely recommend this volume.
** SPOILERS **
If Barrier doesn't have a full appreciation of Barks' craft during this period, then DUCKTALES sure as shootin' did. The 1980s animated TV series borrowed liberally from Barks' output during this time, producing direct adaptations of "The Lemming with the Locket" and "The Golden Fleecing" and swiping the conflict from "The Great Steamboat Race" to serve as a centerpiece of its ill-fated Scrooge biography, "Once Upon a Dime." And that may not be the end of the story. "Too Much of a Gold Thing," the climactic chapter of the DT pilot adventure "Treasure of the Golden Suns," may well have been influenced by this volume's cover story, "The Seven Cities of Cibola."
As great as the finest of these tales are, I do have to admit that this volume contains the first U$ feature story that I didn't much care for: "The Mysterious Stone Ray," aka "The Mysterious Unfinished Invention," aka "Leave Stranded and Petrified Beagle Boys Lie." It is poorly organized and relies on painfully contrived coincidence (the paranoid professor turning off the ray, which allows the Beagle Boys to come back to life and present a concluding menace). The use of the two unrelated "adventurettes" in U$ #11, "The Great Steamboat Race" and "Riches, Riches Everywhere," is just a bit irritating -- I'm sure that at least a few of Barks' loyal readers back in 1955 regarded the unprecedented double-dip as a "cheat" of sorts -- but at least those Barks tales are actually good.
Artistically speaking, Barks is still close to the top of his game here, though the effects of the notorious mid-50s "drawing paper switch" that stiffened up his art for a while can first be seen here (in U$ #11). The worst of these effects won't show up until the "tall Ducks" period of the late 50s, however. All things considered, Barks' initial adaptation to the switcheroo is quite adept. On the gag side, we see the initial one-page salvos in the "free cup of coffee wars" between Scrooge and the unfortunate diner owner who, however hard he tries, will never quite get the best of the resourceful miser.
The other great story is of the Harpies. Barks had to change the name of the Harpies to Larkies due to the request of the publisher. The sleepy dragon with the golden fleece was a great addition to the plot. It is unbelievable how Barks had so good plot ideas whereas the current writers now seem to copy his characters and plots.
This series is still going strong. Fans of Scrooge will love this volume. Some fans of the darker satirical ten page Donald stories will possibly feel that it's not QUITE absolute peak-material this far into the game (ie volume 14, but quite a few peak volumes still haven't been published), although it's very close. 4-and-a-half stars from me (yes, I do prefer the Donald material).