Monday, June 1, 2009
Ducktales: Twenty Years Later - Prologue
Kind of a cool idea, ruined by me. Enjoy!
<---- Hey look, someone drew something.
A legend died today. In the early hours of May 28th, 1967, an old man, beaten, bloodied, and malnourished, found his way back to the front door of his mansion, cradling in his arms a dead goose and several eggs made of pure gold hinting at an adventure that may never be told. Soon after, Scrooge McDuck, age 100, expired from his wounds. He is survived by his nephew, Donald Duck, and his three grandnephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, who will all receive a share of his vast fortune. As per his request, his body will be cremated and his ashes scattered around his home town of Glasgow. He will be missed.
Behold the glory of 1920s island living. From its colonization in 1905 to midway through the great depression, the name Cape Suzette was synonymous for adventure, wild abandon, danger, and a given amount of excitement. Captains of the air flew back and forth between the outside world and this oasis in the middle of the Indian Ocean, delivering cargos large and small, fighting off pirates and looters. The island was equal parts civilization and fortress, lived in and beloved by the cream of society's crop, protected on all sides by natural high stone walls dotted with anti-aircraft guns installed when it was a trade outpost during World War One.
Lax law enforcement and a social whirligig brought many to this paradise, but the same lax police and excitement would soon be its downfall. During the depression, as bank accounts dried up, all of that excitement turned inward, expressed in rampant, violent crime and infighting. Many riots broke out when the few native islanders left, not content anymore with passing out fake leis and kitsch to tourists, decided to take back their island. This ultimate act of political defiance caused the Island's economy to finally collapse, sending many packing back home for good. From the depression on, the only people living in the art deco ghost town were the islanders calling this place their home come hell or high water, and the pilots and transients with no place else to go.
Another violent upbraid occurred in 1939 all the way through to 45, when Japan attempted to sweep across Asia to meet its allies in Europe, Germany tried a sweep through Europe and Africa, and a another great war had begun. The Island and the remaining manpower were annexed by China, thrusting the island into the role of trade outpost once again, close enough to all of the fronts to be useful. Bombing runs by Japanese fighters decimated the still beautiful architecture, and the Island's population did their best to man the now horribly outdated cliff guns to hold them back. Pirates of the air were a thing of the past. The new aggressors didn't want their gold or their cargo. They wanted their lives.
That, too, passed. With a new Chinese contingent living on the Island, it wasn't long before the Island was back into the swing of civilization again. While never again attaining the glory of its heyday, it was used and renovated. Trade, money, and people came flocking back to taste Island life once again. Chinese mixed with Islanders mixed with Americans and British mixed with Africans mixed with Indians mixed with every other creed and color under the sun, creating a soup of languages and cultures blending together in peaceful yet uneasy tranquility.
Essentially cut off from the rest of the world after the apocalyptic war, the rising stone and steel towers and overlapping squares and arches of the art deco buildings stands high above, cracked and worn by the years of misuse and disuse. Everyone living there is considered a citizen of the Cape, and outsiders are always Tourist, until one would stay long enough to be an old-timer, and thus Citizen yourself.
Time stood still from the turbulent fifties to the exuberant sixties. Finally deemed useless as a trade post due to its natural walls no longer being enough to keep out enemies, the people on the island lived a sort of a dream. Immune to politics, unconcerned with ideology, forgotten by the world's superpowers, this little US-owned, China-operated speck of land in the Indian Ocean floated along in a haze, with only the occasional smuggle or odd export to break up the monotony.
In 1969, a young duck wearing brown leather flying jacket and goggles, piloting an old-fashioned bi-plane, crash-landed in the lagoon connected to the Ocean by the thin cliff-passage. In the next moment, the duck, nothing hurt but his pride, swam to shore and shook the salty water off of his feathers. He then looked around, breathed deep of the potent sea air and, in good time, Huey Duck became a citizen of the Cape.
Away, across the sea, over Africa's deserts and savannahs, towards the states, into the states, past the illustrious city of Duckburg, a few hundred miles away, there stands its twin city. Gothic high-rises stand, belying a design ethic with a taste for gargoyles and spiky tresses. Saint Canard, the darkness to Duckburg's light. It stands as a monument to mobs and petty crime, to sirens and the sleazy runoff of the excesses of the 60s.
As a city, Saint Canard always had the seed of darkness about it. From the prohibition on it was forever the organized crime capitol of the USA, and very little changed that. As the times changed, so did the crimes change. With gin legal, the bosses moved on to the other vices, monopolizing the illegal substances people used, searching for happiness and an escape from the day to day drudgery. However, after the end of the Second World War, something remarkable happened.
As if reflecting back the darkness, a shadow, a mere slip of a figure, began to prowl the streets preying on crime. His cape of deep purple concealed in a smoke bomb, he would attempt to bring everyone to justice, from the lowest dealer to the highest kingpin. Nobody saw his face clearly. Some said he was a monster. Some swore he was a ghost. All, however, knew the name, the motto, the terror that flaps in the night. All who hid from the law in the shadows had to answer to Darkwing Duck.
He wasn't the only one, either, several of these "Masked heroes" emerged to do battle with the criminal element, some ordinary citizens, and some truly exceptional creatures. However, as good and evil will always wage war, so too will there be a balance between them. As the masks rose for one side, so did they for the other. Normal barons and bosses gave way to super-powered kingpins and muscle. The two contingents warred away for the lives and safety of the people caught in-between.
Halfway through the 60s, Darkwing Duck, the symbol of the fight against injustice, died, killed while disrupting an international crime ring. One week later, he rose from the dead to strike back at those that wronged him, seemingly reinvigorated by his own demise. He fights on to this very day, inspiring countless others to take up arms against cruelty and evil, and give the power of good a fighting chance.
One young duck, chased out of Duckburg by a feud with his brother, found his calling one night after almost being robbed of everything he owned in the world, a green plaid jacket, a matching tie, and a carpet bag full of money and bank slips. He was chased down a dark alley by two goons bearing dented iron implements, and cornered in a dead end. The Duck turned, reaching around himself for something to use as a makeshift weapon when suddenly, Biff! Pam! Bow! Both goons were thrown to the ground, the air and sense knocked from them. The duck below looked up and saw the duck above, framed and obscured by a single lamp in the street. A wide brimmed hat adorned his head and a cape flapped in the meager city breeze.
Then, as suddenly as he appeared, he was gone.
Louie Duck took a moment to awe at the scene, as if watching it from outside of his own body. His slight frame began to fill up with a feeling. He couldn't identify it at the time. It was only later, when he had assembled the gadgets, ordered the costume, found an acceptable base of operations, and began his own masked career that he was able to give a name to the percolation that had taken place in that lonely alley.
From the Dark streets of Saint Canard, let us now venture elsewhere, towards the brighter, smaller, and relatively friendlier streets of Duckburg. A company town if there ever was one, the entirety of Duckburg in some way worked for the mega conglomerate known as McDuck Enterprises. The man's face and name could be seen everywhere. Statues, plaques, dedications, Scrooge McDuck and all of the Duck family before him had left their indelible stamp on Duckburg.
Everyone was familiar with the life story. Born in 1867 in Glasgow, Scotland, where he earned his first dime shining shoes in the street. He left, staying only long enough for his trademark accent to become permanent. Every schoolchild can tell you the precise order of events leading up to his settling in Duckburg and forming the company from the various mines and fortunes he had won and lost over the years, from the African wilderness to the frozen Yukon. The strange manners and misadventures of the robust capitalist delighted and infuriated the nation, and the titanic square monster in the center of town filled to the brim with the money he had earned with his own two hands was a curio and a landmark unto itself.
His death was the event of the year. Mourners and revelers alike the world over showed up at the private service, trying to get a glimpse at the old man's ashes before they would be flown off to Scotland, never to be seen again.
His final act of quirkiness was to leave his entire fortune, conglomerate and all, to his three young nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. While Huey and Louie very quickly took their third of the fortune and skipped town for greener pastures, one of the three brothers remained.
In McDuck manor, Dewey Duck sits in -his- chair in -his- study, staring into -his- fireplace. The multi-zillionaire, full executor of one third of the McDuck fortune, and now acting CEO of McDuck Enterprises, can't help but feel a cloying emptiness in everything he does.
He sleeps every night and wakes every morning. For breakfast he has a single piece of toast. He begins the day's journey, wearing thin the already well-worn path between the mansion, the money bin, and the graveyard.
Every day he stands at the top of the bin, once filled to the brim with the spoils of his uncle's adventures, many of them spent with the boys themselves. It now stands empty; its fortunes deposited in three huge bank accounts for the boy's private use. Dewey can't help but long for the feeling of swimming, as his uncle had the unique ability to do, through the glittering coins, letting them wash over his body, before surfacing and throwing quarters and pennies everywhere. He longed to open his mouth and let the metallic taste wash over his tongue, spitting out the coins like a whale releasing a waterspout. More than once he had considered filling the empty monument with his own sizable spoils of his Uncle's enterprise, but he could never bring himself to it. It was not his money. He has no right to use the sweat, blood, and tears of his Uncle to fulfill his own petty whims.
Standing up on the high-dive board his Uncle had installed to facilitate his habit, Dewey, wearing his tasteful powder blue business suit, has more than once contemplated jumping into the empty bin, to meet the straggling pennies at the bottom that nobody has claimed. Every time, however, he backs away.