SOTBNerdy: Why Darkwing Duck Deserves More Shine

On its surface, Darkwing Duck looks and feels like nothing more than a parody of Batman—except with a suburban Joe Everyman (Everyduck?) running amok and stopping villainous fiends from taking over the city of St. Canard. First of all, if you think that, you’re wrong. It’s more of a parody of The Shadow than just a straight Batman spoof. I apologize for sounding like a know-it-all, but the series is near and dear to me. I grew up on Disney Afternoon cartoons and, as such, I probably know more than I should about these series. On an additional personal level, my mom and I bonded over the show. Third of all, the series is so much more than just a superhero duck.

The series, at its heart, is equal parts family drama, slapstick awesomeness, and pop culture references. For example, the debut episode revolves around Drake Mallard (Darkwing’s alter-ego) fighting crime and taking in an orphan who has a bit of distrust issues. This is all while we get allusions to the aforementioned Golden Age comic series, gas guns and other wacky gadgets, and a bevy of “did they really just reference that?” moments. Furthermore, it was dark. Not “Tommy Oliver getting gutted like a fish” dark, but still outright darker than most of the Disney series fare prior to.
In other words, it’d fit right in with today’s family-centric cartoons. With the reboot of DuckTales doing well, you’d think that more people (besides millennials) would want to check out this somewhat-forgotten series. I mean, you’ve got ducks fighting evil and cracking quips like a Marvel movie. The kid characters aren’t completely useless; they aid Darkwing more than a little bit. Plus, Launchpad McQuack is DW’s sidekick, even though DuckTales and DW take place in different universes (talk about crossovers).
On top of that, Drake Mallard is kind of a glory hog (at times). Sure, he means well in his duties. He’s even an amazing dad. However, he also strives to be famous for his deeds. He’s a pretty complex—and human—character. I mean, we all like a bit of praise for our actions, sometimes to our detriment. It’s human nature to want recognition for duties completed. This isn’t always played for laughs, either.

These qualities have engraved this series in my heart, twenty-plus years after its last episode. I have watched as fans clamored for a reboot since reboots became widespread. We’ve gotten a comic series, which has done well, but no official reboot. Darkwing references have appeared in the now-cancelled Infinity video game series. The new DuckTales series has made a few references to DW, but we’ve still not gotten a reboot—or even a Blu-Ray/official streaming release of the original series. I mean, I want to give you my money, Disney, and I’m not the only one.

Speed on the Beat

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