Let’s get dangerous with Darkwing Duck in “Awesome Cartoons!!”

At one time, Disney ruled the airwaves with its many television series, airing both on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons. Yes, there was a time when cartoons came on after school. (God, I miss that.) Anyway, the “House of Mouse” had several shows under its roof that featured well known characters such as Chip n Dale, Scrooge McDuck, Goofy and Donald Duck. However, a new original series would soon surface following the success of Disney’s first animated series, Gummi Bears. This series would tip the scale towards generating a larger male audience and show that Disney can do more than show flowers dancing in the sun. I, Devildriver1313, invite you to join me as I talk about the “Awesome Cartoon” known as Darkwing Duck.

Before acquiring Marvel, Disney has made a couple attempts at getting a large male audience and succeeded. Darkwing Duck is the first Disney series to emphasize action in favor of comedy. True, slapslick action has been featured in their other series but actual fight scenes were rare. The series featured Drake Mallard who lives in an unassuming suburban house with his adopted daughter Gosalyn, next door to the bafflingly dim-witted Muddlefoot family. Drake tries his best to find balance between his attention seeking ego and being a good father to Gosalyn. This aspect of him is put at odds in several episodes. Drake Mallard moonlights as Darkwing Duck, the hero and protector of St. Canard. Aiding him in his adventures is Launchpad McQuack, who serves as his mode of transportation and pilot, same as the role he has with Scrooge McDuck on “Duck Tales.”

Darkwing Duck had the flashiest entrances of any hero.

AWESOMENESS!! Darkwing Duck was created a parody series. While past Disney shows featured some parodic moments, they were more straight-faced adventures, which was Carl Bark’s M.O. in comics. Darkwing, like any superhero, encountered a variety of supervillains all bent on defeating him. Interestingly, these villains parodied pop culture bad guys from comics, spy films and movies. For instance, jokester-turned-supervillian Quackerjack is a likely reference to Batman’s nemesis the Joker and superman villain Toyman with a splash of Flash’s Trickster. Megavolt borrows inspiration from Electro, the Liquidator is a spoof of Hydroman, an adversary of Marvel’s Spider-Man, Professor Moliarty touches Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis James Moriarty and Steelbeak is an obvious reference to popular Bond villain, Jaws. Darkwing himself is a satire character. His flashy entrances and gas guns are all reminiscent of pulp heroes and Golden Age superheroes such as The Shadow, The Sandman, Doc Savage, Batman, The Green Hornet and the Julius Schwartz Flash, as well as The Lone Ranger and Zorro. Even his alter ego, Drake Mallard, is a play on Kent Allard, alter ego of The Shadow. Darkwing Duck is laden with references to superhero, pulp adventure, or super-spy fiction. The criminal organization F.O.W.L. (The Fiendish Organization for World Larceny) is similar to S.P.E.C.T.R.E. from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, while Darkwing’s organization S.H.U.S.H pays homage to Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. When it comes to pop culture references in a series, Darkwing Duck did it first. And let’s not forget that sweet intro theme that is just as flashy and eccentric as the series titular hero.

The Thunderquack, Darkwing’s jet, is clearly a play on Batman’s plane, the Batwing.

WHY WE WATCHED!! Because of the many references to other heroes and villains in pop culture, and it was the first “full-on” action series created by Disney. Darkwing did in cartoons what hasn’t been done before. Though the series was loaded with parodies and spoofs, they worked well in the series’ favor and, somehow, didn’t feel overloaded. Also, Darkwing was popular due the Tim Burton “Batman” films, which was also used for inspiration. Heck, the city of St. Canard is a direct spoof of Gotham City. Darkwing’s many self-introductions, which usually begin with him saying “I am the terror that flaps in the night!”, with a follow-up line that changes with each intro, and ends with “I am Darkwing Duck!”, made for great entertainment because you just had to watch to hear what he says next.

Darkwing Duck ran for three seasons both in syndication and on Saturday mornings for 91 episodes. The series was said to be set in a different universe than Duck Tales, even though characters Launchpad and Gizmoduck (who may be a spoof of Iron Man) appear in the series. However, when Gizmoduck first arrives in St. Canard, he is introduced as being from Duckburg and Lauchpad made a one-time comment about his “last boss” when comparing Darkwing to Scrooge. References to Darkwing would be brought up in the Ducktales reboot with a namedrop of St. Canard and a mention of F.O.W.L., and a possible appearance by Darkwing Duck in a future episode. There is no doubt that Darkwing made an impact. Capcom released a video game for the NES and Gameboy systems. Darkwing Duck was nearly a playable character for Disney’s Infinity 3.0 but lost to Olaf from “Frozen” in a fan poll. Sadly, his chances of making an appearance are null and void due to the game’s cancellation, despite being one of the most desired characters. Nevertheless, Darkwing Duck is still one of the best non-canon superheroes out there and one of the reasons why after-school cartoons were awesome.

Darkwing Duck intro!