Mickey Mouse and Friends #296
Written by Stefano Ambrosio
Artwork by Lorenzo Patravicchio, Roberta Santillo and Marco Giglione
Translated by Saida Temaponte
With all the hooplah and excitement over Disney's acquisition of Marvel, people seem to have forgotten that Boom! Studios already has plenty of Disney Comics, first with Pixar and the Muppets, and now at last the classic Icons of Mickey, Donald and Goofy.
Disney's cute animal comics used to be a big deal in the US, Carl Barks, Don Rosa all told great stories, but for the last few years there haven't been any English-Language Mickey comics, until now, as Boom begin to translate an Italian series putting the characters in a fantasy setting. These books are very popular on the continent, whenever I've been to France, Germany or wherever, they are everywhere. Even in newsagents and supermarkets, they have the kind of distribution that Marvel and DC dream of, so it's no surprise Boom! are translating them before doing original material.
This series places Mickey Mouse in a fantasy context, he lives in a Medieval World of farming and magic, it's a distinctly European thing to do with these guys, it's more Asterix The Gaul than Duckburg. Mickey is of course, a Sorceror's Apprentice, and he of course, makes a colossal mistake with his magic, giving a Magic crystal to an evil Sorceror. This Sorceror is Pete, another familiar face. Part of the fun of this book was seeing familiar faces like Pete and the Beagle Brothers in a fantasy context. It's one of the reasons the famous Mickey and the Beanstalk cartoon worked, and also why Kingdom Hearts is so popular, and it works here too.
Mickey then goes on a quest to recover the Magic crystal (or Diamagic) and in the Big City finds he needs to form a team of Sorceror's to compete in a tournament. His teammates? We all know it's Donald and Goofy!
I really enjoyed this book, I really got a kick out of seeing some of my childhood favourites in new milieu, and while the Fantasy world is fairly standard and cliched, there seems to be plenty of backstory there. The book does not skimp on humour either, it's not taking itself too seriously (like Kingdom Hearts does a bit), there's one joke involving a Mother-In-Law that really worked for me. The characters of Mickey, Donald and Goofy remain recognisable throughout, Mickey is earnest, Goofy is kind of an idiot, and Donald is greedy and conniving. The dialogue is at times a little disjointed and over-simple, but then again it is a translation from Italian, I can forgive some clunkiness.
The artwork is strong too, a real meld of smooth Disney, and more expressive European comics styles, and even though there were 3 artists, it all flowed together very well.
This is a kid's book that should work for everyone. Younger people will love it because it's got all these characters they know, but it's not simply gag strips, it's more complex than that, it's the perfect stepping stone between proper Kiddy comics and more challenging fair like Jeff Smith's Bone, a similar fantasy tale featuring cute characters. If you've got kids who might be interested in comics, this is a great gateway, and hell, if you're an adult wanting to read some Fantasy comics, behind the Mickey trappings, this is a decent good fantasy story too.