Darkwing Duck: Just Us Justice Ducks

Wha’ happen?

If, like me, you were unfortunate enough to grow up in a third world nation untouched by the beneficent glow of the Disney Channel then your only way of experiencing TV shows like DuckTales and Darkwing Duck was the sporadic VHS releases that Disney deigned to let drop from their table. In the case of DarkWing Duck, this meant that the only contact I had with this show was the two-parter Darkly Dawns the Duck which we’ve already looked at and this, Just Us Justice Ducks. And going from one to the other is a bit like watching Iron Man and then following it up immediately with Endgame.

WHO THE FUCK ARE ALL YOU PEOPLE?!

In these episodes Darkwing puts together a superhero team of former super-powered enemies and rivals to battle his arch-nemesis Negaduck who’s put together his own Legion of Doom of Darkwing’s most dangerous foes. The trouble is, thanks to Disney’s insistence on releasing episodes in an order dictated by tarot cards and the phases of the moon, many of these characters hadn’t even been formally introduced yet. Hell, considering that Just Us Justice Ducks consists of episodes 18 and 19 and Darkly Dawns the Duck was episodes 29 and 30, you could argue that Darkwing himself hadn’t been introduced yet.

Anyway, Darkwing is preparing to go on a date with Morgana MacCawber, a Transylvanian sorceress who was a villain but who he’s now dating (this fucking show). Unfortunately, their date has to be cut short because two of Darkwing’s villains, Megavolt and Crackerjack, have attacked the local power station. Darkwing tries to stop them but Morgana turns him accidentally turns him into a pudding and the villains, having him at their total mercy, just laugh and leave him there. They then install an “electro slave” device in the power station and Darkwing just…leaves it there.

Later, after he’s been returned to normal, Darkwing races to the police station which is being attacked by two other villains, Bushroot and Liquidator. He also runs into Stegmutt, a genetically engineered dinosaur duck hybrid with the strength and intelligence of a car-compactor. The villains get away by convincing Stegmutt that Darkwing’s on fire and telling him to put him out.

“Puny god.”

Bushroot causes a massive bean stalk to grow up under the police station and they am-scray back their hideout where we meet the leader of the villains: Negaduck. Ohhhhh boy and I gotta explain him now don’t I?

So this Negaduck is Darkwing Duck from an evil “Negaverse” which would only be introduced 17 episodes after this one aired. Oh, and I said this Negaduck because there was also a Negaduck introduced in the episode “Negaduck” who was the result of Darkwing Duck being hit by a beam by Megavolt that split him into good and evil versions. And, despite that Negaduck being considered the “first” Negaduck the episode where that happens is actually the last one in broadcast order.

I swear to God, guys, I have reviewed X-Men movies where the continuity explanations were less torturous. You just think about that. Anyway, Negaduck, disguised as Darkwing, infiltrates S.H.U.S.H., the local S.H.I.E.L.D. analogue and cripples it, leaving the entire city defenceless. Darkwing, naturally, is thrilled, because he gets to take on an entire cohort of super villains without anyone hogging the spotlight. But then he discovers that the national guard has been called in and that they will be led by Duckburg’s own superhero Gizmoduck, who Darkwing has an instant irrational hatred of.

“Do you bleed? You will.”

While Darkwing is squabbling with Gizmoduck, Negaduck activates a massive forcefield that encircles the city, cutting it off from the rest of the world and waaaaaaait a minute this is all starting to feel real familiar.

“We come here not as conquerors but as liberators! To return control of this city to the people!”

Damn, between this and the Inception/Donald Duck controversy, did Christopher Nolan make any movies not inspired by the Disney duckverse?

Darkwing still refusing any offers of help, storms the Fearsome Five’s headquarters and promptly gets his ass handed to him and gets thrown off the top of their skyscraper.

Or possibly a large box?

He lands safely in a garbage truck only to discover that, literally in the time it took him to reach the ground, the Fearsome Five have seized total control of the entire city. Fuck me, the Taliban couldn’t pull off a takeover that speedy.

With Darkwing out of the picture, Gizmoduck leads a team of Stegmutt, Morgana and Neptunia (a fish lady who just showed up) against the Fearsome Five and they all get captured and are about to be tortured by Negaduck but Darkwing shows up, frees them, they have a big superhero brawl and the day is saved.

Oh, and then Darkwing and Morgana go on their date and escape everyone else by passing through the Iris at the end of the episode. Which is…something that Darkwing can do. Apparently.

I feel like this should be a bigger deal in-universe.

How was it?

It was…actually kinda bad. Sorry. This was a big step down from Darkly Dawns the Duck. There’s a serious downgrade in animation quality and the writing was honestly pretty piss poor. And you might say “Mouse, it’s a Saturday morning cartoon from the nineties, you really except good writing?”

To which I respond:

Uh…yeah?

On top that, some of the vocal performances were nail-on-a-chalkboard bad. If I never have to listen to Joey Camen’s Stegmutt again it’ll be a good life.

Hello! You may remember me from The Simpsons!

Not only do we have Homer Simpson himself, Dan Castellenata, as Megavolt, we also have Frank Welker voicing several critters who voiced Santa’s Little Helper as well as a few other roles here and there.

I am the terror that flaps in the night!

I am the single career man all women want to date! 

I am the self-centered boob who hands over the city at the drop of a dime. I’m a gipnoid, a slug, a spud mothering jackanape!

11 comments

  1. I’m actually a bit surprised you didn’t care much for the series Mouse, most people I know who grew up with it have nothing but fond memories. Though I wonder, what about the script or writing didn’t appeal to you?

    In fact, I’d say the writing was pretty darn clever; one of my favorite gags from this two-parter was Darkwing deducing where the villains were hiding through an inconspicuous crumb (while completely ignoring the flag with Negaduck’s face on it). And Negaduck even admitting he planted the crumb because he knew Darkwing would miss the flag completely.

    Incidentally, according to the showrunner Tad Stones, Jim Cummings was so good at improv that he would just leave notes in the scripts just telling Jim to make his own jokes here.

  2. To be fair, the headache-inducing-ness of Negaduck is somewhat negated by Negaduck (the II) being AWESOME. Seriously, undoubtedly the best villain, maybe the best CHARACTER on the show. Despite his occasional comedic nature, and undoubted hamminess, he’s FUCKING SCARY. The guy EXCUDES menace.

  3. ‘Damn, between this and the Inception/Donald Duck controversy, did Christopher Nolan make any movies not inspired by the Disney duckverse?’
    Ok, if you haven’t watched the 2017 show, now you absolutely need to. The Darkwing introduction episode literally has an English director making a grim-and-gritty Duck Knight movie, voiced by… Edgar Wright.

  4. If you weren’t shocked and then laughed like a loon at the bit where Negaduck is told he’s being delivered skulls and then just goes wide eyed and licks his beak like the deranged maniac he is, then you have no soul and deserve no further contact with the rest of the human species.

    I think that’s a brilliant way to convey a character’s complete, utter criminal and deviant f***-edupness while being subtle about it in the context of a Saturday morning cartoon. The beak licking, man. It’s the tiny quiet beak licking.

    And then there’s the far less subtle but just as great scene where the writers pretty much wiped their butts with the ‘Never Say Kill’ rule.

    “Kill Negaduck! Kill Negaduck!”
    “Kill who?”

    (…)

    “You were going to kill me?!
    “No, no! We knew it was Darkwing!”
    “Yeah, we were just testing, see?”
    “Didn’t we already kill Darkwing Duck?”

    Priceless.

  5. So… I grew up on translated Duck comics, but literally the only childhood contact I had with this specific show was a storybook adapting the episode with the mole warlord, and I didn’t even speak English back then. Not much of a first impression.

    But as a I grew, I found all kinds of folks (including OverMaster up there) praising it to the skies, so I thought I’d check a few eps out. And… uh, I pretty much have to agree with your assessment of this episode here. The villains are fun and all, but the “fighting crime is a TEAM effort!” Aesop doesn’t really work when most of the other “heroes” are so pants-on-head incompetent that they injure Darkwing way worse than the villains do. Literally the only one I remember having respect for was the fish lady.

    If you want a neater balance of drama and comedy – with drama being the senior partner – I’d seriously suggest checking out Boom’s 2010 comic-book continuation. No fooling, that shit impressed me way more than any Adult Superhero Comic coming out at the time.

    1. The comic was great but it comes with a caveat: the original run ends up with a VERY lackluster Duck Tales crossover and the second series is cancelled as it’s just starting, so a lot of subplots (yes, the comics actually had a tight continuity based on storyarcs instead of being episodic like the series) unresolved.

  6. I enjoyed this one, but I had seen most of the characters before. Do not trust the Disney+ episode order, it lies.

    And most of us, I think, didn’t watch this and other Disney Toons on the actual Disney Channel, but mostly as part of the Disney Afternoon, a syndicated block that absolutely ran on SOME network, wherever in the US you lived. So you could see it even if you didn’t have cable.

  7. I love this one too. Sorry Mouse!

    I’m a sucker for ragtag band of misfits have to become a team stories. And I could watch Gizmoduck and Darkwing all day. I love that Gizmo has a slight undercurrent of ego/self-righteousness himself, but his persona is a Superman/Captain America type to Darkwing’s Batman/Iron Man so it manifests differently.

    I think the humor is actually pretty good myself. It’s not the funniest thing ever, but they have so much fun skewering superhero/villain tropes and poking fun. My favorite gag is Darkwing distracting Gizmo by saying “I think I see an overdue library book over there.” and Gizmo wheels off in that direction going “Where? Where?” I die every time.

    Also I love Morgana and Darkwing’s weird relationship. it’s so fun and cute.

    For me I think the two-parter has so much of what TV Tropes calls “Narm Charm” I just can’t dislike it.

    Loved your review anyway! Your aggravated explanation of the tangled continuity (not to be confused with Tangled continuity) brought me to helpless giggles. ❤

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