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Mickey Mouse: New Adventures of The Phantom Blot | Review

New Adventures of The Phantom Blot coverMickey Mouse: New Adventures of The Phantom Blot
Writers: Del Connell and Bob Ogle
Artist: Paul Murry
Fantagraphics; $34.99

As unusual as it was for a villain to earn his own comic book title during the more morality-focused Silver Age of comics, that’s exactly what happened in 1964, when Mickey Mouse’s old enemy The Phantom Blot starred in what would be the first issue of a seven-issue series. Fantagraphics has collected those comics, all drawn by Paul Murry, in the latest volume of their Disney Masters series focusing on the work of particular artists—Mickey Mouse: New Adventures of The Phantom Blot.

The Blot first appeared way back in 1939, challenging Mickey Mouse in the rodent hero’s newspaper comic strip. Like a photo negative version of a cartoon ghost, the megalomaniacal villain appeared to be an inky black cloak with arms and legs attached, and with white, pupil-less eyes giving him a particularly eerie look. When he returned in the 1960s for the comics collected in this book, he was little changed, but he had gained pupils, making him a bit more expressive…and a lot less spooky-looking.

The Blot might have been the title character of his comic book, but he was hardly the protagonist. Rather, these were all Mickey Mouse-starring adventures in which Mickey, in his occasional role as a crime-fighting detective, would confront the Blot’s latest plot and see the bad guy thrown behind bars again…at least until the next story, in which he would promptly escape again to begin the cycle anew.

What’s particularly interesting about these Blot comics, originally published in comic book format between 1964 and 1966, is that the Blot wasn’t just a Mickey Mouse comics character. While Disney comics were traditionally Mickey comics or duck comics, these Blot stories often mixed the casts of both.

So sometimes Mickey would be assisted by his perennial comics sidekick Goofy, and at other times he would team up with Donald Duck. In one story in this collection, Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and even Pluto are recruited by the F.I.B. (that’s Foreign Intrigue Bureau) to stop the Blot’s fomenting of a border war between two countries.

A popular target of The Blot’s criminal schemes was the world’s richest duck, and so he repeatedly goes after Scrooge McDuck’s billions and other treasures, including teaming up with mad scientist The Mysterious Mr. X to target Scrooge with a hypno-ray, and chasing the miserly millionaire back to medieval times to get the seeds for his money trees. Naturally, this involved duck comics characters like Donald and Gyro Gearloose and even the Beagle Boys in the comics.

Indeed, The Blot commands the Beagle Boys in several of these comics, including using them as the crew of his special flying pirate ship, part of another plan to rob Scrooge.

Perhaps the most unusual team-up in this collection, however, comes in “The Phantom Blot Meets Mad Madam Mim,” in which the sorceress character from 1963’s The Sword in The Stone lives in a cottage outside of town and uses her magic to help the Blot escape prison on a nightly basis. Although he planned on using her magic to help him knock over jewelry stores, she was banking on him going straight and marrying her.

The other most noteworthy guest-star among the many in these comics is Super Goof, Goofy’s Superman-inspired superheroic identity, which surfaces after he accidentally drinks a glass of fuel for one of Gyro’s inventions, and comes to believe he can fly and is indestructible (“My cape may be an old potato sack and my costume long underwear, but beneath it all I’m a real Super Goof!“) This is, in fact, the very first appearance of Super Goof, who would go on to a rather long life.

All together, the blending of the casts and the many guest stars give many of these stories  a sense of occasion, as if The Phantom Blot were such a dastardly villain it often takes more than one set of heroes to tackle him.

Despite the great age of these comics, like the contents of all of Fantagraphics’  Disney collections, they’re fairly timeless, and they offer the same pleasures to young readers today that they would have offered to the young readers of a couple of generations ago.

The Phantom Blot may be a criminal mastermind, but these comics featuring him are like an elaborate game of cops and robbers, starring some of the most familiar Disney characters.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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