Within the realm of Disney comics, Donald is often the recipient of much abuse and misfortune, much like his original classic shorts. That abuse can often come at the hands, literally, of Daisy Duck, and theres’ a lotta stories that include the equivalent of Daisy chasing Donald down while brandishing a rolling pin. Even in the most recent 2022 comics she can still come off as shrill and hysteric.
Now Donald as a character can have plenty of negative attributes to go around, but oftentimes he really is trying his best when Daisy abuses him. Part of the reason I found last columns’ topic notable is that it presented Donald and Daisy as actually liking each other. This one however feels like the most extreme case of “hysterical Daisy abuses Donald” I’ve seen. It’s a case where Donald is a dick, but Daisy comes out even worse.
My intent with this column is to point at zany comics I like and go “look at these zany comics! Neat huh?”, but I felt compelled to include this as a sort of dark mirror to last columns topic. Even as someone accustomed to the somewhat regressive tendencies these comics often can have, this one caught my eye and made me go “Whoah there!!”
Todays comic: Possessed by magic, story by Mark Shaw, art by Antoni Pujadas, first published 2002 in Denmark
The story begins, of course, with the Merlin locked in a magic battle to the death.
And this isn’t some pun-based avian version of Merlin, its not an established Duck character playing the part of Merlin, he doesn’t even have a trademark “Dog Nose” to properly designate him as a duckverse animalperson. Its just straight up Merlin. Sometimes these comics are like that. Anyway, Merlin is fighting not Morgan Le Fey, but his mortal enemy “Malin, the dark witch” (sure) who derives all her power from a magic ruby. When Merlin manages to grab the ruby Malins body promptly starts dissolving, which prompts Malin to save her soul-
Ahem. Malin hides her soul in an indestructible mirror which Merlin seals with anti-witch glue, and comes up with a plan tied to a magic bell to counter Malin should she escape after his death.
We cut to the present where Daisy has procured the mirror as well as Merlin’s magic bell, which she wants to sell for a charity auction. She tries telling Donald of the legends associated with the items, and he immediately comes off as a jerk as he dismiss Daisys findings as “junk”, the legends as “boring”, and takes a nap rather than help Daisy prepare for the auction. He only perks up when he learns that the bell is said to lead to Merlins grave and treasure if you ring it three times, and promptly tries freeing the bell from the stone it is lodged in…using Daisys warehouse key.
Daisy responds with some old fashioned Enraged Cartoonish Physical violence, par for the course here, but things get weirdly meta when she kicks Donald in front of the arriving charity auction committee. We’re doing “Daisy gets embarrassed in front of high status people” again, but this time its because Donald resignedly remarks that he has some pressed ribs, which is a shame because “had just recovered”. Suddenly, we’re inferring actual ramifications of the cartoon violence? And then, Daisy gets reprimanded for going against the charity committees principles of uh …domestic harmony.
Part of the reason cartoonish violence can usually work is when it is not lampshaded, but this is exactly whats’ happening here, and the comic is going to get weird and slightly offputting with the concept.
Anyway, Daisy cleans the mirror at home gets promptly possessed by Malin. And I’ll be honest: The imagery of possessed Malin!Daisy is 90% of the reason I’m covering this comic at all.
Meanwhile, Donald has gone back to Daisys storage to return the key, but ends up resuming his efforts to get the bell (STILL using her key to try and chip it out! At least get a chisel or something dude!). The bell suddenly pops out mysteriously, Donald rings it, and he is compelled to walk in a specific direction.
Malin discovers that she can’t maintain full control of Daisys body for long without the strength from her magic ruby (demonstrated by Daisy choking herself, yikes), discerns that Merlins bell leads the way to the ruby, and sets off to find Donald. Daisy assaults Donald for stealing the bell, Malin regains control and tries being affectionate instead, Daisy then comes back and beats Donald for kissing her. This sets the template for the next stretch of the comic, with Daisy and Malin swapping back and forth and having Daisy abuse Donald as the punchline.
As Malin!Daisy are unable to touch the bell, she follows Donald to Merlins grave on an island in the atlantic ocean, Daisy getting more hateful in her abuse of Donald along the way. Daisy is aware that she’s periodically losing consciousness, and from her perspective Donald is dragging her on some insane errand against her will (which are kinda heavy concepts for a kids comic?), but the story starts framing Donald as more attentive and supporting, and frames Daisy as more unreasonable in her abuse of him.
As they reach their destination Donald opens the path to Merlins grave with a second ring of the bell, whereupon Malin!Daisy KO’s him with an oar, raids Merlins tomb, gets her ruby and becomes ready to unleash hell
However Donald manages to ring the bell a third and final time, which makes Merlins ghost show up and give Donald all his magic powers (WITHOUT possessing him, crucially), because I guess his plan was “If Malin resurfaces my bell will be unlocked and lead to the exact spot where her ruby is and hopefully some other guy gets there first so I can enable him to combat the threat that wouldn’t be there if my bell hadn’t opened the way”. Anyway, the point is that we have a Sword in the stone style wizarding duel on our hands.
The fight is disappointingly one-sided as Donald pelts Malin!Daisy with hotdogs and ice cream, but what ultimately makes Malin!Daisy relinquish the ruby is Donald making her so ugly that Daisy regains control (sigh) out of sheer vanity and chucks the ruby at Donald in anger. However, Malin still takes hold of her body, and Merlin tells Donald that he needs to “make things rough” for his girlfriend.
Donald proceeds to straight up beat Malin!Daisy up (something he doesn’t seem particularly conflicted about) until Malin flees the body in terror, and gets sealed in the mirror again. A battered Daisy ignores Donalds pleads that he “Had to do it”, and proceeds to pummel him because “I’ll never forgive you for being violent”. Yeesh. This comic is a lot of yeesh.
Finally, Merlins ghost teleport them off the island, directly back to the charity event. Daisy is chided for losing two items for the auction and fired for unseemly behavior, whereas Donald produces Morganas ruby as compensation, and suggests the charity rehires Daisy as what a “Bad Example” of domestic harmony is. Daisy proceeds to chase Donald and beat him with a wooden board to demonstrate.
So to recap, Daisy tries organizing a charity for an organization that advocates for Domestic Harmony and gets possessed by an evil witch, while a self-centered Donald disregards Daisys’ feelings in favor of a treasure hunt…where Daisy is framed as shrill, unjustified and hypocritical for beating on Donald, whereas Donald gets to be a hero who’s justified in beating Daisy, because he’s only attacking her body while Malin is in control.
By and large I think female characters in media should be allowed to be flawed and/or get hurt (especially zany cartoon characters), but this feels altogether too mean spirited for me. Theres’ not an ounce of sympathy to spare for Daisy to be found here, and she’s pretty much just shrill and abusive save for the very start. I’m not quite sure what the punchline of it all is supposed to be, but if I had to thread the needle it’d be “domestic abuse is funny when women do it to men, but it’d also be fun if you had a justified excuse for beating up your girlfriend”.
I feel like the scene where Merlin goes “Sheesh, and she’s supposed to be his sweetheart!” at Daisy is wailing on Donald yet again sums the vibe of this thing up.
“Possessed by magic” scores 4/10 boat oars to beat your partner with.
This one is a bit of a bummer albeit an eye catching one, which is why I picked it. Next time I think I’ll cover a comic where Daisy is an asshole and Donald is virtuous that actually works!
ELSEWHERE IN THE EURO-MULTIVERSE:
- The nephews are into speculative Bigfoot TV, and Donald sets out to prank them by planting fake bigfoot trails. He unleashes a full media circus as everyone now hunts for the beast, of course encounters the actual beast himself, is then mistaken for the beast, and destroys all belief in the now factual creature. Pretty classic “Donald is a dick and suffers for it” story
- Scrooge monitors Donald and Fethry while he has them trapped and ironing his bills, and their various entertaining mishaps prompt him to create the TV Sensation “Big Uncle”. Things escalate from there, and Scrooge basically invents livestreaming/Vlogging in 2002.
- Scrooge has tasked Donald and Fethry with doing a hidden camera TV show. They fail miserably, but unbeknownst to them their failure is being filmed for the actual show. It sounds similar to the one above, but is a lot shorter and simpler.
- Mickey receives mysterious letters from Goofy that direct him to collect packages across the world, while being tailed by nonsense-speaking goons in trenchcoats. The packages are eventually assembled into a robot who is programmed to terraform earth. Its cuter than it sounds, but fine.
- Scrooge drags his family to an old goldmine that has been made accessible due to (sigh) climate change, and waxes sentimental about the music that plays when the wind flies through the canyon. Another slow one.
- Scrooge wants to harvest rare metals from a newly discovered planet, and sends Donald there by himself to manage the highly-automated spaceflight. Things go wrong, Donald gets stranded on the planet, he saves the locals from Space Pirates and gets his ride repaired. I’m probably making this more interesting than it is, but it’s a rather languid affair
- Brigitta MacBridge is courting Scrooge, and tricks him into helping her find a rare coin for her coin collection in order to spend time with him. She’s wildly successful and the rather flat storyline ends with her being happy Scrooge sent her flowers. Being in love with Scrooge and fighting for his attention is this characters whole thing, and she’s maybe the second most used major female character after Magica DeSpell. In recent times I think they’ve made her a superhero. Progress?