Todays story: “Blotman and Rodent”, story by Carol and Pat McGreal, art by Joaquin Sanchez, first published 2004 in Denmark
After being pointed in the direction of a comprehensive Disney Comic compendium by commenter Lancashire Crab, I’ve spent the last few months tracking down stories of interest. Most of them has featured the Phantom Blot menacing his nemesis Mickey Mouse in some way, so its only to be expected that I would eventually come across the inevitable hero-villain team-up issue, albeit with a delightful twist.
This tale begins with The Phantom Blot stealing a safe from a Mickey-helmed charity event. For those joining us for the first time, The Phantom Blot is a scheming supervillain hell bent on world domination and/or crushing the adventure-prone non-cop crimefighter that is Mickey Mouse. Well, that’s how it is usually- here, the Blot just wants to steal the safe in order to embarrass Mickey which seems like a comparatively weak plan with low stakes, buts that’s just how these Euro Disney comics roll -we’re in more comedic territory here, not that it’ll stop the Blot from trying to crack Mickeys skull with a pipe at one point. Anyway, when Mickey corners the Blot in an alley, the Blot starts vibrating violently and disappears into thin air! Mickey then visits Dr. Stat (which is a super letdown of a Cartoon Scientist name compared to the Danish “Kosmo Kvantemose”, which would be “Cosmo Quantumberg” or something like that), one of his several independent recurring superscientist friends, who states that the Blot must’ve been spirited away to another dimension existing on a different vibrational frequency. That’s’ right, following last columns Magica De Spell dimension-hoppping dime heist we’re staying in the multiverse baby– a multiverse playing by DC rules, apparently (I think. I don’t read DC). And because Euro-Comics Mickey is nothing if not a tenacious crime fighter, he is in short order sent to the other dimension in pursuit of the Blot.
With the excuse of being discombobulated from his trans-dimensional travels Mickey promptly assumes the transfer has failed and heads home, which is all just a flimsy pretense to have him meet his alternate counterpart. Parrallel!Mickeys house turns out to be a filthy den, and that’s because it houses the ultimate scene stealer of this comic: Ronnie Rodent.
A huge appeal of multiverse stories is seeing favored characters through a new remixed lens, which is something the subject of the last comic I covered dabbled in, but is the central conceit here. And if you wanna see a warped version of Mickey, I’d say Ronnie delivers. Where the Mickey proper of this story is an intelligent no-nonsense seeker of justice, Ronnie is lazy, disgusting and crass. He has permanent stubble. His car has been impounded, and his life ambition is to sit around and watch soccer games. He chugs soda pops, but makes it look like beer. I love him.
I said in my first column that my affinity of these stories was rooted in them being good comics rather than them feeling “transgressive”. But I must now concede that this isn’t entirely true – I still consider these comics pretty good, but it absolutely does bring me a sort of bemused glee to see takes like this for squeaky clean pop culture icons such as Mickey. Even the proper Mickey isn’t as bland as usual here, but more on that later.
Anyway, following his encounter with Ronnie Rodent, Mickey finds a decadent mansion where his best bud Goofys’ home used to be. Here, he gets dismissed with scorn by Goofus D. Dawg (Now this is a GREAT name)-affluent billionaire shipping magnate-meaning we get a scene of limo-driving, suit-wearing Goofy calling Mickey “Filth” and handing him some money, telling him to not spend it on soda pops. Again with the air of referring to booze. By now its clear that we’re dealing with an “Up Is Down” style bizarre universe here, and I like that its not merely a clean good-evil alignment switch. Theres’ plenty of stories with evil mirror robot doppelgangers of especially Mickey, so seeing Ronnie and Goofus as swaps of the characters personas and social status is a lot of fun.
That said, its no surprise that when Mickey tackles what he assumes is the OG Phantom Blot it turns out to be The Blotman (Called literally “Blackman” In the Danish version, which I cannot imagine why would ever get changed), righteous and fierce defender of the crime-ridden alternate Mouseton. He’s a straight riff on Batman – he’s dressed in black to inspire terror in criminals, he uses gadgets, he’s summoned by a blot-signal, the works. The Blotman and Mickey team up to track down Phantom Blot and form a dynamic even more Batman-riffing duo that gives the comic its name.
Now this is where I for the first time find myself facing a problem that many a localizer must’ve faced before me, because while Mickeys new alter ego is called Rat (“Rotten”) in Danish the obvious translation is Rodent. Batman and Robin, Blotman and Rodent, and this is what has been chosen officially. But on the other hand, Ronny Rodent is already a character and well…simply “Rat” is altogether meaner and funnier as a moniker for Mickey, so that’s what I prefer. It also works well with the fact that Mickey finds the whole Masked Sidekick shtick, done on Blotmans insistence, to be some right embarrassing bullshit, including the name – as stated in my first column, regular Mickey can have more attitude and be more irritable than you’d expect.
Theres’ also the added context of “Rat” being the preferred moniker for Mickey for his Rogues Gallery (yes, he has one), especially the Blot so…ahem. I’m sure this is very exciting to all readers. Anyway. The Phantom Blot himself has teamed up with the with Doctor Static, the Mad Scientist counterpart to the main universes kindly doctor Stat, who has no clear Batman villain analogue. Static summoned the Blot to his universe to help him fight Blotman, and they manage to kidnap him in incredibly short order before starting a criminal reign of terror on the town.
Mickey then enlists the help of Ronnie Rodent to rescue Blotman, and hilariously, Ronnie turns out to be a frighteningly effective little gremlin of a fighter who singlehandedly takes down both villains. Blotman is saved, and The Blot is taken back to the Blotcave.
And then, Blotman dramatically unmasks himself, to reveal…Goofus D Dawg, as well as the fact that the Blotcave is located under his billionaire mansion. And my jaw hits the floor. Turns out Blotman wasn’t an alignment switch after all! It seems totally obvious, and the slightly patronizing demeanor of Blotman even meshes well with Goofus’ arrogance, but at this point I had mostly forgotten that the story was a Batman parody.
Regardless, revealing that the mirror-version of Mickeys murderous archnemesis is Goofy completely stalled out my brain. How the stories treat the Blots’ true identity varies; in some he will unmask willy-nilly, and indeed the very first story featuring him ended in a demasking, yet others will treat his identity as an inscrutable mystery. In one story featuring the Blots nicer twin brother, Mickey states that he expected the Blot to just have crawled out of a swamp somewhere. This story falls into this latter framework, and sells the demasking as a big reveal, with the most fun implication being that Mickey, for a brief moment, suspects his mortal enemy to also be Goofy in disguise. I adore this, as well as the fact that they make absolutely zero effort to explain how theres’ supposedly a Goofy-style snout hidden under Blotmans hood.
Anyway, Goofus asks Ronnie to become his ward and live in his mansion, to which Ronnie reluctantly replies that Goofus doesn’t seem totally sane, which is cute as far as Batman riffs go. The story doesn’t go overboard in that regard. Mickey and the Blot are sent back to their own universe, the Blot promptly escapes by elbowing Mickey in the ribs and then fleeing, which is kind of hilariously anticlimactic. Really, this whole story bizarrely posits Mickey Mouse as being physically capable of restraining a fully human-sized unscrupulous criminal, which is not usually the case- the Phantom Blot may be averse to getting his hands dirty, but once he does he’s not exactly a wimp – on one occasion he tried personally strangling Mickey to death. But for this story, it all tonally works and its pretty amusing to see an aggressively assertive Mickey Mouse. Action Mickey! Ultimately Mickey returns the stolen money to the charity event, gets a kiss on the cheek, the end.
The actual story in this one is pretty slight and the Blot has little in the way of compelling schemes (it’s the evil Doctor Static doing most of the work, which extends mostly to Rob Banks, Bribe Elected Officials), but this is still a breezy, fun read. It transcends being a shallow Batman riff through the parallel universe gimmick, where Batman tropes spring pretty organically from the characters and their inversions, which is the main dish. And since this is actually one of few comics that was actually published in the US under the title of “Mickey Mouse Meets Blotman”, its actually possible that you may find and read this somewhere.
Other Blot Plots
- This story actually got a direct sequel, featuring all versions of Goofy and Mickey teaming up to take down Doctor Static and his plot to expose Blotmans secret identity. The story is even slighter in this one and Ronnie has disappointingly turned into an ineffective liability, but it does allow Ronnie to Meet Goofy, with the two of them forming an instant connection.
- By sheer happenstance I just learnt that Goofy has, on at least one other occasion, impersonated the Phantom Blot; The story has the Blot causing chaos by duplicating people and extorting the city (“How will you divvy up your pensions when theres’ now five of you? Pay me a million to delete the doubles!!”). After being fooled by the Blot earlier, a shockingly competent Goofy saves the day during the final doppelganger showdown by dressing up as the Blot and KO’ing him with a book.
- As mentioned, “Mickey as a crime-fighting adventurer” has provided a lot of fun characterization over the years – you get stories ranging from him being a hardboiled noir-ish private eye, to short little jokey ones where he’s mad he can’t even go on vacation without running into his criminal foes.
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