Review by Frank Plowright
As proved by dozens of shorts created for Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories, Carl Barks was a master of the compact strip, but it’s rare that the short accompanying strip outshone the lead feature in an Uncle Scrooge comic. Yet so it is here. In ‘The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan’ Barks has Scrooge’s agents in the Himalayas locate the treasure, only to lose it again, with the evidence suggesting the mythical yeti is responsible. Scrooge inveigles Donald and his nephews into a dangerous trip to retrieve the crown.
It’s proved popular. Fantagraphics are using it as the title story for a forthcoming hardback collection, and it was one of the few Barks stories adapted directly for the Duck Tales animated series in the 1980s, yet it lacks the customary Barks subtle approach. A cheap watch is introduced in the opening panel, after which several references are made to it, underling a later plot significance. For some reason Scrooge decides deviousness is in order to persuade his travelling companions, when usually payment, need or adventure is enough, and when the yeti does appear it’s among Barks’ goofiest creations. Disney comics required non-threatening adversaries, but it’s easy to speculate that having experienced editorial interference in stories created around the same period Barks drew the most ridiculous creature in response. This is Barks, so plenty of elements work very nicely, such as the yeti’s value system and the dance sequence. Overall, however, it’s trivial and not as thrilling as other Scrooge adventure tales.
Barks is definitely back to form with the accompanying short (later titled ‘Faulty Fortune’), which opens with Scrooge acquiring a square inch of land in Arizona from a cereal box giveaway. The company weren’t counting on anyone turning up demanding to know which square inch was their plot, and Barks escalates the greed and comedy from there. A well plotted mystery has a logically surprising conclusion and the Barks morality applies: as Scrooge hadn’t earned the prospective new riches, they elude him.