Review by Frank Plowright
The second of the three Gyro Gearloose solo comics for which Carl Barks produced most of the material forms the bulk of this album, and the stories are every bit as joyful as those found in Gyro Gearloose 3. Perhaps mindful of commercial considerations, publisher Gladstone have promoted Uncle Scrooge to the cover title*, although he only features in the single story.
Barks employs the same formula as previously, guest starring each of Scrooge, Donald Duck, Grandma Duck and Gus Goose, and Gladstone Gander in one of the eight page stories. They’re all delights, Barks conceiving nutty problems and nutty solutions, with the best being the Uncle Scrooge story. That’s not only for the surreal creation on the sample page, but for also managing to include the Beagle Boys and making wonderful use of a rare natural phenomenon.
Gladstone Gander’s problem is having to tame a bear to become the Royal Order of Horseshoe Kids’ King of Luck, and it’s his final appearance under Barks, who’d only used him once in four years, during Gyro’s previous solo outing. His creator had tired of his supernatural good luck, and the rewards of it clashed with Barks’ opinion that rewards were something to be earned. There’s some fudging to explain why with his constant good luck Gladstone would need Gyro’s help, the explanation that it only applies to finding money and winning raffles contradicting earlier outings. It’s still a good natured romp with farce the priority, a scene of the bear gnawing on Gladstone’s leg played for laughs, yet more explicit than the violence usually found in Disney titles. One pleasing aspect is the usually compliant Gyro not accepting Gladstone’s demand that he first confront the bear. The story also serves as an example of how Barks has settled on Gyro’s lightbulb-headed helper as every bit as competent as Gyro, whipping up chemical potions and repairing devices with none of the comedy incompetence associated with Gyro having to create under pressure. As has long been the case, Gyro is seemingly entirely unaware of the helping hand he receives.
The first of the two stories originally supplied as back-ups in Uncle Scrooge will raise frowns among some due its derogatory treatment of Native American culture when Gyro is called on by a film-maker to re-invent authentic old warpaint. Neither is Gyro being appointed a game warden to stop salmon poachers among Barks’ best efforts. It features the great visual hook of the one-man, fish-shaped submarine, but there’s not a lot of invention to bolster it. Still, there’s been enough quality beforehand, including a few gorgeously absurd one page gag strips.
*As seen down the side of the cover, the full title of this series is The Carl Barks Library of Gyro Gearloose Comics and Fillers in Color, which plain too long, so we use what most people would assume to be the title from looking at the cover.