In the three albums covering the previous early Uncle Scrooge stories by Don Rosa, there was always a minor quibble to be picked up. Not with ‘His Majesty McDuck’. It’s a masterpiece, a story that equals the best of Rosa’s inspiration, Carl Barks. It’s superbly plotted, very funny, and concentrates on Scrooge’s tightwad aspects, while also filling in a little more history of Duckburg and Killmotor Hill, on which Scrooge’s money bin stands.

Scrooge discovers documentation that Killmotor Hill has never been ceded to Duckburg, and so declares his own kingdom. The power goes to his head as he transforms the money bin into a castle, and then submits a demand for a few billion dollars as refund for the taxes he’s paid over the years. As with the Barks stories, Rosa ensures strong moral messages, and underhand behaviour never pays off, so Scrooge rapidly discovers that he is due his refund, but declaring Killmotor Hill separate from the USA has its downsides as well, Rosa playing them for all they’re worth. Eventually the Beagle Boys come calling.

Everything about the story is so well staged, and as elements of the plot come from old films, Rosa’s very cinematic with the art. There’s a great scene of fencing by candlelight, and Rosa includes a wonderful panel set inside the money bin with giant shadows thrown against the wall. He packs in the detail and visual gags, and the facial expressions supplied for Scrooge as he runs through a vast succession of emotions are wonderful. Rosa really nails Scrooge’s character as willing to put up with excessive hardship on principle to accrue extra money he doesn’t need. In case this required underlining for younger readers, Rosa has Donald and nephews call him on it. In fact this is a rare story where Donald is the voice of reason and Scrooge out of control. Rosa works the story around to a cyclical ending with a final twist.

Scrooge’s meanness extends into the second story in which Donald is required to clean the tickertape providing Scrooge’s stock market news. It’s the prologue to a search for the medallion of Nostrildamus, rapidly found, with which Scrooge will be able to foretell the future. It’s used in a succession of gags doing just that, but is very slight compared with the earlier story.

As this paperback collection is long out of print, the stories are better located in the Fantagraphics hardcover reprint of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck by Don Rosa: Return to Plain Awful.