He’s an icon in comics around the world, an adventurer, a philanthropist and he’s voiced by The Doctor.  But have you ever wondered why they called him Scrooge?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Four-Color Comics #178 awaits!


Writer: Carl Barks
Penciler: Carl Barks
Inker: Carl Barks
Colorist: Western Publishing Production Shop
Letterer: Carl Barks
Editor: Eleanor Packer
Publisher: Dell Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $1400.00

Previously in Four-Color ComicsDating all the way back the the 1920s, Dell Publishing was one of the pioneers of comic book publishing.  Their Four-Color Comics title was unusual in that it wasn’t a traditional anthology, where diffierent characters shared the pages, nor was it a truly an ongoing series for a single character or property.  Instead, each issue bore the name and title dress of it’s star, whether one of the Disney comics library, Looney Tunes characters like Porky Pig or Bugs Bunny or adventure heroes like Zorro.  There were even TV adaptations of popular properties like ‘Maverick’ and collections of comic strips featuring the likes of Flash Gordon.  They’re fun to collect, a huge pain in the neck to identify as a collector and feature the first appearances of one of the most popular ducks in the world!

Donald Duck himself had been around for nearly 20 years when this issue hit the stands, and his resourceful nephews since ’37, so it’s a little surprising to find a major character in the modern duck mythos arriving so late in the game.  Nonetheless, Scrooge McDuck fills the (you should excuse the expression) bill of his first name’s cultural baggage here, living alone in his dusty old mansion, filled with disdain and anger for those who want to have fun, even in the holiday season.

Four-Color Comics #178

The letter from his miserly forebear seems like a Christmas miracle for Donald, and he excitedly loads Huey, Louie and Dewey in his roadster to accept Scrooge’s hospitality.  They find a fully stocked fridge and pantry, as well as a snowdrift of gifts, candy and puzzles for the boys.  What they don’t know is that it’s all a strange test of courage on the part of ol’ McDuck.

Four-Color Comics #178

Donald’s worries about bear attacks are waved away by the boys, who point out (correctly) that bears hibernate in the winter.  Donald, however, climbs the walls at every little noise, panicking at the sight of a squirrel and tripping over his own cowardice, while Scrooge finds the roads snowed over, leaving him fuming that Donald the the triplets are gorging on his dime.  Realizing that they lack a Christmas tree, our heroes set out to find one, only to find a tree with a baby bear sleeping inside.  The bear sneaks through the house, eating their food, making a mess and, worst of all, PLAYING WITH DEWEY’S rollerskates!  This insult must not be borne, leading them to hunt down the cub.  Unfortunately, Mama Bear tracks down her little one, chasing away the Ducks, and eating all their food and candy.  She then falls asleep by the fire, allowing the duck family to sneak in and try to get rid of her.  Donald faints at the sight of the enormous animal, just in time for Scrooge to arrive for his “Test Of Courage.”

Four-Color Comics #178

This story is one that I grew up reading in some compilation or other, and so I’ve always associated Scrooge with the holiday season because of it.  That’s why I always flash back to my childhood when Huey, Dewey and Louie are seen chasing the cub away, making it clear that they, too, are “without fear”, which impresses their stone-hearted uncle, leading to a touching scene on Christmas morning.

Four-Color Comics #178

After this awakening, Scrooge became a frequent guest-star in Donald Duck tales (mostly because having all the money in the world opening entirely new vistas of story for the Duck family), quickly gaining his own comic title, also written and drawn by Barks.  He was a hit, and the last 70 years have been full of stories expanding his background, giving Scrooge his own supporting cast and spawning both incarnations of Duck Tales.  In short, Four-Color Comics #178 (sometimes identified as Donald Duck #178, though incorrectly so) is a very solid, enjoyable Christmas special that also features a back-up story ‘Santa Clause Land’ with an all-star Disney cast, and while it’s not the peak of Carl Barks’ storytelling talents, it’s still excellent, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s interesting to see why Scrooge is called Scrooge, a name that doesn’t quite fit him in his later characterization. and Cark Barks is always good comics.

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Excellent And Festive

It's a fun introduction of a character who would transform the Donald Duck mythos, featuring Carl Barks having a lot of fun and showing a lot of heart.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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