Thursday, February 12, 2009

Guardians of the Lost Library

Much as I love superhero comics, I gotta say (as I’ve said in previous entries) that the single best comic book character of all time is still Uncle Scrooge.

His adventures are still printed every month in Uncle Scrooge comics. In fact, a fairly recent issue (U.S. #383) featured a story that was so incredibly enjoyable in both writing and art work that I read it three times in a row without putting it down.

“Guardians of the Lost Library,” written and drawn by Don Rosa, was first published in 1994, but I missed seeing it the first time around. (I heard about it, though. It has quite a reputation as a high quality story.) Now it’s finally been reprinted and it turns out to be even better than its reputation.

It’s got a great premise. Uncle Scrooge is determined to track down the lost Library of Alexandria, figuring the knowledge contained there is worth a fortune. Accompanied by Huey, Dewey and Louie, he sets off on a quest to find it.

First stop, of course, is Alexandria. The boys use their Junior Woodchuck Guidebook to look up obscure facts about ancient history and translate old inscription. Soon the hidden remains of the library are located.

But the three million papyrus scrolls contained therein have long since turned to dust. That’s okay, though, since the boys find clues that the information in them had been transferred to more durable parchment scrolls by the Byzantiums.

So the quest goes on, with Scrooge and the kids following up clues that take them to various locations around the world, tracking the information originally contained in the Great Library, discovering it was being continually reprinted from one format to another (parchment to hand-printed books to Gutenberg-press books) over the centuries. It’s all leads up to an absolutely wonderful twist at the end.

Gee whiz, I love this story. Yes, it’s a “talking animal” story with a lot of humor and some terrific visual gags, but it’s also an adventure story featuring protagonists who think their way from one point to the next. There’s a lot of real-life history thrown in as well, giving the whole tale added verisimilitude. (We learn, for instance, that Sir Francis Drake was a duck. Who knew?)

I love Spider Man and Superman and Batman and Green Lantern, but by golly not one of them can hold a candle to Uncle Scrooge. Best comic book character ever. “Guardians of the Lost Library” offers us yet additional proof of this.

1 comment:

  1. It can be found in its entirety on-line:


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