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Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 4: House of the Seven Haunts
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About the Author
Hired as a short-term replacement on the fledgling Mickey Mouse daily strip in 1930, Floyd Gottfredson (1905-1986) went on to draw the feature for the next 45 years. He created the most famous Mickey tales ever told in print. He is a Disney Legend and was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2006.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Volume 7 is dominated by the specter of World War II and many of the stories involve Mickey unsuccessfully attempting to help with the war effort. In other stories he's actually recruited to help domestically (go figure). We also see the rise of Mickey's nephews Morty and Ferdie and then the sad editorial decree to eliminate Ferdie. Ferdie didn't even get the dignity of being written out of continuity, he simply ceased to exist. Finally, we witness the decline of Peg-Leg Pete who had previously been a near constant threat to Mickey but only appears in one story in this volume.
I was looking at where this volume ranks among comic collections on Amazon sales and was surprised to see how low it was. This is a magnificently produced collection of what of the greatest comics of all time. Anyone reading this review who is considering buying should stop considering and do it.
Here is what you get...
Goofy and Agnes (May 4, 1942 - August 15, 1942, script by Merrill De Maris) - Goofy ends up with a Lion he names Agnes. There is a humorous scene where the Lion kills a mouse that is scaring Minnie. But isn't Minnie a mouse? I've always believed that despite being anthropomorphic animals that the characters in these stories are actually supposed to be humans. It's the same with Carl Barks ducks.
The Black Crow Mystery (August 17, 1942 - November 21, 1942, script by Merrill De Maris) - Mickey and Goofy try to get involved in the war effort but thanks to Goofy's dimness and Mickey's slight build neither can find work to directly help so instead they get work on a farm. Many jobs like farming were in need of workers due to the draft. The fields are threatened by an oversized black crow with a penchant for starting fires. The reveal of the culprit was somewhat of a surprise. I excepted a war saboteur.
Goofy's Car (November 23, 1942 - November 28, 1942, script by Bob Karp) - Basically an extended 6 strip gag with the punchline being that Goofy is incredibly dimwitted.
Gag Strips (November 30, 1942 - December 12, 1942, scripts by Bob Karp and Dick Shaw) - This is the beginning of the gag strips although the comic will continue to include longer storylines interspersed. Many of the gags from this era include jokes related to the war including gas rationing and Goofy's continuing attempts to enlist. This is also when Mickey's nephews Morty and Ferdie take a much larger role in the strip.
Working to Win (December 14, 1942 - December 23, 1942, script by Dick Shaw) - Mickey gets a job at an airplane factory but Minnie is jealous because all his coworkers are attractive females.
Gag Strips (December 25, 1942 - May 29, 1943, scripts by Dick Shaw) - The gag strips continue
Mickey Mouse's Wild Holiday (May 31, 1943 - June 26, 1943, script by Dick Shaw) - Mickey goes on a camping trip with Morty and Ferdie and find themselves in a series of misadventures with cheeky a bear and a scamming Native American.
The Nazi Submarine (June 28, 1943 - July 17, 1943, story by Bill Walsh) - Mickey is recruited by the police to investigate some gas thieves and discovers a carefully camouflaged Nazi submarine.Based on the title one may expect this to be a classic Mickey adventure but it's actually over in less than 3 weeks.
Mickey Mouse on a Secret Mission (July 19, 1943 - October 23, 1943, story by Bill Walsh) - Mickey is once again recruited to help in the war effort, this time to pilot a super jet called The Bat. It's strange how Disney uses Micky Mouse in such disparate situations. Earlier in the book Mickey couldn't get any kind of job in the war effort because he was too small and weak and now the military believes he's the only one capable of withstanding the pressure of the super jet. This strange dichotomy has always been present in the Micky Mouse stories where he vacillates between being a simple domestic mouse with nephews and a girlfriend and in other stories a super swashbuckling hero. It's not even like the Mickey in the small town stories is his Clark Kent identity. It's like there are two completely different characters. This is the only story featuring Peg-Leg Pete who is now working with the Nazi's (for shame). Quite a let down for the character who I swear used to be in 75% of the stories.
The Electro Box (October 25, 1943 - February 5, 1944, story by Bill Walsh) - Mickey inexplicably and entirely inadvertently creates the magical 'Electro Box', a device that can essentially do anything including bring back into existence people who died hundreds of years in the past. The only limitation appears to be the unpredictability of the Electro Box. This is the tale upon which volume 7 gets its title although the 'Zombies' have nothing to do with the Electro Box and don't appear until late in the story. The books introduction calls this the best story in the volume but I found it too sloppy. I prefer a nice simple comedy life Goofy and Agnes. Even in a Mickey Mouse story I have a threshold for ridiculousness and Mickey creating the all powerful Electro Box by pure chance crossed that line.
This story is another small benchmark for Mickey in that Ferdie has been removed from continuity leaving only Morty who is now much more of an egghead. In fact when Mickey accidently created the Electro Box it was while he was explaining the concept of Electrons to Morty. Farewell Ferdie and good luck.
Pluto the Sky Catcher (February 7, 1944 - February 19, 1944, story by Bill Walsh) - Pluto has dreams of helping out in the war effort and ends up helping in the capture of a spy through sheer luck. A cute little story.
Gag Strips (February 21, 1944 - March 11, 1944, story by Bill Walsh) -
The War Orphans (March 13, 1944 - April 15, 1944) - Three war orphans show up at Mickey's door. He discovers that someone is trying to eliminate the orphans and Mickey for mysterious reasons. Another short, decent story.
The cover of volume 8 is ironic, featuring an angry scolding Minnie Mouse. This is a common pose for Mickey's gal pal as our hero has became strangely girl crazy this time around. Whether it be a strange white goddess, a mysterious girl in a walled up room or even a robot Mickey seems incapable of hiding his lust and an angry, jealous Minnie is rarely out of eye shot. Peg-Leg Pete had but a single appearance in volume 7 but we start off with two Peg-Leg Pete stories before he again disappears. In the good old days Pete was the villain in nearly every story. To the dismay of some fans Mickey takes the next evolutionary step away from his original appearances. Previously he's gotten pupils and lost weight and in this volume he replaces his shorts and buttons for a shirt and pants.
My one big issue with this book is the fault of Fantagraphics. Although it looks in the product image like the choice of color this time around is pink it's actually a deep maroon. The problem is that the section intros feature black text on a maroon background and they are nearly unreadable. The only way I could read was in the bright light of my bathroom with my reading glasses on. The comics themselves are fine but I always enjoy reading the intros and I'm shocked that Fantagraphics didn't notice this issue.
The Pirate Ghostship (Apr 17, 1944 - July 15, 1944, story by Bill Walsh) - A rare adventure of Mickey and Pluto. The two are working on a fishing boat when they are captured by ghost pirates which include a captain who is a dead ringer for Peg-Leg Pete but is in fact Cap'n Greatbeard and they have somehow traveled back to the 17th century. This is a fun story but it's all over the place. There is a deadly island, a sunken treasure, cannibals, a white princess and several sea monsters. It's fun but it really feels like Walsh is making it all up as he goes along.
The World of Tomorrow (July 31, 1944 - November 11, 1944, story by Bill Walsh) - Mickey receives a mysterious invisible cloak in the mail and when he puts it on he is simply in the World of Tomorrow, easy as that. In The World of Tomorrow just about everything from milk trucks to baby carriages flies by helicopter. The weird thing is I'm not sure what the World of Tomorrow is supposed to be. I don't get the impression that the invisibility cloak is a time machine and Mickey is unsurprised to find Minnie, who seems right at home in the World of Tomorrow. The story shifts gears and suddenly readers are thrust into a tale of Peg-Leg Pete, a mechanical army and world domination. The ending is disappointingly trite although it does answer why this story seems so strange.
The House of Mystery (November 13, 1944 - January 27, 1945, story by Bill Walsh) - Mickey inherits a spooky house from his deceased Uncle Maximillan. He finds a mysterious girl apparently walled up in a room by his Uncle and then all sorts of weird stuff happens. There is a neat twist ending that apparently was borrowed from a popular Hitchcock movie that was showing around the era this story was written.
Gag Strips (January 29, 1944 - March 3, 1945, story by Bill Walsh)
Billy the Mouse (March 5, 1945 - June 16, 1945, story by Bill Walsh) - Mickey arrives home to find a jive talking Native American named YoYo who has just walked from Arizona with a message from Mickey's cousin Carrie. Mickey travels out west to investigate but is mistaken for a desperado named Billy the Mouse.
Gag Strips (June 18, 1945 - February 23, 1946, story by Bill Walsh) - We now have well over half a year solid of gag strips. At this point penciling duties started rotating between Gottfredson, Paul Murry and Manuel Gonzalez. This is where I think a lot of people are losing interest in the series preferring adventures over daily gags. I actually like the mix and the daily gags are pretty. It's rare that a comic strip can cause me to erupt in spontaneous laughter but Bill Walsh managed to do it a handful of times. I encourage readers to give the gags a chance and enjoy them for what they are.
Short Stories (February 25, 1946 - July 27, 1946) - A series of 11 short stories, generally just a few weeks long. As with the Gag Strips the penciling is swapping between Gottfredson, Murry and Gonzalez.