|She wears seashells underneath the sea shore....|
Disney's The Little Mermaid #1 - Marvel - 1994
A few weeks ago during my review for The Duck Knight Returns, I mentioned the Disney Comics implosion, which came as the result of some rather lofty goals, to compete directly with DC and Marvel... but things went wrong with poor sales, and there was a mass cancellation of books in 1991, similar to what DC went through in 1970s, keeping its best sellers still active until things turned around or an alternative was found.
Needless to say the comic book publishing division of Disney Studios was shut down in 1993... however all was not lost..and Disney licensed off some of its characters, with a lot of their modern characters went to... Marvel in 1994. Yeah that's right, years before Marvel was bought by Disney... Marvel was making comic books for them... and did so until 1997.
But I'm getting ahead of myself... Disney kept producing comics after the mass cancellation in 1991, and one of the books still being worked on was the Little Mermaid, based of course on their 1989 block buster film and wouldn't you know it, because it was apart of their 'modern' set of characters, Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder and the rest ended up with Marvel for a 12 issue run.
Much like the TV series that Disney produced and was actually airing on CBS at the time on Saturday Mornings, the comic takes place prior to the events seen in the movie... and guess what, pretty much everything is canon as far as I can tell.
So history lesson out of the way and do the breakdown for Disney's The Little Mermaid #1
Cover: The cover is rather nice, with Ariel being featured in the center looking out towards the reader, while Sebastian and Flounder are looking up at her. The Little Mermaid logo stands out nicely so it catches the eye. Love the tag at the time 'FIN-tastic NEW Fables'
Writer: Trina Robbins was the writer... and let's face it, she is a legend. A member of the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, worked with just about every major publisher, from DC, to Marvel to Image to Dark Horse... was apart of the underground comix movement that rebeled against the Comics Code Authority and has worked to create outlets for women who want to work in comics. Hell legend isn't the right word. She's an ICON.
Penciler: Mary Wilshire, a artist who has a long time association with Marvel, she had worked on Red Sonja, The New Mutants, The Amazing Spider-Man, Firestar, Barbie, Ka-Zar, Star War... but he has done work else where, such as with DC working on Secret Origins and Wonder Woman, but it is with Marvel where the majority of her work has been.
Plot: Titled 'Sink or Swim', Ariel falls asleep at a charity function, which publicly embarrass her father King Triton who berates for it. This leads to Ariel running away to prove herself, trying to her hand at various jobs which she doesn't perform well at the same time she is pursued by a talent agent fish who is blown away with her singing. However all is not well, for the vile Manta uses this opportunity to try and get Triton's crown by luring him into a trap.
Positives: The art work matches up with the animated movie and cartoon series of the Little Mermaid perfectly, and the plot is simple and easy to follow, every character has the personality they had in the 1989 film, so they act pretty much like how you'd expect. Which leads to this, unlike the 1989 film, Ariel has a legit reason for running away, she wants to prove herself to her father to show that she can be a success. It's an enjoyable story that wrapped up nice and neat within one issue.
Negatives: If I didn't know that this took place before the movie, I'd obviously be confused. Then there is the Manta plot, which kinda feels like its there for padding and to add some 'danger' to the story, because all he does if fake a ransom note and tries to ambush Triton. If this was a multi-issue story, and if Manta actually captured Ariel, I feel it would've made sense, but for a one and done story, it was kind of pointless.
Weridness: The comic is broken down into 'parts', with the first 14 pages devoted to 'part 1' under the title 'Sink or Swim', part 2 pages 15-18 called 'Oysters Away', and part 3 called 'A Starfish is Born' for the final pages, 19-25. Even when factoring in the ads, this doesn't make a lot of sense as the story flows from one page to the next. Even with that said, the 'Oyster Away' 'chapter' start, should've been on page 9, when Ariel is working in an Oyster Bar. Said Oyster Bar is not the Blue Oyster
Recommendation: If you are a Disney fan and a comic book collector, I say track it down. It's a nice story that does capture all the important elements of The Little Mermaid movie and cartoon, both artistically and with the story itself.
Next Week, we're going back to 1980s for a Ms. Tree