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Darkwing Duck is an Emmy-nominated American animated television series produced by The Walt Disney Company that ran from 1991-1995 on both the syndicated programming block The Disney Afternoon and Saturday mornings on ABC. It featured an eponymous superhero anthropomorphic duck with the alter ego of Drake Mallard (voiced by Jim Cummings).
The main characters were:
- Darkwing Duck (Jim Cummings) - Drake Mallard, average citizen by day and St. Canard's resident superhero by night.
- Gosalyn Mallard (Christine Cavanaugh) - Drake "Darkwing Duck" Mallard's 9-year-old adopted daughter. Occasional crime fighter as "Crimson Quackette" and later as "Quiverwing Quack".
- Launchpad McQuack (Terry McGovern) - Darkwing Duck's sidekick, originally from DuckTales. He refers to Darkwing as "DW" and Darkwing often calls him "LP".
- Honker Muddlefoot (Katie Leigh) - The Mallards' next door neighbour and Gosalyn's best friend.
The success of DuckTales led to a spin-off series, Darkwing Duck, one year after the show had ended. Darkwing Duck was inspired by two episodes of DuckTales, entitled Double-O-Duck and The Masked Mallard. The original concept had Launchpad McQuack as the star.
While the show establishes its own conventions, it is largely regarded as an affectionate satire on superhero mythos and lore, some obvious, some subtle, and others quite witty. Darkwing's costume, gas gun, and flashy introductions are all direct references to pulp heroes such as the Sandman, Crimson Avenger, The Shadow, and The Green Hornet. The fictional city of St. Canard, Darkwing's rogues gallery, and the relative darkness of Darkwing as compared to other Disney heroes reflect Batman (or perhaps Zorro or The Green Hornet) influences. In addition, in the episode "Time and Punishment" Gosalyn is transported into a future clearly based upon that of Batman depicted in Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", with Darkwing having become much more hardline and strict on crime, wearing a suit of armour and driving a tank. As well, the episode Tiff of the Titans, with the mysterious Darkwing and the straight-arrow Gizmoduck, played on the famous relationship between Batman and Superman. At one point in the episode, Darkwing asks, "Who needs super powers when you have a super mind?" while Gizmoduck remarks that he thinks Darkwing's crime-fighting style is "disreputable, disturbed, and possibly devious." In addition, there are Marvel Universe references such as the secret intelligence organization, S.H.U.S.H., a parody of Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D., and the episode Aduckyphobia shows Darkwing being bitten by a mutated spider and growing six arms. A few James Bond parodies exist as well, such as the villain Steelbeak, whose beak makes him similar to the Bond villain Jaws, and his personality and trappings are similar to Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Although the show only premiered in 1991, Darkwing Duck was shown in the Disney Afternoon title sequence in 1990.
The character of Darkwing Duck appeared occasionally in the series Bonkers, and earlier Gosalyn appeared in the series Raw Toonage. In an episode of the Aladdin TV series, Genie changes his form from a French waiter into Darkwing Duck.
Darkwing Duck and Ducktales are directly connected by two characters crossing over into the world of Darkwing Duck. The first is Launchpad, Darkwing's sidekick, who is a longtime staple of DuckTales, and GizmoDuck, an armored hero who became a popular part of the DuckTales cast during the series' run. Also, in the episode In Like Blunt, DuckTales villains Flintheart Glomgold, Magica De Spell, and The Beagle Boys make non-speaking cameo appearances.
The show was referenced in a Mickey Mouse Works cartoon as "Darkwing Dog". The same treatment was given to Doug (Brand Spanking New Dog) and Mouse Works itself (Pluto's Dog Works or in the introduction on occasion, Donald Duck Works).