Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: High Noon at Inferno Gulch
The third in the series of Mickey Mouse strip collections continues providing exciting adventure stories in serialized form.
In the first story in Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: High Noon at Inferno Gulch, Mickey and Minnie pilot a plane to get food to a snowed-in mountain town, where they also discover a plot to steal the mine’s gold. The events are flat-out ridiculous at times — with a windmill rotor replacing the propeller and a plane launched from the top of a tree used as a catapult — but they are certainly thrilling. Especially once the pirates show up. The way events keep spilling out demonstrates just how much imagination and creativity Floyd Gottfredson puts into every installment.
The second major story is a Western in which Uncle Mortimer’s ranch, and those of his neighbors, are threatened by “The Bat Bandit”. This tale is full of threats and double-crosses, as Mickey is set up to be thought one of the thieves, as well as some terrific physical sight gags. For a change of pace, the next series sticks with comedy, as Mickey winds up the owner of Bobo, a baby elephant. He spends the whole time trying to get rid of him, finding that being a responsible animal owner isn’t all that easy.
Mickey also goes to the Arabian-influenced Umbrellastan to recover “The Sacred Jewel” with the aid of “Dippy Dawg” (later renamed Goofy). Pluto next gets the focus in a story about crooked dog track gambling. “Editor-in-Grief” pits Mickey against crooked politicians as he takes over a newspaper and struggles with racketeers demanding bribes. Donald Duck makes a cameo, too, as a street-corner paperboy.
“Race for Riches” returns the characters to the West, as they look for a hidden stash of gold to pay off the mortgage and keep Clarabelle in her home. That’s followed by “The Pirate Submarine”, in which Mickey pilots a “submarplane” to stop an evil scientist who’s been kidnapping ship crews. Both of these stories are reminiscent of earlier tales in general plot structure, but they’re still told with verve and pluck.
While the strips are surprisingly entertaining to readers not used to such a vibrant version of the title character, I enjoy the supplemental material just as much. The introduction by Thomas Andrae puts the work in context and point out key observations that aid in getting more out of the comics. Here, for example, we learn, with examples from the Mickey Mouse cartoons of the time, about how he has become more of a grownup leader than the more childlike character of the previous strips. There are also key comparisons with movies and events of the early 1930s period, as the comics take on bigger political topics and set stories on a global scale.
Each story section gets its own introduction, and Bill Blackbeard’s piece from The Comic-Book Book (1974) is also reprinted in part. The back section contains additional related art samples, character profiles, and more information on creators and related cartoons.