"A Midsummer Gnat's Spree" is a one-issue comic by Joe Books. Notwithstanding the final pages, it is the first episode-like story of the Joe Books continuity and the second one of the 2010 reboot, being preceded only by "The Untimely Terror of the Time Turtle". It is the debut comic of Gnatmare.
There is a robbery at the Jewelry Exchange and three members of the police force respond. To their surprise, they find no one present, but they do witness the store's safe moving on its own. When they pick it up, they spot a bug underneath, which one cop decides to squash because he hates bugs. This course of action contains several mistakes, such as a failure to recognize the bug as the robber and a faulty assessment of the fly's physical strength. After a sound thrashing, the fly introduces himself as the Gnatmare. It is around this time that Darkwing Duck reaches the scene of the crime for his own humiliating defeat. Everything he tries against Gnatmare either fails or backfires, while all Gnatmare's efforts are fruitious. Darkwing's gas gun ammo gets send back by a mere handclap from Gnatmare and the mesh of a net is too wide to hold the tiny fly. At the end of the match, Darkwing gets locked up within the safe and needs Launchpad's help to get home and out of the metal cage. By the time they arrive at 537 Avian Way, Dip Dopson already is reporting on Gnatmare's victory. Gosalyn inquires if her dad shouldn't take the battle to the Gnatmare's own lair, but Darkwing doesn't know where it is.
Always one to embrace proactivity, Gosalyn gets Honker to get the necessary equipment to track down Gnatmare themselves. For this, they visit Darkwing's villain memorabilia collection inside Darkwing Tower and grab the helmet of the Bugmaster. Drake and Launchpad have been told the children are over at Honker's home and don't suspect anything until Drake pays a visit to fetch Gosalyn. The children aren't there, of course, and while the Muddlefoots think nothing of it, taking the moment to invite the Mallards over to watch the Pelican's Island finale next evening. Launchpad notifies Drake that someone stole the Bugmaster's helmet. It bears no question to them who that someone is.
Gosalyn and Honker arrive at the top of the Quackwerks building, where they hope to get a wide enough scanning range to detect Gnatmare's mind with the helmet. After an overwhelming initial experience, Gosalyn manages to focus on the villainous fly with the guidance of Honker. However, as a mind-traveling rookie, Gosalyn's search drags her further than she intended, getting a front seat view on the Gnatmare's backstory. The Gnatmare used to have a tough life, constantly struggling to neither be swatted not be eaten. By coincidence, his wandering brought him into a F.O.W.L. facility just as a Steelbeak-supervised experiment was taking place to create superpowered agents. As a motivating element, the experiment was conducted right next to the lunch table, which none of the Eggmen was allowed to touch before they'd gone through the procedure. The maybeam was of no interest to the humble fly, but the food was. Steelbeak noticed him on a sandwich and tried to hit him with a newspaper. In trying to avoid death, the fly accidentally flew right in the superpower-inducing beam and by a twist of fate wasn't disintegrated but received superstrength and superspeed. His momentum towards villainy is an act of generalized vengeance. At the end of the presentation, Gnatmare forces Gosalyn out of his head. Gosalyn realizes that the temporal connection between them has also informed the insect of their whereabouts ans warns Honker they need to make a run for it. Gnatmare is faster and would it not have been for the timely arrival of the Thunderquack, the children would have been done for. While Launchpad ensures their safety, Darkwing goes mano a mano with his adversary. It unfolds about as well as it did during previous encounters, ending with Darkwing being thrown over half the city through, miraculously, a wall of Darkwing Tower. Honker returns home and Gosalyn and Launchpad attend Darkwing's injuries as well as discuss a new strategy with the caped crimefighter. Launchpad notes that Gnatmare doesn't seem that bright, which inspires Darkwing to get aid in this particular case; the aid of Megavolt.
The team breaks into the St. Canard Maximum Security Prison for the Criminally Crafty to negotiate with the electrokinetic villain. He refuses any assistance until Darkwing promises him a subscription to Alternating Currents Monthly. Given that it does get lonely in jail, Megavolt changes his tone, although his cooperation remains elusive until Darkwing promises to try to get seven years of his six life sentences. After setting up preparations, Gosalyn listens in on the police radio and finds the Gnatmare to be at the St. Canard Landfill. The team swats the fly midspeech with a giant flyswatter installed in the Thunderquack to lure him to the location of their trap. he takes the bait, dropping a car on Darkwing before they can get the drop on him. Ultimately, it only hurts Darkwing but doesn't change the plan. The hero grabs two gas guns hooked up to Megavolt, thus making them function like bug zappers with enough charge to take down even the superpowered fly. Darkwing collars the Gnatmare first, knowing that the centerfold of the hadron collider in Alternating Currents Monthly will keep Megavolt preoccupied for the moment.
Elsewhere, in St. Canard's suburbia, a comic artist is preparing for a comic convention next week, but he has run out of ink for commissions. His resolution to order some online is quelched by the unsettling timely arrival of a package containing ink, which the artist reasons to be an order he placed earlier and had forgotten about. What he can't explain is the accompanying letter reading "If at first you don't succeed, rise, rise again," but he thinks little of it as he brings the package inside. Outside, a mail van manned by a cackling shadowy figure drives off.
- "That's why I am here. I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the ice cream in the "a la mode" of justice! I am Darkwing Duck! And I -- am needed on the other side of the city, apparently."
- - Darkwing Duck.
- "I am the terror that flaps in the night!"
- "Technically, it's now dawn."
- "Quiet you! I am the annoying shopper, paying with a bag of pennies! I am Darkwing Duck!"
- - Darkwing Duck gets interrupted by a cop.
- "Er... Shouldn't there be a villain present?"
- "I got yer "present" right here, Duck!"
- "You know... a gift card would have been sufficient."
- - Darkwing received a whacking from Gnatmare.
- "...Dip Dopson reporting. This was the scene just an hour ago as Darkwing Duck was again defeated by the Gnatmare, a villain that's reportedly so small we're not sure the whole thing isn't just made up.
- - Dip Dopson on the Gnatmare.
- "This insidious insect is infused with inexhaustible internal iron!"
- - Darkwing on the Gnatmare.
- "D-Do you even know h-how to use that?"
- "It's like when I built that jetpack, Honk... I learn by doing, remember?"
- "I remember the explosion..."
- - Honker the cautious one and Gosalyn the opposite.
- "Say, do you and Gosalyn wanna come over tomorrow night? It's the series finale of Pelican's Island! I'll bet they wrap up all the mysteries and it isn't disappointing at all!"
- "Er... You know, I would, Herb, but wouldn't you know it... that's on the night that I don't want to."
- - Herb will never pick up on Drake's loathing for him.
- "Is dat peanut butter I smell? Fitting... 'cause I'm gonna pound youse two into jelly."
- - The Gnatmare is not above hitting children.
- "Hey, Gnatmare... why don't you pick on someone your own size? Actaully, forget I said that; it doesn't really apply here."
- - Darkwing corrects his opening taunt.
- "I was just trying to help, dad!"
- "And you did, Gosalyn. Thanks to you, I now know how it feels to fly without the Thunderquack!"
- - Gosalyn and Darkwing.
- "Darkwing Duck dwells forever on the edge of the law, Gosalyn! And that district isn't zoned for paperwork!"
- - Darkwing summarizes why Gryzlikoff despises him.
- "Are you sure you won't help me? Not even for a subscription to Alternating Currents Monthly? This issue's centerfold is the new hadron collider."
- "F-full c-circuit diagrams?"
- "Do I look like an amateur electronics magazine subscriber to you?"
- "Not to mention that if you cooperate, I'd be willing to speak to the parole board... Maybe get you five whole years off one of your six life sentences."
- "Ten years!"
- "Ha! Sucker!"
- - Darkwing knows how to secure Megavolt's attention and team spirit.
- "Gosh! Are you all right, pal?"
- "O'course, Launchpad... Thankfully, the car had airbags..."
- "Here he comes, D.W. I don't think he's in a good mood!"
- "That makes two of use, Launchpad. Let him come!"
- - Throwing a car on top of Darkwing has consequences for his mood, as Launchpad discovers.
- "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the world's largest bug zapper! I am Darkwing Duck!"
- - Darkwing Duck.
- "Y'know, Sparky... you seem to find yourself plugged into a lot of mega-weapons. If you hadn't chosen a life of crime, you'd have had a promising career as a back-up battery."
- "Or as a deus ex machina!"
- - Darkwing and Megavolt get meta on the latter's role in the 2010s comics.
|Issue #4 Cover A|
- The arc's title is a reference to Shakespeare's 1590s' play A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- The portrait near the television in the Mallard residence depicts Fethry Duck.
- The garden gnome in the Muddlefoots' garden is designed after Shmebulock from the 2012 cartoon Gravity Falls.
- The roses and flamingoes in the Muddlefoots' garden evoke the Queen of Hearts's court in the 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, adapted as a movie in 1951 by Disney.
- Lastly, the bear statue is based on Bongo from the 1947 movie Fun and Fancy Free.
- Herb's line of "Mi casa es su casa, as the French say..." mimics the line "Ah, welcome to mi casa! That's French for "front door"." in the 2014 movie Big Hero 6.
- The bat gangster is modeled after Fidget from the 1986 movie The Great Mouse Detective.
- The hadron collider is a reference to the Large Hadron Collider, which gained infamy in 2008 when mass hysteria purported that its activation would bring about the end of the world.
- The comic makes it repeatedly clear that this is not Darkwing's first encounter with the Gnatmare, although it is the first one in which he beats the bug.
- The objects in Darkwing's villain memorabilia collection are Tuskerninni's top hat, Lilliput's ant helmet, Negaduck's chainsaw, Magica De Spell's crystal ball, Suff-Rage's helmet, Mr. Banana Brain, Taurus Bulba's multitool cyborg arm in claw mode, a tail of sorts that invokes Gumbo, another robotic construction, Bugmaster's helmet, Splatter Phoenix's paintbrush, Megavolt's tronsplitter, a plant belonging to Bushroot, what seems to be one of Liquidator's mascots' costumes, a coat that may be One-Shot's, and Moliarty's glasses.
- Gnatmare throws the safe's door in Darkwing's face, leaving an imprint of it in the metal. Other than that, Darkwing is merely locked up within the safe. Yet when he arrives home, the safe's door has already been removed and the hero is stuck at the waist through a hole in the safe's bottom.
- Launchpad's hand covering Gosalyn's eyes when Darkwing shows off the hadron collider's centerfold is at an unlikely angle compared to the rest of his pose.
- The hadron collider is not a plasma detector. It contains a detector for that state of matter, but that would make Megavolt's remark the equivalent of "You sassy little left shoulder, you...".
- Top Secret Files: Quackerjack, Dr. Fossil, and One-Shot.
- The cover art is supposed to make longterm fans believe the story is about Lilliput, who does not even appear in the issue.
- Upon the issue's release, Aaron Sparrow made a tweet that the name "Gnatmare" was not the writers' first choice and invited fans to guess what the name preferably was going to be. The correct answer was not guessed, but "Buzzkill" was revealed to have been another secondary option. Sparrow later revealed on The Old Haunt forum that his name was to be the Juggergnat, evidently in reference to the Juggernaut from Uncanny X-Men. In this context, the story itself was originally going to be "No One Stomps the Juggergnat!" after the 1982 comic "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!", issues #229–230 of The Amazing Spider-Man.