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Darkwing Duck is a crime fighter and hero of St. Canard, and freelance agent of SHUSH. He fights crime with his sidekick Launchpad McQuack and some times with his daughter Gosalyn and her genius friend Honker Muddlefoot. Darkwing Duck's secret identity is that of Drake Mallard, who lives at 537 Avian Way with Gosalyn and Launchpad.
Drake Mallard has been born and raised in St. Canard, sharing a house with his parents and his pet fungus Freddie. At school, he was in Ms. Boriscowski's class for a time. Over the decades, said school has been replaced with a garage. He appears to have been a child in the early sixties, making him in his 30s during his Darkwing Duck days. As a child, he was weak and fearful, but good-natured and already a fan of comic books. He especially admired the comic hero Superpig, who has a whole array of special abilities. A lesser element in his youth was his classmate Lamont, the younger brother of a merciless criminal known as the King. Lamont forced Drakey into the gang and he would've become a criminal with them if not for the arrival of Darkwing Duck and Gosalyn from the future. Drakey was disappointed that his future superhero self has no superpowers, but Darkwing's training and support did wonders for his self-confidence and skill. As a team, the three got the King and his gang arrested, after which Darkwing and Gosalyn went back to the future and left the honor of the arrest to Drakey. Because Drake is somewhat forgetful, though, the details of these events became lost to him by the time he finished high school. It is presumably after his encounter with his future self that he took up training from various sources. He joined the Junior Woodchucks for a time and held on to the guidebook well into his crimefighting career. From his great-great-aunt, who was a sideshow contortionist, he obtained lessons that would prove useful during many encounters with villains. He also learns both mental powers as well as inner strength techniques from Tibetan yogis during his childhood. It might be around this point that he takes an interest in his family history, which features many heroes.
By the end of high school, Drake enjoyed acting as detective, unaware his fellow students were bothered by his desire to make a case out of everything. He was exemplary enough, though, that Mrs. Waddlesworth entrusted the class to him when she had to be elsewhere for a bit. Drake was bullied a lot, mostly by Ham String and his even more terrible girlfriend Preena Lott. One other student who also suffered indignities was Elmo Sputterspark, whose fate would eventually play a huge role in Drake becoming Darkwing. Hours before prom, Elmo was working on an experiment when Ham and Preena came in and tied him to his machine that induced static in people. They left him to his fate, which resulted in his electricity-based mutation and his turn to supervillainy under the name Megavolt. Megavolt's first course of action was revenge. Drake tried to stop him as himself at first but was easily knocked aside. Looking for an identity to work under so he'd have the advantage of being taken seriously, he dressed up in what he found backstage. After a little brainstorming, he chose to name himself Darkwing Duck. His battle with Megavolt ended in the first victory Darkwing Duck could claim.
It is presumably after this that Darkwing learned such skills as Micronesian breath control, Goose Lee, as that would explain some of what happened in the next fifteen or so years before Darkwing became a big name by defeating Taurus Bulba and why the Drake Mallard identity never comes up between them. While an effective teacher, Lee never respected Darkwing for his inability to master the Belly Bounce and this further motivated Darkwing to become a crimefighter to prove himself. He also picked up various advanced science skills along the way. While never letting go of his comic book heroes, Darkwing's interests broadened to spies from the big screen, such as Derek Blunt, a SHUSH agent in real life. This could be what inspired him to establish or accept contact with SHUSH and become a freelance agent. SHUSH added him to their payroll and in addition to money provided him with gadgets, among which the gas gun and the Ratcatcher. Darkwing worked alone for at least a year and fought Steelbeak, Ammonia Pine, and Megavolt during this time, as he had to introduce all three to Launchpad McQuack when he later accepted him as sidekick. Darkwing sought publicity with his feats of heroism already, but only a few news sources reported on him. Big channels assumed him to be something fake, like a promotional stunt.Ancient Carpathian bone dislocation, a breath trick to escape binds from a conscientious contortionist in Constantinople, thumb wrestling through a correspondence course and travelled to China to receive Quack Fu training from
How Drake's parents factor into this is unclear. During his solo days, Darkwing had his living space within Darkwing Tower and was focussed exclusively on his superhero identity. Either the relation has become bad or they're dead. It wasn't until he met and adopted Gosalyn Waddlemeyer as well as met and hired Launchpad McQuack that he made room for a civilian identity in his life again to provide Gosalyn with a steady homelife. The three of them came to live on 537 Avian Way, next door to the Muddlefoots. Despite that Drake looks down on them and is regularly bothered by their neighbor-y ways, they consider him a great friend and aren't a risk to his secret identity. The brains of the Muddlefoots, youngest child Honker, became Gosalyn's best friend and either that friendship or those brains brought him into the Darkwing fold.
Alternative origins have also been proposed. One of these is that Darkwing Duck and Negaduck are cousins and sole survivors of the destruction of Zipton. Darkwing acquired his gas gun from his father, combat training from the Venerable One, his entrance from a genie, and his mask, the Thunderquack, and Launchpad from the Mysterious Masked Avenger of Evil. All this combined allowed him to eventually save Earth from Negaduck. This story is the product of a museum janitor centuries after Darkwing Duck was active. He looks suspiciously like an aged Darkwing Duck and is clearly making things up as the story progresses. In all, the details of this version don't add up with all other details from more reliable sources, although there are parallels here and there such as the supposed death of Darkwing's parents. The simplest interpretation is to take the janitor's story as repackaged and rearranged facts of the usual narrative.
Darkwing Duck is a good crimefighter and hero, but at times hindered by his arrogance and ego. His competence varies by case but when he finally hits his stride and focuses, the cases are always solved. Darkwing's main weapon of choice in his crime-fighting escapades is his gas gun, which functions much like a grenade launcher. It fires grenades with a variety of different gases (smoke bombs, laughing gas, tear gas, etc.), as well as some more direct offensive weapons (including boxing gloves and cartoon bombs). It also has a retractable line and grappling hook for transportation purposes, and can fire other random objects that are loaded in its barrel. He invariably employs various other weapons and gadgets though many do not work as intended. His main forms of transportation are the Thunderquack and the Ratcatcher.
Darkwing is sometimes sent on missions as a freelance agent of SHUSH, a covert crime-fighting organization that deals with criminal activity that the normal authorities cannot handle, though he is not officially employed by them. Darkwing's SHUSH missions most often have the aim of thwarting various evil schemes of the Fiendish Organization for World Larceny (or F.O.W.L.) and missions can be sent to him covertly via a messaging system called the Flashquack, which is a miniature Thunderquack.
While he is known (to an extent) as a hero in St. Canard, he frequently deals with citizens misunderstanding him. Numerous episodes bring up the fact that he's very unpopular, due to his intimidating tactics and dark appearance, to the point where the episode "Let's Get Respectable" was devoted to making him over as a more likable hero with nicer language, a brighter costume, and flower petals instead of smoke and gas. Once it interfered with the episode's case, however, the makeover quickly ended. In some episodes, people fail to recognize Darkwing, and at times, do not even know who "Darkwing Duck" is. This lack of popularity and recognition often clashes with his inflated ego.
Despite a large degree of clumsiness, Darkwing is an expert in martial arts and generally quite proficient in physical combat; he employs several techniques he has developed on his own including the satirical, but effective "double reverse, paddle drop, boom, boom kick" and his "patented flying web kick". Even though he is referred to as a "superhero" (by himself and other citizens), Darkwing has no true superpower. Instead, he relies on his weapons, finesse, and intellect to solve crimes and stop villains. While he is shown to be a struggling hero at the beginning of the series he later becomes a popular and well known figure in St. Canard.
When not fighting crime Darkwing spends his time as his alter ego Drake Mallard, Gosalyn Mallard's adopted father. Most of the show is based on their father-daughter relationship. Darkwing and Gosalyn forged a close bond in a short period of time because they were so much alike. Drake Mallard has no occupation outside of Darkwing Duck and he receives payment for it from SHUSH. The only people who know Drake's secret identity are, of course, Gosalyn, his sidekick Launchpad McQuack and Gosalyn's best friend Honker Muddlefoot. In later episodes, Morgana Macawber, with whom Darkwing has an on-again-off-again relationship, also discovers his secret identity. Drake and Gosalyn Mallard, along with Launchpad McQuack, live at 537 Avian Way, St. Canard, located in the state of Calisota. The first episode shows that Darkwing lives in his lair in the Audubon Bay Bridge, he purchases a home and starts using his alter ego again only after adopting Gosalyn Waddlemeyer. This hints that he, for some reason, may not truly even need his alter ego anymore and only uses it to give Gosalyn some semblance of a normal life.
Despite this, Darkwing has been seen going out of his way to protect his secret identity from being discovered. Drake does not seem to act any differently as Darkwing, yet even those close to him, such as his next door neighbors the Muddlefoots, cannot tell they are one and the same. He has even dressed up as Darkwing Duck while attending a Halloween party, with many patrons stating he was too short to pull off being Darkwing Duck convincingly. However, Launchpad, Gosalyn, and Honker, who have no alter egos, are all often seen with both Darkwing and Drake, yet no one questions this. Megavolt once claimed to know that Gosalyn and Launchpad are the "Darkwing Duck Fan Club" while holding them captive. Since Gosalyn actually does run a Darkwing Duck Fan Club, it seems many villains simply see her and Launchpad as normal people who frequently follow Darkwing around and do not make the connection between Drake and Darkwing. This is supported by Darkwing's tendency to be a bit of a glory hound. Gosalyn also makes an effort not to refer to Darkwing as "Dad" when she follows him around crimefighting, although she occasionally does. Launchpad almost always calls both Darkwing and Drake "DW". However, since Drake's middle name is never revealed to the audience, one can assume that the characters might think that Launchpad is merely calling him by his first and middle initials, which isn't unusual and thus wouldn't bring up any tough questions. It is also worth stating that Negaduck, being the Darkwing of an alternate dimension, would know of Darkwing's true identity and relationship to Gosalyn but never seems to use this information against him, although one possible reason for this is that he may not have decided to start using his alter ego again after adopting "Nega-Gosalyn" (Bushroot's Negaverse counterpart says that "Negaduck" is her guardian as opposed to "Drake Mallard", implying that he may not use his secret identity at all) and it just never occurred to him that Darkwing might have. In the current comic series Negaduck realizes that Darkwing uses the Drake Identity when Launchpad is seen coming out of a laundromat with two different pairs of Darkwing's clothes. Negaduck uses this information to launch an attack on Drake at his home causing him to temporarily give up being Darkwing for Gosalyn's sake. He later takes up his dual identity again when he discoverers Taurus Bulba's plans involving the company Drake now works for.
Darkwing often demonstrates a lack of common sense that is hampered by his tremendous ego. However, unlike Inspector Gadget and similar cartoon crimefighting archetypes, Darkwing is actually extraordinarily competent as a superhero; once he puts aside distractions and ego and focuses completely on the case. This moment of transition was marked by Darkwing's catchphrase "Let's get dangerous".
- Main article: Darkwings of the Multiverse
Posiduck and Negaduck
Posiduck was the embodied good half of Darkwing Duck, created by Megavolt's tronsplitter. Posiduck was exceedingly kind and gentle, as well as lenient and (generally) pacifistic. He later became galvanized (becoming purely positively good and possessing a friendly nature which Negaduck couldn't stand) to battle the identically galvanized Negaduck. This also had the effect of giving him the ability to project beams of pure posi-tronic energy, which he used to instantly repair damage done by Negaduck, and even walk on air.
In the episode Aduckyphobia, Darkwing Duck is bitten by a mutated spider and grows 4 extra arms, giving him six. Having been mutated, Darkwing is compelled to adopt a new persona, Arachno Duck.
Darkwing's extra arms seem to have a mind of their own, especially number six. Darkwing is also able to shoot webbing from his mouth.
In the episode "Jail Bird", in an attempt to get to prison, Darkwing Duck becomes Demolition Duck.
In the episode "Monsters R Us", Morgana's father turns Darkwing Duck into a werewolf after Morgana's family realized that Morgana is dating a "normal". After being cursed, Darkwing calls himself, Darkwolf Dog.
Darkwing is seen using his dog-like behavior.
In the episode "Jail Bird", in an attempt to get to prison, Darkwing Duck becomes Roller Duck.
- Darkwing takes cues from various fictional crimefighters before him, but by far his biggest influence is the Shadow, a 1930 vigilante. His costume is an adaption of the Shadow's, his intro speech is inspired by his, both have a background of having learned crucial tricks while traveling through Asia, and the Shadow's civilian name of "Kent Allard" has inspired Darkwing's "Drake Mallard".
- The name Darkwing Duck was picked during a studio contest offering $500 as reward to whoever could think up a name Tad Stones liked. Alan Burnett won when he came up with the name "Darkwing", which positively reminded Stones of Nightwing and to which he added "Duck" to balance drama and humor.
- Darkwing was proposed as one of the protagonists of the unproduced Justice Ducks series.
- Drake Mallard shares a last name with Katie Mallard, an old friend of Scrooge McDuck from the 1964 comic "Mystery of the Ghost Town Railroad". He also does so with the Captain Mallard from the DuckTales episode "Merit-Time Adventure". Whether or not he is related to either is unknown.
- Darkwing Duck is briefly shown in the DuckTales reboot episode "Beware the B.U.D.D.Y System", chasing Megavolt, Quakerjack and Liquidator. It was hinted by Frank Angones, co-producer, writer, and story editor for the reboot, confirmed there's far more to Darkwing's appearance than fans suspect. The next season's "The Duck Knight Returns!" (no relation) eventually introduces the reboot's version of Drake Mallard (now voiced by Chris Diamantopoulos), who was a huge fan of the in-universe show. Drake grows up to get the part of Darkwing in a movie adaptation that Scrooge McDuck is producing, but after an all-out brawl with the original actor, Jim Starling (voiced by Cummings himself) that results in the movie being cancelled, Drake decides to don the Darkwing mantle for real.
- In the french version of Darkwing Duck, he is called "Myster Mask" and his real name is "Albert Colvert".
- Tad Stones, the main brain behind the series, has repeatedly noted that he favored fun and incidental stories over continuity adherence. It's because of this the alternate universe episodes exist and with them alternate origins, not to mention that all the possibly-fact sources of Darkwing's history aren't actually meant to be put together. Sources for this include The Tad Stones Interview at Animation World Network and Flapping Terror's Exclusive Tad Stones Interview
- The Tad Stones Interview at Animation World Network