Hello again fellow villain enthusiasts. Here’s another somewhat surprising candidate from the DuckTales reboot… and one who will be familiar to anyone who’s already familiar with Darkwing Duck. I have to admit, I initially had a couple of reasons for doubting that this version of him truly qualifies, and was actually less confident about creating a proposal for him than Ponce de Leon. However, after really examining the evidence, I actually feel like I have really good reason to believe he can count as Pure Evil… at least good enough that he definitely deserves a proposal and consensus. So without further ado, here’s an examination of DuckTales’ take on one of Darkwing Duck’s arch-enemies.
What’s the work?
DuckTales 2017 is an animated TV show which acts as a reboot to the original 1987 series of the same name. It has run for a total of 3 seasons and 69 episodes, during which it has alternated between airing on Disney XD and the Disney Channel. The story kicks off when Donald Duck reluctantly leaves his triplet of nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, with his estranged uncle, Scrooge McDuck, at his mansion while he goes to a job interview. After befriending a quirky, energetic girl their age named Webbigail “Webby” Vanderquack who lives at the mansion with him, they accidently unleash some ancient evils housed in artifacts and relics that Scrooge and Donald found during their previous adventures. While Scrooge is initially mad at them, after they help him contain them again, he finds his thirst for adventure rekindled, which leads them to move in with him and go on many exciting adventures together where they search for treasure, ancient artifacts and relics, or simply aim to make great new discoveries, all the while bonding, learning the importance of family and other important life lessons along the way.
While the series is still partially episodic like the original one, it also has some notable overarching storylines; in the third season, the main storyline consists of the Ducks discovering the journal of a legendary explorer named Isabella Finch, which details several lost treasures and artifacts, so they begin a globetrotting expedition to find them all. However, little do they know they have earned the ire of a criminal organization named F.O.W.L., short for the Fiendish Organization for World Larceny, who blame their adventures for attracting dangerous threats to the world, and therefore consider them a liability to their schemes. Therefore, they plot to eliminate the Ducks and obtain the treasures first, and send out numerous agents to do both throughout the season.
Who is he and what does he do?
Taurus Bulba is the main antagonist of the special Darkwing Duck-centric, two-parter episode “Let’s Get Dangerous!”. However, in sharp contrast to his original portrayal as one of Saint Canard’s most dangerous and feared crime lords, here, he’s an esteemed scientist who even Scrooge trusts, with the plot of the episode kicking off with Scrooge visiting him to check up on his latest invention and see if it’s worth investing in. The invention in question is something called the Ramrod, a device that can seemingly create anything from nothing. However, it is quickly revealed that what it actually does is transport these items from other dimensions. Additionally, while Bulba initially seems like a very friendly and affable sort of fellow, to the point of even being an enthusiastic fan of Darkwing Duck, as well as intending to use his invention to help change the world for the better, he, of course, has some very dark secrets and ulterior motives. As it turns out, the Ramrod was actually created by a research partner and close friend of his named Professor Thaddeus Waddlemeyer, and when he realized there was a serious flaw with it that made it unstable and dangerous, he tried to warn Bulba about it, only for him to use the device to throw him into another dimension, continue his work and take public credit for its creation. The only person who knows about this is Gosalyn, Waddlemeyer’s granddaughter, who seeks to expose Bulba for this and use the Ramrod to find her grandfather and bring him back.
After explaining her story to Drake Mallard/Darkwing Duck, who initially believes she’s a crook, along with Launchpad and Dewey, they sneak in again, and when Bulba catches them, he initially tries to make it sound like what happened to Waddlemeyer was an accident, but soon, he begins to contradict his own claims, which causes Darkwing and the other to take Gosalyn’s side. Bulba façade then begins to slip progressively harder as he tries to prevent them from using the Ramrod, which culminates in him getting accidently zapped by the key used to activate the Ramrod while it’s electrified, breaking one of his horns and giving him a scare over his right eye. After this, he really starts to lose it, to the point he tries to outright kill Darkwing Duck and is perfectly fine with tossing Gosalyn off the building to her death. Thankfully, she’s saved by Darkwing.
Meanwhile, Huey is investigating the Ramrod and sharing his findings with Scrooge and Louie, due to being suspicious of Bulba’s claim that he’s really creating these objects from nothing with it. Of course, he eventually discovers that they’re, in fact, transported from other dimensions, but much more importantly, he makes the same horrifying discovery that Waddlemeyer did; every time the Ramrod is used, it creates dimensional rifts that get progressively worse and harder to close… to the point that eventually, all of reality could get sucked in. After making this discovery, Scrooge and the triplets confront Bulba, insisting that he needs to shut it down. However, by now, Bulba has gone full-blown supervillain and is obsessed with the idea of using it to change the world. Therefore, he uses it to summon a quartet of supervillains from the in-universe Darkwing Duck TV show named Quackerjack, Liquidator, Megavolt and Bushroot to assist him. He then throws Scrooge into another dimension like he did with Waddlemeyer where he’s forced to repeatedly act and live out a scene from the original DuckTales TV show, and sends out the supervillains to wreak havoc on Saint Canard.
Meanwhile, Bulba throw the triplets into a cell, with the likely intention of throwing them into another dimension later as well. Huey makes another attempt at imploring him to stop, telling him that every time he uses the Ramrod, he tears a hole in reality, to which Bulba simply replies with a malevolent smile “you need to tear things down first before you can create something new” before descending into evil laughter. It is then revealed that all along, he’s also been an agent of F.O.W.L., when none other than its director, Bradford Buzzard, comes to chastise him, saying he was supposed to be cracking something called the Solego Circuit for F.O.W.L.’s master plan, rather than what he’s doing. He goes on to condemn his use of the Ramrod, reminding him that F.O.W.L’s aim is to reign in chaos, not create more of it, which causes Bulba to turn on him by having Megavolt electrocute him, then subsequently tosses him into a cell like the triplets.
Later on, Bulba enthusiastically supports the idea from his subordinates of making an example of Darkwing Duck by killing him, shortly after which Darkwing uncharacteristically tries to take them all on directly by himself to protect Gosalyn from getting hurt. This, predictably, gets him beaten to a pulp, after which Bulba intends to get rid of him on camera for the world to see. However, Gosalyn and Launchpad sneak in and save him, after which Darkwing and Launchpad take on the supervillains together while Gosalyn searches the dimensions for her grandfather. While Darkwing and Launchpad defeat Bulba’s team of supervillains and Gosalyn is able to free Scrooge, as well as the triplets, who were also thrown into another dimension by Bradford when they discovered he’s F.O.W.L.’s leader after getting out of their cell, she’s unable to locate her grandfather. Meanwhile, the Ramrod has been used so much by now that the dimensional rift starts to get out of control, threatening to suck in and destroy all of reality. Gosalyn, realizing what she has to do, tearfully takes out her crossbow to destroy it, with Bulba then making it clear what he meant by his earlier statements about changing the world when he implores Gosalyn to leave it running, stating “who cares about this reality?! We can make a better one; one with your grandfather in it!” Despite the temptation, Gosalyn does the right thing by shooting and destroying it, though not before it sucks the Darkwing Duck supervillains in, sending them back to their own world, and the force of it shutting off hurls Bulba against the wall. He is then presumably left for the police to arrest for his crimes.
Okay, so here’s the interesting part; while Bulba’s initial friendliness and good intentions are shown to be a façade and quickly get thrown out the window when what he did to Waddlemeyer is exposed, there are still a couple of factors that made me question if he’s truly pure evil. For one thing, after getting zapped by the electrified Ramrod key, his sanity takes a very noticeable nosedive, to the point I thought it was quite debatable if he even truly understood the consequences of repeatedly using the Ramrod to “change the world”. However, on closer examination, yes, he definitely lost it to the extent that he’s hammily proclaiming himself to be a supervillain, but there are a couple of strong indicators he still knew full well what was at stake. For starters, it’s strongly implied Waddlemeyer approached him with this very same concern a while ago, and even then, Bulba cared little enough about the risk to consider stopping, to the point he was completely willing to throw his closest friend under the bus, or in this case, in another dimension, to keep it up. Additionally, there are the two lines I quoted that he said to Huey and Gossalyn respectively, which both demonstrate that even then in his more eccentric, deranged state, he knew his tampering would tear apart and/or destroy reality, not merely change or improve it.
On a lesser note, he also seems to treat the Darkwing Duck supervillains he summons with the Ramrod with some degree of respect and courtesy, to the point he makes Liquidator his “vice-president” after he suggests they kill Darkwing Duck, which I also believed could be at least a little mitigating. However, he doesn’t seem to genuinely care about them; first of all, he was revealed to be a fan of the Darkwing Duck TV show, so he likely saw them more as characters that he admired for their strength and power come to life, as well as the only ones who would support him in fulfilling his ambitions since even his actual employer was against his actions. Second, when they’re defeated by Launchpad and Darkwing, he simply shows frustration and decides to step in himself, rather than demonstrates any sign of real concern for their wellbeing. This, to me, proves he only saw them as useful and efficient subordinates, rather than held any personal care or felt any personal connection with them, which isn’t really mitigating. So in the end, this version of Bulba comes off as a deranged egomaniac who is willing to risk destroying everyone and everything just to take pride in being responsible for creating a “better reality” in its place.
Like Ponce de Leon, Bulba comes off as surprisingly awful and makes quite a strong impression for a one-episode villain. Most of his smaller acts of villainy along the way, like being willing to kill a child, make an example of Darkwing Duck, having his supervillains wreak havoc on Saint Canard and betraying his former best friend are pretty bad, but don’t stand out that much. However, it’s obviously his repeated use of the Ramrod, which he knows will tear apart and destroy all reality, just so he can follow his delusions of grandeur of being responsible for creating a “better one”, that singlehandedly pushes him way beyond standard villainy, as well as quite possibly makes him even worse than his original counterpart. After all, he never even makes it clear how he would ensure that he would still be around afterward to somehow do that, so the end result could have been, plain and simply, the end of everything for the sake of his ego. That easily rivals General Lunaris’ attempt to destroy the whole planet out of spite as the single most heinous atrocity in the series. In fact, it eclipses even that in terms of sheer scale. Strictly speaking, the world’s wellbeing was also at stake on one other occasion in “The Rumble for Ragnarok!”, where the Ducks had to defeat Team Ragnarok, led by Jormungandr, in a wrestling match in order to keep the latter from destroying the world. However, this wasn’t some horrible atrocity on their part, because from Jormungandr and the people of Valhalla’s perspective, dying and going to Valhalla is considered an honor. Plus, it helps that he’s honorable about it and keeps his word to leave the Earth alone if he’s defeated in combat, not to mention this is treated like a quirky “once every 10 years” type of ritual. So yeah, overall, these levels of stakes are very unique and rare in this show.
I can’t believe I’m stating this, but I think the DuckTales reboot has another keeper in the form of this version of Taurus Bulba. That said, there is a Darkwing Duck reboot planned, and I believe it’ll be in the same continuity as this show, so there’s a good chance we haven’t seen or heard the last of him. For now though, and at least for a while, this is how things stands. Thanks for reading!