Papernik Donald Duck: The Duck Avenger (Comic Books)

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Disney has a lot of heroes under their wing and one of these is the butt-kicking Papernik Donald Duck, the comic book Duck Avenger.

Paperinik Donald Duck: Comic Book Superhero And Ducksburg Defender
Papernik Donald Duck: Comic Book Superhero And Duckburg Defender [Source: Topolino]

Note: There is some confusion about the spelling of this particular comic book series. Sometimes it shows up as Papernik, and other times as Paperinik.

Donald Duck is one Disney character that we all loved and grew up with. However, not everyone knows about the existence of his hero personality, Papernik Donald Duck. 

Who is Papernik Donald Duck? What does he do? What happens in his hero adventures? We will share everything there is to know about Donald Duck and his alter ego: Papernik.

Side note: Have you seen Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land?

Who Is Papernik Donald Duck?

As you may already know, Paperinik Donald Duck is one of Disney’s superheroes. He exists in comic books and serves as Donald Duck’s crime-busting and butt-kicking alter ego.

This hero goes by different names such as Phantomias, Superduck, PK, Super Donald, Phantom Duck, and the most popular in America The Duck Avenger.

His story goes way back and he has a lot of adventures and misadventures in his book. To put his story in a nutshell, Paperinik came to be because of Donald’s desire to get even with his mean relatives.

He originally planned to extract revenge on Scrooge McDuck and Gladstone Gander. Eventually, he found himself saving the people in his city. This later earned him the role of being their own duck version of Batman.

Conceptualization and Birth of Papernik Donald Duck

Papernik Donald Duck was conceptualized and born in Italy. In fact, the comic series where the character is a regular is actually published in Italian. 

Did you know that many European countries consider Donald Duck as the lead character in Disney comics? To some, he is even more popular than Mickey Mouse himself!

Paperinik Donald Duck
Papernik Donald Duck [Source: Paperinik Magazine]

The idea of Papernik came to author Elisa Penna after being inspired by the popular Italian comic-book character Diabolik, an anti-heroic thief. 

What’s an anti-hero? An anti-hero is a story’s protagonist who lacks traditionally heroic traits. He is the central character in which the story revolves around. However, he is not necessarily what you would consider a hero by most standards.

The executive director of the Topolino – the Italian comic book series that featured Disney comics – Mario Gentilini assigned his team to come up with a “Superman version of Mickey Mouse.”

Their cartoonist Guido Martina suggested that instead of Mickey Mouse, they make a superhero alter ego of Donald Duck. The Topolino team then gathered ideas incorporating Penna’s concept of a Diabolik-inspired character.

That was how Paperinik Donald Duck came to be.

Did You Know That Papernik Donald Duck Has Different International Names?

Based on his origins, the superhero’s Italian name is Paperinik Donald Duck.

As the comic book series grew popularity and was adapted by other countries, however, he received different superhero names:

  • In France, he is known as Fantomiald.
  • Germany calls him Phantomias.
  • In Spanish translations he goes by Patomás.
  • The Greek version of this superhero carries the name Phantom Duck or Φάντομ Ντακ.

All these names were based on the French fictional master-criminal Fantômas.

Patomas - Paperinik's Spanish Translation
Patomas – Papernik’s Spanish Translation [Source: DIsney]

Denmark and Sweden have their own variations of his name. Both derived his name from the local translation of the Man of Steel which is Superman’s title. Sweden calls him Stål-Kalle which literally translates to Steel-Donald.

Denmark named him Stålanden or Steel Duck. His stories in Denmark are published in books called Jumbobøger. When translated, it means jumbo books pertaining to the number of pages which may be up to more than a hundred.

Other European countries have their own versions as well. 

In Norway, the superhero is known as Fantonald which is a mix of phantom – spelled fantom in their native tongue – and Donald. This is somehow similar to non-Disney Norwegian comic book hero Fantomet. Just like Donald, he is a masked hero that has no superpowers.

Finland calls him Taikaviitta which means Magic Cape. Publication of Paperinik’s superhero adventures in this country is in Aku Ankan Taskukirja or Donald Duck’s Pocket Book.

Fantonald - Papernik In Norway
Fantonald – Papernik In Norway [Source: Disney]

Papernik Donald Duck Debut

Papernik Donald Duck first appeared in a 60-page story titled Paperinik il diabolico vendicatore or Paperinik the Diabolical Avenger. The two-part story was published on issue #706 and #707 on June 8 and June 15, 1969.

It was also printed in English as The Diabolical Duck Avenger.

While Paperinik and his adventures became popular across Europe and was released in different languages, it took some time for America to adapt the story.

It was only printed in 2015 in Donald Duck #5 (legacy number 372) and #6 (373) under IDW Publishing.

The True Origin Of The Diabolical Duck Avenger
The True Origin Of The Diabolical Duck Avenger [Source: IDW Publishing]

The Origin Story Of Papernik Donald Duck

The story of how Donald Duck became Paperinik begins with Donald getting the ownership documents of Villa Rosa.

Villa Rosa is an abandoned villa outside of Duckburg, also known as Paperopoli in the Italian version.

The owner of the property mysteriously disappeared years back.

Donald discovers that the documents’ intended recipient was his cousin Gladstone Gander.

However, he decided to keep the mix-up to himself and not tell his cousin about it.

The Transformation

Together with his nephews, Donald visits the villa and finds the possessions of Fantomius. The latter was a gentleman burglar and vigilante during the late 19th century and early 20th century. 

Through his possessions, which included a diary and a suit, Donald discovered the key to keeping a secret identity.

He had to live a double life – act as a harmless and weak gentleman during daytime and become the vigilante that he wanted to be when the sun went down.

Donald found it interesting and kept it to himself.

We then meet Donald Duck’s source of misery. This came in the form of his ruthless maternal uncle Scrooge McDuck and his arrogant first cousin Gladstone.

Much to Donald’s dismay, his cousin found it fun to taunt him and compare his successes to Donald’s efforts and failed attempts.

Donald’s outrage and hate towards his two relatives leads him into taking revenge. He approaches Gyro Gearloose and asks for his help.

By using Fantomius’ notes on weapons and transportation, Gyro comes up with gadgets for Donald to use. He presented a utility belt, boots packed with useful items, and special add-ons to Donald’s car.

Papernik Donald Duck’s First Mission

With the help of his new resources, Donald Duck baptized himself as Papernik.

He then decided on his first mission: to steal his Uncle Scrooge’s mattress that had  $1,000,000 in small bills stowed away inside of it.

Paperinik Donald Duck Stealing Scrooge's Mattress
Papernik Donald Duck Stealing Scrooge’s Mattress [Source: Inverse]

Papernik Donald Duck achieves this by letting his uncle inhale a sleep-inducing drug. With the drug’s effect, Scrooge was fast asleep the entire night making way for Papernik to succeed.

After the heist, he finds a way to pin the blame on Gladstone.

The day after, Scrooge and Gladstone approach the police and they discover the hideout of the thief. This turns out to be the Villa Rosa.

Gladstone was bent on proving his innocence so he helps in investigating the villa.

His plan backfires when the candle he is using turns out to be dynamite. This results in him blowing up the villa with cash bills scattered around the area.

The incident convinces Scrooge that Gladstone is the culprit. The former tells the latter he won’t press charges given that the younger duck gathers the stolen money.

This makes Paperinik proud as he proudly claims that his career has just started.

The Story Continues

After his first successful mission, Donald finds another volume of Fantomius’ diary. 

This was released in the 53-page anniversary story Paperinik e il ritorno a Villa Rosa or Paperinik and the Return to Villa Rosa which was done by Fabio Michelini and Giovan Battista Carpi.

The story also came in two parts on September 17 and September 24, 1996.

Paperinik e il ritorno a Villa Rosa
Paperinik e il ritorno a Villa Rosa [Source: Disney]

Readers enjoyed Donald Duck’s new confidence and intelligence sparked by Paperinik. These loved characteristics were thanks in part to writer Guido Martina and his angle on Donald’s darker personality. 

The comic book series was a success to the point that readers considered the first story an Italian Duck comic classic.

Papernik Donald Duck The Hero

We first met Donald Duck as a vindicator who only wanted to avenge himself by using the persona of Papernik. Even though his intentions were good, his ways were rather illegal.

The team behind Paperinik Donald Duck was fully aware that if he continued his wrongful ways, he would end up becoming a villain.

In the succeeding stories, they decided to tone things down by giving him a new purpose – to be a superhero.

Duckburg's Defender Paperinik Donald Duck
Duckburg’s Defender Papernik Donald Duck [Source: Inverse]

Though he uses the same tactics in achieving his goal, the good thing was that the subject of his missions was now the criminals of Duckburg. One particular target is the Beagle Boys.

With his new ways and a purpose in mind, Papernik Donald Duck became the main defender of Duckburg. He was likened to Batman for being his own city’s watchful eye. Much like Batman, he too had his own gadgets and weapons.

Here’s an interesting fact: Papernik Donald Duck has his own version of the Bat Signal. Whenever Duckburg’s Mayor or Police Chief needed his help, they would project the outline of a bat donning Donald’s hat.

Like any other superhero, Donald also needed a helping hand. His came in the form of Gyro Gearloose, the friend he approached for his first mission. Gyro is the only one who knows about Paperinik Donald Duck’s identity.

The citizens of Duckburg knew that Donald Duck was well-aware of Paperinik’s activities. His alibi was that he was the superhero’s best friend. This excuse baffled his uncle Scrooge and other characters in the story.

Paperinik’s New Adventures (PKNA)

Paperinik's New Adventures
Paperinik’s New Adventures [Source: Disney]

Disney Italian publishers wanted more action in their stories so they came up with PKNA or Paperinik New Adventures. It ran from March 1996 to December 2000.

Fun fact: PKNA is also used in some of the newer English-language versions of the comics on Donald’s gadgets and gizmos that he uses to fight crime!

This comic book series served as the continuation of the previous stories. However, the makers introduced new characters that eventually became mainstays, aside from Paperinik Donald Duck himself. Uncle Scrooge McDuck also visits the stories from time to time.

PKNA begins with Uncle Scrooge buying the Ducklair Tower. Donald discovers the existence of a secret floor and as Paperinik, he sets out to investigate it. There he meets Uno, Ducklair Tower’s own artificial intelligence which he eventually befriends.

Uno helps him in his missions by giving him inventions of the tower’s original owner Everett Ducklair. Donald uses these weapons to fight the villains that come his way.

Much to the publishers’ delight, PKNA turned out to be a success with 48 issues released. They also made a “what if” issue #49 which served as an introduction to PK2 – a series that continued the story but did not gain the same reaction from the public. PK2 only had 18 issues.

Check out the cool clip below featuring Papernik Donald Duck fighting aliens called Evronians!

Papernik Donald Duck And Other Characters

Let’s meet the characters in Paperinik Donald Duck’s universe.

  • Donald Duck – The main character of the comic series receives ridicule from his mean relatives. He sees an opportunity to have his revenge by taking on a secret identity.
  • Papernik – Donald Duck’s superhero alter ego starts off with personal motives. He eventually becomes the protector of Duckburg.
  • Gyro Gearloose – An inventor, Gyro helps Donald by equipping him with weapons to use in his missions. He is aware of Paperinik Donald Duck’s identity and helps keep it a secret through his memory-erasing invention the Car-Can. Car-Can means Caramelle Cancelline or Eraser Candies.
  • Scrooge McDuck – Donald Duck’s rich uncle is one of the people who make his life miserable.
  • Gladstone Gander – The cousin of Donald Duck has extreme luck that helps him gian success. He rubs his achievements to Donald’s face and taunts him.
Ally Of Paperinik Donald Duck Gyro Gearloose
Ally Of Papernik Donald Duck Gyro Gearloose [Source: Disney]

Paperinik Donald Duck: Disney’s Own Superhero

Disney has their own homegrown superhero by the name of Papernik Donald Duck. With selfish reasons in the beginning, Paperinik sheds his ill intentions to become the courageous defender of his beloved Duckburg.

This comic book series garnered so much love from Europe. It even became an Italian classic catapulting Donald Duck into stardom.

If you’re into comics, be sure to get yourself a copy of this must-read for Disney fans!

Papernik Donald Duck: The Duck Avenger (Comic Books) Infographic
Papernik Donald Duck: The Duck Avenger (Comic Books) Infographic [Source: Fandom]
Papernik Donald Duck: The Duck Avenger (Comic Books) Pinterest Pin
Papernik Donald Duck: The Duck Avenger (Comic Books) Pinterest Pin

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