Publication information
Created by Disney
In-story information
Alter ego Donald Duck
Abilities Master of hand-to-hand combat
Vast resource of high tech weapons

Paperinik or PK, officially named The Duck Avenger in American comics, is a comic book superhero and Donald Duck's alter ego. Donald originally created his superheroic identity as a means of secretly seeking revenge against relatives such as Scrooge McDuck and Gladstone Gander, but soon found himself fighting other menaces. The character is an Italian invention and, as a pervasive feature where he appears, very much not in canon with stories that do not feature him.


Original version

In 1969, various children complained to the publishers of the Italian version of the Donald Duck comics (Mondadori) that Donald was always the loser in their stories. Writer Guido Martina and artist Giovan Battista Carpi responded by giving Donald a superhero alias named "Paperinik". The name "Paperinik" is a combination of the names "Diabolik", a then-popular fictional villain who started a hype about villains with names ending in -ik, and "Paperino" (Italian for little duck), Donald's Italian name.

In the French version he was called Fantomiald, in the German version Phantomias, Patomás in the Spanish translations, and the Greek version Phantom Duck (Φάντομ Ντακ), all of them based on the master-criminal Fantômas. In Denmark his adventures have mostly been published in small books called "Jumbobøger", or "Jumbo books" (Due to being several hundred pages long, not for their size). He is known in Denmark as "Stålanden", meaning "The Steel-duck", in Icelandic as "Stálöndin", meaning "The Steel-duck" and in Sweden as "Stål-Kalle", meaning "Steel-Donald". These names are probably based on Stålmanden/Stålmannen, local names for Superman. In Finland, Papernik is published in "Aku Ankan Taskukirja", "Donald Duck's Pocket Book". The Finnish name for Papernik is "Taikaviitta", meaning "Magic Cape". In Norway he is called "Fantonald".

The creators introduced Paperinik in the two-part, 60-page story "Paperinik il diabolico vendicatore" ("Paperinik the Diabolical Avenger") published on June 8 and June 15, 1969.

The debut story featured Donald receiving the ownership papers of Villa Rosa, an abandoned villa outside of Duckburg (Paperopoli in Italian original version) whose owner had disappeared decades ago. Donald soon finds that the papers were actually intended for his cousin Gladstone, but he is content not to correct the mistake. Visiting the villa with his nephews, he discovers the diary and an abandoned suit of Fantomius, who was known as a notorious gentleman burglar and sometime vigilante active during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Donald learns his methods of maintaining a secret identity by acting as a harmless and rather incompetent gentleman during the day and during the night as a vindicator, taking revenge for his grievances against society. Intrigued, Donald decides to keep his discoveries to himself as they might prove useful.

He soon meets his own two greatest causes of grief: his ruthless and domineering maternal uncle Scrooge McDuck and his arrogant and extremely lucky first cousin Gladstone, who enjoys taunting Donald with his own effortless successes in comparison to Donald's constant efforts and failures. Deciding to take revenge on them, Donald presents the diary's notes on weapons and transportation means to Gyro Gearloose, who soon equips him with a utility belt and boots that contain many useful gadgets and also adds special equipment to Donald's car. The first mission for "Paperinik", as he names himself, is to steal his uncle's mattress which contains $1,000,000 in small bills. He does so by making certain that Scrooge inhales enough of a sleep-inducing drug to keep him out of action all night. He then frames Gladstone for the theft.

Scrooge and Gladstone, along with the police, manage to track the thief to the Villa the next day. Gladstone, trying to clear his name, decides to investigate the villa but the "candle" he uses for light is actually dynamite. He accidentally destroys the villa and the money ends up scattered around the area. Scrooge seems convinced that Gladstone is responsible but decides not to place charges if Gladstone manages to collect the money. Meanwhile Donald is gloating over all of this, and states that his career has just begun.

Donald later discovers a second volume of Fantomius's diary in the anniversary story "Paperinik e il ritorno a Villa Rosa" ("Paperinik and the Return to Villa Rosa") by Fabio Michelini and Giovan Battista Carpi. The later story was 53 pages long and was first published in two parts on September 17 and September 24, 1996.

The first story is considered an Italian Duck comic classic, and was popular with readers of the time as Donald acted with more confidence, intelligence and skill than that of his regular identity. The story seems also to owe many of its aspects to its writer Guido Martina whose stories often focused on the darker and more villainous aspects of his characters' personalities.

The second phase

In the early stories, Paperinik wasn't actually a superhero, but a vindicator, avenging wrongs that had been done to Donald, sometimes in blatantly illegal ways. The writers toned this aspect down later and turned him into a superhero instead, as they understood it was not a good long-term idea to turn Donald into a full-time villain. The character's methods did not change much but he started targeting the criminal population of Duckburg, in particular the Beagle Boys. This still remains his main mission today, although he occasionally faces higher profile adversaries and finds missions which require him to travel away from Duckburg.

The "old style" stories and characterization eventually fell out of favor, and Paperinik emerged as the main defender of Duckburg, keeping watch on the city with his high-tech and always nonlethal weapons and gadgets, in a fashion much reminiscent of Batman.

The third phase(Paperinik New Adventures)

In the middle of the '90,it was decided to update Paperinik as a more classic american superhero.So in 1996 in Italy started the publication of Paperinik New Adventures,a darker and more mature take on the masked duck that go to fight off alien invaders,time travel thiefs,terrorists and artificial intelligences.The series was notable for its mature themes and darker approach(including an ally of Paperinik who costantly killed her enemies) and the creation of a new roost of memorable and complex characters.It lasted five years(53 issue) and is still fondly remembered in Italy,where it has been reprinted several times. 

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