In Ancient Persia is a comic story written and drawn by Carl Barks. It features Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck, and, in their debuts, the Mad Scientist, King Nevvawaza and his King Nevvawaza's Guards, Prince Cad Ali Cad and Princess Needa Bara Soapa.
"Curiosity killed the cat," goes the old saying. Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck see it proven right (with Unca Donald roped in for the trip) when their spying on a creepy neighbor ends with the neighbor revealing himself as an omnicidal mad scientist. Intent on finding out the occult secrets of life and death buried in the lost city of Itsa Faka in the middle of a Persian desert, the Scientist takes the Ducks who know too much with him so that they can help him dig up the ruins and their secrets. Mad as he may be, the Scientist's theories are soon proven right — but who could expect one of the resurrected Ancient Persians to be Donald's exact lookalike? Gothic archeology soon turns to a typical Duckburgian farce, but that doesn't mean the stakes don't remain high as ever.
- Donald Duck is first seen reading the book Guff and Stuff.
- The Mad Scientist lives not far from Donald Duck's house in a creepy manor.
- The Solution's formula is two ounces of myrrh of Chaldee, one jigger of oil of Assyrian artichokes, two squeezes of sap of Dead Sea Cattails, and "one fraction of a thunderbolt" (made to course through the solution after the dust of the dehydrated individual is added).
- The Scientist secretly owns an aeroplane.
- On the way from Duckburg to Itsa Faka, the plane flies over the Rock of Gibraltar, as well as the ruins of Babylon, Kish and Susa.
- Itsa Faka was buried beneath the sands "centuries before the Pyramids were built"; one of the King's guards later remarks the clothes he finds look 5000 thousand years old, to which Donald angrily answers that "they are", though of course, the reliability of either man's knowledge is questionable.
- Nevvawaza describes himself as "Imperial Potentate of all Itsa Faka and Adjoining Sub-divisions".
- Itsa Faka's Driers knew the secrets of a radium vapor which could be confined into an urn but would dry any organic matter it came into contact with instantly, in a fashion that would allow the dried individuals to be revived if the dust was soaked in Solution and sparked with lightning. The process would also dry their clothing and jewelry. The dust of individuals who had themselves dried was kept in Dust Bowls, neatly lining the shelves of a crypt beneath the royal palace.
- The old-fashiond weddings of Itsa Faka involved the bride handspringing and the groom being brought on a platter.
- Although understood to be a different character in-universe, the Mad Scientist is reminiscent of the Mad Doctor of The Mad Doctor (1933).
- Again without any in-universe continuity, Carl Barks's later King Scrooge the First (1967) returns to a lot of the same imagery and plot points as this story, with a mysterious and knowledgeable antagonist whisking the Ducks off to the ruins of an ancient Persian city in search of a supernatural powder related to the secrets of Life and Death.
Behind the scenes
This story was first printed in 1950 in Four Color Comics #275. It was reprinted in Walt Disney Comics Digest #44, Donald Duck #228, Best Comic Series #6, Walt Disney's Comics in Color #2, Gladstone Comic Album #10, Gladstone Leather Bound Hardcover Comic Albums #2, Donald Duck #339, and, of course, in the various Carl Barks Libraries, and was also printed in English in Australia on three occasions, in One Shot #21, Donald Duck #17 (1958) and Donald Duck #203.