Secret of Atlantis, also printed under the titles of The Sunken City or The Secret of Atlantis, is a comic story written and drawn by Carl Barks, from a premise thought up by Chase Craig. It features Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck, and, in their debut, the Water People, including the King and the Teacher.
After sinking almost every 1916 quarter ever minted into the sea so as to make the one quarter that he keeps the most valuable coin in the world, Scrooge McDuck has the misfortune to lose the aforementioned quarter, which is subsequently destroyed by a steamroller. Scrooge, journeying to the bottom of the sea to retrieve a new quarter, discovers that this won't be as easy as he might have thought...
- Balonia, a nation which, among other things, minted a number of nickels (of which Scrooge McDuck owns one), is "no longer a country" by the time the story takes place.
- The Vampire State Building is a building in Duckburg.
- Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck look up the reason ocean water might look greener than elsewhere in their Junior Woodchucks Book of Knowledge.
- The Sunken City, claiming to be none other than Atlantis itself, sank over hundreds of years, and over this period its inhabitants mutated into a new species of aquatic humanoids, who call themselves Water People and have a King. It is located “in the middle of the Atlantic ocean”, and a thick layer of glowing fish both hides it from the surface world and gives it the equivalent of daylight. Many whales swim in its vicinity.
- The Water People's culture is rather advanced, even knowing of the uses of electricity, which they draw from electric eels. They do not, however, have any kind of musical tradition.
- The only 1916 quarter which still exists on land is now the rarest coin in the world, worth ten skyrillion dollars. Another 1916 quarter technically exists on land as well, but has been flattened by a steamroller, and is thus worthless.
- Not for the first or last time, Donald Duck displays the ability to tell his nephews apart at a glance, which would later be elaborated on and explained in Don Rosa's An Eye For Detail (1997).
- The story was the second in a long series of conflicting accounts of Atlantis, and as such, implicitly mentioned as one of “the five times Scrooge McDuck discovered Atlantis” in Hare-Brained Hooligans (2018). The first had been The World Under the Sea (1948), a Mickey Mouse story.
- In a somewhat curious moment, Donald Duck seems to have only just learned at the end of the story that “there is money to be made in old stamps”, though this had been the entire premise of The Gilded Man (1952). This may be evidence that Secret of Atlantis actually takes place prior to The Gilded Man, though Donald may just be forgetful.
- The rare 1916 quarter and the flat 1916 quarter would later make cameo appearances in several Don Rosa stories as part pf Scrooge's collection, starting with The Incredible Shrinking Tightwad (1995).
- The DuckTales Classic episode Aqua Ducks (1987) is a loose adaptation of Secret of Atlantis, with its Fish People bearing a strong similarity to the Water People and also claiming that their sunken city is Atlantis.
- Uncle Scrooge and the Two Thousand and One Nights (1994) sees Scrooge recounting his visit to Atlantis when asked to recite some of his most fantastic adventures by Scheherazade.
Behind the scenesEdit
This story was first printed in 1954 in Uncle Scrooge #5, and reprinted in the first issue of Walt Disney Comics Digest, where it received its title of Secret of Atlantis.
Under its original untitled form, it was again reprinted in Uncle Scrooge #189 and Uncle Scrooge Digest #4, before receiving the new and more widely-used title of The Sunken City in Gladstone Giant Album #2, also used in Uncle Scrooge Adventures #50. The Adventures of Uncle Scrooge McDuck in Color #5 (1996) reverted to an untitled form, as had the first version of the Carl Barks Library, while the Fantagraphics Carl Barks Library’s reprinting of the story was under a third title, The Secret of Atlantis. The story was also printed in English, in untitled form, in the Australian Giant #26, #243 and #508.
By Carl Barks's recollection in later interviews, Chase Craig gave him the hook of Scrooge buying every coin of a certain mint and then destroying them all save one to make that last one extremely valuable; however, Barks was the one who chose to bring Atlantis into what was originally intended as a small-scale 10-pager.