Don Rosa has stated that this is his favorite story, and has expanded greatly upon it with The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Chapter 8 and its sequels, 8B and 8C, along with other stories set in the time period. According to his notes in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion, he enjoys telling this story because it captures Scrooge at his physical and mental peak. It also corresponds with the "center" of Scrooge's heroic journey, being the point where his life is decided.
In its first printing, the story was cut from 32 to 27 pages, since the editors did not believe the bar fight and abduction scenes were appropriate for a Disney comic. Later, all cut art, except for a half page, was recovered and the story was published in its entirety in 1981 with the missing half page reconstructed by Carl Barks.
At the beginning of the story, Scrooge McDuck seems to be suffering from memory lapses to the point he can not even recognize Donald. Donald drags him to a doctor and Scrooge is given some pills supposed to help recover his memory. As his memory returns Scrooge suddenly starts planning to return to the Klondike, the place of his youth where he earned his wealth. As he tells Donald and his nephews who accompany him he has left a cargo of gold, buried near his old hut. Scrooge also begins to make references to "Glittering Goldie", a person of his past.
As Scrooge seems to relive his past, but feeling his age, they arrive in Dawson, where Scrooge explains how he and Goldie met. Scrooge tells his nephews how Goldie stole his gold from him in the past, and how he kidnapped her and forced her to work for him at his claim, up until the point where we see -in a flashback scène- Goldie shouting at Scrooge and crying for her ruined dress.
The journey continues till they reach his old hut and to their surprise it is occupied and the current occupant forcibly resists any of their attempts to approach. Finally the nephews manage to surprise and disarm the old lady behind the attack, Goldie herself. As Scrooge and Goldie meet again both a rivalry and an attraction to each other seem to resurface. But Scrooge demands an old debt that Goldie can not pay. She gives her last jewelry to Scrooge and just leaves, apparently quitting. But Scrooge calls her back and challenges her to a contest. A contest of who can find gold first.
Goldie succeeds in finding Scrooge's old cargo that is now worth a fortune. After more than fifty years she succeeded. Scrooge leaves seemingly defeated and pretending that because he hadn't taken his pills he had forgotten where the gold was. But behind his back Donald reveals to his nephews that Scrooge had indeed taken the pills and practically offered this gold to Goldie. By the end his nephews realise that Scrooge is more emotional than he would like to appear.
Barks had an interest in Klondike and scenes of this story were inspired by old Klondike tales, but this story can be seen as most important for its contribution to the development of Scrooge's personality, and way of thought. Scrooge's participation in the Klondike Gold Rush had been mentioned before, but this is the first time Klondike becomes an essential part of Scrooge's past. In later stories by both Barks and his "successors" references to Scrooge's past in Klondike appear even more often than those to his native Scotland.
The story presents the first appearance of Goldie O'Gilt (Glittering Goldie), her love/hate relationship with Scrooge is considered by some people, mainly Don Rosa fans, a great part of the two characters' appeal. The story is, according to these fans, the first focusing on Scrooge's love life, and the last focusing on it by Barks.
Another theme introduced in this story is that Scrooge makes conscious effort to hide or deny his own feelings and emotions because he doesn't want to appear vulnerable. This has become an essential part of the character's way of thinking and acting in subsequent stories. Often mentioned as one of Barks' strongest stories, it largely defines Scrooge's character, and the themes introduced here are now considered part of a tradition.
However, part of the story has been controversial, as Western Publishing censored a section because of its rough atmosphere. It was considered inappropriate for a comic read by children. Despite this, the censored segment has made it into more recent publications.
- Main article: Back to the Klondike (DuckTales episode)
The story was later adapted into an episode of the first season of DuckTales, but with some noticeable alterations to the plot, besides the obvious omission of Donald. Scrooge suffers no memory lapses in this version; instead, he returns to the Klondike because he suddenly remembers Goldie after seeing Webby and Mrs. Beakley making Valentine's Day cards. Two villains who were not in Barks' story were also added. Scrooge and Goldie are open about their romantic interest in one another, not only privately, but in front of Scrooge's nephews.
The episode also introduces Red Agony Creek, which was never mentioned in Barks story (or by any other author), making this land unique to the Television series. In addition, the famous Goose Egg Nugget was noticeably smaller, the size of a regular gold nugget!
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