The Son of the Sun is the first young adult Scrooge McDuck comic story by Don Rosa, first published in 1987. It is a well-known comic book story that features Disney's Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie, most notable for establishing Don Rosa as a major talent in the Disney comic book industry, as well as fulfilling Rosa's childhood dream of becoming a writer and illustrator of stories featuring Scrooge McDuck.
The combination of homage to Barks, clever and intelligent writing, appealing art, and dependence of the resolution of the plot on of one of Scrooge's most redeeming character traits were instrumental in the reception of this storyline as a modern classic.
Don Rosa had idolized Carl Barks, arguably the best-loved writer and illustrator of Scrooge McDuck comic books up until that point in time, since Rosa's childhood, and had drawn several comics with strong stylistic influences from Barks' work during his early career. One such story, appearing in a series called the Pertwillaby Papers, was called "Lost In (an alternative section of) the Andes", and was in no small part an homage to a Barks story called (perhaps not surprisingly) Lost in the Andes!.
When Rosa began working with Gladstone Publishing, a publisher of Disney comics, later in his life, he asked for and was granted permission to draw a Scrooge McDuck story. Rosa updated the plot for Lost In (an alternative section of) the Andes to feature Scrooge McDuck and his nephews instead of the original protagonist, and this story became Son of the Sun. He has since stated that the original conception of the story in his mind had always featured the Disney ducks, and that Son of the Sun is simply a return to the original conception.
The story met with critical acclaim and was nominated for a Harvey Award, and immediately established Rosa as a major talent when it came to writing and illustrating Scrooge McDuck.
The opening panels of the story are set in the Duckburg museum, where Scrooge McDuck is opening a museum exhibit featuring the greatest wonders he has collected during his travels around the world (most of them direct tributes to classic Barks stories).
As Scrooge is bragging to his nephews, Donald Duck and Huey, Dewey and Louie (who know all of the details by heart, having been there for the original expeditions), Flintheart Glomgold, who is about to open an exhibit of his own, overhears Scrooge, and shortly the conversation between the two duck tycoons turns into a bragging match as to who is the greatest adventurer and treasure-seeker. Scrooge challenges Glomgold to think of something he could find; Glomgold is momentarily nonplussed, then catches sight of Scrooge’s exhibit of Inca artifacts and points out that while Scrooge found the original gold mines of the Incas, he never found the golden artifacts that had been extracted from the mines. Soon Scrooge and his nephews are off on a race with Glomgold to see who can find, and claim, the "greater Incan treasure."
The first clue comes as soon as Glomgold has left, as Donald picks up an Incan vase that was knocked over during the bragging match. They find a metal plaque baked inside, providing a map to a temple of Manco Capac in the Andes mountains. Unfortunately, Glomgold is listening outside.
Arriving at a village near Cuzco, Scrooge hires a plane to fly them to its location. The pilot of the plane turns out to be Glomgold, who relieves them of the plaque at gunpoint and then parachutes out. Scrooge tries to regain control of the plane and, in a comic episode, inadvertently rips out the belly of the plane while flying too low, dumping his nephews’ onto the valley floor, still in their seats. As the plane flies off, Glomgold approaches and informs the ducks that Scrooge has frightened away the porters he hired, so they will have to do.
A week later, Glomgold and his reluctant helpers reach a remote mountain, on the summit of which is the temple, built around a large volcanic fumarole (hence, the plaque’s description, the “life breath” of Manco Capac). Glomgold enters the temple’s treasure chamber and is beside himself with glee to discover an enormous store of golden Inca artifacts. Then Scrooge appears, calmly informing Glomgold that he crash-landed the plane on the mountaintop several days ago, and has already filed his claim on the gold using the plane’s radio.
It seems the Scrooge has won, but Huey, Dewey, and Louie are confused about one thing: the plaque makes reference to an Incan “treasure” being moved to the temple, but it actually predates the time of the conquistadors, which is naturally when the gold would have been moved there. Realizing there must be another Incan treasure in the temple, Glomgold investigates further and discovers the “Eye” of Manco Capac: an enormous, disc-shaped sunburst festooned with enormous gemstones. Since Scrooge claimed the gold, and not the temple, and there’s no gold on the sunburst, that makes it Glomgold’s.
As Scrooge and Glomgold begin to argue about whose treasure is of greater value, Glomgold begins taking it down from its wall mounting, but it falls and rolls down the temple steps and into the fumarole. It wedges into the hole convex side down, creating a perfect seal. As the volcanic gases build up an enormous pressure, Scrooge notices that the back of the sunburst is sheathed in gold, starting another furious argument between him and Glombold, and causing them to wedge the sunburst down even more firmly. Before the others can stop them, the pressure mounts and (in a spectacular panel) the entire mountaintop, temple and all, is blown into the sky like a cork from a bottle. The ducks are able to use a tapestry as a makeshift parachute before the temple lands squarely in a nearly bottomless volcanic lake, next to the village they originally started from. The massive splash of water irrigates the villagers’ crop fields, relieving them from the effects of recent drought.
All of the treasure is now completely irretrievable. As the dispirited ducks begin their journey back to civilization, Scrooge is seen emerging from the village and mentions that he has agreed to build a pumping station for the village so that they will never be troubled by drought again. Glomgold scorns Scrooge's generosity, until Scrooge reveals that that in return, the villagers have agreed to sell him the lake for one peso - which makes Scrooge the rightful owner of both the temple and all of the treasure inside it. Even though he cannot retrieve it, Scrooge is now the clear legal owner of all of the treasure - and thus the winner of the contest.