Xadhoom's backstory is heartbreaking: A briliant leader and scientist of a planet with a dying sun. Trying to save her people, she experimented on herself, giving her godlike power. But she was far too late to save her people from the alien empire she invited to their doorstep.
The Alas, Poor Villain moment from #5, "Portrait Of The Hero As A Young Duck": after waiting all alone on Earth for three centuries, Grrodon fails to coolflame Paperinik and change history for the Evronians. So he stoles a flying car and heads to space, knowing that the explosive decompression will disintegrate the car and himself.
It's even worse if you remember what happened in issue #5: when Styvessant proposed to "change" Geena to suit PK's tastes, PK took offense at the fact that Styvessant treated her like "a machine". However, much later PK discovered that Geena tricked him under Styvessant's orders, and bitterly remarked that she "acted like an obedient machine". Fast forward to issue #12, and we get the motives for their sacrifice: saving the duck who treated droids like her as people; and proving to him, by absorbing the blast even when he begged her to get away, that she is not "an obedient machine".
The Reveal of #19, Absolute Zero. For most of the story PK, Lyla and Urk have fought a running battle against a powerful combat robot on the alien ship they had found, and brought in both their ship and the scientific shuttle Pioneer IV. The reader is brought to think it's some kind of trap from unknown aliens... Then they find the ship's log: it's the Antra, a Xerbian colony ship that left her homeworld during the Evron invasion to try and warn other races of the impending danger, and the robot is the Guardian, part of the ship's boarding defense. Sadly the ship was intercepted by the Evrons and left there after the crew was enslaved... And the vessel is still trying and contacting any non-Evron ship to warn them of the danger, while the Guardian brings the crews inside cryo cells to recreate the crew of the Antra.
It gets even more heartbreaking in the special issue The End of the World, that narrates the Evronian invasion of Xerba. We see how the entire crew sacrificed themselves so that Xarion, the last known survivor of the government, could escape and reach Earth with a databank with all the weaknesses of the Evronian fleet. In the escape Xarion's pod was damaged, and Xarion himself was nearly captured by an Evronian Super Soldier tasked only with his abduction (even if his capture was not necessary anymore). Finally, after years, Xarion arrives on Earth, knowing about Paperinik thanks to intercepted Evronian communications, but his attempts at masking himself while using the tracker of the Super Soldier gets him mistaken for an Evronian... And Paperinik accidentally erased the databankwhile attempting to capture the supposed Evronian soldier.
It should be impossible to feel pity for an Evronian, but Gorthan's speech in issue #20 manages to succeed:
Earthlings. I've been observing you for a long time. I learned to know you. And hate you. I hate you because you live of intense emotions... that I can only steal. I hate you because you give body and soul to dreams... And I can only admire them. Because of you, I've rejected my own nature. Betrayed my brothers. Fought my children.
Easily missed on first reading, but "Twilight" has a rather sad one: Urk in Knight Templar Big Brother mode asks the person trying to make him reason if he has a sister, only to be told he has one... And said person is Paperinik. Whose sister has apparently disappeared and may well be dead.
Xadhoom just... letting herself get killed after been Brought Down to Normal by a coolflame that looked exactly like her boyfriend Xari. Donald is so devastated by this, he almost lets himself be killed, if it wasn't for the arrival of Zortag and the fact that Xadhoom wasn't really dead.
#33, the death of the Raider - undone in the following issue, but still. We can see how much he cares for Trip, with his last wish being that his son be informed by Paperinik, who cries for him.
#34. We are told what caused the Bad Future we see. Donald sounds so dejected...
They have destroyed me, Eidolon...
#36,"Far,Far Away". The last Xerbians witnessed the destruction of the base they lived for so long in after escaping from their planet. They find the strength to sing what is presumably Xerba's anthem despite the Evronians mocking them.
Xadhoom's Heroic Sacrifice by becoming a star to allow the surviving Xerbians to live on, giving them the necessary energy to rebuild their colony. Even more because the very reason she became Xadhoom was an experiment devoted to try and prevent this very problem for Xerba.
Issue 46, In The Shadow, is basically a huge and heartbreaking Hope Spot for everyone (readers and Paperinik himself) who wanted Xadhoom back.
The 1998 Special "0/1", a mostly comical issue, manages to give one. Gyro Gearloose, PK's historical gadget provider, takes the last memory pill in order to forget about PK, knowing that he would be only a load in his new, greater adventures, and that Uno will take care of him. And then with his last words before the pill takes effect he says farewell to Donald. He already took a pill long before to forget PK's true identity, but he figured it out on his own long ago. He knew about Donald's burden for who knows how long.
Gets even more heartbreaking if you have read the non-PK Paperinik stories and know that not even Gyro actually knows his secret identity, and would take a memory pill at the end of those stories where he had to learn it. It implies he figured it out on a regular basis and took the pill on his own... And it was his own idea to begin with! Donald had just entrusted him with the secret of Paperinik's identity, and Gyro replied he didn't want to take any risk to accidentally expose him before taking a memory pill.
Also from "0/1", we learn that Donald is terrified of Coolflames, to the point that waking up glowing in blue light (One was scanning him while he was unconscious) caused a Freak Out!.
Donald: Those beings... They were so many, and I was there, alone... And also, their eyes... they were terrifying, One...
One: They were scary, uh?
Donald: Worse, One... they were pitiful. And, instead of helping them, I can only fight them. How can I feel a hero?
The ending of issue #43 ("Time to Time"): with time travel itself causing the phenomenon, called "microcontraction", that doesn't allow time traveling anymore, Paperinik has to return to his age and say farewell to Lyla, Odin and the Raider. Even sadder considering how much the entire issue was a big Ship Tease for PK/Lyla fans. If it wasn't for somne continuity errors (stories featuring time travel, written before this one, ended up being published after it) and the events of the last issue of the first series, it would have been a poignant farewell to those characters.
The last "story" in the final issue "If...". [deep breath]Lyla allows the Cold Sun experiment to happen, Duckburg is destroyed as PK and the Raider are forced to flee. PK pulls a FaceHeel Turn and causes the mass evasion from Time 0, Lyla reveals she actually used the Othership to teleport the people of Duckburg in another dimension, Kronin shoots Lyla for this, he curbstomps PK, and even after defeating all the inmates and getting someone to let him off the hook by claiming he and the Raider were hired to capture Kronin all along, PK has to watch Lyla as she dies in his arms. And then he returns to present Duckburg and lights a commemoratory torch with his "evil costume", before retiring in the ruins of the Ducklair Tower. Luckily, that never actually happened.
Two's words before being erased in #48 "The Parts and The Whole". It makes you wonder how much being The Un-Favourite affected his mind.
Two: "For so long,I have waited to be useful to you! I waited in the improbable event of One malfunctioning! But I have always been Two,the second choice.
The first issue of the series when One is erased.
Word of God confirmed that Uno was NOT erased, just SWITCHED OFF like the very advanced computer he ultimately is: for Ducklair, Uno's duty was to guard the Tower in his absence, and once he returned Uno wasn't needed anymore, for the moment. Plus, he knew he couldn't fully trust Uno in case he had to fight PK, and neutralized a possible threat. It was PK who misunderstood Ducklair's words (and the readers usually followed his interpretation), and the issues set in the future shows that Ducklair reactivated him off-screen in the last issue before leaving for space. That said, you cannot help but feel sad, especially because of a scene later in the same story: Donald receives a farewell message Uno left just before deactivation.
The whole PK2 #11 "The Weight Of Memories" that tells the story of Ducklair before he built his economic empire. From losing his memory after crashing on Earth,to being adopted by a loving couple,to them believing him dead during a storm to him finding his starship with his daughters in suspended animation and him regaining his memories,the whole issue will have you bawling if you still have a heart. The least panel is a close up of Ducklair crying because his adoptive mother considers him a bad man now.
Korinna being fired from her job as a babysitter. Yes, she was far too strict, but it's one of very few times we see her genuinely upset and sad. And when she waves goodbye, she actually tears up - for the only time in the entire series. Korinna is, after all, essentially a very intelligent toddler stuck in a late teenage body (who's been forced to adapt in a very short time). She's just been split from the closest thing to friends she's ever had outside her sister.
Fridge Sadness emerges when you realizes that, since she hates her father Everett, she is acting as her mother would. Yes, her mother wasn't the best parent of the year either, but doesn't make it any less sad.
In the same issue Ducklair explains to his other daughter,Juniper,why he took them away from home on planet Corona. His guilt as well as what his wife planned to do to their children is hard to read.
And since the issue wasn't sad enough,we also have a good case of Jerkass Woobie when Birgit discovers that Ducklair tricked her with a fake task.
#9 deals with Lyla's origins (completely different from PKNA) and this universe's version of Tyrrel Duckard. At first convinced that the fire of the "Paradise Lost" mansion they lived in was caused by their creator - to go on with the symbolism, he had named them Adam and Eve - to destroy them, upon recovering her memories she realizes it was in fact Adam/Tyrrel who caused it. Faced with the sad reality that her companion has gone insane in his hate of humans (he won't stop fighting even after PK has shot one of his arms off), Lyla has no choice than shooting him. She asks PK to leave her alone, then deposes Tyrrel's body on the ruins of the mansion. Made even worse by the final issue: in the new timeline, Lyla and Tyrrel are happily together. Soon after, however, Zondag's army attacks and Lyla sacrifices herself so that her companions can stop him. Tyrrel may never know what happened to her.
Lyo's death in #12. Lyla's reaction pretty much mirrors the reader's.
In #17, PK has found ruthless Knight TemplarGuardian Drones, built by the Galaxy Guardians in the past to fight against the Evronians. However, when besieged by Zondag's troops, he utterly refuses to follow One's plant activate a bomb and flee while the soldiers stall the enemy until the bomb goes off. When one of the soldiers arms the bomb anyway...
GD Commander: The computer is right. The Evronians are too many. Detonating the asteroid is our only chance.
PK: To do what? Destroy the Evronians and complete your programming?
The entire story also gets constant parallels with Donald's teenage years: he recalls playing with a promising school baseball team that, thanks to a capable coach, came close to win the junior championship... And then the coach was arrested for match-fixing when he was a Major League player.
You may play the best match of your life... and still lose.
In #27, a future PK reveals what will be of the hero: now with artificial bodies his mind swaps to every time one is destroyed, he will still be fighting Evronians a thousand years in the future. All his loved ones are long gone, so everything he has left is the certainty he can fight with no worries for his own safety... Which makes you wonder if he just wants to die, once and for all.
"Might and Power":
When a storyline involves a Bad Future it's almost certain to bring some Tear Jerker, and this one delivers, mixed with some Nightmare Fuel. In short, all of PK's efforts were undone. Thanks to a fortuitous meeting between Grrodon and Morgan Fairfax, and to Evronian spores still hidden on Earth, a new army was built, they conquered the planet, and later turned it into a giant spaceship, creating a new Evron. But before all of these happened, they first killed Donald Duck - they found out the identity of their biggest enemy and attacked him. A panel shows the instant before his death: the 313 car wrecked and Donald on the ground, totally helpless, with several laser pointed on him. PK is understandably shocked to know what he now has to prevent.
In the third episode, after promising the inhabitants of Grimsey to free them, Paperinik has instead to flee alone (while the men beg him to not leave them) because of the overwhelming number of Evronian soldiers, also failing to either eliminate Grrodon or sabotage the machinery they are building under the island. The suit even runs out of power and he has to desperately run for his vehicle while decrying his own failure. The look of defeat on his face is evident.
In the fourth episode, it seems to be really the end for the hero: once Ducklair Tower has been evacuated, PK has no choice than destroy it, with himself inside, to wipe out the Evronian attackers. Even the Omega Chamber AI, while still hard on him, sounds more lenient and agrees to record one last message to his loved ones. PK also reminisces of his times as the classic Paperinik: "All was much simpler... then everything changed... but I always stayed the same!"
Some pages later, a scene from PK2 #1 is referenced in Might and Power: PK is frustrated by his recent string of failures (which ended up with the destruction of Ducklair Tower and his last-minute rescue by the Raider) and thinks he'd done better if One was still there, so Odin Eidolon repeats One's (aka his past self) farewell message he sent before deactivation almost word-for-word to encourage his old friend. Seeing as One is reactivated at the end of the storyline, you can only hope it won't be too much time before the two friends reunite.
"Chronicle of a Return"
The story of Xadhoom's return should be simply glorious... Except the reason she's back is that the En'tomek on the Evronian planetoid shut her off... And left New Xerba without a sun. Upon finding out she didn't appreciate.
PK's reaction to Everett being shot and apparently disintegrated (he's later revealed to have been just teleported) by a Coronian guard is heartbreaking as he's also crying.
PK: What have you done? What have you done?
After Everett's disappearance, One is telling PK and the Raider their strategy, but PK is rather shaken.
Raider: Are you with us?
PK: Yes. Well, no. Not yet. I'm sorry. I wasn't ready. I'm not ready. But I'll be soon. I promise.
Juniper has become a sad example of Be Careful What You Wish For. She has become the queen of Corona, thanks to the devoted assistance of the scientific geniuses of both Korinna and their mother Serifa, and has moved the planet forward into becoming a formidable force bent to universal domination. However, she has lost Serifa due to an experiment gone wrong, and seen Korinna go down into an even deeper path of obsession and potential self-destruction; she has then seen how dangerous was to use Moldrock for their plans, and has ultimately lost Korinna too. She's hated her father for so long, while he was the one to truly care the most for her and not see her as a vehicle for personal ambitions. She's still the queen, but it's clear just from her eyes that the cunning, scheming, ambitious girl we knew in PK2 is no more. Her accomplishments must feel so empty now.
A smaller one, but Moldrock wasting the chances he was given to turn a new leaf. Everett now talks like he's just given up on him.
The fate of the Paperinik robot clone, who was proven to be just as heroic and virtuous as the original, at the end of Droids.