We meet Darkwing Duck for the first time here as a budding superhero in the bustling metropolis of St. Canard. Tired of busting ordinary crooks because it doesn't get his name in the papers, Darkwing longs for the opportunity to fight a real super villain. Meanwhile the notorious criminal Taurus Bullba, currently serving a 99-year prison sentence, has hatched a scheme right from his cell to steal something called the Ramrod from the military. It's being brought into St. Canard that very night by train and Bullba's chief lackey, Hammerhead Hannigan, is told that he must board the train while it's in motion in order to steal the Ramrod because there will be a whole mess of tanks, jeeps, and soldiers awaiting it when it arrives. Meanwhile Darkwing spots Bullba's pet condor, Tantalus, carrying what looks like a large trunk of some sort. Determined to get to the bottom of this "feathery intrigue," he hops onto his motorcycle sidecar, the Ratcatcher, and follows Tantalus.
The trunk turns out to contain equipment needed by Hammerhead when he boards the train with two other thugs named Hoof and Mouth. While Hammerhead inspects the Ramrod, which turns out to be an enormous anti-gravity beam gun, Darkwing catches up to the train on the Ratcatcher and boards it as well. Spotting Hoof and Mouth, he immediately recognizes them as being henchmen for Taurus Bullba and realizes he's finally getting his chance to tangle with some really big-time crooks. He disposes of Hoof and Mouth without much difficulty, but is booted off the train when Hammerhead reveals how he earned his name. Fortunately (or unfortunately) he lands in the hangar of Launchpad McQuack, a pilot and his biggest (and likely only) fan. Despite Launchpad's "help," or perhaps because of it, Darkwing is unable to prevent Bullba's thugs from making off with the Ramrod. Angered that the evildoers escaped, Darkwing rudely brushes off his only fan.
Meanwhile, even though he now has the Ramrod, Bullba does not know the arming code because he prematurely arranged the death of the Ramrod's inventor, Professor Waddlemeyer, before he could learn the code. He sends Hammerhead, Hoof, and Mouth to kidnap Waddlemeyer's granddaughter Gosalyn from the St. Canard Orphanage on the gamble that she knows the code since she was "practically raised in his lab" after the death of her parents. Hammerhead pretends to be an old family friend of the professor's, and leads her away from the orphanage so his friends can ambush her. Darkwing foils the kidnapping attempt, arriving on the Ratcatcher just in time to literally pull Gosalyn out of the thugs' hands after learning who the Ramrod's inventor was and that he'd raised a granddaughter. A furious motor vehicle chase ensues, during which Darkwing learns that he's been framed for the theft of the Ramrod! With both the police and Bulba's henchmen hot on his trail, Darkwing takes Gosalyn to the only safe place in the city he knows: his hideout in the tower of the Audubon Bay Bridge.
When Hammerhead, Hoof, and Mouth return empty-handed, Taurus Bullba realizes he's going to have to take matters into his own hands. With the help of his lovely assistant Clovis and his gigantic airship (which is shaped like a bull's head), he makes a daring and destructive escape from prison, and sets out to find Darkwing.