Remember when the first issue of Muppet King Arthur hit the stands? Ah, it seems like it was only yesterday. Or two weeks ago. Yeah, more like two weeks. Because that’s how long it’s been. In real life. On this earth.
Not that I’m complaining. In a perfect world, Muppet comics would come out every week. So in getting two issues in two weeks, perfection is nigh! The second issue of Muppet King Arthur is available at your local comic book store today, February 24th. (Go buy it!!)
In the latest issue, The Frog Prince King Arthur begins recruiting his fellow knights to see who will join him at his septagonal table (apparently septagons are funnier than circles). With the help of Fozzie/Percival, Miss Piggy/Morgan Le Fey, Rowlf/Merlin, and Sweetums/Sweetums, King Arthur hosts a reality show to see which Muppets can earn their place at the Frog’s side. This setup reminds me of the Steve Martin episode of The Muppet Show, in which the cast is holding auditions in lieu of an episode. So rather than a story arc, we’re treated to vignettes of Muppet characters (both familiar and obscure) doing what they do best. And what they do usually ends in some sort of calamity.
As is the norm for Muppet comics, cameos are a-plenty. After eleven issues of The Muppet Show Comic Book and nine issues of Muppet Fairy Tales comics, I’m still surprised at the characters these writers and artists are pulling out of the woodworks. And although it isn’t a cameo, this issue does manage to fit in a good Sesame Street gag (spoken by one of Bert’s ancestors?? You be the judge!).
The elephant in the room with this series is the bizarre jump in artists. Issue #1 was illustrated by Dave ?É¬Ålvarez, while this issue (and the remainder of the series) is illustrated by James Silvani. Their styles are very different: ?É¬Ålvarez is cartoony and broad, while Silvani draws the characters much closer to the puppets’ designs. This is going to be most distracting when you read the entire series at once, and I have to wonder how many people will be surprised to find a different artist when they buy this issue. Heck, one of the covers is even drawn by ?É¬Ålvarez! Hopefully the talented Dave ?É¬Ålvarez will get a chance to illustrate an entire Muppet miniseries of his own (or maybe sub for Roger Langridge the next time he needs a break?).
Trying hard to ignore last issue’s art, James Silvani’s work on this issue is pretty darn good. Even though we can see the characters below the waist, I could still envision exactly where Jim Henson or Frank Oz’s hand would be. Kermit in particular (which took me a few pages to get used to) looks remarkably like a real puppet. Unfortunately, trying hard to recreate the three-dimensional puppets doesn’t always work perfectly on a two-dimensional page. Fozzie, for example, ends up with an odd underbite and a sleepy look in his eyes. Still, Silvani does a credible job at showing us teams of characters who are instantly recognizable, large group scenes (with Muppety Easter eggs in every one), and unique and appropriate costumes for every member of the cast.
Muppet King Arthur is proving to continue that tradition of quality Muppet comics, with the humor, characterization, and beauty that we expect from anything carrying the Muppet brand. Thankfully, this comic has really pulled the sword from the stone on this one. But we’ve got two more issues to go, so who knows? Maybe the third issue will be nothing but pictures from Mr. Poodlepants‘ trip to Holland.
Muppet King Arthur #2 will be in stores on Wednesday, February 24.
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by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com