As the only company putting out any Muppet content, BOOM! Studios is publishing a sister comic to The Muppet Show Comic Book. This Wednesday, they?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re making Disney look bad by releasing Muppet Robin Hood, the first in a 4-issue miniseries (written by Tim Beedle and illustrated by Armand Villavert, Jr.) retelling the story of Kevin Costner fighting against Severus Snape. Of course, it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s hard to put anything up against the terrific quality of Roger Langridge?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Muppet Show comic, but would Robin Hood back down against that challenge? Heck no! I mean, I assume not. Maybe he turns out to be a sniveling coward by the fourth issue.

Your first thought when seeing this comic on the shelf might be one of d?ɬ©j?É vu-ity. That?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s probably because this is far from the first time Kermit has donned the be-feathered cap of Mr. Hood. He cavorted with the Merry Men in the Lynn Redgrave episode of The Muppet Show, and in 1980 he was illustrated in those famous tights in a book simply titled ?¢‚Ǩ?ìRobin Hood.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù And in the ?¢‚Ǩ?ìit hardly counts?¢‚Ǩ¬ù category, Baby Kermit appeared as a wee version of Robin Hood in Muppet Babies?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ Classic Children?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Tales. Did the public really demand another iteration of the Muppets as the Robin Hood characters? Was BOOM! Studios even aware of these other variations? Should we even bother buying new comics that tell the same story we?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve heard so many times before? Well, yeah. It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s got Muppets in it.

The most refreshing part of the comic was the characterization of Kermit the Frog. He?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s got a tough job, being responsible for moving the story along without becoming too much of a boring narrator. Tim Beedle does a great job at making Kermit funny, while keeping his characterization in a comfortable middle place between Jim Henson and Carey Elwes. And that’s not an unpleasant place to be, folks.

You?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll notice that I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m calling the green dude ?¢‚Ǩ?ìKermit,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù and not ?¢‚Ǩ?ìRobin.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù That?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a pretty sensitive subject, considering the multiple meanings of that name for the Muppets. Thankfully, Beedle nipped that one in the bud by turning it into a running gag for us fans to enjoy, rather than confuse or ignore. It kinda makes you happy that there?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not a Muppet named David of Doncaster, doesn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t it?

The bulk of the story covers Kermit?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s initial meeting with the Sheriff of Nottingham, followed by the introduction of Little John and the Merry Men. Sam the Eagle and Sweetums are typecast as the Sheriff and Little, respectively, which is a nice break from the obvious choices of Gonzo and Fozzie, respectively. The Merry Men are a fun mix of fan favorites, including Lew Zealand, Janice, and Scooter, all of whom will be fun to see run amok in the next few issues. Respectively.

Another nice surprise is the background references and character cameos thrown in for Fans Like Us. One character in particular hasn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t been seen since season 1 of The Muppet Show. How?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s that for a tease?

My only complaint is about the art. Armand Villavert?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s work is competent for the most part, but some of his character illustrations might not sit well with fans. I thought his Kermit was top-notch, but Gonzo and Sweetums (both of whom are understandably difficult to draw) look a bit odd, and not odd in the ways they’d probably prefer to appear. On the other hand, his Rowlf and Janice come out perfectly, making me wish (as I always have) that they had more screentime (pagetime?). Of course, we were spoiled by the three cover art images by David Petersen, Shelli Paroline, and David Alvarez. If BOOM! is smart (and it sure seems like they are), they?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll get those cats to draw some interior art for future Muppet comics.

All in all, I enjoyed the first issue of Muppet Robin Hood. It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a good addition to the long list of Muppet literary parodies that BOOM! seems to want to continue publishing (coming up next: Muppet Peter Pan). Normally I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d complain about the Muppets not being allowed to be themselves, but we?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve still got The Muppet Show Comic Book coming out every month, and Tim Beedle gets my seal of approval for letting everyone speak with their own voice, so I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d welcome this comic to my bookshelf or longbox.

Plus, it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s got Muppets in it. Go buy it.

Muppet Robin Hood #1 is solicited for May 27, 2009, but because of Memorial Day weekend, some stores may not have it in stock until May 28. Contact your local comic book store for more information.

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