Issue #1Issue #2Issue #3Issue #4

[Important note: The review below claims that The Muppet Show Comic Book #4 would be released on June 24th. This information was taken from the official Boom! Studios website, but has since proven to be completely untrue. Tough Pigs apologizes to Muppet fans, comic book fans, and our elderly Aunt Cloise for any confusion caused by Boom! making us dirty liars. The Muppet Show Comic Book #4 will, in fact, be released… someday. Who can tell with these silly comic book companies?]

This Wednesday, June 24th, is the release date for The Muppet Show Comic Book #4, by the series’ regular writer and artist Roger Langridge. This is the last issue of the Muppet Show comic… until next month, when it returns with a new #1 as The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson for another four-issue run.

So the series is ending, but it’s not really ending, it’s just starting over again, four months after it started the first time, and going four more months until it ends again and then starts again. This kind of insanity is actually considered normal in comics.
So, the first thing I want to say about issue 4, which is the “Miss Piggy’s Story” issue, is that I love both covers. Cover A, as seen above, has Piggy looking every bit as glamorous as Marilyn Monroe. Cover B is a Sound of Music deal, with Piggy’s fellow Muppets apparently none too thrilled with her Julie Andrews impression.

One thing we’ve been wondering about since this series began is whether it would have guest stars. It seemed unlikely, as it’d be pretty hard to get Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep into a comic book. But this issue begins with Kermit and Scooter trying to track down a guest star for the show. And who are they trying to get?

That’s right — “Kim Jarrey.” They throw around a bunch of other silly spoof names, and I don’t know if it’s because of some kind of crazy legal issues or just because it’s funny that they don’t use real names, but it works. It would probably be a little jarring to hear them talking about current stars anyway, as there haven’t really been any indications as to whether this comic book series takes place now, in the 1970s, or somewhere in between.

Unfortunately, all the good guest stars are too expensive for The Muppet Show‘s meager budget, so they end up with Madame Rhonda, a psychic. Also she’s a pig, but that’s neither here nor there.

Would The Muppet Show really book a psychic as a guest star? How much can she really bring to a variety show? Well, they once scheduled
Angus McGonagle, the Argyle Gargoyle Who Gargles Gershwin, which is a pretty limited talent, so I’ll buy it.

As always, the comic alternates between backstage drama and onstage acts, but this time nearly all the acts are tied in to the theme of psychic ability. It’s a departure from previous issues, and I could have done with a few more un-themed sketches, but it’s still fun.

There’s a Sam the Eagle bit, with Sam written completely in character. Sometimes I get a little tired of modern Muppet writers emphasizing only Sam’s patriotism — on the show, he was concerned with morality and sophisticated entertainment as much as Americanism. But Langridge manages to get that across even with Sam standing in front of a huge American flag.

But isn’t this supposed to be Piggy’s story? Well, Madame Rhonda is the driving force of this issue’s backstage story, but Piggy quickly becomes its center. Madame Rhonda tells all the Muppets their fortunes, and they all fall for her schtick, but when Piggy gets her palm read, she misinterprets Rhonda’s warning and becomes convinced that Kermit is going to leave her for another woman.

The thing is, there aren’t that many female Muppets, so Langridge proceeds to draw Piggy seething while Kermit talks to just about all of them, including one character I never thought I’d see in comic book form. But that’s the beauty of these comics… A Muppet who wouldn’t be worth the time and expense to rebuild for a quick cameo in a TV special can appear in one frame of a comic with no fuss. What a great medium! Unlike Madame Rhonda.

That’s all I’ll give away about the backstage plot, but there are some other nifty things going on here, including a Veterinarian’s Hospital sketch, and a Pigs in Space, which provides another example of Langridge’s knack for clever uses of the comic book format to do things that can’t quite be done onscreen.

Oh, and speaking of characters we never thought we’d see again… Guess who shows up on page fourteen?

It’s the
Talking Houses from season one of The Muppet Show! So that’s clearly meant for the true fans in the audience, as most people in the world would have no memory of those guys.

Also notable: Toward the end of the story, the action moves to a location outside the Muppet Theater. As far as I can remember, this is the first time the comic has done this. And the TV show almost never did it… In fact, the Loretta Lynn episode is the only instance I can remember.

So the big question here is, How is the characterization of Piggy? Latter-day Muppet writers have had a hard time pinning her down, because it’s so tempting to just make her go around yelling and hitting people. In this comic book, Piggy does get angry and violent, but it’s all for the love of her frog, which is not as frustrating as the one-dimensional Piggy who karate-chops everyone, no matter how contrived the reason. And she gets to act in sketches and do musical numbers, which is something TV movies and specials haven’t really allowed for, but it’s good because it’s so easy to forget that Piggy is an accomplished performer.

So, yeah. This is an okay Miss Piggy.

And that does it for the first run of Muppet Show comics. I’ve enjoyed these character-focused issues, and while I think there’s still some potential in that format (Floyd’s story? Beaker’s story? Animal’s story?), I’m looking forward to the Peg Leg Wilson arc, and I’m still pretty thrilled to have new Muppet stuff on a monthly basis.

Click here to discuss this issue and geek out about the Talking Houses on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe –

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