Muppet King Arthur #4
Comic Book Review
Written by Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck
Illustrated by James Silvani
Illustrated by James Silvani
James Gannon – So it comes to pass that another “Muppet Classics” side series comic arc has come to an end. This was the third in a series of retellings after Muppet Robin Hood and Muppet Peter Pan, leaving the way for Muppet Snow White. So how does this one stack up against the others? All in good time. First we gotta see what’s in issue 4.
As I said last time, if you have the basic understanding of the Arthurian Legend you know that Robin’s casting of Mordred was something rather interesting. Sure, Mordred was also King Arthur’s nephew, so on that sense it’s a no brainer. Of course, Mordred also betrays Arthur. And Betray Arthur is exactly what Robin does here. It’s handled perfectly in character, though, with Robin being annoyed at his uncle’s over protectiveness, and clearly being a pawn of Sir Sam (the Eagle), who, as we’ve seen in the last 3 issues, doesn’t like that Kermit’s the king all that much. Of course, Arthur Kermit has to challenge Mordred Robin for ownership of the thrown of England. And while both covers hint at mortal combat between the two, somehow Kermit fighting Robin to the death doesn’t exactly seem Muppety at all. Instead we get a more fitting approach between the two… a pun-off, refereed by Fozzie. And while I just can’t give everything away, the ending is so perfectly Kermit. Come on. You were expecting Le Morte De Kermit? All loose ends get tied up, even ends you didn’t realize.
Now, as this was the final issue, an overall critique is in order, and it needs to be compared full with the other two Muppet Classics comics. Muppet Robin Hood, while I felt the writing was good, tried to cram too much of the big honkin’ legend into a four-issue semi-parody retelling. As such, there was a LOT of dialogue that made for speech balloons that were bigger than the art at some points, detracting a lot from the action. It really couldn’t find the balance of source material and Muppetness that it could have had. Thankfully, Muppet Peter Pan was much better. It stuck to important parts of the story, trimming away the Mermaids and Indians (which I kinda thought the Mayhem was). It also removed the crocodile completely, which wouldn’t have worked with the sympathetic version of Hook. All the while the story managed to really incorporate a lot of Muppet wackiness with some great sweetness of the story. It was a coming of age tale that turned a younger, more immature Peter Pan into the Kermit the Frog we all know.
Muppet King Arthur is different. It took the main iconic bullet points from the Arthurian legend (which itself is inconsistent and at the hands of many authors over the years) and said to itself, we have Excalibur, Morgan le Fey, the Holy Grail… let’s run with it. That freed up a lot of wiggle room to make sure the writers and artists had fun and kept the insane Muppet spirit perfectly intact. Not to mention the fact that it fit perfectly into a four-issue arc without any gaps or overlaps. I wish the Muppet movie adaptations of classic stories were this much fun. There’s a real consistency with running gags in this series. Throughout, you’ll find Rizzo holding or selling signs. Even minor cameos from earlier issues come back for the final panel. Stuff you’d even think were throwaway gags eventually come back. The only exception is that the first issue seemed to hint at Lew Zealand being one of the knights, but I suspect that was a red herring. The character voices were spot on throughout. Kermit seemed perfectly himself, especially at the end. And Pepe was written and drawn flawlessly here–even Muppet Peter Pan didn’t get him that accurate.
I will say that I’m conflicted about both artists. Part of me wishes Dave Alvarez did the whole thing, another part wishes it was all James Silvani. They both did such marvelous work that really fit with the humor and writing style Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck were going for.
If you missed the entire series up to this point, go back and get them, or at least wait for the graphic novel reprints. This is one Muppet Comics side arc that you shouldn’t miss!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier