The Fall issue of The Muppets: The Four Seasons is here. I need to point out that, while this is the penultimate issue of the Marvel release, it really was the last issue of the comic out of order. There’s still Winter, which was supposed to be the first issue left. Brace yourself, though, I’m going to bring it up a few times in the review.
Pops the doorman has reached the mandatory retirement age. As bad as the group wants him to stay, he has no choice in the matter. Pops is grooming his nephew, Nat Crochet, to be the new Muppet Theater doorman. Among his duties are rejecting unwanted talent that constantly harassed Pops. Meanwhile, Gonzo comes up with an idea, that only Gonzo can, which is just convoluted enough to work. Switch birth certificates, and do his usual crazy stuntman Gonzo thing before they realize the name on the certificate is wrong. And the best part? No one in the theater has a birth certificate (Animal ate his) except for Piggy. We have a lot of excellent character development on the part of Pops, a character that was low key on the original Muppet Show. According to this comic, he was in the military–we never saw that in the series. Even his Palisades action figure was based on his appearance in The Great Muppet Caper.
This issue has some pretty interesting sketches, considering how obscure the references are. Notably, Rizzo stars in a parody of a Windsor McCay comic strip, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (in Rizzo’s case, Gorgonzola), which would be the basis of the Little Nemo in Slumberland comics. I don’t expect anyone but animation and comic history scholars to get that one; I barely did (college tuition well spent, I suppose). Meanwhile, Pigs in Space takes on a Flash Gordon style of its story telling. And one of the comic’s original characters, Topaz the Dwarf from all the way back in Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson series returns to tell another one of his terrible poems.
This is a very good issue, almost seems like a fifth act for the Family Reunion arc due to the inclusion of the original character of Nat Crochet. But (as I stated earlier) as a grand finale of The Muppet Show Comic Book, it leaves me just a little unsatisfied. This was the last issue penned by Roger before he decided to leave the comic. Other than Pops sort of going to retire in this issue, nothing really says “Goodbye, and thanks for reading.” That leads me to think Roger left it open to either pass on the comic to another artist and writer or to fit into the continuity of The Muppet Show. Either way, the bright spot in these being released out of order is that there’s no continuity in this arc, making it episodic. Not even a small, continuous gag. So the last issue, which will have a much less satisfying ending to the series anyway, won’t read as out of order. As far as I can tell, anyway. I’m really warming up to the cartoony, juvenile, dizzying covers. At least having someone draw them instead of using stock pictures is a big effort. They did manage to pop out of the rest of the comics on the shelves. But the real improvement in Marvel’s handling of this comic? Other than one movie poster advertisement for The Avengers, there are no intrusive ads, leaving a smooth read this issue.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com