1 The Muppet Mindset: Muppet Comic Mondays: Muppet Peter Pan #2

Dec 14, 2009

Muppet Comic Mondays: Muppet Peter Pan #2

Today's Muppet Comic Monday is brought to us by our good friend James Gannon, who reviewed The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson #4 for us a few weeks ago.

Remember that Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody is now available for download on Amazon and iTunes internationally and will be available in the US tomorrow! Check back here tomorrow for links and more information.

James Gannon -
Ah, Muppet Peter Pan, the second Muppet comic miniseries where Kermit wears tights.

While the first issue is spent establishing Peter Pan, and all the rest (Peter having to get his shadow and taking the kids to Neverland…err Neverswamp, much to Piggytink’s dismay), this issue gets the ball rolling on meeting Captain Hook and his gang of pirates.

Of course, that’s after we’re reminded that Sam has taken over as Narrator, which leads to a classic Sam moment where he puts his overzealous patriotism over his own common sense (let’s just say it involves Sam having the other Narrator for an American Meal that the pilgrims feasted on and allegations of cannibalism). Which brings this reviewer to the casting choices of this story. In the grand tradition of Peter Pan, the father is always performed by the same actor who performs Captain Hook, like Hans Conried in the Disney version. Grace Rudolph breaks tradition, and for the better I might add.  Sam is a perfectly strict father figure, and a hilarious stuffed shirt who hijacks the story to make sure his kids are American, not British. I doubt that using Gonzo would have had that interesting, almost Bullwinkle-esque angle. Besides, I doubt Gonzo would make a great father. “Remember not to take any dynamite from strangers, kids.”

Of course, Gonzo makes a very interesting Captain Hook. He did play the role twice on Muppet Babies, but this time is different. Instead of absolutely reeking villainy, and being dead set on getting revenge on Peter Pan for leaving him in the handless state, he seems more hurt by the psychological damage, and even bemoans having to get along with only his metal hook. Which begs the question, was Captain Hook always known as Captain Hook, even before his hand had to be replaced by one? Anyway, Rizzo is perfectly cast as Mr. Smee. But instead of being the same sycophant you’d expect to see, he seems completely reluctant about his lot in life, and gets pretty annoyed by Captain Hook’s emotional baggage. Rounding out the pirates, we have Sweetums, Lew Zealand (in a non-speaking role), and even Statler and Waldorf in the crow’s nest. Bunsen and Beaker even get in as the ship’s gunmen, but with their own special slant. Bunsen doesn’t just man the cannons, but he introduces his own, highly experimental vaporizing cannons and cannon ball net traps (they cut down on waste).

Once Peter et al get to Neverswamp, we get an amazing cameo only a die-hard fan would have written. Piggytink laments her situation with Peter to the “For the Birds” birds from the Sex and Violence pilot. I usually try not to reveal these, but I think this deserves attention. And their bit “agreeing” with Piggy is actually funnier than the actual skit. Leading of course to some great play between Gonzo and Kermit, including a comedic sword fight and more emotional baggage by Gonzo’s Hook.

Now, I’ve never been crazy about these Muppet classic retellings. Sure, I do like The Muppet Christmas Carol and I really like Muppet Treasure Island. And The Muppets' Wizard of Oz… well… I liked Quentin Tarantino’s cameo. But Grace gets it right. Not only is this because these Muppet Fairy Tales have an all Muppet cast, but because she has a great feel for the characters. While I enjoyed Muppet Robin Hood, the writing was pretty straightforward at times, and you got a sense of the Muppets playing the characters. Here, we get the Muppets as these characters. Not Kermit playing Peter Pan, but if Kermit were Peter Pan. Even the story has a nice Muppet style twist that seems very natural.

As far as the artwork goes, there is NO excuse for Muppet fans to say they don’t like the stylization. Amy Mebberson has an amazing Disney-like Storybook quality with absolutely wonderful adaptations of the characters. Even wrinkling and rumpling the character’s faces when they emote.  It reminds me of those great old Tom Leigh illustrated Muppet books, like “Muppet Manners or The Night Gonzo Threw a Party.” And really, the best looking illustrated Miss Piggy I’ve seen in years. Seems like both artist and writer are big Miss Piggy fans, giving us a much deeper character and genuinely funny dialogue.  You can almost hear Frank Oz’s voice when you read.

I just can’t recommend this comic  miniseries enough. Even if you didn’t like Muppet Robin Hood, and you somehow don’t appreciate Roger Langridge’s work in The Muppet Show Comic Book, you’ve got to pick this one up.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier.

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