1 The Muppet Mindset: Reviews from the Muppet Back-Issue Bin: Muppet Babies Comics #16

Aug 8, 2011

Reviews from the Muppet Back-Issue Bin: Muppet Babies Comics #16

James Gannon - A while back, I discovered a Star Comics Digest that had a great old Muppet Babies comic reprinted in between some pretty mediocre/decen comics. Since then, I vowed I'd dig up the old Muppet Babies comics I had and review them right here. I cleaned that closet out and I’m ready to start, so I’ll begin with my favorite issue, #16.

Star Comics Digest Muppet Babies Issue #16

"We Spy" (or "The Spy in Striped Socks!"):   Seems that the Muppet Babies have taken a shine to pretending that they’re secret agents. But when Nanny declines to join in their games to pick up a few things, they get suspicious that she really IS a secret agent.  Animal takes the term undercover literally, tosses a large blanket over Kermit, and sets off the famous Muppet Babies fantasy sequence. Kermit becomes agent Double O-F (OOF), and is sent on a mission to track down the stripy socks wearing Agent "N," who was last seen at a Secrets Convention. There, Kermit meets up with Mata Piggy (who is later revealed to be Agent OOP), who shows how the world leaders trade their secrets. Dr. Gonzo is outside with a faster than sight airplane that Kermit, frankly, can’t see. A familiar pair of stripy socks walks by, causing Kermit to think he’s following Agent "N," but in reality is the evil Agent "V" ("as in villain"), who wants the secrets of the world to be made public (insert Wikileaks joke). After a non-violent kid friendly struggle, Agent V is captured, the secret files are accidentally dropped by Kermit into the sea ("At least they’re still secret," he adds), and Agent V vows revenge on "N." Of course, it’s hard to find a secret agent only recognized by a certain pair of socks when everyone at the Convention is wearing them. Piggy romantically advances on a reluctant Kermit, as she’s known to do, and the fantasy ends. There are some clever references to spy media, including Kermit’s Maxwell Smart style shoe phone, but none of those obvious James Bond catchphrases (thank goodness). And some nice little background gags, courtesy of penciller Marie Severin (including a romantic candle lit dinner between Khomeini and Quadaffi... this WAS written in the 1980’s, after all).

The Big Mess-Take:   Nanny enters another splash panel to ask what the babies are doing (just like in the last comic!), this time to comment on the huge mess they’ve made during a pillow fight. After telling them to clean up the mess, Piggy ponders, "There’s got to be someplace where people appreciate a good mess." And to the surprise of no one, Gonzo knows. He leads the rest of the babies into the closet to the Center for Mess Enlightenment, a place where they’re encouraged to create the biggest mess possible. After making a huge disaster area out of a test kitchen and a test living room, they are given low scores. The head of the center, a nameless human dressed in stereotypical artist clothes, bemoans, "No one can make a good mess anymore!  It’s becoming a lost art." While he claims to see a raw talent in Animal, he praises Gonzo’s inspiration. Gonzo then proceeds to turn on a fan and create a perfect 10 worthy pigsty. Unfortunately, his friends get lost in the ruckus, causing him to frantically search, fall out a clothes basket, and break the fantasy. Piggy insists that they have to clean up this even bigger new mess they started, and Gonzo agrees. "We need to know where everything is so we can mess it up another day," he says.

Overall, this is very similar to the style of the cartoon series, with some small changes. The fantasy sequence often is the story, unlike the show using the fantasy sequences in context of the story. Plus, there isn’t any educational or social values content like most of the episodes have. The character personalities seem pretty genuine from the show, though Fozzie talks exclusively in puns. Laura Hitchcock manages to keep the comic as imaginative and clever as the show is, but also adapts it to work in comic form. Marie Severin’s artwork is perfectly Muppety, even making some of the characters look more puppet like than the animators ever did (Kermit’s expressions in the first comic are priceless). As I said last time, the art unfortunately suffer the technology of the time, and it would be great to see a well done digitally colored reprint to really get the art to shine.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

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