The Muppet franchise has translated surprisingly effectively into comics. "The Muppet Show," under the watchful guidance of Roger Langridge, has become a massive hit, so you can’t blame BOOM! for wanting to expand the series further. There has been a "Muppet Snow White" and now we have the beginning of a Muppet take on Sherlock Holmes. We open with Doyle’s favorite case, "The Speckled Band."
An idea like this, in the concept stage, feels like it should be a homerun. This is what the Muppets do: they riff on known work and they do it well. They play on conceptions that we have and they warp it for childhood consumption that can be appreciated no matter how old you get. That’s the Muppets I know, but it’s not the one I get on the page of this title.
The main draw for the Muppets is their humor and this issue offers plenty of jokes to look at. There are usually about 3-4 jokes per page as every character takes their turn at offering witty asides. Storck packs each page, but the problem is that most of the material falls flatter than a Muppet without a hand up its wazoo to add a little articulation. I’m sure if I was eight years old I might not have heard plenty of these zingers before, though even then that’s debateable. Setting up a character to say ‘fangs’ so you can say ‘you’re welcome’ isn’t exactly knee-slapping comedic gold. There are some wry smiles to be found but rarely the guffaws I had hoped for.
The story, itself, is adapted quite ably. Different Muppets take up the assigned roles with Gonzo leading as Holmes, Fozzie as Watson, and Kermit as LeStrade. You almost get the feeling this could just as easily be set within the actual television show as one of the skits. There are some awkward attempts to bend the story into more age appropriate fare, though some parts are well modified. The first victim of the ‘speckled band’ isn’t slain but rather made ill. It also transpires that the motives to make her this way are much more innocuous. But for each success there’s a very strange attempt at changing the storyline. The entire sock sub-plot, for example, seemed pretty lifeless to me.
Mebberson’s artwork is good in places, but at other times feels like she’s used far too many computer techniques to fill in gaps with colors and patterns. The posing and facial expressions are sound, but nothing that elevates the material at all.
Once I finished the issue, I was unsure but upon further inspection I feel there’s probably enough here for the young ones; sadly, the adults might not want to stick around. I was impressed that the entire case is stacked into this one issue and next month our long nosed Holmes is going to look into "A Scandal In Bohemia." This might be a pretty effective entry level to sampling the original material but as a comic it’s not exactly the greatest adaptation.