It’s a phrase that bears repeating early and often: “Muppet Show” is one of the best comic book series being published right now. No, really. Roger Langridge makes this such a fun comic that it’s one of the few that I’ll read half-a-dozen times in a row as soon as a new issue is published. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.
Langridge’s new story arc, “Muppet Mash,” is providing twists on classic movie monster archetypes. So after the initial issue involved Gonzo looking rather vampiric after a trip to Transylvania, this new one has guest act Calistoga Cleo and the Fandango Pharaohs arriving to the Muppet Show. In other words, prepare yourself for a lot of Egyptian-themed jokes.
Now if all Langridge gave us was a lot of puns and humor centered around mummies, I think “Muppet Show” #9 would’ve been fun in its own right. Langridge goes a step further, though, introducing a plot about Statler and Waldorf (the two old hecklers up in the deluxe box) both falling in love with the sultry Cleo herself. Langridge has always nailed the sarcastic, cutting comments from Statler and Waldorf, so seeing them shift into besotted territory is an eye-opening experience. Don’t worry about finding your favorite curmudgeons getting too soft and loving, though; as you no doubt guessed, once each of them realizes the other is also making the moves on Cleo, their classic barbs are now directed at each other instead of Fozzie and the rest of the Muppet Show.
Of course, this is an issue of “Muppet Show” so we still have lots of little skits and songs, old favorites like Pigs in Space and Muppet Labs, and even a subplot with Miss Piggy feeling threatened by Cleo’s beauty and un-aging appearance. And of course, it helps that Langridge’s art is beautiful, a synthesis of the real life Muppet appearances with his own style of comic art. They’re all instantly recognizable and consistent, and I love that Langridge even adds in little touches like Scooter’s eyes being part of his glasses, just like they are on the actual Muppet.
So few “all-ages” books are really for all ages, but “Muppet Show” is one of the exceptions to that rule. I suspect just as many adults as kids read the book, and with good reason. So long as Langridge is in charge of “Muppet Show” I am most cheerfully on board too. This is a great, great comic book.