Sholly Fisch and Jorge Monlongo gear up for the release of the impending “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” feature film with the debut of their IDW miniseries by the same name. Intended for an all-ages audience, “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” #1 explores Mr. Peabody’s invention of the WABAC time machine and their subsequent adventures. Although the comic has some wonderful throwbacks, Fisch’s story is strangely paced and altogether forgettable; on the other hand, Monlongo does an excellent homage to the original cartoon with his style choices.
Overall, the story is truly a mixed bag. Fisch impressively manages to squeeze in an origin and two time travel adventures before all is said and done, but the plot jumps all over the place. The book opens in medias res, which is fitting enough for a time-travel story, but the introduction scene drops readers in the middle of the first rather than the second adventure; such a placement makes the issue seem entirely too long, in that the reader expects the story to come full circle as the opening sequence is explained. Instead, Fisch drags the reader for another, extraneous trip that adds nothing to the story but a few chuckles that are ultimately unmemorable.
As the issue includes the creation of the WABAC machine in addition to Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s origin, Fisch lays out some rules for time travel. He skillfully glosses over some of the complications that arise in any time travel story with only a line or two, as when Mr. Peabody explains to Sherman that they have license to do as they please in the past because “we already know how it all turns out.” However, Fisch likewise damns himself by explaining some rules but not others. For instance, he never explains why Mr. Peabody and Sherman can understand the Mayans but not the Neanderthals, a shift both jarring and confusing. Although the show borrows from the original show’s mythology, its world building potential goes untapped.
Monlongo’s art reads like a love letter to the cartoon, in that their styles are incredibly similar. His character design, for example, stays consistent with the originals. This, and the background design, comes across as refreshingly simple in most pages. That isn’t to say that the art looks rushed or underdeveloped, of course; Monlongo’s effort is apparent in key devices that are painstakingly detailed, like Mr. Peabody’s lab and the Mayan calendar. In tandem with Fisch’s writing, he includes some clever alternate designs for time travel machines that wouldn’t exist until decades after the show aired, like suspiciously TARDIS- and Dolorean-shaped prototypes. Monlongo’s colors do the issue justice as well, adding to the vintage cartoon feeling while strengthening the lively, bright atmosphere.
“Mr. Peabody and Sherman” #1 is Sholly Fisch and Jorge Monlongo’s fun if lackluster revisitation of the classic cartoon. The issue will resonate longtime fans who will enjoy its episodic feel and style, while it simultaneously familiarizes a new audience with the characters just in time for the movie to hit theaters.