After two four-issue minis, Roger Langridge and BOOM! are finally taking the limits off and allowing everyone's favorite 'not quite mops and not quite puppets' to hit the shelves every month without limit and we are all richer for it. Langridge's work on the first two "Muppets" minis was impeccable and one of the most pleasant surprises of 2009. While known as an obviously talented cartoonist, no one quite expected the pairing of him and the Muppets to work out so well. Kicking off the ongoing series with the Muppets going on the road is an appropriate story to begin the new book of no limits and no end in sight.
Langridge doesn't waste any time introducing the basic idea of the story, jumping right in on the first page with a funny 'Muppets News Flash' and a gorgeous spread of the whole gang in, on, and around their tour bus. With the theater undergoing repairs, the troupe is on a live tour and it is a reminder of the vaudeville roots that lie at the heart of the concept of "The Muppet Show." Venturing outside of the theater allows Langridge to play around with the format of the show and the backstage interactions. For example, this issue uses song more than any previous to great, and differing, effect each time.
Throughout the issue is also a sense of foreboding concerning the success of this venture as Fozzie Bear stays behind, the owner of the venue wrote a crooked contract, and the cast of the show wonder if the act translates well to a live show outside of the theater. These concerns reflect the possible anxiety of any fan that wonders if Langridge can pull off doing a story centered around the show outside of the theater and he most certainly does. He manages to work in standard skits while altering them for the live show by including audience participation and the cousins of Statler and Waldorf to criticize the show with the wit and charm of their cousins.
Despite leaving the confines of the theater, Langridge's artistic style remains similar to his usual fare, including the effective use of mid-level perspectives, so we see the feet of the Muppets as rarely as possible. His art is broader in this issue than usual, playing up exaggerated expressions and body language as one might do in outdoor theater a little more. He manages to get a wide range of emotions and expressions out of the Muppets while still maintaining their somewhat fixed features. His best visual storytelling comes at the end of the issue where he shows us what Fozzie has been up to in a 26-panel strip where each panel features a word from each successive letter of the alphabet. The juxtaposition of the single word and Langridge's art is masterful and very funny.
While the series of mini-series suggested that "The Muppet Show Comic Book" would be out each month anyway, the launch of an ongoing series by Roger Langridge is a wonderful guarantee. If you like funny jokes, some vaudeville routines, and lovely, gorgeous cartooning, you definitely need to buy this comic.