Review by: Ed Allen Having read some of IDW’s reprints of classic Popeye comics from the 1940’s, I’ve got to say the resemblance between Bud Sagendorf’s relatively ancient comics and this new ongoing series is uncanny.
Bruce Ozella and Vince Musaccia have absolutely nailed Popeye’s traditional style, even using variations on a four-tiered eight-panel page layout which manages to feel a lot like Sagendorf’s densely packed nine-panel layouts even if it doesn't precisely fit that (arguably outdated) formula. They use the traditional rounded, almost bulbous cartoon figures that are instantly recognisable as the cast of Popeye. If anything I thought that Ozella and Musaccia have managed to make the characters even more expressive than in the classic comics, something that really contributes to the comedic moments of this issue.
I was impressed by Roger Langridge’s script and I think it’s evident from the two stories which make up this issue that he’s put a lot of effort in to adapt his writing to the material. There are plenty of moments of dialogue driven character comedy and Langridge cleverly mixes Popeye’s positive messages with the irony that comes from his lack of self awareness and well intentioned ignorance.
While Popeye’s ability to deliver a knockout punch is clearly undiminished he’s far less likely to solve all of his troubles with the cartoon violence that’s typical of the Sagendorf comics, making this new series a little closer to the kind of morality I think some parents would prefer to see in the comics they give to their children today. Obviously there’s still some violence present - it simply wouldn’t be Popeye if we didn’t get to see the brutes and bullies get the beating they deserve - it just happens less often than I’ve come to expect.
If you’re looking for a humorous all-ages comic then IDW’s Popeye #5 is a good place to start, and because each issue is completely self contained there’s no need to worry about picking up the first four (unless you really enjoyed it and want more). Similarly, curious long-term fans of the Popeye franchise won’t be disappointed and will find that this series is true to its roots, making good use of the same kinds comedy as its predecessors without feeling dated. I can’t see Popeye appealing to the majority of comic book fans but there’s definitely a niche for this series to fill.
Writer: Roger Langridge Artist: Bruce Ozella & Vince Musaccia Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/26/12