If you’ll recall, I was pleasantly surprised with the first issue of the new Mr. Peabody & Sherman comic. I have my doubts about the upcoming movie, but the comic remained surprisingly true to the spirit of the original Peabody & Sherman cartoons that aired with Rocky & Bullwinkle back in the ’50s and ’60s. It was silly and fun, but, most of all, clever.
That was Issue #1. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Issue #2. The elements are the same, but it just seems like it’s trying too hard.
For one thing, there are the puns. Terrible puns were a hallmark of the original cartoon, and just about every episode culminated in a pun on a historical figure or event. The first issue of the comic had a couple of historical puns sprinkled throughout the story, as well, but, in this issue, they’re everywhere. There are at least three or four just in the first couple of pages, and they all feel forced and not worth the effort.
Eventually, they get to one that’s actually pretty good—or pretty bad, as the case may be. Whichever it is, it’s clever and actually worthwhile, but it’s buried under so many pointless ones that it doesn’t really land the way it should. The impact is spoiled.
This issue sees our heroes, Peabody the dog and his pet boy Sherman, using the WABAC machine to travel first to the construction of the heads on Easter Island, then to a 17th century Italian opera house, and finally to the ship of the infamous Blackbeard the Pirate.
One plus to this issue is that it finally has the two of them interacting with actual historical figures, rather than just generic eras, as in the first issue. Unfortunately, those interactions still don’t have the dynamic that they did in the cartoon. The utter ridiculousness and often outright stupidity of the people they met in their travels were the source of many more comedic hijinks than the terrible puns were on the show.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman #2 does have some enjoyable moments. Once the issue gets going and they stop trying to stuff puns in every couple of panels, then the jokes they DO make start to land better. Kudos to them for getting at least one joke directly from the original Rocky & Bullwinkle. Far from accusing them of stealing or being unoriginal, I wish they would pilfer more jokes from the series. After all, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. At any rate, there’s definite fun to be had in this issue.
In comparing it to the first issue, though, it almost seems like they were written by two different people: #1 being done by someone with a genuine love and respect for the original show, and #2 being done by someone just following a pre-determined formula. But, no, it’s the exact same team on both issues. Maybe the writer just ran out of good ideas after the first one. Maybe there was pressure from higher up the ladder to change things around to appeal to some imaginary focus group.
If it’s the latter, then that’s a terrible shame, and it makes me even more wary of what the movie will be like. If it’s the former, then perhaps they should watch a few more episodes of the cartoon for inspiration. Or, alternately, they could hire me as a consultant. I’m a generally creative person and major pun aficionado. And, if someone’s going to be paid to sit around watching old episodes of Rocky & Bullwinkle, it might as well be me.
No? Well, it was worth a shot . . .