So as you’ve noticed I have been purposefully random in the IDW comics I’m reviewing. I’m trying to give everything a fair shake. I’m going to get every Ninja Turtles comic because I own every Ninja Turtles comic, I have to buy them for my collection so I might as well review them. I buy My Little Pony for my friend’s children, and review it before giving it to them. I buy Prisoners of Time because I wanted the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary book. But everything else has been pretty random. If I fall in love with a book I’ll probably keep picking it up. Like GI Joe. GI Joe was actually really decent. Transformers? Not so much, so far. So it’s going to be subjective like that. You’re probably going to see more GI Joe reviews than you will Transformers reviews now, because I’ve been burned by Transformers. All that said, the randomness has led to some… randomness. Like this. What am I supposed to do with this? Classic Popeye #7?
I don’t even know where to start. I mean, I haven’t read the issue yet, but I imagine it’s going to read a lot like this: “it’s Popeye. It is exactly what you would think a Popeye comic would be.” Usually for my first review of a new franchise I’ll go over what I already know about the title, but here… it’s Popeye. It’s like asking somebody to describe a carrot without using the word “carrot,” sometimes it’s just hard to simplify things any further.
Is there a market for this? Were there tons of Popeye fans begging for more? I sometimes wonder how Fantastic Four and Hulk are still in print, given that I have never met a single person who reads them. I know 20 people that love Darkhawk and not one who even likes Hulk. How does that title exist? But if Popeye can sustain multiple titles a month, I will believe anything. Apparently Conor McCreery had the right idea and I was way off publishing novels. Apparently people will just buy comics, specifically IDW comics.
Let’s review this.
The cover is nice. It’s by Bud Sagendorf and… looks to be a reprint of the original. One of those cute images that has nothing to do with what’s inside. It’s Popeye making a scarecrow of himself to protect his spinach farm on a plain yellow background. He looks like Popeye. Popeye’s design has not changed in almost 70 years. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s Popeye. I don’t know what else to say.
So I open the page and yes, it’s in black and white. And yes, this material is reprinted from Popeye #7, straight from July 1949… and I guess that’s good. Reprinting classic material to make sure it doesn’t get lost. Does IDW get some kind of grant from the government to do this? They should. I’m stalling because I really have nothing to say. I’m now reviewing a 65 year-old comic book. It’s like if IGN reviewed Pac-Man and bitched about its graphics. Or said anything, really. Anything you say makes you look bad or ridiculous.
The first page was in black and white, the next is not. The first page is a one-page gag where Sweet pea is building a boat and Popeye thinks that’s hilarious because there are no lakes around. Wimpy bets Popeye a lunch that Sweet pea will make good use of the boat, and then we see that Sweet Pea put wheels on it. Truly, the height of depression-era comedy. Apparently humour didn’t get invented until ’64. They leave that out of most of the history books.
So we move along to a tale called “Help.”
I typed that and just buried my head in my hands. I have to review this? I can tell you what it’s going to be about. You can tell me what it’s going to be about. It’s a Popeye story called “Help.” Somebody will need help. He’ll eat spinach and then save them. This is what is going to happen. I… I don’t know what to do here. It’s like being asked to review cave paintings. It’s not bad. It’s not even cliché. I mean, it is now, but back then I assume this was fairly new. Like it says, this was reprinting Popeye #7. It is entirely possible the Popeye-saves-random-person thing was new.
But seriously, “Help?” The name of the story is Help. Help. That’s a little on-the-nose. That’s like renaming Alive to Stop eating me. Or renaming Freefall to Ahh! I just… I’ve lost the will to live. And I’ve tried to review the IDW Magic the Gathering comic like 3 times now and had to just close it because… well, it’s terrible. But this, it’s like just looking at the page and knowing I have to form sentences on what I think of it drains me of my will to exist. I’m fading from existence, like Marty from Back to the Future.
I would love if IDW got the rights to continue Back to the Future.
CONTINUING. Okay, the story starts with Popeye hearing someone yelling “help.”
… I’ve hidden all the pills and sharp objects in my house. Someone yells help and Popeye… runs down a cliff to find them. Three goons in bandana-masks are holding up one man. Popeye beats them up and the man, Herbert T. Goldhold, responds with this: “My good man, you saved my life! I’m going to give you a check for one million dollars for your timely help!” … That’s verbatim. I just — moving on. Popeye refuses because action is his reward. He doesn’t say that, but he does in other terms. Goldhold then offers Popeye the job of protecting his little girl at her birthday party and holding his present for her: a $50,000 ring. Popeye then tells Olive about his day and she’s proud of him for taking a job protecting a little girl, until she sees in the paper that the “little girl” is a twenty-something knockout and heads off with a giant mallet, presumably to kill Popeye and the unsuspecting girl.
Feminism really hadn’t kicked in yet, folks.
Popeye shows up with a teddy bear for Goldhold’s daughter, and is surprised to find out she’s grown up. And I assume he’s surprised because of the speech balloons. Not to be cruel, but Popeye only has one expression: open mouth weird-face. In fact all the characters are stuck in one-or-two expression poses. Right right: cave paintings. Can’t be two critical. But you know that classic Popeye look? Try to picture him another way. Can’t do it? That’s because that’s the only way he looks.
Goldhold laughs: “You thought my little girl was a baby! I state obvious things!” Or maybe he said just the first part. But the daughter thinks Popeye is sweet and kisses him on that gaping, un-closable mouth. Popeye goes to the deck for some alone time and comments that he’s glad Olive Oil didn’t realize how old Pat (the daughter) was, or she’d be furious. Cut to Olive, so mad that she can run across water to get to the boat he’s on. Run across water. Like the Flash or Jesus or something. Just go with it.
Popeye tells Pat that Olive “Would never let him work for a man that had a girl for a daughter.” As opposed to a man that had a boy for a daughter? Nice to know Olive Oil is so pro-trans-gender.
Nit-pick I can’t find any other place to bring up: you know the classic Popeye laugh? Apparently in classic Popeye comics it was spelled “Arf! Arf! Arf!” it’s hard to read it like he doesn’t have turrets.
Olive Oil arrives the same time as a giant hairy-armed man that the bad guys from earlier sent to steal the ring. The bad guy takes an interest in Olive Oil… Popeye saves her. Turns out the brute isn’t so bad and he leads them back to the ringleader, Popeye beats them, and the adventure is over with Olive promising never to be jealous again. Wait, he didn’t use spinach…
… what is this? He didn’t use spinach? Okay, chalk one up to surprise. A whole issue… no, wait, there’s a second story. “Susprise Party” (sic). I could cry. Let’s do this. It… Olive Oil and Wimpy throw Popeye a surprise party and the surprise is he gets to beat up a bunch of thugs. I guess. I skimmed it. I’d feel worse about writing such a negative review if I wasn’t so sure that the person who wrote this was long dead.
There’s then a prose story about Sweet Pea I will not read, a Wimpy story I will not read, and another black and white comic I’m not going near. To my knowledge Popeye did not use his spinach at any point, except to grow it on the cover. Maybe it’s out of season and he’s waiting for the crop to come in, lord only knows.
Okay, this isn’t a bad comic. It’s not. it’s classic. But I stand by my original question of: who is buying this? It’ll make adults beat their heads off their desks (evidenced by the dent in mine) and children won’t get it. There is better children-centric comics from IDW, like My Little Pony. I guess this appeals to that niche market that really likes old-school comics and can’t get their hands on them. The main examples are Archie and Disney, but they’re both pretty good about reprinting their old issues. Tin Tin too. So maybe there is a market for this, but something tells me it’s in trade form.
I will not be buying another issue of Classic Popeye.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“Popeye tells Pat that Olive “Would never let him work for a man that had a girl for a daughter.” As opposed to a man that had a boy for a daughter? Nice to know Olive Oil is so pro-trans-gender.”