Welcome All- A Few Things to Know

Welcome All- A Few Things to Keep In Mind:

1. Hi all. I'm Storyteller Knight. You can find me on Fictionpress where I write novels about King Arthur, Superheroes and Vampires (but not at the same time) and at Pardon My Sarcasm where I rage about how the republicans are ruining all things.

2. Here is the Master List of books read, books owned and books needed to complete a series. Superscripts next to title links to reviews on this site. Or you can search using the lables.

3. I'm approaching this blog with the assumption that everyone reading already knows the ultimate spoiler of the King Arthur Legend: Everyone Dies. Those who read King Arthur books do so to see different interpretations of the characters and the stories. My goal here is to analyze the effectiveness of those interpretations. Thus, all my reviews will include spoilers.

4. This is not an Arthurian 101 blog. As I said above, I'm assuming that everyone reading already knows the legend and is looking for different interpretations of that legend. Therefore, I'm not going to take time to explain who the characters are and what roles they traditionally play. Links to Arthurian Encyclopedias at the bottom of the page.

5. These reviews are my opinions of the books. I may hate a book you love or I may love a book you hate. If you have a different opinion, write it up. I'd be more than happy to have some guest posts.

6. Please don't ask me (or any of the guest bloggers) to do your homework for you. As I said above, this is a blog dedicated at looking at these books from an Arthurian perspective. If you comment on posts asking us what the theme is or such, we're just going to screw with you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Muppet King Arthur Chapter Four Review

Title: Muppet King Arthur, Chapter Four
Written By: Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck
Artist: James Silvani
Colors: Eric Cobain
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Assistant Editor: Jason Long
Editor: Aaron Sparrow
Designer: Erika Terriquez
Cover: David Petersen
Publisher: Boom Kids!
Pages: 22
Synopsis: (from the publisher trade) A Tale of Chivalry, adventure, chickens, and magic!  The tale of King Arthur has been told many times over the centuries, but never before has it included robots, knock-knock jokes, and boomerang fish!  The Muppets bring you this beloved classic in their signature style, adding twists and turns to the quest for the Holy Grail that would make a sane driver pull over and ask for directions!  Will the Frog King save his beloved England from the curmudgeonly Sam of Eagle?  Will the Lady of the Lake get back on the festival circuit?  Will they find a carpenter capable of making a round table?  Find out in MUPPET KING ARTHUR!

More Muppets (that cover is GORGEOUS)!

Warning For Spoilers and General Silliness

Kermit: It's the Muppet Show with our very special rendition of King Arthur!  YAAAAY!

It's time to play the music,
It's time to light the lights,
It's time meet the Muppets
On the Muppet Show Tonight!

It's time to put on makeup
It's time to dress up right
It's time to get things started
Why don't you get things started

 Kermit the Frog as King Arthur
Miss Piggy as Morgana Le Fay
Gonzo the Great as Sir Lancelot Du Lac
Camilla the Chicken as Lady Guinevere
Animal as Sir Gawain
Robin the Frog as Sir Mordred
Fozzie Bear as Sir Percival
Rowlf the Dog as Merlin the Magician, PHD (Prestidigitating Hound Dog)
Sam Eagle as Sir Sam of Eagle
Statler and Waldorf as Ye Olde People Who Heckle from the Balcony that's always there
Rizzo as Sir Rizzo 
Sweetums as Sir Sweetums
Honeydew and Beaker as Sir Honeydew and Squire Beaker
Link Hogthrob as Sir Hogthrob
Pepe the King Prawn as Pepe the Fisher King Prawn

It's time to get things started
On the most sensational, 
inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational
This is what we call the Muppet Show!

Waldorf: Who's there?

Err, it's me, guys.  Storyteller Knight.  The reviewer?

Statler: No, no.  You can't be her.  She disappeared many moons ago and hasn't been heard from since.

Waldorf: To our great relief.

::guffaw guffaw::

Haha, guys.  Very funny.  Look, I know it's been over a year since the last Muppet King Arthur review was posted.  It's been something of a year.  But I'm here now and this is the last one.  So let's just get this over with.


Mahna Mahna: Hilarious!

Snouths: Doo Dooo Doo Doo Doo!

You're not in this one either!

Previously on Muppet King Arthur, Kermit!Arthur wasn't at all pleased with the state of his kingdom.  He decided to take the knights on a quest for the betterment of his people.  Robin!Mordred suggested a quest for the Holy Grail.  The Knights of the Septagonal Table followed the map to E. Bay to speak to the auctioneer, who had sold the Grail to Scooter of Arimathea.  Upon finding Scooter, they learned that he was only a go-fer and that the Grail actually belonged to Pepe the Fisher King Prawn.  Pepe drove a hard bargain, but eventually bartered the Grail away for visitation rights, chocolate brunches every Sunday, a pony, and a good reuben.  Upon arriving back at Camelot, the Knights of the Septagonal table learned that Robin!Mordred had partnered with Sir Sam of Eagle and seized the throne from Arthur!

And now for the thrilling conclusion.    

We begin outside the gates of Camelot where Robin!Mordred, Sir Sam of Eagle, and Professor Plot's robot army have barred Kermit!Arthur and the knights of the Septagonal Table from entry.  Robin!Mordred demands that the Grail be turned over to him, as he is through being a supporting character!

Gonzo!Lancelot is ready for a fight.  Fozzie!Percival thinks the robot army is one of the toughest crowds he's ever faced.  Animal!Gawain is ready to rock out.  Rolf!Merlin is ready to take off.  

But fear not!  Because Kermit!Arthur has a plan!  He demands that Robin!Mordred call off his army and let this conflict remain between them.  Robin!Mordred agrees and challenges Kermit!Arthur to single combat.  Kermit!Arthur scolds him, saying that violence isn't the way they do things in the swamp.  If Robin!Mordred wishes to do battle with Kermit!Arthur, he'll have to do so in accordance with family tradition.    

Good grief.  Do you know how much pain and anguish could have been avoided if the real Arthur and Mordred had decided to settle their differences with a pun-off?

Statler: Says you!  I think this book could use a little more pain and anguish!

Waldorf: Yeah.  For someone other than us!

::guffaw guffaw::

Sir Sam of Eagle is not so sure about this, as their robot army outnumbers the Knights of the Septagonal Table 50 to 1.  But Robin!Mordred's promise to pun-ish Kermit!Arthur leaves Sir Sam feeling so good about the whole thing that he wagers a week's worth of armor polish against Fozzie!Percival that Robin!Mordred will win (Fozzie!Percival's promise that he'll help Kermit with the puns doesn't hurt either).  Then, to ensure that the whole plan is fool proof, Sir Sam of Eagle puts into motion a plot involving the red herring at the snack table.  But as this is the pun issue, I'm not going to spend too much time worrying about it.

Fozzie!Percival explains the rules (one contestant asks a question, the other responds with a pun), the terms (the winner gets Excalibur, the Holy Grail, and the Crown), and then lets loose a pun at Sir Sam of Eagel's expense.  

Waldorf: Hey Knight, how about we challenge you to a pun-off.

Statler: If we win you have to put this review out of its misery!

::guffaw guffaw::

Just as the pun-off is about to being, Camilla!Guinevere arrives to cheer Kermit!Arthur on.  Thoroughly put out by this, Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fey wrangles Gonzo!Lancelot.  Together they plot a devious scheme to breakup Camilla!Guinevere and Kermit!Arthur.  From there, Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay suggests to Kermit!Arthur that he call out Robin!Mordred on his cowardice.  Kermit!Arthur thanks her for her suggestion, but says that if he can't take Robin!Mordred with good, clean humor, he doesn't deserve to win.

Fozzie!Percival calls the contestants to the center of the ring.  Sir Sam of Eagle foreshadows a dastardly double cross.  Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay turns Sir Hogthrob into a tree because she can and it's this exchange that essentially kicks off the pun-off.  

From here on out, they do not stop.  Nine frames are devoted to the first round of Kermit!Arthur and Robin!Mordred's pun-off.  Highlights from the text include:
Robin!Mordred: Why don't royal alarm clocks work?
Kermit!Arthur: No bells.
Kermit!Arthur: What did the first knight in line and the last knight in line say when they saw the dragon charging the guy in between them?
Robin!Mordred: Mid-Knight run!
Robin!Mordred: How did Sir Spam survive the virus attack?
Kermit!Arthur: By saving all his chain mail.  
Here we pause so Waldorf and Statler can heckle their little hearts out from the balcony that's always there.

Waldorf: Well what else are we supposed to do?

Statler: Our heckling saves the audience from pulling a groaning.  

::guffaw guffaw::

Over in Kermit!Arthur's corner of the ring, Rolf!Merlin worries that Robin!Mordred may have gained the upper hand.  Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay once again gets on Kermit!Arthur to call out Robin!Mordred on his cowardice.  Subliminal messaging on her part, as we'll discover when Kermit!Arthur and Robin!Mordred return to the center of the ring where Kermit!Arthur savagely turns on Robin!Mordred.  It only takes three panels for Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay's plan to come to fruition.

Wait, what?  Hold the phone!  Pause the review!  I've gotta switch from my silly Muppet reviewer hat to my more serious, meta Arthurian reviewer hat because these two pages are really important.

Kermit!Arthur, most likely goaded on by Miss!Piggy Morgana Le Fay and her 'cowardice' subliminal messaging, starts a pun at the expense of Camilla!Guinevere.  And instead of taking it and proving just how evil, awful, and generally unfit he is to be king, Robin!Mordred essentially forfeits the match by refusing to respond and hurt Camilla!Guinevere's feelings.  Then, just to hammer the point home, Kermit!Arthur shouts out the answer and causes Camilla!Guinevere to burst into tears.  And he does all this five pages after delivery this line:
Kermit!Arthur: If I can't take Mordred with good, clean humor then I don't deserve to win.  
This pun is neither good nor clean and Kermit!Arthur knows it.  He immediately drops to his knees and begs Camilla!Guinevere for her forgiveness.  He then gives this speech:
Kermit!Arthur: I was told that I was able to pull Excalibur from the stone because it was my destiny to unit Britain.  I'm here to serve my country and unify my people, not to fight them.  Maybe I'm not the right frog for the job. 
This is actually really important in the context of Arthurian meta.  First off, Kermit!Arthur screws up.  Actual Arthur from the legend has a long history of screwing up.  I cheekily refer to it as Arthur guilt.  Arthur hates hurting the people he cares about and when he does, instead of addressing the hurt, he ignores it because he would rather let the wound fester than cause more pain trying to treat it.  And as time goes on and more and more people are hurt, Arthur essentially becomes paralyzed.  He can't make a decision without risking causing harm to someone he cares about, so he doesn't make any decisions.

And the reason Kermit the Frog is actually so brilliant in this casting (aside from the fact that both characters are the heroes in their stories) is that he kinda has the same thing going on.  Kermit doesn't really like conflict.  He pretty much allows the Muppets to run wild--trying delicately to herd them in the right direction without hurting anyone's feelings.  Of course, unlike Arthur, Kermit has a breaking point where he snaps and yells at everyone.

That's what we see here.  And it comes after a long build-up of Kermit!Arthur taking it.  He takes it from Sir Sam of Eagle--deciding he would rather win the hearts of the people than fight Sam.  He takes it from Camilla!Guinevere--just letting their relationship meander along when he doesn't really feel it.  He takes it from Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay over and over and over again.  So, because this is Kermit!Arthur and not just Arthur, he finally loses his temper and snaps.  This allows him to clear the air and mend broken bridges where the real Arthur would never allow himself to snap.

So there's that.  Next is Robin!Mordred, who has done his best to help Kermit!Arthur since he became king.  And Kermit!Arthur...has kinda treated him like crap.  He didn't allow Robin!Mordred a chance to try out for the Round Table.  When Kermit!Arthur tries to come up with a worthy quest for the Septagonal Table, it's Robin!Mordred who suggests the Holy Grail, but despite this Kermit!Arthur tries to leave him behind (and would have if the other knights hadn't spoken up for Robin!Mordred).  

I really like that Robin!Mordred's arc and reasons for betraying Kermit!Arthur are built up over two issues.  But I really like that he doesn't answer the chicken pun.  Robin!Mordred isn't the evilest evil that ever eviled.  He's hurt and angry and lashing out in an ill advised way.  But his anger is at Arthur and he's not going to trample over innocent Camilla!Guinevere to get back at Arthur.

And I LOVE IT!  Seriously, did I just get the fairest, most evenhanded portrayal of the Arthur/Mordred conflict from the Muppets??????  I DID!  This book is amazing and I love it!

Waldorf: Yes.  A wonderful, tragic, heartfelt book!

Statler: No, you're thinking of the one where everyone dies.  This one has a happy ending.  

Waldorf: Not for us!

::guffaw guffaw::

Ahem.  Anyways, Robin!Mordred is so moved by Kermit!Arthur's willingness to give up the throne for the good of the people that he renounces his claim to the throne.  All around them the crowd cheers 'Long Live King Arthur!'

To further prove that he's better than the actual Arthur, Kermit!Arthur gives up his claim to Camilla!Guinevere's hand and praises the love she and Gonzo!Lancelot share.  Kermit!Arthur hopes that one day he will be lucky enough to find a love as deep as the love they share (while Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay coughs in the background).

However!  While Robin!Mordred has given up his claim to the throne, Sir Sam of Eagle has not.  And he still has Professor Plot's robot army at his back.  In fact, these Plot Devices (I told you, the puns go to the end of the book) are the most dangerous weapons in all of Britain.  

Wait?  Plot devices?  Pepe the Fisher King Prawn has a thing or two to say about that.

Pepe the Fisher King Prawn flips a switch on the grail.  It causes a disruption in the Professor Plot's devices, causing them to break apart and collapse.  The day is saved!

Except it's not, because Sir Sam of Eagle kindly asks you to turn your attention to the red herring, which he tainted with Professor Plot's mind control potion.  He commands his new minions to join him in his battle against Kermit!Arthur.  Unfortunately for Sir Sam of Eagle, Animal!Gawain was the only one who ate the red herring.  

Kermit!Arthur takes Sir Sam of Eagle aside and points out that he isn't exactly happy in Britain.  Maybe it would be better if he went elsewhere--found a new place to call his own.  Professor Plot suggests they join the Spaniards and travel the world.  Sir Sam of Eagle things this is a fantastic idea and together they head off to Spain with the help of Sir Cumnavigate.

In his finale act of the book, Kermit!Arthur gets down on one knee and proposes to Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay.  This is where the book goes off the rails for me.  I don't really appreciate Kermit!Arthur's line that he's only proposing because that's what the script says.  I get that an aspect of the Kermit/Piggy relationship is that they never really say 'I do', and if they do it has to be an act.  But since they don't actually say I do and instead get engaged...I kinda wish the Arthur/Morgana shippers had been thrown a bone.  It's not often you can root whole heartily for this ship.  

Also, Camilla!Guinevere and Gonzo!Lancelot get engaged.  As do Excalibur and the pair of scissors from Janice!Lady of the Lake's rock paper scissors gag in the first issue.  I don't know.  To celebrate all these happy romances, Kermit!Arthur declares the beginnings of Britain's very first variety show in order to showcase his people's talents.  Waldorf and Statler get in one last shot, and then, well...

Waldorf: Hey, we made it.

Statler: How do you figure?  

Waldorf: The balcony is starting to fade away!

::guffaw guffaw::

So, if you couldn't tell--

Waldorf: We could!

If you couldn't tell, I loved this issue.  I love the handling of Robin!Mordred's character.  It's everything I've ever wanted from the Arthur/Mordred conflict and I can't believe it took freaking Muppets to get it.  The pun-off was brilliant, as was the blatant use of the deus ex machina (hey, if you've got it, you might as well use it).  I do quibble at the handling of the Kermit!Arthur/Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay romance, but that's mostly a quibble.  

Perhaps my biggest complaint is the handling of Sam Eagle throughout the entire series.  I really, really wish Sam had been cast as Sir Kai instead of playing this original character.  Then you could have had him trying to get Kermit!Arthur to actual lead his kingdom (which Kermit!Arthur keeps ducking).  This would have built up spectacularly to his and Robin!Mordred's decision to defect because Kermit!Arthur isn't taking his responsibilities seriously.  

I don't know  This is the most morally ambiguous Arthurian retelling I've ever read.  I can't help but wish they had gone all the way and cut Sir Sam of Eagle's rather silly role as an antagonist who wants to overthrown Arthur because he didn't like how the contest was wom (also, Sam's always been pretty big on rules...I have a hard time believing he wouldn't just grudgingly go along with it until Kermit!Arthur blatantly breaks the rules).  

As with the last two issues, the art here was wonderful.  I haven't talked much about the costuming of the characters, but those were perfect too.  Especially Robin!Mordred's tiny black armor and Miss Piggy!Morgana Le Fay's dragon dress.  It's just great.  It's all great.  You should read it.  

Waldorf: Hey, hey Knight!

What is it, guys?

Statler: Now?

Yeah, sure.  Now's good.  

(Seriously, read this book!)

Disclaimer- I do not own the Muppets, especially not Waldorf and Statler.  Their heckling bits were only included because it seemed like the thing to do in a Muppet review.  Especially since I absolutely adored this book.  I make no money off this blog.

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