Written by Mark Evanier
Art by Roger Langridge
IDW has done some fantastic revivals of licenses, and with the recent Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie, now's a great time to bring back the Jay Ward cartoons in comic form, right? Sadly, Rocky & Bullwinkle stumbles far too quickly and never recovers.
The four issues here are all standalone stories, with the moose & squirrel going against Boris & Natasha's various evil plans. The elements from the cartoon are here in essence. There's the omnipresent narrator and the dual “Next time” cliffhanger titles, and just a feeling like these could've been actual stories on the show. But then the comic ends up relying too much on references rather than actual humor. It's funny when Bullwinkle asks a magician “How did you do that?” after he pulls a rabbit out of his hat, it's painful when Bullwinkle starts explaining what normally happens. It gets worse when modern-day references start getting put in. They just don't work in context. You've got a 60s, Cold War style plot of Americans vs. Russian expies, and then suddenly Bullwinkle starts talking about the Kardashians and reality shows. And finally, there's a lack of the self-deprecation that made the series great. Hell, even the movie got that one right. Instead, the comic almost seems to put the show on a pedestal, and that's just not a good place for a licensed comic to be.
There are a few good points here. The idea of cutting from the main story for a Dudley Do-Right “short” is perfectly in the style of the show, and the shorts tend to be better than the main feature. Sadly, it's nothing BUT Dudley Do-Right. No Aesop's Fables, no Fractured Fairy Tales, just Dudley Do-Right. But I'll take what I can get. Bullwinkle's awful puns throughout are perfectly in style, and they're so bad that they at least put a smile on my face. The final issue here is also fairly good, the closest to what I was hoping for when I started reading, but it was a serious case of too little, too late. And Langridge's art is in top form, a simplified style that works for a similarity to the show. My main question is why he didn't also write the comic. He did an excellent job on the Muppet Show comic, and with how stylistically similar they are, this would seem like the perfect fit for him.
Overall, Rocky & Bullwinkle is just disappointing. IDW has done plenty of quality licensed work, so to see something that uses the license so poorly just seems out of place for them.