Mighty Mouse #1
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Writer: Sholly Fisch
Artist: Igor Lima
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Review by PeteR
There was a time, long before the internet and cable television, that if you lived near a major city, during the weekday afternoons, the UHF channels on television showed hours upon hours of old cartoons. In Philadelphia, these shows were hosted by, depending on the channel, Sally Star or my favorite, Wee Willy Webber. There was also a morning show for kids, during the weekday, on the ABC affiliate called Captain Noah and his Magical Ark. Presumably, the logic for a children’s show in the morning was to give parents a break if their kid was home sick from school, or in my case, stuck in the hospital for months in traction after breaking, among other things my left femur. One of the staples of Captain Noah’s show were old Mighty Mouse cartoons. As a testament to his enduring appeal, two separate cartoon revivals of Mighty Mouse were televised on Saturday mornings.
Mighty Mouse was created in 1942 by a company called Terrytoons. Terrytoons other claim to fame were the Heckle and Jeckle cartoons (which were so politically incorrect that you will never see them on public broadcasting ever again). Between 1942 and 1961 there were 80 Mighty Mouse cartoons. In many of these, the characters dialogue was sung in a quasi-operatic style. This led to the iconic stanza, “Here I come to save the day! (I have waited fifty years for an opportunity to type those words). Mighty Mouse appeared in comic books published by a variety of companies including Dell (which eventually became Gold Key) and Marvel. On October 11, 1975 the late performance artist Andy Kaufman, on Saturday Night Live, performed a skit using the Mighty Mouse theme which, depending on your sense of humor was one of SNL’s greatest moments. If you haven’t seen it, the skit is on YouTube. (Your welcome.)
I mention all this history to provide context to justify any pre-existing expectations one might have for a Mighty Mouse Comic Book. Boy howdy, did Mighty Mouse #1 completely throw me off that grove. I was expecting to read, well you know, a comic book about a beloved cartoon character. Nope, comic book and screen play writer Sholly Fisch (Action Comics, The Powerpuff Girls and Sensational She-Hulk) goes in a completely different direction.
Dynamite’s Mighty Mouse #1 is the story of Joey, a kid you might know. Joey is introverted, very artistic, loves cartoons and the target for every bully on the playground. Given his druthers, Joey would prefer to be left alone to watch old cartoons and draw in his notebook. Joey is a classic middle school victim. His peers won’t defend him and the school’s administration doesn’t know how to reach him. Fisch’s depressingly realistic background dialogue completely defines the world Joey lives in. Joey’s imagination and art are the only outlet he has for his frustration and sadness. During an otherwise normally miserable day in Joey’s life, his (and the reader’s) concept of reality is suddenly, completely changed.
I’m going to give Penciler, Igor Lima one of the highest compliments I can think of. When I started reading Mighty Mouse #1 I had to go back and double check who the artist was because I thought the artwork looked a suspiciously like Jerry Ordway. That’s not to say that Lima’s art style is unoriginal. His technique later in the comic completely differentiates from Ordway, but at first glance they are very similar. Lima’s art shifts away from Ordway when he illustrates the world of animation. What happens in cartoons looks very different than his rendering of real life and Lima is able to juggle both effectively.
Colorist Pete Pantazis does a professional job on Mighty Mouse #1. I would have preferred he had used darker hues for Joey’s reality verses brighter colors for the cartoon segments. In the grand scheme of things that is a minor complaint on an overall good job.
I enjoyed letterer’s Tom Napolitano alternation of boldness of fonts to differentiate volume in Mighty Mouse #1. As a reader, it is easy to recognize when characters are whispering, speaking in normal tones or yelling. People speaking in the background are successfully contrasted against conversations in the forefront of panels.
Why you should buy this book? It is very easy to have empathy for the main character, Joey. You want to see if, like most middle school kids, joey is going to be able to overcome the emptiness and banality of his life to find some purpose. The last page of Mighty Mouse #1 leaves the reader as perplexed as Joey is. I genuinely want to know what happens in Dynamite’s Mighty Mouse #2 and how the events of the cliffhanger is resolved. This is not your Daddy’s Mighty Mouse.