Huckleberry Hound’s life takes a turn for the worse as the series enters its second half.
So far, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles has leaned heavily into comedy, even while establishing the most foreboding aspects of its setting. The series’ vision of America in the ’50s is so true to life that scarcely anything feels changed except for the presence of bipedal animals. Writer Mark Russell, artist Mike Feehan, inker Sean Parsons, colorist Paul Mounts, and letterer Dave Sharpe have impressed thus far, but can they keep up the momentum in the series’ second half? In this issue, Huckleberry Hound’s life takes a turn for the worse, and Sasquatch Detective returns with another back-up strip. Is Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #4 good?
As far as tone and plot development go, I’m pleased with this issue. Issues #2 and #3 frustrated me because they didn’t seem to progress the story much, but issue #4 finally picks up the pace a bit. There are major developments or revelations for several characters, and most of them are well-handled. We get to see a different side of Snagglepuss besides his usual distant, witty self, which is nice. Huckleberry Hound’s scenes are also enjoyable for the most part, as they sincerely address the difficult aspects of ’50s Americana that the series has thus far used almost exclusively as comedic fodder.
On the downside, there are some segments of the issue that don’t tackle the serious subject matter well. Gigi Allen’s portions of the narrative satirize Cold War ideology, but they don’t do so in a way that feels fresh or that previous issues haven’t already hammered home. There’s also a major twist regarding Allen that I don’t feel optimistic about. I’ll hold out final judgment until the series has concluded, but I’m anxious about how well the creative team is going to wrap up her plotline. I’m also unsure about how well the last two issues are going to handle a few other new plot points raised in this issue.
Visually, this issue is solid. Feehan’s line-work is clean and the cartoony style feels appropriate given Snagglepuss’ Hanna-Barbera origins. Parsons and Sharpe also deliver solid work on inking and lettering respectively. As far as Mounts’ coloration goes, I have mixed feelings. Some parts of the issue are bright and poppy, while others look oddly faded. It’s not a huge deal, but it does stop the art from living up to its full potential. My other main qualm with the art is that there are times when the characters look ridiculous rather than serious. At one point, a bipedal zebra cop smacks his closeted gay lover in the face with a baton while calling him a faggot. It’s just about the worst possible plot point to make look over-the-top, but unfortunately it does.
Overall, this is a solid issue. The plot finally feels like it’s moving forward, and some of the more serious subject matter is handled well. Unfortunately, there are also moments when the cartoony art style feels at odds with dramatic plot events. Gigi Allen’s scenes are also unsuccessful, and there are some plot points raised in this issue that I doubt can be tied up satisfactorily in just two more issues. I also have to take a few points off for the Sasquatch Detective back-up feature, which just bores and doesn’t gel with the main story at all. Nonetheless, this issue has plenty of witty or touching moments which help make the less successful scenes more forgivable. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #4 isn’t a must-read, but it’s a decent read.