Gawky, Pimply, Teenage Love- Reviewing ‘Napoleon Dynamite: Valentine’s Day Special #1’

by Brendan M. Allen

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, Preston High is feeling the love! When Pedro decides to ask out the girl he likes, Napoleon convinces his friend he’ll need to up his “cool factor” firstand Napoleon’s schemes never go quite as planned!
Will this Valentine’s Day end in broken hearts? We don’t know, stop asking, gosh!

Napoleon Dynamite: Valentine’s Special #1 revisits a theme straight from the 2004 movie. No shocker there. That’s what we’re here for, right? A healthy dose of nostalgia from a simpler time. Ah, 2004. Hip-hugging capri pants, trucker hats, and polka dot skinny scarves.
Pedro has a crush on the new girl. She actually looks like she might be feeling it too. Pedro goes to Napoleon for guidance and Napoleon dispenses the absolute worst advice possible. Hijinks ensue. Sound familiar? It should. 
I’ve been picking up these Napoleon Dynamite comics every time they come out. I’m hoping every time that they’ll get better, and will eventually tie into the film’s themes and quirky charm in a meaningful way that feels like a natural extension of the original piece. This St. Valentine’s Special has gotten the closest to date.

Megan Brown nails the dialogue for Napoleon, bringing his familiar delusional arrogance and stilted cadence to some extremely awkward adolescent scenarios. Pedro and Meg don’t come through quite as well. Pedro is more loquacious and bold than he was in the source material and Meg is way more peppy and energetic than I remember. Other than that, dialing in those two key players, it works.
Christine Larsen takes the art in a slightly different direction than the previous comic book take, opting for a caricatured aesthetic that’s a shade closer to realism. Each of the recurring characters retain enough of their movie counterparts’ likenesses to be instantly recognizable, but there’s also a cartoonish idiosyncrasy that’s unique to this book.

This is a tough one for me to call. Not a whole lot of new ground being covered, but that’s kind of the point. Nostalgia is what made me pick it up and probably made more than a few others do the same. It has its little issues with continuity here and there, but it’s a fun little book. Retread, sure. Fun, though.

Napoleon Dynamite: Valentine’s Day Special #1, IDW Publishing, 12 February 2020. Written by Megan Brown, art/color by Christine Larsen, design/letters by Christa Miesner, edited by Tom Waltz assisted by Riley Farmer.

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