Ever since I first saw Napoleon Dynamite (on a plane coming back from E3 in 2005, laughing very loudly throughout its running time – when it was clear that no one else was watching it at the same time as me, somewhat awkwardly), I fell in love with the cast of kooky characters, the weird little scrapes they got themselves into and Pedro’s touching victory following a seemingly disastrous run for class president – all thanks to Napoleon and his sweet dance moves of course.

I even met Jon Heder at a ComiCon a few years back; appearing a day earlier than he was supposed to, no one was prepared for him to be there, so myself and a friend managed to chat to him for quite some time. I was relieved to find out that he’s a super sweet guy – and he was happy to pose for an impromptu photo with me too (he’s also way more handsome than you would expect, given how he looks as Napoleon Dynamite).

I adored the extremely short-lived Napoleon Dynamite animated series too, which lasted for just six episodes back in 2012. With the whole main cast returning to voice their brilliantly rendered characters and some excellent cameo appearances (Amy Poehler, Jemaine Clement and Sam Rockwell all superbly complement the established crew of oddballs), it was a hilarious show that was full of memorable quips and visual gags.

So a Napoleon Dynamite comic book series should have been right up my street. Especially one with such a surprisingly – perhaps accidentally – topical subject.

Pedro’s successful run for class president comes under scrutiny when voting irregularities are discovered – and the suggestion is made that Pedro should be impeached. Meanwhile, two dogged young reporters head to town to investigate the potential murder of a city councilman, with none other than nostalgia-stricken Uncle Rico under suspicion for committing the heinous crime. Can Napoleon and his friends pull through, clearing Pedro’s name as well as Rico’s?

It’s an intriguing setup on both counts and the dialogue is absolutely spot on; there’s a sense that writers Carlos Guzman-Verdugo and Alejandro Verdugo really know and love the characters – the script is great at really making each of the characters speak exactly how you’d expect them to.

However, there’s some glaring issues I couldn’t ignore. The art is the first thing you’ll notice – the rendering of many of the main characters is really off, with Napoleon in particular just looking totally wrong (Napoleon’s older brother, Kip, also ends up looking completely different from the movie and cartoon portrayals of the character). It’s incredibly distracting and I couldn’t quite get over it. There’s some strange stylistic choices made with the art too; as an example, whenever there’s a closeup of hands or a head, it’s depicted as if they’re not attached to anything else; it’s really off-putting.

The story itself really drags too; the premise is pretty thin – it just feels like it’s unreasonably stretched out to fit the four issue mini-series format, when it could have been a much more satisfyingly compact one-shot issue.

The bonus story – in which Napoleon tries assisting Pedro with becoming ‘cooler’ for a Valentine’s date – is shorter and sweeter, with more bouncily cartoon art than the main feature. However, it still suffers from the characters just not feeling right in terms of the way they’re rendered – which does make me wonder if there was direction to ensure that the characters didn’t look like the actors portraying them on screen. It’s odd that both of the artists covering the included stories get the characters so off-model but in such different ways.

Though the writing is great at capturing the voices of the characters throughout, I found Impeach Pedro to be unsatisfying in terms of how long it plays out for and the art was really not to my taste at all. It’s a shame, as I’m a huge fan of the film and cartoon, but this first stab at a comic book series left me very underwhelmed.

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