Unstuffing The Ballot Box: ‘Napoleon Dynamite #4’ Review

by Josh Davison

Mild Spoilers Ahead
Joana and Napoleon reveal their evidence to the principal, exonerating Pedro and indicting Don for stuffing ballots. This seems to close out all conflicts facing Napoleon Dynamite…until he discovers that his Uncle Rico has been arrested for the murder of City Councilman Doug Young. Napoleon and Joana commit themselves to discovering the true killer and freeing Uncle Rico. Surprisingly, they manage to find a lead.

Napoleon Dynamite #4 cover by Sara Richard
Napoleon Dynamite #4 cover by Sara Richard

I decided to revisit Napoleon Dynamite #4 after my less than favorable experience reading the first issue. Despite that first issue, I found myself somewhat charmed by the finale.
That’s not to say that this issue is especially good. It’s still a baffling comic book follow-up to a movie over a decade-and-a-half-old which hasn’t maintained any cultural relevance in the interim. Worse, it’s a comic based off a comedy whose main comedic hook is the odd tempo of the dialogue which is exceedingly difficult to recreate in a comic book format.
Regardless, there’s something charming about weirdos Napoleon ad Joana practically tripping into evidence about the murder of Councilman Young. There’s no genuine reason that these individuals should have detective skills so acute that they could solve the murder of a government official. Regardless, they accomplish it. 
You may think that a murder in the universe of Napoleon Dynamite would, by nature, be too serious for it as well as its title character. Somehow, the comic makes it work. It also provides a conflict pressing and serious enough to add adequate pressure as to give the book the forward momentum missing from the first installment.
Napoleon Dynamite #4 art by Jorge Monlongo and Christa Miesner
Napoleon Dynamite #4 art by Jorge Monlongo and Christa Miesner

Artist Jorge Monlango once again provides a cartoonish comic style which provides a caricature rendition of all the figures in the Napoleon Dynamite universe. It’s unique, but it isn’t especially grabbing. Napoleon himself was always a ridiculous-looking figure, but the caricature-esque style does little justice for Pedro, Deb, or even new character Joana. It doesn’t look bad by any measure, but it adds little to the humor. It seeks to stake out a new identity, but it chafes against the personality of the original film.
Napoleon Dynamite #4 is a fairly charming finale to the comic book mini-series. While the art leaves a bit to be desired, and the adaptation is tasked with revitalizing a movie that didn’t really survive in the public memory, it is an enjoyable enough book. We get to watch a pair of strange and quirky characters practically trip into the solution of the murder of a public official while showing why this could never have been accomplished by their own wit and skill. I can’t quite recommend it, but there are worse ways to spend $3.99 and 10 minutes.
Napoleon Dynamite #4 comes to us from writers Carlos Guzman-Verdugo and Alejandro Verdugo, artist Jorge Monlongo, letterer Christa Miesner, cover artist Sara Richard, and variant cover artists Jeffrey Veregge and Jorge Monlongo.
Final Score: 5/10

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