By far one of the best issues of the series, Popeye #8 hones in on a smaller cast and produces a bigger and better result. The plot is simple, yet allows for various interactions that make for great reading.
The official description from IDW:
Poopdeck Pappy’s got a new sweetie… but there’s more to her than meets the eye! And did somebody say… treasure map? Join Popeye, Olive and Wimpy as they head for the high seas – and help Pappy overcome the trauma of his first bath in forty years!
This is by far one of the best issues of Popeye I’ve read, if only because it gets so much right when it comes down to characters. At its core, this issue keeps the main group quite small and tight, with only Popeye, Olive, Poopdeck Pappy and Wimpy getting any decent attention. The result of this is a comic that’s all the better for it. The characters are more defined, bouncing dialogue off each other with the simple charm and humor that makes the best of Popeye.
This is mainly done through some well planned writing. Whether its the strained father-son relationship between Popeye and his dad, or Olive’s stronger presence in the issue as a whole (a much better role than playing the “damsel in distress” scenario all over again), the dialogue suits the plot well, whilst being highly engaging and funny. If there was a short straw, it would be Wimpy, since his character is still based on the typical jokes regarding food and his eating habits.
As for the plot itself, its certainly enjoyable but its not the main focus of the issue. Rather, it gives the characters a goal towards and the set-up for a typical adventure and the various scenes and sequences that occur. The cast feel much more multidimensional than usual; obviously, Popeye is never a title steeped in realism or drama, but a more rounded portrayal definitely makes the title more accessible, and the plot allows for various key moments to shine through in this regard.
All in all, this is an excellent issue. Whilst its still very much Popeye and appealing to that specific audience, it does such a good job that it might be able to push past its usual readership as well.