Popeye hardly needs his spinach in the Fleischers’ brilliant, archaic theatrical shorts: he chews on some almost more out of superstition, or perhaps out of ritual, before he carries on being a bad-ass murdering machine. Olive Oyl, for that matter, is rarely in need of saving – although, again, out of a sense of decorum, perhaps, she’ll let out a “Help! Popeye!” here and there.

What we find in this awe-inspiring new box set of “Popeye” cartoons from 1933-1938 is an entire universe in which mere matter shimmies and transforms at the matter of fact powerhouse will of Popeye the Sailor. He punches lightning, dominates sharks, terrifies bullets back into their guns.

The world is a canvas and he’s Picasso. If Bluto wasn’t such a vile son of a bitch one would almost feel pity for him.

While Superman’s code of conduct is practically Amish, Popeye seems beholden only to Ancient Forces we modern landlubbers can’t begin to understand. The point is: don’t look twice at Olive, don’t make fun of his voice, disavow any allegiances to the Sea Hag and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get out of here alive.

Grade: A

Popeye the Sailor: 1933-38, Vol. 1 is currently available