“Never Sock a Baby,” a 1939 Fleischer Bros. Popeye cartoon, might be said to be a turning point for the character.

Swee’Pea has been bad, and must be punished. Popeye delivers the gentlest of spankings, a firm and resolute chewing out, and sends the little baby to bed without his supper. Swee’Pea is a Fleischer Bros. baby, and so immediately packs a bindle and climbs out the window to begin a life of derring-do in a world of singing flowers and anti-gravity waterfalls.

But Swee’Pea hasn’t quite learned how to navigate this terrain. Popeye, devastated by guilt for having laid his hand on the little charge, tears up the scenery in search of him.

After a series of mishaps we will find the child hanging for dear life from Popeye’s belt, Popeye gripping the slenderest of branches that is protruding from a sheer rock face. The hero flexes a pec muscle to free a can of spinach, but – in what turns out to be his greatest nightmare – the can is empty.

Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940, Volume Two exhibits the transformation of Popeye from wind-up toy of destruction to rounded, responsible citizen/caretaker/peacekeeper. Bizarre and wonderful characters step out of E.C. Segar’s comic strip and onto the screen for the first time; perhaps the craziest and most refreshing being “The Jeep.” (“He’s like a dog who can disappear and things,” Popeye attempts to explain to Olive.)

As with Volume One, the commentaries and the extras meditate upon and celebrate the inexplicable inventiveness and chaotic genius of the cartoons, the brothers who made them and how the Fleischer Studios presented a tough, vaudevillian, East Coast alternative during the Golden Age to L.A.’s Disney, who was producing work of great quality but with a radically different kind of soul.

Grade: A

Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940, Volume Two is currently available.