Thursday, November 02, 2006

Random Reading: Futurama Comics #27, Simpsons Comics Presents Bart Simpson #31 & Simpsons Super Spectacular #3

I stood in front of the comics in the bookstore and thought, "Well, shit, I guess I'm going to have to review Blade #2 . . ." and then I noticed these three Bongo titles. This brought to mind a question: "Since Futurama is no longer on TV, do the comics act as a solid substitute?" I decided to buy the two Simpsons titles as well since that show has sucked for a while now and maybe--just maybe!--the comics will fill that need too. So, did any of them?

Futurama Comics #27

First off, from the cover, I expected a story about Fry and Bender hitchhiking to Mars since the cover shows them doing that. But, no, it's a story about how Bender sold some machine the Professor made to some aliens a few years back and now they're using it to the destroy the Earth. And . . . well, that's it.

The comic isn't funny. It has a lot of Futurama lines and characteristics, but only the most broad ones that we've seen dozens of times before--nothing is added in the way the show would always add stuff. The only point where I kind of chuckled was when Zoidberg says "THE RO-BUT HAS A POINT." and that's just because the spelling immediately made me think of Zoidberg's voice. The rest? Useless.

Especially these bullshit lava aliens. They have no personality the way aliens in the Futurama universe always do. They seem like lame villains Stan Lee would have used back in the '60s when short on ideas.

One particular painful moment is when an attempt at Bender's patented "surprised but don't have any liquid in my mouth, so I'll drink something to do a spit take" spit take is attempted, but it doesn't work here. It simply fails to land and the writer knows it, so adds a line where Bender explains what he just did. If you need a character to explain a visual gag, DON'T DO THE VISUAL GAG!

Utterly forgettable (I hope), don't bother with Futurama Comics for your Futurama fix. Just watch reruns and your DVD sets until those DVD flicks arrive.

Simpsons Comics Presents Bart Simpson #31

You know what makes this comic the saddest of the bunch? The best part of it is a story that doesn't involve Bart at all.

The first story is all about Bart winning a contest at Krusty's toy store (as there's a Krusty toy store chain apparently) where he gets five minutes to fill his shopping cart. At first, he's excited until everyone begins asking for him to get them stuff and even threatening him.

Amazingly, Homer is funny in this story with his total self-centred thinking towards everything. While in the show, it comes off as painful and unfunny, when he's put in a context where he's a secondary character, it retains some charm.

Following that story are a couple of two-page fillers that kind of suck. The first is Comic Book Guy's "Handy Pop Culture Quotes For All Occasions," which isn't funny. Or even uses the best quotes. The other is how you can use school supplies to be a total jackass at school. *yawns*

The last story, though, is called "The Maggie & Moe Mysteries! In Color! Tonight's Episode: The Disappearing Duchess!" and features Maggie and Moe as detectives. The first page is worth it since it copies a TV theme song with shots of them in an airplane, fingering a mother and baby in court, and of Maggie showing Chief Wiggum how to solve a murder.

The story itself is kind of lame. Moe takes Maggie to Wall E. Weasel's, but the Duchess of Dorinia has rented the play area, so Maggie can't play. That is, until the Duchess suddenly disappears and Maggie & Moe are on the case!

Except, they have competition in the form of Titania and Baby Gerald, another bartender/baby crime-solving team! What follows is pretty typical, but the inclusion of those two characters made me laugh, because it's just so perfect. I just wish they amped up the competition a bit.

This story also includes a few choice lines from the Wiggums:




On the whole, a passable attempt that is actually slightly better than the show right now, mostly because of secondary characters, or putting Homer in a supporting function--he's a parody of himself currently and works better on the sidelines.

Simpsons Super Spectacular #3

A trio of superhero stories. The first, "The Coming of Gastritus" is a play on Galactus with Homer in that role. Bart does the Silver Surfer and makes a lame Uranus joke. Marge is Air Walker and makes a better joke about eating a heavily forested planet with no animals since it's a healthier meal. Moe is Nova . . . and naked. Naked Moe.

Extra points to artist John Delaney for drawing Gastritus in a solid fusion of Groening and Kirby. Actually, I should mention that the art in everything I've been talking about is fantastic. Everyone looks like they do on their respective shows and even the angles reflect the shows well. But, the art on this story stands out the most.

The second story works for the first page and then dies. It's a funny concept that makes fun of Adam West Batman (although, I must say: Still? Seriously, move on) with Lure Lass and Weasel Woman taking on . . . THE CRAZY CAT LADY! It doesn't get better than that, but still goes on for eight pages.

The third story is about Stretch Dude, Clobber Girl and Bouncing Battle Baby (Maggie got powers, I guess). They cause so much damage in a recent battle that the city outlaws superheroes (but not supervillains because they wouldn't listen anyway). There's a good "Spider-Man no more!" shot of the three kids walking away with their costumes in a garbage can. Plus, they get in trouble at school for using their powers when they can't help it.

Turns out, Agnes Skinner was replaced by an alien and everything works out, but there are a few good jokes.

Overall, these comics aren't that great and I have no intention of picking up more (especially of Futurama Comics), but I can see why some would. They usually do have a few good jokes and offer a wider variety of stories than TV--in length and content. So, pick one up and see for yourself if it works for you.