Futurama Comics #14
Title: Six Characters in Search of a Story
Writer: Patric M. Verrone
Art: Tom King, Phyllis Novin, Joey Mason, Karen Bates
Futurama series writer Patric M. Verrone once again writes a comic story, and after the astoundingly funny Futurama Comics #11 he penned earlier, he certainly has his work cut out for him to produce the goods. Will he do it with this rather... strange issue?
And by strange I really mean inventive. Normally I'd summarise the plot at the start of a review, but that would require a lot of typing in this case, because I'd have to tell you seven different plots. That's because this issue contains seven different stories, but because they are all also the same story, I suppose I still can summarise to a certain degree.
Basically, while the Professor is sleeping, the other crewmembers get the key to his secret room where he keeps all the inventions that he didn't complete. Each of them ends up leaving the room with a different invention: Fry takes a Mr. Microphone, Bender a Duplicator, Hermes an Invisibility Raygun, Leela a Matter Transporter, Amy a Hologramophone (a device that can project a hologram of any place in the universe), and Zoidberg a Reality Generator. The inventions all appear to work okay, but it turns out that every crewmember ends up causing more problems than it's worth.
The story itself overall is very funny and fun to read in the normal, standard, comic-book way. It's very sci-fi-ish in pretty much every way, and the way that the characters get in trouble is inspired. But what makes it even better is the chance to read it another six ways. You don't exactly get seven comics worth of stories in one issue, since they're all essentially the same story, but you definitely get more than your standard issues worth. How is tis accomplished, you may ask? Rather simply, actually. The issue is (mostly) divided up into six panels per-page, and if you want to read Fry's story you simply read all the top-left panels on every page. If you want Bender's you read the top-right, Hermes' the middle-left, Leela's the middle-right, Amy's the bottom-left, and Zoidberg's the bottom-right. If the panels take up more than one space, then that's where two characters share a panel. There's even an eigth one for Scruffy in the dead centre, but it can hardly be considered as a seperate story. It is, however, and excellent joke.
This whole style works extremely well, and it's amazing how many different hilarious jokes can be created from the same lines of dialogue. The concept is very neat, but could easily be made boring and wasted, essentially being the same story and all. That's not the case here though, as Patric has proven he's just as good at writing great lines here as he was on the show. The whole thing is really engineered and heightened by the fact that one character will usually say say something in one panel, and then another will respond to their statement in the next. This provides many different twists on lines, jokes and situations, for when the story is read in a different way, the whole thing is completely different. Different statements and happenances get different responses and results, and this trulu is the key to the overall success if this issue. Extremely clever and funny.
Characterisation is pretty spot on, and there are some excellent character-moments and jokes. Highlights include Leela materialising all mix-up, Zoidberg making brunchlings, Bender creating invisible Benders, and the Incomplete Invention Completer that the Professor didn't even start to complete.
The art though, to be honest, is a little disappointing. Overall, it's just a bit rough. This is most noticable whenever Amy is drawn, with her face looking odd every so many panels. Leela sometimes seems to have too large an eye and forehead now and then. It isn't too bad, but considering the otherwise brilliant quality of this issue, it is just that bit disappointing that the best artists didn't draw this one.
Overall, a fantastically fun issue to read. As a story it may not be technically the best-written, but as far as inventiveness and cleverness goes, it really is one of the best issues so far. I'm giving this full marks, because it really is that good. Even the sub-par art can't drag this one down, I highly recommend picking up a copy ASAP.
Most Memorable Moment: Scruffy's version of the story. Hilarious!
Worst Moment: The "when pigs fly" gag. A little tacky and weak.
- Kenneth White