Futurama Comics #15
Title: Fry Me to the Moon!
Writer: Eric Rogers
Art: John Delaney, Phyllis Novin, Joey Mason, Karen Bates
In this issue, Fry finally gets the chance to be an on-screen science fiction movie hero, like Uhura, or Captain Janeway, or Xena. Except this time he'll be taking on a more masculine role: that of Space Boy. Will he succeed, and will this issue be the Batman Begins of the comic series, or instead be the Batman and Robin of it? Read on to find out... same Futurama Madhouse review, same Futurama Madhouse URL.
The premise of this issue is simple: while at a comic convention, Fry learns that his favourite sci-fi comic of Space Boy is being made into a movie, and that the producers are looking into casting the main role. He applies, and gets it. But when he signs the alienese contract without finding what it fully says, Leela becomes suspicious. Meanwhile, Bender becomes Calculon's "buffer" for the movie at the same time.
The story itself is fairly solid, but at the same time suffers from the odd problems here and there. The plot itself does provide some ripe opportunity for movie-production satire, and there is a good amount of it. The major case probably being Fry's attempts at trying to get out of the movie later on by having an alcohol problem and making massive demands being thwarted by the fact that the producers actually expected that sort of thing from an upcoming star. There is a decent amount of flow, with things taking a steady pace throughout, and no real cases of the plot jumping or unexpectedly halting. Fry is in good form here, as are the rest of the main characters. And, of course, Calculon is always good to see as a fairly major character, especially when his Shatner-esque qualities and bad acting come into play.
There are several things that are rather amiss though. The most glaring is that Slurms McKenzie makes an apperance, despite the fact that he was supposed to have been killed in the very same episode he was introduced in. Leela also appears to turn to mutant Raoul for translation, despite the fact her own mother is supposed to have a degree in linguistics according to Leela's Homeworld. These make me wonder when this thing was supposed to be set, especially when preceding comics have been pretty tight on continuity issues.
The original characters of Martian Shursleazy and Jerry Dreckhelmer (alien and robot parodies of Martin Scorsese and Jerry Bruckheimer respectively) despite having funny names really don't have anything to their characters that is original and isn't to be expected given the nature of the plot, making them rather predictable. That and Shursleazy doesn't even look like any of the martians from the show either. The subplot with Bender as Calculon's buffer is also rather pointless, doing nothing really except prodiving a bunch of gay innuendo jokes and nothing much else, with the exception of the odd funny one-liner from Bender and Calculon here and there.
The plot overall, despite being well-paced and appropriately themed, is rather predictable. In some ways it's a bit of a rehash of both the TV episode That's Lobstertainment! and The Simpsons' episode Radioactive Man, where upon Milhouse gets the role of Fallout Boy, yet at the same time isn't as original or clever as either of them. The fact is, the fact that Fry's going to get himself in trouble, as well as the way he's going to do it, is pretty obvious as soon as Shursleazy and Dreckhelmer appear. Leela's concern just reinforces the obvious plot "twists" and at the end of it all you basically just say to yourself "saw it coming" in a rather unsatisfied way. Add to this a whole bunch of cheap shots at several 20th Century celebrities such as Cybill Shepherd, Mariah Carey and Claire Danes, who would be lucky if they're still remembered in 50 years, let alone 1000, and you have a rather unsatisfactory comic overall, despite some promising moments throughout.
The art is a major let-down here too, and as I've ranted about in reviews of past issues, John Delaney is once again obviously the fault here. And after seeming to improve a little on his last issue, he's slipped back into his usual randomly off-model moments. Just every so often the characters just don't look right, and like in Futurama Comics #12, the original new characters look a little off: still in the Groening style for the most part, but just a tad too Delaney-ish at the same time. Sure, there's a really nice picture for the opening panel, and the lighting and shading in some panels is well done too (especially when Leela's in Old New York...) but if the characters don't look officially-enoughly-correct, then there's no point going to those lengths. It does, however, make me wonder if not only is Delaney doing a sub-par job at these comics, but whether he's wasting his time at Bongo. The odd moments where his art shines is in the more realistic stuff and in his shading. It's as if he's more suited to more serious, less cartoonish Batman or X-Men styled art rather than Groening's style.
To sum up, an issue that has a few good moments throughout, but overall suffers somewhat in every area. The plot is well structured with good flow, but is predictable. The jokes work sometimes, but not others, overall being rather hit-and-miss. The continuity has some major plotholes and issues. The main cast are well-characterised, but the supporting new characters lack depth and subtlety. And the art is a little all-over-the-place. I'd recommend it to collectors of the comics, but not much else. This is one of those issues that might be worth thumbing through in the store quickly if you like movie production satire, but not actually shelling out the cash for. There are certainly a lot of better issues out there.
I'd also like to add that I don't like what Bongo have done with the Australian/New Zealand version of this issue's cover, and what will no doubt be done to following issues: having an odd side-bar down the left features scenes from within the comic. They starting doing it with the recent Simpsons Comics I've noticed (in the stores... I don't buy those comics anymore) too, and it's sad that they've resorted to cheapening the Futurama issues too. If anybody from Bongo is by a large coincidence reading this... please stop doing this to our issues.
Most Memorable Moment: The elbow grease can close-up.
Worst Moment: Slurms' random appearance.
- Kenneth White