Futurama Comic Review

Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis

Title: Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis

Chapter 1: Somewhere Over the Brain-Bow!

Chapter 2: Liquid Diamond is Forever

Writer: Ian Boothby

Art: James Lloyd, Steve Steere Jr.

These are not traditional issues of Futurama Comics but they falls into the category none-the-less. A lot of hype surrounded this two-parter, and I seem to remember the phrase "They said it couldn't be done" being used to promote it. Well... they were right.

"Why not?" you may ask? Well, there's a few reasons, but first of all, a little bit about the basic synopsis. While picking up a collection of comics to the living planet Nerdanus XII, which are to be taken back to Earth to be sealed in liquid diamond, the Planet Express crew come across the dreaded Brain Spawn again. Not wanting to be defeated by The Mighty One, Nibbler and the rest of them, they transport them all into a nearest comic, which happens to be an issue of Simpsons Comics that Fry was reading. While in there, Fry ends up being the only one that knows what is happening because of his lacking a delta brain wave, and he seeks to help his clueless friends reunite and exit the comic, while the Brain Spawn attempt to seal the comic in liquid diamond to keep them trapped forever. The amnesia-striken Planet Express members wander about the Simpsons universe, meeting various characters and interacting with them. That about covers it without going into too much depth.

So, why doesn't it work then? Surely The Simpsons and Futurama are a winning combination, right? Surely putting two shows that are generally considered to be the top of their genre (at least as some point in time) would create nothing but greatness? Well, not neccessarily. I, for one, have never really been a fan of crossovers like this, and ironically, the only one I really think that worked was the Simpsons episode that crossed with The Critic titled 'A Star is Burns' back in Season 6. I'm not really biased as much as I am cautious. But, to be perfectly honest, apart from the odd niggle, I really enjoyed the first issue of this. I seriously did. I admit it exceeded my expectations and actually turned out very well. However, part two came along, and things went downhill from there.

The plot itself started off well enough. It was a bit odd, but the Brain Spawn were used well, though why they still exist in the universe after the events of 'The Why of Fry' seems odd to me. That aside, things get off to a good start. It does seem very much in Futurama style and the two shows are nicely mixed with the merge. We have Bender hooking up with Homer which is good, then Scruffy and Willie get together and Fry is hired as a teacher for Bart's class. Leela meets up and forms a bond with Lisa, and there's some good moments with Hermes and Zoidberg, who in their confusion, become best friends while at Mr. Burns' nuclear power plant. The old billionaire mistakes Zoidberg for a mutant and invites him and Hermes to the country club in case Zoidy could sue. The Professor's inventing antics get him hauled away by Police Chief Wiggum to the retirement home, and then Nibbler is found by Marge, who thinks he's a cute baby thanks to Nibbler's mind tricks. Unfortunately, this sees him getting fed milk by her, when Nibblonians are apparently lactose intolerant. The whole first issue ends on a cliffhanger, and an interesting one, with Farnsworth taken away, Fry still trying to convince Bart that he's been transported into the comic, and Nibbler, the only one who can really save them, a mindless wreck thanks to milk.

A good start, but then the next issue arrives and it all goes downhill. And when good work is started, it being ruined makes it that more tragic. Not straight away... as things continue on alright. The scene at the country club with Hermes and Zoidberg works well, as do more from Bender and Homer, and Leela and Lisa. The memories starting to return to to familiar things is worked in logically too. But as soon as Nibbler gets back his memory, it goes to hell. And this isn't a usual Nibbler-related issue either. The problem is, a plot that's slowly been progressing well suddenly gets very rushed. Nibbler's mind gets restored when the milk's affects wear off, and he suddenly exposes the entire plot to everybody in two panels. The Simpsons are suddenly helping the Planet Express crew, and after a wacky scene where the car falls onto the Duff blimp (including a stupid moment where Bender lighting his cigarette lighter inside the car somehow causes the unharmed blimp below them to burst into flames?!) we have the two professors, Farnsworth and Frink, whisking the group to safety with a flying motorcycle to try and rescue Zoidberg from the clutches of Mr. Burns. Things just go too fast and come across as forced, as if the writers suddenly realised that the thing had to finish in so many pages, so after a decent start, they rushed the rest.

It gets even worse, when in a lame plot twist Smithers suddenly appears to be Amy in disguise in what I suspect is a case of the writers suddenly realising Amy was forgotten so has to be introduced somehow into the fold. It's so pointless because then Burns turns out to be a disguised Smithers himself, and then the real Burns suddenly turns around to have been there behind a large chair all along. It's weak, lazy and just smacks of a cheap solution to ealier plot holes, especially because it wastes two pages to get where it originally ended up just because of no Amy earlier.

But it doesn't stop there... and I'm sure I wasn't the only one disappointed by the use of the holophonor here. Now, I'm not sure about you guys reading this, but I always considered the holophonor from the show to be a rather special thing that took years of skill and practice to play even halfway decent. But here, Fry gives Lisa Simpson a short tutorial... a couple of minutes at the most, and then she ends up saving the day using it to create picture-perfect images of Kang and Kodos to scare Burns and Smithers. Putting aside the fact that it's an incredibly weak way to solve the whole issue of the crew and Simpson family being in peril, I personally found it absurd, and, yes, even an insult to what the holophonor was supposed to represent in the series. Okay, Lisa plays the saxophone, and she is a bright girl... but mastering the holophonor in a couple of minutes?!! Come on! It's just really grating, I found. And finally, to top of the cheap crapness of the whole thing, the story doesn't get properly solved. Instead a risky attempt mixes the two worlds, and at the end all just for a cheap, but admittedly neat, two-page spread of various characters from both shows interacting in NNYC. It really wasn't a satisfying ending at all, and it felt lazy and as if the whole thing was rushed, as well as hinting that maybe they couldn't think up a decent way to finish things. It's a cool picture, and would make a neat poster, but it could have been saved for an extra for the comic unrelated to the story itself, and then we may have got a decent ending.

Characterisation? Well, aside from the Lisa-holophonor thing and a few minor glitches, the characters acted pretty well. I have to give kudos for that at least. A shame the story itself didn't hold up. The art is actually brilliant, I really have to admit. The artists here put a lot of time and effort into this to make it look special, far more special than it is, and it really is a polished and fine thing to look at. Backgrounds are detailed, everybody is on-model, and colours are used very well. Admirable considering this really had palettes from two different shows, and it surpasses anything I've seen from both series' seperate issues, with the exception of some of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror comic issues.

To summarise, a tale that actually starts off well and hooks uo in, but then ends up disappointing at the end due to what seems to be a rushed effort filled with plotholes. Stretching it out to a third may have produced something great, instead it ends up being a wasted effort that had promise, and that promise, something rare in any crossover I feel, is what makes it all the more sad and tragic that it turned out how it did. I'd also like to note that several trivial plot points from Futurama episodes needed notes from the editor for readers apparently, but not so for the Simpson related episode refs. This seemed odd to me, almost as if this was aimed more at fans of the crew's yellow cousins rather than of Futurama itself. It was kind of jarring, when things like the holophonor and Brain Spawn need explained with little notes, but obscure characters like Ernst and Geunter from The Simpsons get nothing. I don't really see the need for it. Anyway, I can't really recommend this to fans of either show, or both shows. You're probably best avoiding it, because you'll likely think it gets off to a great start, but then be bitter and disappointed at the end. I know I was.

Most Memorable Moment: Nerdanus XII saying "Duh, George Lucas was right to make Greedo shoot first in the 'Star Wars' Special Edition!"

Worst Moment: Lisa playing the holophonor perfectly in the click of a finger.

Story: 2/5
Art: 5/5
Jokes: 3/5
Originality: 2/5
Character: 4/5

Overall: D-

- Kenneth White