In Review: Simpsons Comics #218

Fun reading for Simpsons and science fiction fans. Recommended.

The cover: A great parody cover from Jason Ho, Mike Rote, and Nathan Kane. With UFOs flying about them, this Simpsons-fied version of the Guardians of the Galaxy sports Homer as Barlord, Lisa as Racket, Maggie as Mute, Marge as Gamarge, and Bart as Brat the Destroyer. Looking in the bottom right corner, one can see that this is the fevered dream of Comic Book Guy, who looks like he is upset with this nocturnal vision. Great design on the characters, good poses, and excellent coloring. Overall grade: A

The stories: “Spaced Out” by Ian Boothby contains three recent science fiction films tweaked into Simpsons goodness. The issue opens with Comic Book Guy looking at his chest in horror as an Alien chestburster seems to be exploding from his chest–This is NOT a dream! This actually happens, and the justification for it occurring had me laugh hard. Boothby is obviously all too aware of Nerd culture to rationalize this opening splash. Soon, CBG falls asleep, reimagining last year’s hit Marvel movie with the Simpsons in the leads. It opens with the famous police line up of the characters, all under the watchful eye of Wiggum. The five criminals want to bust out of prison, and Racket has a plan, but another character complicates things in the second and third panels of Page 4. The group encounters super villains that are similar to those from the film, but are portrayed by Simpsons’ characters: my favorites were the ones Gamarge encounters. How they are defeated was perfect. The second tale was an Ender’s Game interpretation, where Bart is the chosen leader of humanity’s fighting force. Moe is the highlight of this story, as it’s impossible not to read the dialogue without hearing Hank Azaria’s voice. The punchline on this story was also terrific. The final movie reimagined was Gravity. Granted, this is only three pages long, but it had the best payoff due to the characters introduced on the last page. What makes this a fun book is that the jokes are flying really fast, so if there’s something that doesn’t tickle your funnybone (and that was rare for me), there’s another joke in the next panel. I thought this was great. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals for this book look like a lost episode of the series, and that’s what fans would want from this comic. Nina Matsumoto provides the pencils and Andrew Pepoy the inks. The opening splash is so good it’s going to be over the Internet for as long as the medium lasts. The design of the characters incorporating them into Guardians’ characters is excellent, with the bad guys creating a good chuckle. The Ender’s Game sequences rely more on character close-up than backgrounds, as many involve the interior of a space station, but the opening arcade setting has some funny games. The first panel of the last page had me laughing before I read the dialogue. I also really like the quarter circle panel on the final page. Whenever I see circle panels, or portions of, it creates a classic comic book feeling, like the iconic Barks’s Duck books. Having this final panel shaped like that gave this book a classic feel. Overall grade: A

The coloring: Bright, bold colors from Art Villanueva make this gorgeous to look at. The opening splash wouldn’t be as dramatic were it not for the fantastic red background, with the title standing out in yellow. The pale blue and grey used in the line up sequence make the colors of the Guardians really stand out. The characters’ helmets and shoulder pads make them shine in the antiseptically clean space station in Ender’s. I also really liked the faded lime used beind Moe and Bart on Page 17’s fourth panel. Sounds are also really bright, making them sound all the louder to readers. Overall grade: A

The letters: The Matt Groening style of lettering is employed by Karen Bates on this issue for dialogue, as it is for all Bongo Comics, but she really shines on the opening title and sounds. The first page’s story title instantly transports readers to the 1980s with its stylized font. The sounds are perfect on this book. Mute’s sounds on Page 3 got me smiling right away. With science fiction as the genre, Bates gets to do all the explosions and fight sounds one would expect. Comic Book Guy’s snores throughout the issue made me giggle. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Fun reading for Simpsons and science fiction fans. Recommended. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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