Futurama Comics #10
Title: The Big Sweep
Writer: Eric Rogers
Art: John Delaney, Phyllis Novin
Another few months, another issue of Futurama Comics. And with the Olympics just around the corner next month in Greece, what better issue to come into my grubby hands than this one, where the theme is the 3004 Olympics. Okay, sure... they had that on the show in Bend Her, but now it's being done again in the comics. Will this issue be a success like that episode and get a gold medal grade, or will it come crashing down faster than the meteors on the first few pages and be kicked into the gutter for abusing the paper like so many athletes abuse drugs? Read on and find out.
So, what's the synopsis of this ish, you may ask, aside from Olympics? Well, after an ash-fall on NNYC, which is rather like a snowfall but with meteor ash instead of being fallen precipitation from clouds as frozen ice crystals, Scruffy discovers some smooth white rocks and decides to teach Fry, Bender and Leela the sport of "swurling" where upon you move a rock into a bullseye on ice. Yes, somehow falling ash automatically freezes the water too, but anyway... Scruffy discovers the three are all naturals. But he's not the only one, and a washed-up swurling coach named Vic Lebruteski decides to take the whole crew under his wing for the next Olympics. Leela doesn't quite trust him though.
So, does the plot work well? Well, I'll cut to the chase and simply say, "No, it doesn't." This has several factors that stop it from not only being really good, but stop it from even being decent or average. And quite frankly, it borders on being terrible, but really best suits the term of "poor" in this case. It really is just a poor issue, and actually the worst issue released so far, in my opinion.
Why, you may ask? Well, aside from the fact that the Olympics were used on the show already (granted, this probably came out in the States before the episode aired, but still...) the whole thing just really isn't that good on any level. The story itself has an interesting opening, and the idea of ash being the future's new snow is quite a neat one and very much in the style of the show. It starts off fairly slowly, but the problem is once it speeds up it never really stops, and by the time the end comes, rather than braking to a halt, the whole thing really just hits a wall like a car on ice. It tries to slow things down, but doesn't succeed. This isn't really helped by a strange wacky flavour to the whole thing. Sure, Futurama has always been a surreal and strange show, but there's a difference between surreal things that seem to have some logic based in them, and just plain wacky for the sake of wacky. This comic is, unfortunately, the latter. It seems to have a problem with direction and focus, and these wacky moments almost come across as a thin disguise to distract the reader from the plotting problems with zaniness.
The problems don't stop there. Another is the overuse of Scruffy, who I have always felt is a great character... when he's used in small doses. The fact is, Scruffy is just as much of a main character here as Leela, Fry and Bender are, and it doesn't really work. Part of Scruffy's character is supposed to be the fact that he's rather reclusive in scenes, and that's when he works a treat. He's just too prominent here for it to work.
The humour is is rather poor too. There's the odd amusing moment, but they're very thin, and I can't help being reminded of the current episodes of The Simpsons (15th Season) when reading this. Like that show's current batch, this is filled with jokes that just don't work, aren't funny, add nothing new, are in-your-face, or are even recycled. Fry waking up Bender just to hear him burp... not really funny. Bender putting out the torch... poorly executed. Leela crashing into the billboard meta-humour and Bender excreting bricks.... done on the show before. There's just really nothing that amusing, and the sad thing is, it tries so hard to be funny, and just fails miserably.
The characters are generally well characterised admittedly, with no real instances of them being out of character. Even the original character of Vic Lebruteski is quite interesting. No real complaints there, except for how it integrates with the story. Not the characterisation itself as such, but the way that they relate to the plot. Leela's concerns and the rest of the crew being clueless or uncaring has been done on the show before a few times, and each time new dimensions were added. Here, the whole thing just doesn't really seem to work. The idea itself is fine, but it's just executed so poorly and unoriginally here.
And finally, the art. Even this is disappointing. John Delaney really does seem to have a problem with consistency, it showed in Futurama Comics #7 and Futurama Comics #9, and it shows here. He is capable of drawing the characters, and most of the time they look okay, but his style is very messy and many times they can be really off-model to the point of looking like a below par fan art picture. Amy when she's talking about replacing Leela in this issue is a classic example of the art making a character just look wrong. James Lloyd is a far better artist, his issues being almost flawless with their art quality. Delaney's remind me off the recent Simpsons Comics that seem to more resemble being drawn by an inconsistent fan artist who can draw, but makes the characters look like parody's of his own rather than offical products of the show they're based on. It always looks rushed and lazy, and this issue is no exception. I'd personally prefer if Delaney just left Lloyd to the art and got out, unless he can brush up his drawing skills. Just to clear up though... the art isn't terrible, but it's far from being quality or good enough for what is supposed to be an offical Futurama product. Especially if these things are now supposed to basically be an official alternative to the show.
Overall... yeah, a big disappointment. The story doesn't really work, the jokes aren't of high quality, the whole thing has a lack of focus and the art is shoddy. Unless you're a collector of every issue, I can't really recommend getting this one at all. There's just nothing to recommend here at all, and frankly every issue so far would be a better purchase than this It's not terrible, but it just really fails in most areas and offers nothing fresh or interesting.
Most Memorable Moment: The Professor telling Hermes that he can't remove the smoke detector from his office.
Worst Moment: The antics at the Olympics themselves.
- Kenneth White