Futurama Comics #13
Title: The Bender You Say
Writer: Ian Boothby
Art: James Lloyd, Steeve Steere Jr., Joey Mason, Karen Bates
Lucky number 13 is now ready for reviewing, and it looks like we have a new writer on the scene too. Eric Rogers has penned all but one other issue thus far (that being Patric M. Verrone's Futurama Comics #11) but now Ian Boothby of Simpsons Comics has decided to step into the fray. And with a tale about Bender becoming the new Robot Devil. Will Boothby's tale be a guilty pleasure, or will I tell him "go to hell!" instead? Read on to see whether this issue be a saint or a sinner, or somewhere inbetween.
A simple premise this one. Bender's luck at looking isn't going too well, especially after the health inspector drops by. Bender looks for another job, an it just so happens that The Robot Devil is willing to make Bender his cook. Unfortunately, it seems that Bender's cooking kills ol' Beelzebot, so Bender steps into his place. And, uh... yeah. Hilarity ensues.
The story, overall, works well actually. It takes a little while to get into it, with some antics from Bender as he tries to get some Salt & Pepper (the latter of which is illegal contraband in the 31st Century) to spice up his meals, etc. but once it gets into it, things are fine. Bender, it seems, poisons the Robot Devil, and then has trouble gaining respect from those in robot hell when he tries to take over. He then seeks to torture those within even moreso, regaining his respect, but then Leela discover that he's disappeared. I won't go into any more details, but despite it seeming rather thin in material, there's enough twists and turns to make things interesting. There's even a bit of religious satire concerning how the Temple of Robotology and Rev. Lionel Preacherbot handle the changes.
There's still the odd problem though. Things don't really flow entirely well between scenes and moments, and it can be a tad confusing when things tend to happen for no apparent reason, until one is quickly given a little later on. For instance, as funny as it is, there's no rhyme or reason to Bender's losing respect. Also when he randomly disappears and ends up at what I'll just say is a very un-Bender-like locale, there's no real reason given for it. Yes, things are explained later, but there's basically no foreshadowing or smooth transitions, so new developments tend to be a little sudden and disjointed. They almost come across sometimes like the situations were thought of first and the explanations came as an afterthought to link them up. So, overall the plotting is pretty good, if a little jumpy here and there. That said, the revelation as to why Bender ran away definitely does make sense, and I like the strange, unmoralistic moral that Bender learns... very much in Futurama style.
I won't say much about characterisation, because it's spot-on. Bender's great, the crew is great, the Robot Devil and Lionel Preacherbot are great. Even Fry and Leela in their small roles are great. No problems here at all.
Another thing that's in Futurama style is the humour. I'm not sure if Boothby wrote them all, but there's a lot of great jokes in here. As I said before, nice little moments of religious satire, but there's also lots of robot/computer and sci-fi-themed jokes in there for the nerds of us, and as we all know, all true Futurama fans are nerds. Again, the idea that pepper is rare and the reasons (and aliens) that caused it are very funny, as is the health inspector's future hologram that shows his grave, Zoidberg offering to eat the deadly meal with Hermes' approval, Farnsworth's ironic scalding of Bender putting people in danger, Bender's various job trials, Fry filling Bender's absense with stealing and drinking, one churchgoing robot refusing to hear a sermon about human love because he's seen it destroy robots on Star Trek, and Fry and Leela somehow getting tricked into being Bender's demon slaves... just to name a few. Overall, lots of quality laughs throughout, with many jokes being episode-worthy material.
And to cap things off with, the art. It's excellent, to be quite frank. The characters are all always on-model, colours and vibrant and clear, as well as adding atmosphere... especially in Robot Hell). Perspective is used well, character expressions perfect. There's not much else to add, it's probably one of the best looking issues thus far, with James Lloyd, Steeve Steere Jr. and co. doing fantastic work. Oh, and to all the Leela pervs out there... sorry, but the cover is the only thing even remotely close thing to Leela porn in the whole issue, so if you're planning on getting this for fan-service reasons, forget it.
Anyway, that about covers it. It's a really good issue... better than most in fact, and if not technically one of the best writing wise, certainly up there at the top with regards to humour. There is a minor weakness too in the actual ending. Not all of it, but just the last three panels. I dunno... not terrible, but I didn't find it that amusing either. Still, I can easily say that I highly recommend this issue to any and all Futurama fans. Pick up a copy if possible.
Most Memorable Moment: I have to choose? Well... I'd have to say the antics with Bender erasing his memory just a little too much is a favourite, especially when it comes to his Adamantium Credit Card.
Worst Moment: The very ending, I'd have to say. Seemed kinda tacked on.
- Kenneth White