Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis II
Title: Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis II
Chapter 1: Slaves of New New York
Chapter 2: The Read Menace
Writer: Ian Boothby
Art: James Lloyd, Steve Steere Jr.
Well, I assume that before you have read these issues that you would have read the original comic crossover between these two Groening shows. I also assume that if you are reading this that you have also read my review for those original two issues as well, in which case you will know that I wasn't exactly its biggest fan. Quite frankly, after actually starting off fairly well, it just didn't work, and ended up being incredibly unfunny, poorly written and looked like a very rushed effort, all ending in an incredibly lame ending that did about as much justice to the medium as Fox did to Futurama when it was on. So, I go into these two issues with much scepticism...
To recap the last moments of the previous issues' last issues' last moments, the Planet Express crew got transported back to their home, but then found that the citizens of Springfield now inhabit their world. And that was it... pretty cheap and lazy ending, that did nothing more than provide a nice two-page layout spead really. Well, it seems now that this second series of crossovers has attempted to carry on from there and this time have the Springfield universe doing interesting things in the Futurama one. Now, I have to wonder... was this just a random idea to try another spin on things, or did the writers really feel that the last crossover was a huge let-down in the end and they needed to recify things? Hmmm... I wonder...
Well, this continues on from the first dual-crossover comics, so if their cheap-solution-ending has now been continued, does that mean the original issues earn some brownie points? Actually, no, it doesn't. Mainly because we knew there was originally no intention of continuing the story on. Writing another series of issues as a giant plaster to cover the wounds that couldn't heal themselves the first time around doesn't hide the fact that they were there in the first place. If anything, this is evidence of the problems that plagued the originals.
But enough about that, this review is to talk about the second series, not look back at the weaknesses of the first one. Though I will quickly add, these new ones really can't be viewed independently from the others. They do come close to standing out on their own, but there are constantly inevitable links to the issues that started it. I personally would have preferred that this either a) be a seperate story entirely, or b) never be attempted in the first place. Is that a hint that these new ones are just as bad as the originals? Well... I wouldn't say that. In fact, they are far better in nearly every respect. But that doesn't automatically make them good.
So, onto the plot premise. Simply put, Springfield now inhabits NNYC, and after a brief flashback to quickly explain and give logic to the situation that couldn't be done originally (for some reason?) the locals all decide to use the yellow-skinned newcomers as slaves. While the police try to round up all the Springfieldians, Planet Express manages to hide the Simpson family. Stuff happens, the Nimbus ends up with all the slaves, and at the end of the first issue we have the universe being invaded by all the literary characters ever created.
So, does it work? In some ways yes, and in some ways no.
Cheap ass-covering of the original series' inadequacies aside, both issues mostly suffer from two common problems: A lack of decent plot flow and a lack of subtely. While there are some humorous moments, there are just too many moments rather than there is decent storyline. Things do move along, and it isn't as rushed this time, but it is rather jumpy. Rather than have a smooth transition throughout, they've gone with an approach that seems to consist of a tiny amount of plot flow, then a lot of silly moments that add absolutely nothing. They're generally semi-related to the overall plot, but they just don't go anywhere. That can be fine in small doses, but it happens too often. It also helps if the moments are funny, but most of the time they really aren't, and this is where the second problem of a lack of subtlety links in.
This issue has loads of parodies. Dozens of them. And parodies can be good, everybody enjoys a good homage to their favourite movies, TV shows, books, etc. But when 95% of your references are blatantly pointed out and shoved in your face and down your throat, as well as adding absolutely nothing really beyond the fact that "hey... look, we're reffing things" then it doesn't really work. For instance, the first issue has a montage of unfunny parodies when the crew take the Simpsons delivering to Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, then to a planet featuring the Alien aliens, followed by Star Baby from 2001: A Space Odyssey. They don't work at all, because they add nothing. The deliveries don't serve any real point to the plot, and they're not so much parodies at all as they are complete rip-offs. There's nothing different about them, they're all straight out of the movies and plonked into the Futurama universe, and they really jar because of that. If you're going to parody something, you can't just take the characters (and even locations for that matter!) and plonk them into the situation and automatically think it's funny because it's referencing something. You have to give something more, and give the whole thing some subtlety. The second issues suffers slightly different, but still similar, problems with subtely. In that case they literally do just drop all these different literary characters into the Futurama universe, though the real problem lies in that just about every time a literary character appears they are directly referred to by either name, book or both. Why not let the reader work out who the characters are, instead of stamping it in a speech-bubble at every opportunity. It'd be a shame if a five-year-old didn't get a reference... jeez! I also didn't like that the Futurama characters suddenly seemed to know all the things from the 20th Century and before. Goes against the grain of them usually seeming to have a lot of blanks in their history from before 2000 in the show.
Okay, there are admittedly some exceptions and funny moments. Bart telling the Marvel heroes that the DC heroes called them sissies is a highlight for me. Bender giving Fry his flashback pill to make him have double flashbacks is another, as is Leela's telling The Simpsons that they can old use the What-If? Machine three times a year. The Mom and Burns bits were good too, providing a very interesting ending which I won't ruin. So... yeah, there were some laughs to be had in both issues. Still, the hit and miss ratio did tend of fall on the latter side. That again comes down to the many references and their poor execution, and also lame jokes such as the rehashs of Marge's fear of flying and Leela flying through the billboard, amongst others. I also have to say, the plot-twist involving Simpsons Comics #1 was interesting, though I wonder how many people have actually read that issue that will read these ones too?
Characterisation was good too. Nothing really to fault there. And the art was just as excellent as it was the first time around, so kudos to the artists. Very busy and well-drawn, I can't recall any off-model character drawings at all. I do have a major beef with the mispelling of Kif's name though... this is supposed to be an official product of the show, not a fan comic posted at PEEL... Kif's name has a single 'f' NOT two!
Overall, an alright issue, but by no means a really good one. This really does fall straight into the category of 'Meh' actually. The storyline was okay, but a little jumpy and weak. There were some nice moments, but there were also far too many weak and pointless ones. There were some funny jokes, but there were some lame and unsubtle clunkers too. So, overall, while a definite improvement over the original series, it's not really a great marvel either. There are many normal, non-crossover comics from both shows I'd recommend before this. If you're expecting something spectacular, I think you'll be let down. It's not bad, but it could have been so much more.
Most Memorable Moment: Either the DC vs. Marvel battle or Homer and Fry both being stupid together outside the ship. Both great moments.
Worst Moment: The film "parodies" I mentioned earlier. Weak.
- Kenneth White