Bongo comics first brought the characters from Futurama into the world of The Simpsons with the parodically-titled Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis. In 2005, they collided these two worlds once more-- and threw in unlicensed appearances by numerous characters from literature, and superheroes from DC and Marvel Comics. The two-issue series hardly stands alongside the works of literature it references, but it provides an amusing read that recaptures the wit and inspired silliness of The Simpsons’ earlier years.
Writer: Ian Boothby
Artists: Hanes Kkitdm Steve Steere, Jr., Rick Reese.
The premise is stupid-- of course. Professor Farnsworth throws a few common items together and somehow breaks down the barriers between realities. He applies his invention to a Simpsons comic (the show still airs in Futurama’s future, though one episode had someone complaining that The Simpsons' second 500 years never matched the quality of their first 500 years). In any case, this effort brings the characters-- pretty much all of Springfield-- into Futurama’s reality. Attempts to destroy the potentially dangerous device open up a vortex outside the New New York Public Library and bring to life every fictional character in history. The "fics," lacking constitutional rights, become slaves. They soon rebel, causing trouble and hilarity.
The Simpsons, meanwhile, have flown off into space with Philip J. Fry, Leela, and the others. We’re treated to various adventures, including a delivery to the starchild from 2001: A Space Odyssey and capture by something very like the Hoth ice creature from The Empire Strikes Back. Our heroes escape-- but then cheesey flying saucers from 1950s pulp fiction close in behind them, demanding they surrender and return to earth. They eliminate that threat, only to be taken on board the Nimbus, where Waylon Smithers has recently staged a mutiny. He plans to live out his childhood dreams of being a space pirate. He returns to earth, however, when he learns that Montgomery Burns has fallen for a wealthy woman. Back in New New York, the principals experience the effects of a fictional character rebellion.
Stop hopping on my pop!
The complete works of Stephen King chase down the citizenry. Romantic heroes descend upon Marge, who declares that she’s in no hurry to be rescued. Captain Nemo captures Dr. John Zoidberg. The two kids from Hop on Pop jump on Homer’s ample belly. Smithers learns that musketeers really hate the question, "why don’t you carry muskets?" Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, and Pippi Longstocking gang up on Lisa. And Bart, of course, runs into Wolverine, Batman, Spider-man, Wonder Woman, and others from the library's graphic novel section. "Great Scott!" declaims Superman. "I mean, what was wrong with just calling them comic books?" The second issue, in particular, treats readers to Where’s Waldoesque panels filled with sight gags and guest appearances. Peter Pan, Atticus Finch, the Artful Dodger, the Tin Woodsman, Captain Ahab, Conan, and numerous other characters appear.
The story has to end–- but you’d be expecting too much if you’re expecting anything more than a loosely-connected series of gags. The Simpsons find a machine that will show the answer to any "what if" question. After wasting two of the three questions the machine can handle (Homer asks "what if Flanders were a monkey?" and then he and Bart laugh at the image of monkey-Flanders scratching his butt), they learn how to send the fictional characters back, in a plot twist that involves the giant-sized Homer from the first ever Simpsons comic.
Fans of Matt Groening’s tv shows–- especially those who tuned into Futurama-- will enjoy these comics, and the second issue holds a certain jokey appeal for avid readers of various kinds. It’s not literature for the ages, but it is passable entertainment for a few moments.
A variation of this review, by this author, appears at Bureau42. Some images have been reproduced here and here.