January 2, 2010

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Futurama Volume 1: Futurama-o-Rama

Written by Eric Rogers
Illustrated by James Lloyd, Tom King, Pam Cooke, Steve Steere, Jr., and Phyllis Novin
Bongo

[From the archives. I never found any other Futurama collections to see if/how things improved. -Rob]

Bongo Comics has been around for over 10 years now, which is a bit hard to believe. Then again, the Simpsons have been on long enough for there to be high school students students that weren't even born when I was doing the Bartman. (Yeah, I did the Bartman, I'm not ashamed to admit it. Played the heck out of the arcade game, too.) At any rate, somewhere about the turn of the century, Bongo started a Futurama comic line. Was it any good?

This collection is of the first few issues, all written by the same person. Unlike the Simpsons Comics, which tend to parody the genre and keep to short, punchy pieces, these are all feature length stories, and the joke often can't keep up the humor over 22 pages.

First up is a horror plot, with Fry finding an old time capsule with stuff from 1979, complete with a Sea Monkeys ad. Naturally, he tries to buy them, but they're a dud, as with much of the corny things advertised in those days. But careful how you throw them away! It's a bit of a nostalgia kick but I didn't think the jokes were that funny, and the rest of the 70s stuff got lost along the way.

Next, two aliens resembling a famous 1950s TV couple try to steal the secrets of Planet Express. Again, very short on gags. It would have been a passable episode but doesn't work in panels. This one needed more cameos, I think, to help the joke along. Alien Dick Van Dyke, anyone?

The third issue is the best of the bunch, with Leela fighting Amy's Mom over collectible aliens and Bender becoming a partner in a flea market booth. Zoidberg even gets to save the day against Vampires! The jokes work better and it feels more cohesive, but maybe it's just because I've been to one too many flea markets over the years.

Last in this collection is a bad war story with Zapp Brannigan turning to the wrong side in a war and getting very, very fat. Unfortunately, that idea just isn't very funny, at least to me.

Overall, I just don't see enough quality here to make me want to buy a Futurama comic, though I'd read another library trade, in the hopes that, like the show, the writing gets better as they go along.


I can understand they may have wanted a different take on doing the comic, but the variety of writers and short lengths in Simpson (and Bart Simpson) comics never lets the reader spend too much time thinking over what's going on. Given 22 pages, the funny premise has to be really solid. Unfortunately, for me it just wasn't there in most of these issues.

Futurama the tv show grew on me over time. I would imagine the comic would as well. I just can't see myself buying them anytime soon, however. This collection is probably only necessary for the hard-core Futurama fans.