“The Simpsons” is the longest-running prime-time television show in American history and it shows no sign of stopping soon. Everyone knows of the animated creation of Matt Groening. Less well-known and shorter-lived was “Futurama,” another animated classic by Groening. “Futurama” was recently revived by Comedy Central after being canceled by Fox. Both shows are extremely popular and have memorable characters that generate pervasive memes such as “The goggles do nothing!” and “Why not Zoidberg?”
Such entertainment juggernauts unsurprisingly have comic book series based on their respective shows produced by Bongo Comics. Of course, fans wanted a crossover between “The Simpsons” and “Futurama.” The first part, “Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis,” was published in 2002 and 2003. A sequel, “Crossover Crisis II,” was published in 2005. Both series were hits, and both were finally brought together in the hardbound book,” The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis” released in 2010. Expectations for this work were high, and it delivered.
The story starts in Futurama’s universe where “The Simpsons” are a TV show and comic book series of which Fry is a fan. He, Leela, and Bender travel to Nerdanus XII, the Living Planet that is a parody of comic book fans. The crew is bringing the planet’s collection of comic books to Earth to be sealed in liquid diamond to preserve their value. Upon arrival, the crew is attacked by the Brain Spawn, an evil force of giant floating brains who seek to destroy all thought in the universe by destroying anything thought-provoking, such as comic books. They incapacitate Leela, Bender, and the planet with their intelligence-dampening attacks, but Fry, who does not have the brain functions necessary to be incapacitated by the Brains, is immune.
The book starts off in an exciting way as Fry fights against the Brain Spawn before his and his crew’s capture. After they are captured, the crew is sealed into a “Simpsons” comic book. The crew maintains their characterizations as they interact with “The Simpsons” characters. Leela, tormented by bullies throughout her life, develops an instant rapport with outcast Lisa Simpson and they become a good team in trying to figure out how to solve their collective problems. Homer Simpson and Bender, rowdy alcoholics that they are, become friends quickly after a minor scuffle over Bender sitting on Homer’s favorite bar stool at Moe’s Tavern. These are but a few of the excellent interaction between the characters. They play off of each other incredibly well in hilarious and touching ways that only “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” can pull off. The story is basic, but it only serves as a vehicle for “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” characters to interact, which is the main focus of the book.
The overarching problem of the book, whether it is escaping a comic book or returning fictional characters to their realities, allow the characters to work together, or backstab each other, in ways that maintain their individual characterizations while maintaining and expanding upon the humor of both series. The ending, which will not be expanded upon to prevent spoilers, is fitting for the two shows that leave both in a positive light. Though it has a sequel hook that is currently unresolved, it is nevertheless satisfying.
The collection includes not only the crossover, but several other goodies. It includes the original book in which the Planet Express crew is trapped. In it, Mayor Quimby is shown to be siphoning funds from various projects to fund his lavish lifestyle, angering the town. He is up for reelection, but runs unopposed. For a class project, Lisa demonstrates the democratic mudslinging of elections by having her pets, Santa’s Little Helper and Snowball II, pretend to be candidates. Because Lisa foolishly relied on Ralph Wiggum to distribute the posters over the school, they end up all over town and the townspeople elect Snowball II to be mayor. Lisa uses this opportunity to improve the town towards her own ends, but this backfires in horrid ways like the British invading Springfield. This comic is quite amusing with the buildup to Snowball II’s election and her “reign” offering and capitalizing on many joke opportunities. However, the story suffers with the British invasion by including cheap and predictable stereotypical humor towards the British. The ending is also a pathetic cop-out that feels rushed and forced. Overall, the comic is decent, but the “Futurama” characters are sorely missed.
The book also includes some preliminary art and sketches for the miniseries. The collection is remarkably complete with many sketches showing the processes a comic goes through until its final release. These sketches will doubtlessly be fascinating to comic fans. Posters are also included with the book showing “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” characters interacting, such as Homer using Bender as a barbecue grill, a costume party where they dress as each other, homages to movies, and more. As a special treat, the book includes the first issue of “Simpsons Comics.” This article will not review that book as it deserves its own review, but it is an excellent comic book that is larger than life than the show was allowed to be in 1994 when the book was first published.
“The Simpsons” and “Futurama” are well-regarded series in their own rights. A true crossover was inevitable and well-done. The characterizations are spot-on, the interactions are simply excellent and hilarious, and the story is gripping enough to give a sense of tension and emotional investment and to tie the interactions together in a coherent manner. In addition to the fantastic story, many other bonus features are present to entice fans of either series. Fans of The Simpsons and/or Futurama must check out this crossover. They will not regret it.