Sunday, November 9, 2014

CBR The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis

What with The Simpsons/Futurama crossover episode "Simpsorama" airing today, let's celebrate the return of our heroes from the 31st-century by looking back at the original crossover epic that started it all - the comic book!!

Originally a 2-part crossover series released in 2002 and 2005 respectively, which was finally collected as a whole in a deluxe-sized edition not unlike The Rocketeer's.

For more Matt Groening-related reviews, check these other pages below!

Comic title: The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis 
Art by James Lloyd
Written by Ian Boothby 

Published by Abrams ComicArts/Bongo Comics
From 2010
Lineup Futurama series/The Simpsons series
Format: Giant-sized omnibus trade paperback reprinting Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover #1-2, The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis II #1-2 plus the additional original "Hail to the Cat" feature from Simpsons Comics #87 and "Chili Chili Bang Bang" from The Simpsons Summer Shindig #1, as well as some bonus pages of roughs, sketches, layouts, pinup artwork and a reprint of the original Simpsons Comics #1 where it all began included in the sleeve inside back cover!

Everybody knows The Simpsons. Cartoonist Matt Groening's classic satirical cartoon family that has been going on strong for over 25 seasons by now. Over all these years, there's been all kinds of merchandising products revolving around the Simpsons, countless tie-in products, but also a big budget animated film in 2007 and a few video games, not all of them good (but it happens).

Futurama on the other hand has known a pretty rough production, changing channels and exploring different ventures. But no matter what, it already is a fan-beloved classic. It's a loving tribute to all things science-fiction, co-created with David X. Cohen.

Over the years both shows had their fair share of comic books, published through Groening's own Bongo Comics publishing company.

For a really long while a crossover between the two series has been a dream for fans of both shows. But due to the logistic involved, it was something pretty difficult to actually pull off (not counting which channel/show would get the crossover, where to air it on Fox or Comedy central, how to get all the voice actors, which animation studio would get to do so, etc. - a feat that would take the cancellation of Futurama and The Simpsons to be strong of over 25 years worth of material to finally have 20th Century Fox allow them to do that, tonight!).

Well, that's one advantages comics has over other mediums - comics are so much more suited for crossovers! If we can get Batman fighting alongside Spider-man, a Predator sharing some screentime with Tarzan or Godzilla against Charles Barkley, you can imagine getting both the universe of The Simpsons and Futurama colliding on the page would be a piece of cake in comparison!

Usually, on both series, the other's a fictional piece of entertainment. But here they found a way to both use that to the story's advantage and make it work. Yep, a crossover between both series that eventually makes sense and actually can take place.

The series was originally published in 2002-03 as a 2-issue limited series "Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover" #1-2.

It would eventually get a sequel two years later under the title "The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis II" as another two parter in 2005.

Since they're harder to find now, these two classics have been finally reprinted and collected thanks to Abrams ComicArts in this above stunning hardcover collection. Collecting the entire 4-part epic! With over 208 pages worth of material, including a slip-case, a ton of bonus content and new material.

It also features a bonus reprint of the very first issue of the Simpsons Comics from 1993, now an Eisner Award-winning classic. That's right, the first Simpsons comic (which I won't be discussing here).

Our story begins in Springfield during the mayoral elections. In fact, Fry reading the classic "Hail to the Cat" story from "Simpsons Comics #87" from 2003. (This original issue, the basis for this Crossover Crisis, is also included in this collection for comparison.)

Due to some situation quickly escalating, Lisa's cat Snowball II ended being elected and making a mockery out of the elections in Springfield!

On a delivery to the Geek-e Galaxy, the Planet Express crew where bringing this comic collection to the living planet of Nerdanus XII, to be sealed there forever. But the Brain Spawn attacked them there and transported the crew to the world of this story, thanks to Fry's stupidity. The Brain Spawn are planning to play with this false collector's market - and become rich! Fry was reading this old edition of a comic, the confrontation between mayor Joe Quimby and Snowball II. Fry ends up in Springfield along Leela, Bender, Professor Farnsworth, Hermes, Amy, Scruffy, Dr. Zoidberg and Nibbler!

Inside this old comic they're slowing losing their own memories and end up wandering off the streets of Springfield. They will revolve around the story's main characters no doubt - the Simpsons family! Fry must find them! Bender quickly ends up at Moe's, where he befriends Homer, Homer mistaking him for a new Duff mascot..? Fry is mistaken to be a new teacher at the school and quickly finds Bart. Meanwhile Leela finds Lisa being bullied and decide to take action into her own hands. On the other hand, Hermes and Zoidberg find their way into the city's powerplant and Scruffy gets along with Groundskeeper Willie pretty fast. Nibbler tries to locate the main characters and is taken by Marge mistaking him for a baby... Oh, and Farnsworth is arrested by the police!

Farnsworth is brought to a retirement home where he meets Professor Frink. It all ends at the powerplant. Mr. Burns wants to be taken along to this future world!

Will our heroes be able to get outside the book?! Burns wants Farnsworth and Frink's device to get them back ...

Our story ends in true "ironic twist ending" fashion, as some time passes... only to find out New New York now also invaded in turn by the citizens of Springfield?!?

The second part of this crossover epic, "Crossover Crisis II", takes this tale into the opposite direction. Where The Simpsons characters are the onw taken into this future world instead!

We first find Morbo and Kent Brockman both confused and narrating what happened from their own point of views.

The entire town of Springfield is either having a mass hallucination... or they've been taken to a strange futuristic city!

Apparently this all began when Professor Farnsworth and Ogden Wernstrom where at a scientists meeting. Showing their new discoveries in order to get funding. Farnsworth was desperate when Wernstrom showed him one up. He decided to use one of Fry's comics in a last minute attempt at surprising the jury. He showed how easy it was to break the barrier between fiction and reality! Using a copy of "Chili Chili Bang Bang", a comic story which originally appeared in "The Simpsons Summer Shindig #2" from 2008 (also reprinted here in its original form), in which Chief Wiggum ate bad chili and suffered strange hallucinations.

This new invention transported all of Springfield's inhabitants to New New York! How could he make this work in his favor?... Since they're fictional characters, they have no rights! That's right, they could use them as slave labor! The Simpsons cast is sold as slaves through the city. The Simpsons family make a run for it and arrive at Planet Express'.

They're taken to a few errands (including an hilarious Aliens parody). Meanwhile the rest of Springfield is dispatched all over the city. Mr. Burns ends up with Mom, the business woman quickly takes on him for more than that. Most of the folks is shipped as cannon fodder onboard the Nimbus, under Zapp Brannigan. But Smithers take over the spacecraft with a mutiny (and decides to live his long dream of becoming Captain Harlock, apparently).

Bender throws the reality-tearing device into the nearest library.. And the entire body of work at the library spawns an army of fictitious book characters all over New New York!!

Dracula takes over as the new, new mayor! The Planet Express runs into Smithers' ship. They warn him about Burns and Mom dating, and convince him to come back to Earth. They use Farnsworh's "What If" machine to find a way to defeat the fictional characters. Several characters are running amok in the streets, including some familiar superheroes. But since they're in a non-licensed crossover they're kept constantly hidden in the shadows. Also they end up fighting each other at the drop of a hat, as per superhero traditions.

They locate the vortex near the library and throw a copy of the original "Simpsons Comics #1 - The Amazing Colossal Homer" into it to get some help from a Giant Homer. But he ends up walking around, looking for beer. They use a projection of Marge into a giant TV screen (where they usually crash into each new delivery - a nod to Futurama's opening) to guide him.

Our story ends with everyone getting back in place.

But what is that?! Mom has made a clone of Mr. Burns?! To be continued!... Or, not really, since this was the last we've had from this crossover.

Evil brains! Flying cars! Mistaken identities! An attempt at world domination! The very fabric of reality in danger! A comic book-collecting sentient planet! Fictional slave labor! Space pirates! Super hero battles! This story has it all!

Such an epic story! As fun as it is ambitious!

This "Crossover Crisis" was written by regular Simpsons Comics writer Ian Boothby. He really seems to be having fun playing will all these characters, capturing their voices and taking us in these unexpected directions as things get slowly out of hand.

Originally the way the first part ended was only meant to be a joke... but they ended up actually using it and following their story upon it.

James Lloyd's is flawless, and always on model with both shows. Some credits are due here, considering how impressive some of the most ambitious spreads are, considering how many characters they squeezed on these pages.

This hardcover collection contains bonus material including preliminary sketches, character designs and fantastic pin-up gallery by a wide variety of guests talents from the industry such as Alex Ross, Sergio Aragonés, Geof Darrow, Kyle Baker, Peter Kuper and Bernie Wrightson and many more! Some decide to play with the crossover element or either one of the other franchise. 

There's also a pretty short but fun introduction by Matt Groening himself as well as cover art, thumbnail layouts, rough layouts and pencil drawings from behind the scenes.

Overall, this was a pretty fun crossover all things considered, pretty good and well made.

Well Recommended for fans of either show or just looking for a reason to go back to them. It's a fun well-written story with plenty of clever references and allusions.

It took over 15 years in the making but now in 2014 it finally "officially" happened on the television.

They played with this notion and alluded to it so many times. Since Matt Groening created both shows, and the characters models are pretty similar in style (beside a couple of aesthetic details) you'd imagine they'd have done it already by now. And that despite one series taking place in our present day and the other a thousand years into the future. And the fact one's usually a fictional show in the world of the other. They did receive a couple of cameos in each other's over the years.

The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis was the first true crossover between both series, in the comic pages!

They managed to get cameo appearances by every single Simpsons and Futurama character they could.

It's a blast to read, taking quick turns for worse as we even get a surprise second crossover (in the form of literary characters) at the end.

A crossover of epic proportions! Homer and Bender becoming drinking buddies! Lisa finally meeting her female literary idols! Marge meeting the protagonists of her romance novels! It's so fun! We even get to see a couple Stephen King characters roaming the streets of these family shows. It's a fantastic read. 

I give it:
3 / 3 Aaylas!

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