Saturday, December 15, 2018

Review: The Simpsons' TREEHOUSE OF HORROR #23

BONGO COMICS – @TheSimpsons

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITERS: Ian Boothby; Carol Lay; Dean Rankine
PENCILS: Tone Rodriguez; Carol Lay; Dean Rankine
INKS: Andrew Pepoy; Carol Lay; Dean Rankine
COLORS: Art Villanueva
LETTERS: Karen Bates
COVER: Jason Ho, Mike Rote, and Nathan Kane
44pp, Color, $15.99 U.S., $4.99 CAN, $5.99 CAN (2017)

“The Simpsons” is an animated television situation comedy created by Matt Groening.  “The Simpsons” began in 1987 as a series of animated shorts that were part of “The Tracey Ullman Show” (1987-90).  Those shorts were eventually developed into a half-hour animated TV series.  “The Simpsons” began broadcasting in December of the 1989-90 television season on the Fox Broadcasting Company, where the series continues to this day.

“The Simpsons” present a satirical depiction of a working class family which consists of Homer Simpson (the father), Marge Simpson (the mother), Bart (the oldest child and only son), Lisa (the precocious and brilliant elder daughter), and Maggie (a baby girl).  “The Simpsons” also parodies American culture, pop culture, society, politics, media, etc. via the denizens of The Simpsons home town, Springfield.

One beloved aspect of “The Simpsons” is its annual Halloween episode, “Treehouse of Horror.”  Also known as “The Simpsons Halloween specials,” each episode consists of three separate, self-contained segments that usually depict the Simpson family in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting. These Halloween segments take place outside the show's normal continuity and its unique version of reality.  The segments are also usually more violent and much darker than an average Simpsons episode.  The first of “The Simpsons Halloween specials” was entitled “Treehouse of Horror” (which gave the series its permanent name) and aired during the show's second season on October 25, 1990.  There has been an annual Treehouse of Horror episode ever since that date, usually airing in October, but occasionally in November, also.

Bongo Comics, which has the license to produce comics and comic books based on “The Simpsons,” starting producing a comic book version of “Treehouse of Horror.”  The title on the cover of this comic book is The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror (while simply being titled Treehouse of Horror in the indicia).  When it began publication in 1995, it was known as Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror (until 2008).  The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror has been published around September–October, for Halloween, every year since 1995.

So The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #23 recently arrived in comic book stores and on select magazine shelves.  The first story is “IT Happens!” from writer Ian Boothby; artists Tone Rodriguez (pencils) and Andrew Pepoy (inks); colorist Art Villanueva; and letterer Karen Bates.  A parody of Stephen King's classic novel, It, this story, once can assume, was produced in anticipation of the September 2017 release of IT, the recent smash hit movie based on King's book.

In “IT Happens,” classic Simpsons character, Krusty the Clown, is the stand-in for IT's “Pennywise the Clown.”  In the story, Homer, Marge, Barney, Carl, Lenny, and occasionally Skinner are being tormented by Krusty, who wants to eat them.  Krusty is successful at terrorizing the kids, but soon discovers that the passage of time does not bode well for him.

Alt-comix creator Carol Lay offers “A Fungus Among Us” (with Villanueva on colors and Bates on letters).  In this sci-fi/horror tale, alien fungi, that resemble Marge's blue hair, arrive on Earth and begin its “Body Snatchers” like invasion.  Marge seems immune to their powers, but there is something about the aliens that really appeals to Marge's tastes.

Writer-artist Dean Rankine (once again with Villanueva and Bates) presents “Curse of the Cat Lady.”  Comic Book Guy transgresses against Agatha the gypsy cat lady, who promptly puts a curse on him.  Will the curse, however, prove to be much of a cat-tastrophe to Comic Book Guy?

It has been years since I have read an issue of The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror, so when I noticed a copy on the shelf of a “local” comic book shop, I snatched it.  “IT Happens!” is a nice parody of Stephen King's It, but at 20 pages, the story is five pages too long.  It... should have ended when adult Homer closed the door and said “Not interested.”

“A Fungus Among Us” is a nice tale in the tradition of EC Comics and “The Twilight Zone” television series, with a near-perfect ending.  The best of this trio of tales is “Curse of the Cat Lady,” which reminded me of another Stephen King novel, Thinner (which he published under the pseudonym “Richard Bachman”).  In this 10-page tale, Dean Raskine has created the perfect version of a humorous Treehouse of Horror story.

I recommend this comic book to fans of Bongo's Simpsons comic books.  Because of its snazzy cover image, I think fans of the TV “Treehouse of Horror” would also like The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #23, also.

7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2017 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



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