Writer: Eric Rogers
Artists: John Delaney(p), Phyllis Novin(i), Joey Mason(c)
Thanks to football, I have seen maybe one episode of Futurama's new season. It's very telling when this comic book arrives before a single episode of the show. Fortunately, Eric Rogers imbues some of the quality of the show to the spin-off.
"Big Sweep" begins on one of those surreal future twists with which the show has in the past delighted its fans. In this case, the future earthers instead of enjoying a snowfall, enjoy a meteor shower. I'll not point out that most meteorites disintegrate and rarely hit the earth with any even marginal debris since there's a number of ways you can get around this pesky fact.
The meteor-aftermath leaves behind a meteor fall--identical to a snowfall. The future residents of the earth treat it as such, and a number of jokes flake off the panels. The biggest joke of all is that Fry who is usually the idiot is absolutely right, and his futureshock which as usual is ridiculed doesn't deserve it.
Somehow--the meteor shower left behind perfect spheres--all of this leads into a strange, strange satire of curling. Where the book fails is in its focus on Scruffy the Planet Express janitor. He's much more eloquent a character when he has little to say or do.
Olympic curling has taken a page out of George Carlin's classic skit on improving football and baseball. The event's dangers recapture the promise of humor in the opening scenes and provide a strange, strange but sensible means for our heroes to leave with their skins intact. While every science fiction fan knew exactly what those perfectly shaped spheres were, and I think the emphasis on their shape by Rogers was purposeful satire, the actual reason behind the spheres comes as a surprise but fits with Futurama continuity.
One of the ways Futurama differs from the Simpsons is in the complexity of design. Imagine the group scenes on the Simpsons, now triple them in every panel. There's always something that needs to be streamlined in pulp styled future, an expression that while staying on model needs to be conveyed and in general a larger cast that needs to be given panel time.
Mr. Delaney accomplishes all of these requirements with ease, but several panels stand out. On page three, a weather being hilariously exemplifies Futurama's acceptance of the basic natural needs. A few panels below, Novin and Mason help evoke a surprising quiet scene through the use of shadows and colors. The strange pink alien is extremely bizarre, and the Hammerhead shark aliens are eye-catching. Action becomes quite animated as the (sw)curling begins. You know if there were actually threats like that on the ice, it might just be an interesting sport to watch.
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