Current Reviews


Simpsons Comics #139

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2008
By: Ray Tate

James Bates
Phil Oritz (p), Mike DeCarlo (i), Art Villanueva (colors)
"Leave 'em in 'stritches!"

Homer starts an ostrich farm. That is brilliant. I'm almost ashamed of The Simpsons writers for not thinking up such an inspired idea first.

The credit for this surprisingly sweet story belongs to James Bates. Bates starts out by plausibly battering Homer's common sense down to plant the seed that will hatch an ostrich farm. Touted in the wee hours by McBain and the persuasive Linday Naegle as "the coming thing," to quote Brisco County Jr., the lure of the ostrich nets Homer into a surreal world of trouble.

Homer has been characterized as a walking impulse, but most know him, as they know the Hulk, for his all consuming rage. Numerous episodes of the series have given Homer a more even-handed treatment. They have shown him as a loving father and a simple Joe who wouldn't harm a fly, let alone a Spider Pig.

What first appeared to be a wonderfully absurd tale in the vein of Homer's other get-rich-quick schemes becomes an insightful look at Homer's humanity and his ties with his family. Homer just cannot bring himself to harm a single feather on these fowl. Lisa applauds her dad for sparing the lives of the ostriches. Homer's face just melts when his daughter hugs him and expresses her pride. The hesitant Marge warms to the idea of essentially breaking even through humane means. Even Bart begins to admire Homer's attempts to spare the lives of the birds.

Bates' story unpredictably turns. He at once follows The Simpsons's credo of having any good intention making a bad situation worse, but he finds his exit from the story in that dilemma. The tension of the story mounts because you really do not want anybody to kill these innocent creatures, yet that would be the obvious solution. I was starting to get the feeling I had when I heard a news report of a bear wandering into a hospital. It seemed at first like a feel-good cute little tableau, but they shot the bear dead.

The art in this issue of Simpsons Comics is as spectacular as usual. Not only do Phil Oritz and Mike DeCarlo ape the style of the Matt Groening series, they also tease this method into the making of manic "oot-ooting" ostriches. This doubles the already burgeoning cast, whose members get a showcase toward the end of the tale.

Art Villanueva, of course, applies his usual expert eye for color. For instance, as Homer watches in the dark, cool blues codify his somnambulance. The redder shades emanate off the television screen to connect the reader with what Homer is seeing and feeling.

Anybody who doesn't laugh at Homer's attempt to mingle with the ostriches hasn't a funny bone in them. The more human scenes are equally rewarding. So take your head out of the sand and pick up this issue of Simpsons Comics.

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