Current Reviews


Simpsons Comics #147

Posted: Saturday, October 18, 2008
By: Ray Tate

Chuck Dixon & E. Blackburn
Phil Oritz, Mike DeCarlo (i), Art Villanueva (c)
Bongo Comics
"DNAin't Necessarily So"

It's science fair time in Springfield. Lisa aspires to beat smug science nerd Martin Prince. In her pursuit, she discovers a horrible secret. Meanwhile, Bart and Milhouse play dumb and dumber.

Chuck Dixon's and E. Blackburn's tale neatly entwines A and B stories and pepper both with pure Simpsons' zaniness. Though it's not "the horrible secret" that serves as the emotional backbone, Homer reveals a heretofore unknown peccadillo that disgusts Lisa as well as the reader. The bizarre soul-scathing hatred of the Dutch once more arises --"Dutchman!" Each of the student's science projects is a winner in terms of comedy and the blue ribbon naturally goes to the project that's most ass-backwards.

The tale is notable for more than just jokes. As with the show, the characterization is the series' throbbing heart. Bart refuses to work with Lisa. He would rather beat Martin and his sister. Perhaps he remembers the drubbing she attempted to dish out in a previous science fair. Milhouse immediately lock-steps to Bart's whims as his loyal flunky. Lisa practically gushes at the thought of the science fair, and her incredible over the top drama becomes realistic when she learns, through her project, "the horrible secret" smartly dismissed at the end. Even the projects bear their designers' personalities.

Phil Oritz and Mike DeCarlo flawlessly craft a Rube Goldberg styled ending. The beats between the panels smoothly animate the sequence as if it were a fluid television act. Before that, they aid in the reader's enjoyment by showing the characters' variety of moods: Lisa's dagger eyes at Martin, Bart's confident expression and the myriad stages of sleep deprivation. Art Villanueva spreads his candy colors throughout the panels. Some, such as the pink walls of the Simpson house, simply set the familiar. Other flourishes imbue the sky of dreams with a flavor of painting reminiscent of van Gogh.

Dixon's and Blackburn's story approaches the comedic level of the classic Simpsons television episode in which Lisa attempts to determine who is smarter, her brother or a hamster. Their story, however, is based less on one-upmanship and more on the trauma Lisa faces when she learns all she knows could be wrong.

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