Eric Rogers’ story spoofs the pulps of yore. After taking Nibbler to a pet park, Leela disappears. Fry and Bender, both under the impression that Leela got lucky, know exactly what to do. Try to pilot the ship home and hope for the best. Leela’s fate has been seen in periodicals ranging from Astounding Science Fiction to Startling Stories. While hitting all the right beats of the plot, Rogers strikes with some extremely funny gags.
Rogers sticks to early Futurma continuity. I would place this story before the OAVs and the fifth season. Fry, for example, has no problem with Leela apparently finding a good lay, but in the current series, they’re definitely a couple. Fortunately, this trip down the memory lane of single life doesn’t adversely affect the story, and like the best episodes of Futurama, Rogers’ tale works as adventurous, albeit quirky, science fiction and a laugh-out-loud comedy.
Artists Lloyd, Pepoy and Hellard mimic the look and feel of the series. They effortlessly run Nibbler through a gamut of poses reflecting his facade as a dumb animal and a super-intelligent ambassador from the planet Eternium. Leela benefits from the artists’ extra care. They spotlight her escape attempts, her anger and her love for her pet. They also render her nude form exquisitely. Indeed, the illustration isn’t just a beautiful nude Leela. It’s actually a gorgeous example of the nude female figure in motion. Granted, a one-eyed female, but still.
“Rank Call” isn’t as uproarious as the main feature, but Rogers’ still creates amusement with a kind of answer to Star Trek‘s “Galileo Seven.” That episode meant to explain why Spock wasn’t in charge of the starship Enterprise. “Rank Call” explains why Zap Brannigan’s far more intelligent flunky never permanently advances in rank.
The pictures are more of the draw in this second tale. Mike Kazaleh, Phyllis Novin and Nathan Hamill concoct some intriguing alien enemies for Zap, and they have fun with the Futurama also-rans. Only Dr. Zoidberg could be considered more than a fifth tier character, but his put-upon nature makes him a natural for the role he plays in Rogers’ story. His appearance also ties into his absence in the main feature.
The first story is well worth your time and money, and the back-up is a sort of after-dinner mint. The two tales will interest Futurama and newbies looking for a good laugh alike.