"Bowl Me Over"
Writer: Ian Boothby
Artist: Phil Ortiz (p), Mike DeCarlo (i), Art Villanueva (colors)
I really had a difficult time getting through this issue of The Simpsons. During my reading of the second page, I burst out laughing and continued to laugh for a good five minutes. What Boothby has written is as good as any absurd Simpsons episode, and this story is especially daunting since it puts a new spin on themes already explored twice on the series.
As you can tell by the cover, bowling is the game ball of the story. We've seen Albert Brooks as Jacques the bowling lothario try to sweep Julie Kavner as Marge into his arms. We've seen the Pin-Pals ditch Otto and acquire Mr. Burns. In Boothby's tale, Homer gets the bum's rush from a new bowling team consisting of Barney, Lenny and Carl.
Homer's latest axing functions as a split. First, the team gains a new mate in the form of Professor Frink. Hi-jinks ensue. Second, Homer joins a very different type of bowling league. The latter event alludes to Homer's vigilante days in searching for the infamous Springfield cat burglar and makes expert use of Homer's rivalry/hatred of Ned Flanders: "Hey-Diddly-Hey!"
Comedic timing by Phil Oritz gives the slapstick impact, and he equally crafts believable empathy from Homer when the A story and the B for Bart story collide. Mike DeCarlo's inking expertise gives the whole product a polished finish which with the candy-coating colors of Art Villanueva integrates depth and dimension.
The zany situation brought on by a convoluted path meshes neatly with the B story. That makes The Simpsons a good comic book. I would demand nothing less from Boothby. Likewise, thanks to the pool of artists at Bongo, I count on the art to be consistently on-model and to be superior to most of that found in the "serious" comic books.
Boothby's choices in writing make this issue a particularly worthy addition to your collection. The story exemplifies an understanding of the characterization and the morality play. Homer naturally would have no problem taking down Flanders, or numerous Springfieldians. Unless caught in a fit of rage, he would also naturally stay his hand if the target was a family member, and that is why Boothby picks the most innocent of potential targets. That is what makes Homer's simple struggle to be human so rewarding. He has no investment in the character. He simply does the right thing because it is the right thing.
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