As creator Matt Groening mentions in his introduction, fans have been clamoring for a crossover between his two animated series, The Simpsons and Futurama, for years. Yet, The Simpsons characters already exist in the Futurama universe, albeit as a fictional television show that has been running for over 1,000 years, thus hampering the possibility of characters from both series ever actually meeting. Enter comic books! I’d be a spoilsport for revealing exactly how it happens within The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis' 208 pages, but its madcap premise is just as head-shakingly weird as any plot in either series.
Eisner-winning writer Ian Boothby has “written more Simpsons Comics than any other writer,” notes his Wikipedia page, and his prowess within the universe certainly shows. Jokes zip through the panels, with plenty of winking at devotees of both shows--fan-favorite cameos abound (Glavin!), as well as appearances by other pop culture properties (there’s an extended Hoth-inspired sequence and run-ins with Dr. Who, Batman and Superman, and a few of Stephen King’s creations).
But Boothby wisely keeps the star-studded appearances in check and lets both shows shine. When the Crossover Crisis opens, the Simpsons’ cat, Snowball II, is in a heated electoral debate with Mayor Quimby and appears to be swaying Springfield’s vote. Meanwhile, in the Futurama side of the story, the entire universe is at stake, with vampires, space pirates, and a planet that collects comics all vying for power. It isn't long before Bender and Homer discover that they are the best of drinking buddies (Bender to Homer: “You know who’s the greatest guy ever? You!”), while Dr. Zoidberg and Mr. Burns bond at the country club:
Mr. Burns: “How are you enjoying the buffet, Old Man?”
Zoidberg (covered in food scraps): “This food is mine! Try and take it, and I’ll kill you! I swear I’ll kill all of you!”
Of course, the mileage of such jokes will vary depending on your familiarity with the shows. And for fans who are used to seeing these characters in animation, artist James Lloyd has faithfully captured the two-dimensional, bug-eyed, and full-of-overbite look inherent to the worlds Matt Groening created. It reads like an adaptation of several episodes, rather than something wholly removed from the small screen. I was sold when a tipsy Bender seduces Flanders' jukebox.
Abrams Comicarts crafted a special die-cut slipcase to house the hardcover, which also includes over two dozen pages of sketches, rejected designs (one image of a Simpsons-ified Conan the Barbarian, complete with a scantily-clad woman wrapped around his ankles, has a note warning, “Watch risqué elements!”), and other odds and ends (now is your chance to see Alex Ross' interpretation of Radioactive Man). A reproduction of the first issue of The Simpsons comics is included in a sleeve near the back--a few gags therein carry over into Crossover, so its inclusion is especially fun. It’s a clever and true-to-its-source celebration of all things The Simpsons and Futurama, belonging on the same shelves that house fans’ DVD collections; a seamless bridge between both worlds--long overdue but well worth the wait.