Since 2016, HarperCollins' imprint, Harper Design, has been sending me review copies of its full-color trade paperbacks that reprint comic books based on “The Simpson's” animated television series. Those comics have been published by Bongo Comics since 1993.
Simpsons Comics Showstopper (the fifth that I have received) is the newest trade paperback in the series. Simpsons Comics Showstopper collects stories from Simpsons Comics issues #127, #128, #129, #132, and #133 (published between February and August 2007).
“The Simpsons,” produced first run for the Fox Broadcasting Company, presents a satirical depiction of a working class family which consists of Homer Simpson (the father), Marge Simpson (the mother), Bart (the oldest child and only son), Lisa (the precocious and brilliant elder daughter), and Maggie (a baby girl). “The Simpsons” also parodies American culture, pop culture, society, politics, media, etc. via the denizens of The Simpsons home town, Springfield.
Simpsons Comics Showstopper opens with “25” (written by Ian Boothby and drawn by Phil Ortiz and Mike DeCarlo). It is a parody of Fox's long-running, live-action television series, “24.” Homer is late for work... again. Meanwhile, at his place of employment, Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, his boss Montgomery Burns, believes that he has killed Homer. His solution to cover up this supposed crime – set the plant to meltdown! Now, only Homer can save the plant and Springfield, but can he make it to work on time – when he hasn't after being twelve hours late?!
In “Simpson Family Robinson Crusoe” (written by Mary Trainor and drawn by John Costanza and Phyllis Novin), we get a Simpsons spin on two classics of Western literature, Robinson Crusoe (1719) and The Swiss Family Robinson (1812). In “You'd Better Sloth Around” (written by Len Wein and drawn by Costanza and Novin), Homer buys a “Hoveround”-like vehicle called the “Sloth-Around,” despite his family's objections to that purchase. Homer becomes a menace on the thing, but karma might have a surprise for him.
“A Brand New Burns Part One!” and “Part Two,” are written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Costanza and Novin. In the story, Montgomery Burns and his loyal confidant, Smithers, travel to Mexico where Burns will spend some time at “Rancho Segundo Posibilidad” for rejuvenation treatments. So why does Burns end up in a sweatshop? Why is Smithers back in Springfield with a younger Burns?
THE LOWDOWN: The comic book stories in Simpsons Comics Showstopper are inventive, full-length tales. The best of the lot is “A Brand New Burns,” if for no other reason than the famous and infamous people writer Chuck Dixon depicts as being denizens of Hell. Artists John Costanza and Phyllis Novin and colorist Art Villanueva deliver a few graphically striking panels, especially the ones that depict Montgomery naked and floating/swimming towards the afterlife.
“You'd Better Sloth-Around” epitomizes one of the things that “The Simpsons” does so well, satirize the American desire to get over on people and to beat the system. “Simpson Family Robinson Crusoe” is a cute send-up of the source material. That may be the best way to define the comics in Simpsons Comics Showstopper – cute, nice, and entertaining, but none of this material is great. This collection may satisfy Simpsons comic book fans, but it is not an exceptional Simpsons comics collection, which I can say about some of the others (like 2018's Bart Simpson Bust-Up).
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of “The Simpsons” will want Simpsons Comics Showstopper.