Monday, June 2, 2003

Futurama #13 - A Review

When one work in one medium is adapted into another medium, the translation often leaves much to be desired. Many TV shows have been turned into comics, video games, movies and books with poor results more often than not. Thankfully, Futurama Comics proves to be the exception to this rule.

The Fox Network may have canceled Futurama, after a prolonged and painful stay caused by football-prompted preemption, but the quirky spirit of the show lives on, both in this comic and as part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim line. Recent ratings reports show that the series is helping CN win the nightly ratings war against both Leno and Letterman in the 12-25 year-old male market. Hopefully, this comic can find a similar audience because it is a worthy translation of the show.

The plot of this issue builds on several elements taken from the TV Show. Several running gags are referred to, but the plot centers upon two ideas: Bender the Robot’s desire to be a chef despite a lack of taste buds and the physical Robot Hell, built by the Church of Robotology to house the immortal brethren who violate the laws of the Church. When Bender loses his job as the Planet Express Chef and takes on a new position as the head chef for Robot Hell, he finds himself made the new Ruler Of Hell after accidentally poisoning the Robot Devil. And as if the idea of the casually evil Bender ruling all of Hell with a 30% iron fist isn’t amusing enough, we are treated to many amusing non-sequesters. I must admit I laughed out loud at a joke involving the crimes of an electronic day planner and the scene with robot who tells a preacher that it can’t listen to a sermon about love because of everything he learned from watching Star Trek (i.e. They blow up.)

Artistically, James Llyod perfectly mimics the style of Matt Groening in each and every panel. The characters and backgrounds are displayed perfectly. Everything and everyone looks as they should be in the cartoon. Things are never static and are always (forgive the bad pun) animated.

All in all, this book puts the funny in "funny book". My one quibble, and it is a small one, is that you do have to have some experience with the show to get the most out of it. It isn’t fully explained, for example, WHY Bender is such a bad chef. You have to have seen the episode where it is revealed that he has no sense of taste to get the joke. Thankfully, jokes like this are few and far between and as long as it stays that way, I predict a good Future for this book.

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