Simpsons Comics #181

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
Ned Flanders, the put-upon neighbor of Homer Simpson, reaches his breaking point. So, Marge volunteers her family to watch Rod and Todd while Ned takes a well-deserved vacation. Things don't go as planned. The ship's been blessed and the passengers are all good Christians, but that doesn't save them from a rendition of Moby Dick Simpsons style.

Thanks to blatant deus ex machina-- this is Ned after all-- Flanders winds up stranded on a deserted island with a wanton woman. Costanza, Novin and Villanueva aid and abet this Jezebel's desires by illustrating a beautiful island setting with a gorgeous bluest of blue ocean and a seductive full moon cast in a purple night sky.

Ned Flanders stories aren't easy to do. His belief system is easier to mock than respect, but if you accept Ned for Ned, as Chuck Dixon and Eric Rayburn do, then everything Ned does makes perfect sense, including avoiding some easy sex with a beautiful woman. Well, she's beautiful in terms of Matt Groening's design scheme. Some of Ned's dialogue is genuinely funny, offering the mild comedy that you would expect. The most outrageous thing he does however involves a little nod to Gilligan's Island, and you can just imagine him watching that show and thinking there's something missing on that island.

Meanwhile back home, even Bart feels sorry for Rod and Todd as they must suffer the whims of Ned's estranged "family"--read crooks. Their appearance coincides with Ned's reported death by cruise accident, and Costanza, Novin and Villanueva step up the sleaze and skuzzy to portray them properly as devious white trash. Dixon and Rayburn reason out a humorous yet strong and plausible conclusion to bring Ned home. The question is will he have a home to go back to? Homer's not in an ass-kicking mood, what with his contraction of the Rockin' Pneumonia and Boogie-Woogie Flu. Chief Wiggums is useless as usual. It's up to Lisa, Marge and Bart to save the day with yet another ingenious yet credible con.

Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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