"To the Bookmobile"
The Simpsons listen to audio books on a long car ride. These diversions section the story into an anthology of weirdness satirizing well known and lesser known works.
Patric Verrone starts off well with an astonishing run of wordplay in a send up of Norton Juster's Phantom Tollbooth. Artist James Lloyd morphs his usual treatment of the Matt Groening models through a looking glass of attractive Feifferesque cross hatching and the elegant flexibility in pop artist's character design.
Verrone mashes James and the Giant Peach with Jack and the Beanstalk for a short in which Apu and Homer play the best comedic parts. John Costanza and Mike Rote adhere to the stylish but normal Simpsons look.
I'm not sure what the next three pager parodies. In any case, the period tale brings Plopper back for an unnecessary but welcome appearance as Homer must deal with a box of penguin. Got me. The punchline is pretty funny though.
Next Madeline L'engle's Wrinkle in Time becomes Simpsons twisted under the distinctive shadows of John Delaney and Andrew PePoy. This one's more of a Lisa tale and therefore not very funny. It's overall dramatic appearance more than makes up for the dearth of humor.
Mike DeCarlo and Rote provide the sharp contrasting wraparounds, and this is where the story loses strength. I cannot imagine Homer eating something so inedible. All these gags fizzle.
No matter the style or substance, Art Villanueva once more serves as the strongest link. His colors shift with the atmosphere of the story. The Juster-Feiffer spoof flickers to pastel. Villanueva brings out some rare hues for the Dahl inspiration. Hot purples purples, fire engine reds and otherworldly pinks and greens highlight the L'engle lark.
Each tale offers the reader rewarding comedic impacts. Although some spots in the wraparound sag, this issue of Simpsons Comics is one of Verrone's better efforts.
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