Simpsons Comics #182

A comic review article by: Ray Tate

After succumbing to Bart's ingenious prank, Principal Skinner ushers in payback by essentially hiring a conscience for the rapscallion. Meanwhile, through a convoluted series of events, Marge and Homer end up hawking a spot remover on television.

This issue fires on all pistons. The prank is devious and imaginative yet clearly conceived by the mind of an eight-year old. Hmmn, just how old is Bart anyway? His collusion with Principal Skinner's other arch-enemy is an unexpected hoot.

When I saw Ralph Wiggum, the conscience, walk into the room, I feared that this story would repeat "This Little Wiggy" in which Bart becomes friends with Ralph. Boothby however takes some hilarious diversions, and he keeps the interactions between Bart and Ralph in the B Story, which will culminate later with the A story into a superb punchline.

The A story focuses on the relationship between Marge and Homer, and here, I have to mention the artwork. The loving, devoted looks these two give to each other really sells the absurdity of the comedy. The couple share a romantic evening to celebrate the oddest anniversary you're likely to encounter. This leads to outrageous examples of their perfect partnership -- "Stand back, Marge! I'm going to try to get most of this in my mouth!" -- followed by the amoral Lindsey Naegel, the voice actress perfectly mimicked by Boothby's dialogue, leading the twosome down the road to paid-for-TV-length commercial land.

The genius of this story is in its surprising versatility. Boothby manages to incorporate Moe into the gags and immediately gloms onto the idea of Women's Beach Volleyball players becoming the newest awesome sex symbol. He nails what I observe in commercials all the time: balding, tubby schlubs married to hot wives, in order to create a fantasy that the product will help a balding, tubby schlub nail a hot wife. The finale depends upon the loss of success, and thus, it reinforces a theme from the television series while returning the entire story back to the status quo. Brilliant.

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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