In Review: The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #21

Sure to please fans of the series and those looking for some Halloween laughs.

The cover: The Kwik-E-Mart has been invaded by evil gremlins who all look like a familiar Springfield native. Faster than you can scream “Joe Dante!” poor Apu is being swarmed by several Bart-Gremlins. They’re cackling in glee as they pounce upon the Indian, with one even wearing some 3-D glasses. Fun cover by Jason Ho, Mike Rote, and Nathan Kane that teases the first story of this issue. Overall grade: A

The stories: The first story is “Graveyard Shift” by Arie Kaplan. It begins with Apu erroneously receiving a package intended for Bewitch-E-Mart that contains a half dozen of the cutest little gremlins you’ve ever seen. Not wanting to deal with the hyper creatures, Apu says he “will deal with you the way I deal with my own fuzzy little rascals when they visit me here. By lulling you into a gluten-induced coma with reasonably priced snack treats.” Unfortunately he didn’t read the warning on the side not to feed gremlins Squishess after midnight. It becomes a war within the Kwik-E-Mart as he fights the monsters. It’s funny when the character on 5 appears, and the classic plot complication occurs on 7. How the beasts were taken out was really clever, and the twist with another character’s appearance was outstanding. Sequel, please! Ian Boothby wrote “The Left Behinders!” which has the Rapture occurring, with Rod and Todd flying to the heavens as Ned Flanders watches. The twist to this tale is that all the left handed citizens are the ones left behind. Mr. Burns’ fist waving on Page 3 had me give a big belly laugh, which was drowned out by my laughing at the password spoken on 6. Added to the mix are Planet of the Apes references and the most famous aliens in the universe. The ending was so bad it was funny, with the last panel being perfection. The final story is “Springfieldopolis.” This is by Batton Lash and it’s a wonderfully clever idea that just didn’t make me laugh. To appreciate the parody, one should be very familiar with Metropolis, and even then it doesn’t inspire laughter. I was disappointed by this story. Overall grade: B+

The art: Ryan Rivette is the penciller and Patrick Owsley the inker on “Graveyard Shift.” This pair expertly captures the look of the series with the gremlins being excellent Simpsonsfied characters. I really enjoy how the bad gremlins look like Bart, but their appearance shouldn’t really come as a surprise to fans of the series. A mob of evil little Barts is a joy to behold, and Rivette and Owsley make it a fun thrill ride. I really like the final page of the series, with Apu’s final panel being the cherry on top of this story. The second story is penciled by James Lloyd with inks by Andrew Pepoy. This, too, is a terrific looking story. Watching Ned worry never gets old, and he does quite a bit in this tale. Also looking excellent is Mr. Burns who’s the perfect villain of the piece. The inclusion of the apes was great and I like that their costumes had enough classic elements from the film series to evoke that franchise’s flavor. The real villains on Page 13 were stupendous. It was impossible for me not to laugh at their appearance. This was fun. “Springfieldopolis” is penciled by Bill Galvan with inks by Derek Fridolfs. This artwork looks fine, but is very thin linework compared to the previous two stories. The art doesn’t look right in a few panels, such as the fourth on Page 2 and Homer on 3. In fact, every page has some visual that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the issue. The highpoint in the visuals comes when robo-Marge appears: she looks spectacular. Unfortunately, when she’s shown it’s only from a face front point of view. I wanted to see her from other angles, but it wasn’t to be. This could have been much better. Overall grade: B+ 

The colors: The first story has outstanding coloring by Alan Hellard. Every page is bright and vivid, making the reading experience feel all the more like an actual Simpsons’ episode. The overwhelming greens of the gremlins and their red eyes dominate the story. These colors make the mob of little monsters seem like an even bigger throng. Pinks are an especially neat color appearing in the end. “The Left Behinders!” is colored by Art Villanueva and is also a bright outing which is impressive considering that most of this tale takes place at night. Page 8 has a really good mix of colors, making the chaos seem more believable with what’s going on. Pink again rears its head in this story’s closing, and it’s hilarious. Robert Stanley does a spectacular job on the opening panel of the final tale. It perfectly captures that classic Metropolis vibe. After this, however, the colors seem flat. Nothing pops out color-wise until a fire. It’s very blasé. Overall grade: B+

The letters: One letterer does every story in this issue and that’s Karen Bates. She provides story titles, sounds, signage, growls, screams, a sin board (don’t ask…), and tee shirt text. The title of the final story is beautiful. Also outstanding are the sounds. They look particularly fine in the first story. Overall grade: A

The final line: Two out of three isn’t bad. Sure to please fans of the series and those looking for some Halloween laughs. Overall grade: B+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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