Saturday, November 3, 2012

Retro Review: Bartman #1

Remember back when The Simpsons was awesome? Some of you might not be that old but I remember back when The Simpsons was the best thing on television. Now it's a sad, sad shell of it's former self. It should have ended like a decade ago.

But anyways back in 1993 The Simpsons branched out into comic books. Rather than farm the rights out to an existing company Matt Groening founded his own company Bongo comics. Of the many many comic companies to be founded in the 90's Bongo and Image are the only ones to have survived as far as I know. They launched a Simpsons Comics title, which to date is almost at 200 issues, an Itchy and Scratchy comic, a Radioactive Man comic, and a Bartman comic.

Bartman was one of those things you saw on Simpsons merchandise all the time but was never really in the show. In an early episode of the Simpsons Bartman was a costume Bart put on in an attempt to gain discounted entry into a comic book convention. Nevertheless this concept of Bart as a super hero was deemed popular enough to be made into a comic, even thought it only lasted 6 issues.

Anyways enough background. The story of this issue is that the local comic book store is getting several mistake issues. Issues that were suppose to get foil stamp enhancements but never did and the Comic Book Guy is naturally marking them up drastically. This piques Milhouse's interest so he uses the Bart-Signal to contact Bartman. Bartman investigates at the local printing press to find that Jimbo Kearney and Dolph who work there are smuggling out copies of comic before they get stamped. In the fight with the three bullies the unstamped comics fall into the vat of silver ink and the bullies plot is discovered. Later the comics that are fished out of the vat and are all silver are sold for $200 a piece at the comic book store because they are super read and can not ever be read thus ensuring they will forever remain mint.

Kind of a silly plot but it is a comedy book after all. What I really enjoyed was the constant jabs at the then state of the comic book industry. This issue was completely pointing out what fucking morons the speculators were and doing it at the height of speculator mania (this book came out in 1993, before the bubble burst and it was cool to mock speculators). It also took more then a few jabs at the state of the industry as a whole. Check out the titles on sale on the comic rack.

The sad thing is some of these titles like Deathkill or Bloodspurt sound like they could have been real Image or Valiant books at the time. Seriously you could tell me Deathkill was a new Rob Liefeld book and I would have no trouble believing you. I also found these panels quite amusing.

Oh man those were dark times. The story in this issue is a pretty funny and at the time poignant parody of the comic book industry. Although it wasn't above indulging in the very thing it was parodying. The cover to the direct market version featured silver ink enhancement on the silver ink vat, which obviously didn't scan well (the newsstand version did not and cost a dollar less). The artwork is solid, mimicking the style of the show perfectly. If, like me, you used to be a big fan of the show you should check this issue out. If your still a fan of the show (although I can't imagine why you would be) you should also check this out. 

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