By Doran Murphy
I like Futurama. I really, really do. I realize I'm in the minority here (albeit a large minority, but a minority nonetheless) but I consider Futurama to be one of the better shows on recent television, and I was saddened when it went off the air. I admit, it had its lame episodes and almost every episode had a joke or two that fell flat, but overall, the show was rather entertaining. A good mix of characters and an interesting (if not original idea) fueled some truly hilarious moments, and several moments that left me chuckling at the least. (The Slurm episode is possibly one of the funniest things I've seen on TV that's not King of the Hill or Family Guy.)
So, I was both looking forward to and dreading Futurama-O-Rama. Matt Groening has pulled some true comedic golden nuggets out of his head over the years in both The Simpsons and Futurama, but he's had some really dumb ideas as well. Futurama has some fun, if somewhat whimsical stories most of the time, and sometimes the stories themselves are funny. However, what often elicits the laughter is the delivery of the lines themselves. This, however, doesn't translate well to text (or word balloons in this case) because one has to imagine the characters saying their lines in order to make the gag laughable.
Futurama-O-Rama is really rather disappointing. I wasn't exactly expecting a laugh riot, but I was certainly expecting more than what I received. I'd rate this book's hilarity somewhere between an Archie Comic (not the Punisher crossover though, because I haven't read it — but let's face it, that could only be hilarious) and listening to your girlfriend's senile mother tell you about the time your girlfriend did something stupid when she was little. In fact, this is so close to Archie's style of ironic humor I half expected to see Moose or Reggie stroll right into the frame. (By the way, Archie Comics rank somewhere around Better Off Sleeping on the comedy scale.)
The stories themselves are akin to what you'd see on the show, with all of your favorite characters (my favorite, anyway) making appearances in this series of four short comic mishaps — including Zapp Branigan, Zoidberg, Fry, Leela, and many more. It's just that the comedic style of Futurama doesn't translate well to comic books. (Sadly, the best part of Futurama-O-Rama are the full page advertisements between issues, featuring gag products from the future.) I really enjoyed the concept of the comic book stories, I just wish they had made the stories in Futurama-O-Rama episodes and had foregone the whole comic book idea altogether.
The graphic style is the same as you'd see on the show. All of the original behind the scenes talent appears to make contributions to the comic. All the artists, colorists and writers pop up, which is nice. But again, you really need the full motion action with the voices to make Futurama funny — and Bender's irony-based humor is really disappointing without hearing him speak it.
Overall, Futurama-O-Rama is one thing to stay away from, even if you are a fan of the show. Its four disappointingly short, disappointingly bad stories bundled in one disappointingly bad book.