?For the long years between the end of the series and the beginning of the direct-to-DVD movie releases, the Futurama comic was all fans had in the way of new stories. It’s hard for a comic to be any meaningful substitute for the show it’s based on, but the Futurama comic pulled it off on a regular basis. The best issues are just as smart, funny, and (slightly) moving as the best episodes of the TV show.
As I type this, the TV show’s writers and artists are at work on a new season of Futurama episodes set to debut on Comedy Central in 2010. Perhaps they’ve already written up all the scripts they need, but perhaps not! And if that’s the case, then I’d like to suggest Futurama‘s writers take a look at these ten issues of the Futurama comic book. It couldn’t take more than a spit and polish to turn them into excellent episodes for season six.
10) #42: Homeward Boned
Fry didn’t revive his fossilized dog Seymour at the end of “Jurassic Bark,” instead paving the way for one of the most heart-rending sitcom endings ever. This issue deals with one little-explored consequence of that episode, namely that Fry still has a fossil of a dog he owned a thousand years ago.
Seymour’s fossil is stolen by mysterious thieves, prompting a search across the galaxy so Fry can recover it. The alien thieves have some sort of mysterious connection to Seymour and appear to worship his fossil because… well, they’re a race of talking alien dogs.
?Fry and company steal Seymour back from the alien dogs and try to retreat to Earth, prompting an invasion. Seymour’s fossil begins emitting a high-pitched whine, making it impossible for the Planet Express Ship to shake its canine pursuers.
?Back on Earth, Professor Farnsworth figures out that Seymour’s fossil has been inhabited by a genetically altered super-intelligent flea that’s acting as part of a vast network of flea sleeper agents. The fleas used tiny radio sets to emit signals that would control the behavior of their canine hosts. Professor Farnsworth created them, of course.
9) #31: As the Wormhole Turns
Nibbler’s got a bad case of worms. Since he’s a weird space pet, he gets weird space worms that create quantum tunnels through spacetime. Shortly, the Planet Express building is thronged with wormholes leading to far-distant corners of the universe.
The wormholes, of course, cause problems. Immigrants begin flooding into Earth, resulting in a lucrative stream of bribes for Bender and Dr. Zoidberg. Invaders soon follow suit, and although Earth is invaded roughly twice a week in Futurama, these aliens still manage to go too far.
?To try and staunch the influx of invading aliens, Fry and Leela encourage more aliens to invade. Then the aliens will realize that Earth would just be a crappy ball of ash after all the fighting was done, right? Unfortunately, the various races involved are perfectly okay with controlling a crappy ball of ash.
?Bender and Zoidberg’s illegal immigration operation immediately dries up. It falls to Hermes to solve the problem through sheer bureaucracy: he informs the aliens that they have to fill out paperwork, and lots of it, before their invasions can legally commence. The invaders go home and Earth is saved… until processing is complete, anyway, in about 600 years.
8) #38: Rumble in the Jungle
The Planet Express Ship crash-lands on a jungle planet, scattering the crew. Leela befriends a tribe of jungle nerds who offer to make her their queen in honor of her renowned butt-kicking prowess.
?Fry wanders about the jungle trying not to die and stumbles across Bender’s body, completely gutted of its operating parts. Fry drags Bender’s corpse around for a bit until he finds some jungle nerds guarding a box of suspiciously familiar robot parts. He fails to steal the parts from the nerds, who raise the alarm.
?Fry retreats and decides to wear Bender’s corpse as a suit of armor, using the extra power to demolish the jungle nerds. Leela, who has been out fighting terrifying jungle beasts as the Nerd Queen, has to rush to defend her people from Fry’s fists of metallic fury.
?After epic battle, Bender is restored but Leela is tempted to stay behind on the planet of the jungle nerds, who need her. This is neatly averted by Mom buying the planet so she can clear-cut the forests. Leela gets her revenge, but by the end of the day she’s not the queen of anything.
7) #35: Son of the Sun
This issue is an untold tale of the New Justice Team, exploring one of the adventures implied to have taken place during the montage that occurs during the episode “Less Than Hero.”
?Specifically, it concerns the New Justice Team’s struggle to defeat the Son of the Sun, the son of a supervillain called The Human Sun. The New Justice Team easily defeated the Human Sun in one of their first adventures, embittering his son who’d been raised to embrace a life of super-villainy. If the New Justice Team can’t beat the Son of the Sun in time, his ring of five miniature suns will destroy the Earth.
The Son of the Sun soundly defeats the New Justice Team in their first bout. Soon, all of the Earth’s lakes have evaporated and the oceans are boiling away. Citizens are forced to shelter displaced fish in their bathrooms, creating serious inconvenience across the globe.
?In time, the New Justice Team defeats the Son of the Sun by pointing out more profitable things you could do with super-powers than become a super-villain. The Son of the Sun opens a bitchin’ nightclub in New New York, and everything ends happily… well, except for how the New Justice Team lost their powers forever.
6) #11: The Cure For the Common Clod
Fry’s 20th century body has brought the rare, once-extinct common cold into the future. Professor Farnsworth tries to quarantine Fry to prevent the spread of the disease, but he’s too late. By the time Fry’s in his bubble, it’s spread to Leela, whose mutant biology mutates the virus further.
?The new mutant flu unlocks the primal urges in whoever contracts it. By the time the Professor figuresthis out, he also realizes that Leela’s mutant cold has probably had time to spread to Amy. Given what Amy’s primal urges will most likely turn out to be, she needs to be quarantined with Fry quickly or soon the virus will spread beyond anyone’s control.
?Amy is quarantined in time (it turns out her primal urge is to do math), but Fry ends up falling out of his quarantine bubble and falling into the New New York drinking water anyway. Soon the disease has spread all over the city and mucus coughed up by the sick humans is aggregating into a horrible super-germ.
The super-germ ends up only being vulnerable to a super-antibody Leela hacks up once she recovers from the disease. Fry and his friends descend to the sewers to see if they can get all of the other mutants sick enough that they begin producing more antibody mucus.
?After this the two huge blobs of mucus get into a disgusting fight, the city is saved, and the mutants are not thanked in any significant way. Hooray!
5) #37: Full Metal Racket
?Fry and Leela are compassionately liberated to a far-distant agricultural planet by activist aliens. The aliens run off with the Planet Express Ship, leaving the two stranded. Problem: the agricultural planet is inhabited by the Transfarmers, a race of sentient transforming farm equipment robots that regard humans as destructive pests.
?Fry and Leela have to team up with a typically useless Zapp Brannigan and a copyright-infringing redheaded botanist named Pamela to try and escape.
?Naturally, nothing the humans does ends up really mattering. Instead they’re saved by a circuitous chain of events kicked off when Bender becomes a full-body “reverse magnet” through one of Professor Farnsworth’s experiments. As a “reverse magnet,” Bender sends metal flying away from his body, which is pretty much all you need to know about the ending.
4) #26: A Whole Lotta Leela
The story begins innocently enough, with Bender taking a mail-order course in alien firearm repair.
?Inevitably, one of the guns explodes in a burst of strange energy. Leela pauses to save Planet Express’s new intern Rick, which leads to her being caught in the blast. This somehow summons three other Leelas into the present day: baby Leela, teenage Leela, and elderly Leela.
?Hijinx naturally ensue — Leela is stuck caring for her baby self, fighting with her teenage self, and being quietly unnerved by her elderly self (who fails to tell anyone anything interesting about the future). By the end of the story, a massive tear in space-time is rending the universe, filling the entire Planet Express building with temporally displaced clones of all the major characters.
?It’s all resolved with the usual hilarious nonsense Futurama invokes in its physics-bending stories, but the real payoff is a very astute look at what makes Leela one of the most interesting (and funny) sitcom women of the past decade.
3) #23: The A-Team
A few times in the series, Futurama references the “original” Planet Express delivery crew. They were more competent than Leela’s sad posse, but otherwise little is known about them beyond the fact that they somehow died horribly. In this comic, the original crew and their blinged-out Planet Express Ship emerge from a vortex in space, where they were merely lost for years and presumed dead.
The original Planet Express Crew are eerily identical to the current crew, what with a one-eyed lady captain, a retro slacker dude, a highly competent lobster doctor, and a helpful golden robot named Mender rounding out the team. Professor Farnsworth is so overjoyed to have them back that he immediately takes the career chips out of Fry, Leela, and Bender. This renders them non-persons who must be quietly ignored by all society, no matter what.
?Fry and friends enjoy wreaking havoc in New New York for a few pages, but eventually decide that they’d like to get their jobs back. Fry decides to see what would happen if he takes off his Non-Person t-shirt. Apparently when that happens, suddenly you get attention, but it’s the bad kind of attention.
?Once consigned to the Fandom Zone, Fry and friends are rendered invisible and intangible (and surrounded by nerds). They still manage to make their way back to the Planet Express building, but can’t interact with anything in the Professor’s lab. All looks hopeless.
?Using a clever scheme involving nerds and email, Bender is downloaded into a spare body he keeps in his locker. This lets him use a Fandom Zone projector to rescue Leela and Fry, just in time to find out that the original “perfect” crew harbors a horrible secret. Soon they’re chasing down Mender’s ship in the Planet Express Ship and trick him into demonstrating his superiority in a way that casts him and his ship back into a space vortex.
That leaves the Planet Express crew with no problem more serious than trying to escape from the space vortex themselves, which is difficult because Mender made it so well. To do this, Leela and Fry have to augment the Planet Express ship’s engine with a potent new energy source — Bender’s rage.
2) #15: Fry Me To The Moon
Fry’s favorite comic book, Space Boy in Space, is getting adapted into a big-budget action-packed movie. Fry wants to try out for the lead role. (Sound familiar?) At the audition, Fry begins making stuff up and yelling it. The movie’s director and producer appear to be terribly impressed with his improv ability, but of course, there’s something else going on that Fry is a bit too stupid to notice.
Bender also gets a job on the film working for Calculon. It’s a job he doesn’t completely like… yet one that he is shamefully unable to turn down.
Shooting on the movie begins and Fry finds he’s only getting a few pages of the script a day, allegedly to keep his performance fresh. The actual reason is of course nasty and sinister, but only Leela has enough of a level head to notice it.
The director and producers intend to kill Fry at the end of the movie, to make the footage of Space Boy’s dramatic death more… well, dramatic. Fry signed his contract without reading it, so he is justly boned. Leela does find a way to save him, but it involves exploiting the stupidity of Hollywood like never before.
1) #21: More Than a Filling
Fry’s 20th-century fillings begin picking up what appear to be strange alien signals thanks to now-rare metals contained in them. This alarms the DOOP, who want to know if the transmissions might be from some hostile race. Professor Farnsowrth claims to have a machine that can decipher the signals, but… well, that doesn’t end well.
?The transmissions are in fact from a race of aliens called the Swissarmians, who intend to invade Earth because Fry’s habit of grinding his teeth has transmitted hostile messages back to them. The DOOP co-opts Fry into going into space to fight them alongside Zapp Brannigan, foiling Bender’s plans to steal and sell his teeth and dooming Fry to a surely horrible death.
?That night, a stealthy Swissarmian ship smashes into Fry’s apartment and immediately kidnaps him. Once aboard, the Swissarmians vow to torture Fry until he gives them the information they need to destroy Earth’s defense forces.
?DOOP soldiers crash in with Bender to save Fry from a fate that would be pretty inconveniencing. The Swissarmian leader, Lord Gin-Soo, immediately says something stupid and gives the DOOP a fighting chance.
?Still, the numbers are overwhelming. The battle reaches a turning point when Fry discovers that the noise he makes when grinding his teeth due to panic overwhelms the Swissarmians with pain. All he needs to take out the entire squad is a way to amplify the sound of his grinding teeth, which Bender happily provides.