Alf may be back in Pog form, but Milhouse never really left us, did he? Everyone’s favorite proud-to-be-nerdy second banana of Springfield finally gets to star in his very own book. At least he got a star turn before Bumblebee Man.
Bart Simpson’s Pal Milhouse #1 gets an A from me. You could say I’m bias because I’m such a hardcore and longtime fan of The Simpsons (which is in the midst of their 24th Season!). This is truth. However, being such a huge Milhouse fan made me hold this issue to an even higher standard.
The issue is broken up into 5 different stories, which helps a little Milhouse go a long way. I was worried that the writers would lean too heavily on Bart and was happy to see that he was used sparingly. Three characters I wished had more interactions with our young Van Houten were Lisa, Homer and his father, Kirk. Lisa and Homer are seen briefly – with Homer getting a chance to call Milhouse, “Poindexter!” (calling back to one of my favorite episodes, Summer of 4 ft. 2)Kirk Van Houten, one of Springfields most dignity deficient characters, was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he’s off remixing, “Can I Borrow a Feeling?”
But I’m ok with some of these missing characters due to the time given to characters such as Martin, Ralph, Apu, Snake, Sherri & Terri and the RARELY used Database! But enough about the characters that may or may not have been featured! How were the strories? They were great. And each one would have been at home in an episode of The Simpsons. The lead story and the arguable heart of the book is, “The Imaginarium of Milhouse Van Houten”. A Springfieldian take on, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, Milhouse flits in and out of his daydreams and pulls various residents of the city into his flights of fancy – some of them more begrudgingly (Bart, Apu, Snake) than others. We see Milhouse as Spartacus (“Spartahouse”), a Skywalker-esque hero on the ice planet Toth, a Jacques Cousteau-esque underwater adventurer, Aladdin, and a British big-game hunter. We also see him try on the tuxedo and shaken, not stirred (grape soda) as, “Agent Double Zero” in Gail Simone’s James Bond send-up, “Octo-Weenie” (whose faux movie poster is one of the issue’s highlights. Simone more than earns her Simpsons cred by giving Ralph Wiggum (as, “Agent R”, the, “Q” to Milhouse’s, “Bond”) a series worthy line to describe the underwater bike he designed for Agent Double Zero: “I made it submerfable!”
Another highlight of the issue is artist Nathan Kane’s approximation of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s artistic calling card Rat Fink in imagining Milhouse’s, “Bonestorm” identity: THRILLHOUSE. (Or, as Bonestorm called him, “Thrillho-“) The Thrillhouse page is a giant sticker and is the pay-off to one of the greatest comic book cover boasts of all time: “Freaky, Sticky Surprise Inside!”
James Lloyd’s art in, “Octo-Weenie” is by far the closest to the animation we know so well from over 2 decades of the Fox show. But Dean Rankine’s work in the closing story, “Feets of Fury” is certainly a departure from the show’s house style but also one of the funniest bits as well.
I highly recommend this one-shot to any Simpsons fan, whether casual or hardcore. At only $2.99 (cheap for comics these days), this isn’t just a great comic from Bongo, this is one of the best one-shots of 2012! Get it. Read it. You can thank me later. If Milhouse isn’t already one of your favorite characters from The Simpsons before you read this, he will be after you read it.
“Remember the time he ate my goldfish? And you lied and said I never had goldfish. Then why did I have the bowl, Bart? Why did I have the bowl?” – Milhouse Van Houten