Review: The Malevolent Mr. Burns
Written by Gail Simone, Ian Boothby, Nathan Kane, Dean Rankine
Drawn by Mike Kazaleh, Chris Houghton, Tone Rodriguez, Rankine, Jason Ho and Mike Rote
Bongo Comics, $3.99
In its 24 seasons on the air (so far), The Simpsons has gradually generated one of the biggest and richest supporting casts in television history, with just about every citizen in the city of Springfield now having their own distinct voice, role and set of joke-generating characteristics. And, due to the fact that they generally get their screen time in much smaller doses than the titular stars, they tend to remain the more engaging and fresher-feeling characters on the show (A viewer might spend 18 minutes with Homer in an episode, for example, but only 1.5 seconds with Bumblee Guy).
Bongo Comics has been mining this particularly rich vein of comedic potential with their “One-Shot Wonders” series, in which various supporting players get to carry a title all their own, at least for the duration of a single issue. Previous issues have featured Ralph Wiggum, Milhouse, Professor Frink, Li’l Homer and Maggie, and the latest to get a star turn is everyone’s favorite unspeakably evil, exceedingly elderly one-percenter, Mr. Burns, or “The Malevolent Mr. Burns,” as the title calls him.
Broken into a series of short gag comics, this “comical booklet” reads a little like a fleet biography of the richest man in Springfield, as it checks in with Mr. Burns at various points in his life chronologically.
The opening story is “Little Monty Millions,” in which writer Gail Simone (a favorite in some superhero comics circles) presents the young Mr. Burns as a sort of less virtuous version of wealthy boy adventurers like Richie Rich. He attempts to make friends with the Jazz Age ultra-poor playing stickball in the neighborhood, but his wealth and breeding create some predictable friction. After a series of stops and starts, he must choose between having a fortune or having friends and, well, you can probably guess which he chose.
That’s followed by an Ian Boothby-written, Chris Houghton-drawn story in which we meet Burns as a young man and learn the origins of his vicious hounds (of “Release the hounds!” fame). And in Nathan Kane, Tone Rodriguez and Andrew Pepoy’s story of a modern day Montgomery Burns, our
hero protagonist must journey to the labyrinthine caverns below “stately Burns Manor” (accessible via a secret button hidden in a bust of Ayn Rand) to rescue Smithers.
The overall quality of each of these, and the few shorter pieces also included, can probably best be summed up with Mr. Burns’ own catch-phrase: “Excellent.”
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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