Never mind that issue 16 of “The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror” clocks in at 48 pages – each of its four writers are on the same one. Our favorite post-nuclear family celebrates Halloween every year with a comic anthology of stories that are more silly than scary (it’s an annual tradition on the television series, too), and this year’s is better than you might expect.
What’s funny is that for as kid-friendly as it is, it’s mature enough to know how inane the whole thing is, and handles it with the goofiness it deserves. It’s as if the people behind it knew most of its fans are, you know, grown-ups.
That might explain the dark humor that runs throughout, like the way almost every character winds up dead in the first episode. (Each story is a closed system, so they’ll turn up again later.) In it, Professor Frink, who’s too smart for his own good, puts together the Contactinator, which lets people chat with aliens from the farthest corners of the universe. When it gets the attention of a bully from beyond the moon, Frink wonders if his contraption worked a little too well.
Next is a tale called “The Coff-Diddly-Offin,” which centers on Homer’s neighborly nemesis Ned Flanders and his scheme to get Homer to quit “borrowing” his belongings once and for all. Then, Bart finds himself awash in Edgar Allan Poe references in “Tell-Tale Bart,” a parody so extreme that it drags Usher in to get a house to fall. As for “Homer Goes to Hell!” you decide which is more bizarre: The fact that he finds the rockers from Motörhead there, or that the story itself came from front man Lemmy Kilmister.
Actually, he just came up with a premise that Tom Peyer wrote a script for, but it goes well with the tales that came before it. The only thing that stands out is the art – with different artists at work on these stories, no one looks the same as the other three. The odd man out is “The Coff-Diddly-Offin,” which takes material that’s pretty dark to start with and makes it look like an avant-garde knockoff of “Tales from the Crypt.”
The art in the Kilmister story is the winner, though. There’s enough color here to even out the darkness, and the lines are so sharp it can pass for the TV show. Yes, even those new episodes in high definition.
This article originally appeared on AllMediaNY.com