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Welcome to the latest installment of Breather Books. These are comic book stories that are commonly referred to as “done-in-one”. There are no 12 part “epics” that will change everything, for-real-this time, here.  Instead these are single issues, and maybe graphic novels, that can be enjoyed, on their own, without any additional parts. If you are tired of event books and need a rest, these books are for you.

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In keeping with this week’s theme of Free Comic Book Day, this comic is one of the giveaways from this year. Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2016.

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Typically, I always try to pick up the comic that Bongo gives away. This is an anthology of Simpsons stories similar to what they do every year. However, that works out because they’re always good. Usually there is a handful of self-contained stories with some bonus pin-ups, etc.

The first story, “The Gluten, The Bread, and The Hungry!” is written by Ian Boothby, who wrote most of the issue, with art by Nina Matsumoto and Andrew Pepoy. The plot revolves around Uter and his father moonlighting as pastry-themed villains. This prompts Homer and Bart to once again adopt their superhero identities of Pieman and the Cupcake Kid. As pastries are now in short supply, they change their names to Captain Quiche and Meatball Boy. Uter and his father are defeated with some pretty good jokes along the way.

After that is a 2 page PSA by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, “Be Aware, Play With Care!” This informative read is about the modern dangers and maladies associated with playing video games excessively.

Next up is a one page gag strip. Again by Boothby, with pencils and inks by James Lloyd. “Krusty’s Catchphrase Corner!” (Thankfully, they did not misspell the title to start with all “K’s”) is Krusty in various situations countering peoples’ statements with an appropriate variation of “That’s what she said!”

“Fangs For Nothing!”, the next story, is Boothby, with Hilary Barta on pencils and inks. Bart finds himself in a unique position at the dentist’s office and glues vampire fangs into Principal Skinner’s mouth. Upon his return to school, Bart convinces everyone that Skinner is a vampire. After a fortuitous car accident, trucks delivering used olympic torches, and pitchforks crash in front of the school. In true Simpsons fashion, the citizens of Springfield pick up the pitchforks and torches and descend upon the school. Eventually Bart decides to quell the rioters by dousing Principal Skinner with glue and sparkles. Thereby making the women of Springfield think he is a different kind of vampire and defend him. It’s a pretty good ending to this 10 page tale.

Finally, “The Sweet Taste of Justice”, by Dean Rankine is a 2-pager with Chief Wiggum and Lou running a speed trap.

The inside front cover features a faux travel ad for Rigel VII with one of the aliens attacking the Simpson family. The inside back cover has a cut-out of Bender from Futurama, complete with a bottle of Olde Fortran Malt Liquor.

These books usually have a superhero story in them. I feel that the intention is to connect with the mainstream comic buying audience. However, they are usually unneccesary. I feel a better alternative would be to feature the Comic Book Guy. Now, sometimes they do, and he is almost always on the cover, and is on this one, but a story with this character might connect better with an older, typical comic reader. Someone who is just picking this up because they like the Simpsons don’t neccesarily need a Simpsons/superhero comic. This does not detract from the enjoyment of this issue, but is an observation after reading several of these books over the years.

Overall, this comic book lives up to the bar set by previous Bongo entries. The amount of content you get for nothing is above par compared to giveaways from other publishers. Just the quality of this comic is superior to most of the other freebies on Free Comic Book Day. Plus, it’s a fun read. Bongo’s free comic is always a must-get for me every year. Basically, if you enjoy the Simpsons, you will like this comic. If not, get off your high horse and out of your denial about Family Guy being a better show.

 

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