Lifetime of Simpsons

S15 E05 – The Fat and the Furriest



Season Fifteen has gotten off to a really weird start. We’ve had an unnecessary addition to an emotional story, a random musical homage, and a lackluster vacation episode. Not the greatest. But you know what can right that ship? An insane episode about Homer’s feud with a bear. Buckle up!

Things start off with Homer waking up and suspiciously sneaking out of the bedroom without waking up Marge. He gets out into the hallway, and meets with the kids, who are all waiting for him. Turns out it’s mother’s day, and they’ve gathered to make sure that everything is covered. Which it isn’t. Lisa picked some flowers, and Homer, Bart, and Maggie just made terrible mugs. They all decide that this isn’t good enough, and decide to sneak away and go shopping for Marge.

Homer and the kids end up at Sprawl-Mart, which gives us some goofy sight-gags, like even more Christian than normal Veggie Tales, seeing Grandpa working there as a greeter, and Nelson shoplifting with his mouth. But after goofing off for a bit, they realize that they still haven’t found a good gift, and start panicking. Luckily they run into Patty and Selma who are there buying booze and cigarettes, and they give them an idea. The Kitchen Carnival!

The Kitchen Carnival is basically some machine that deep fries food, makes cotton candy, and is full of hot caramel to make horrible carnival food at home. So the family buys it, and shockingly Marge loves it, getting super into the idea. And the rest of the family loves it too, and they begin putting as much sugar into their bodies as humanly possible. They start experimenting with the machine, making all sorts of terrible treats as the slowly get addicted.

But things take a dark turn when Homer wakes up one night and heads down to use the machine unsupervised. He starts off making some cotton candy, before realizing that he could pour the caramel on it too. So Homer spends the whole night slowly putting layers of cotton candy and caramel on this monstrosity until it’s the size of one of those yoga balls. And he’s so psyched. The kids are too, just eating this giant ball of solidified sugar with their father. Hell, Homer even takes it around with him and uses the HOV lane with it.


Unfortunately, after Homer accidentally gets some ants, birds, cats, and Flanders stuck in the ball, Marge decides that it’s outstayed its welcome. Just like that gross sandwich from that early episode. Anyway, after briefly considering listening to the evil ball of candy, Homer realizes that he should probably get rid of the candy, and drives it out to the dump to dispose of it.

But as Homer is throwing away the candy, something disastrous happens. A bear pops out of nowhere, and seems to attack him. We then cut directly back to the house, where Homer has come home, clearly disheveled but not wanting to talk about it. He starts acting really weird, and even seems to have some PTSD when he sees bears. Everyone seems confused by this, but it’s all made clear when Kent Brockman plays some footage from a local hunter that shows the bear attacking Homer.

Well, not really attacking him. It kind of spooks him a bit, and then gets creeped out by how embarrassing Homer acts as he begins crying. And instead of realizing how terrifying it would be to be cornered by a bear, the town makes a laughingstock of Homer and his bear encounter. Everyone in town start to mock him, the bullies make fun of Bart because of it, and the people at the Plant even prank Homer with Burns’ giant stuffed bear.

Homer even has a terrifying fantasy where all of the bear mascots from products start attacking him, leading to this hilarious interaction:

Homer: “Are you a Care Bear?”

Bear: “I’m an intensive Care Bear.”

Homer: “Why does a bear need a crowbar?”

Bear: “Eh, I don’t like to get my hands dirty.”

So that’s great. And after the fantasy Homer ends up weeping alone in the kitchen until Grandpa shows up and offers some advice. Grandpa claims that Homer will never be freed from his fear until he shows that bear whose boss, and for some reason Homer decides that this makes sense.


So Homer goes to meet with the hunter than filmed that footage of him on the news, and asks for some advice. The hunter tells Homer that he has a tracker on the bear, and gives Homer the homing device. And with the bear’s location in hand, Homer decides to even the playing field by crafting an insane Ned Kelly style suit of armor to fight the bear in. It’s pretty ridiculous, and even has no ass on it, in case he craps his pants.

Marge obviously shoots down this ridiculous idea, but that doesn’t really seem to matter to Homer, and he just sneaks out the next morning with Lenny, Carl, and Bart. The quartet then drive out to the woods, using the tracking device, and hunting for the bear. But when they get to the area where the bear should be, it turns out it’s not there, and they quickly start to get bored. Homer decides he’s hot, and wanders off to take a bath in the river, taking the suit off.

Unfortunately it turns out that Lenny and Carl took the batteries out of the tracing device so they could listen to the radio, so that’s why the device hasn’t been going off. Turns out the bear is right next to them, and it finds Homer down in the river, sans suit. And while all of this is going on, Marge, Lisa, and that hunter show up at the campsite, only to find Lenny, Carl, and Bart sitting around, not sure where Homer went to.

And they aren’t going to find him, because the bear has apparently dragged Homer to its cave. But the bear doesn’t want to eat Homer or anything, he just wants help. That tracking device apparently hurts the bear, and once Homer realizes that, he pulls it off the animal, instantly making it friendly. Homer is shocked at this transformation, and instantly switches from hating the bear, to loving it. The two quickly become little pals, and start wandering the forest, goofing off and having fun.

But no one else knows about the bear’s actual temperament, and that hunter has organized a large party of idiots to start traipsing around the woods to kill the bear. Homer hears about the plan over a radio, and decides to bring the bear to a nature reserve where the bear will be safe. So the two hike over to the reserve, and find the army of hunters waiting to kill the bear. But Homer saves the day by sticking the bear in his suit of armor, which apparently is bullet-proof. The bear is then able to sneak past the hunters, and make it to the nature reserve where it’s free to fight elephants like nature intended.


This is episode is dumb as all hell, but I really enjoyed it. There are some serious issues with it, mainly the fact that it’s so repetitive to things that have already happened, but it was just goofy enough to work for me. It’s weird that they did the candy thing just like Homer’s sandwich from “Selma’s Choice” and have a member of the Simpson family befriend a bear in the wood like “Call of the Simpsons,” but none of that distracted me from how goofy and fun the episode is. I love the idea that Homer builds a Ned Kelly suit of armor to fight a bear, and that he eventually befriends it in a Lion and the Mouse scenario. There’s not a lot to this episode, but it’s fun, and that’s all I’m expecting at this point in the series.

Take Away: Bears are scary, and except for in special conditions, hunting them is a sketchy idea.


“The Fat and the Furriest” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2003.



Lifetime of Simpsons

S15 E04 – The Regina Monologues



Hey folks, are you ready for an episode that blends two of my least favorite kinds of episodes? That’s right; it’s simultaneously a vacation episode and a cameo smorgasbord episode. Thanks Season Fifteen! It’s just what I wanted!

The episode begins oddly enough with Mr. Burns and Smithers wandering around and coming across a peanut vendor. Burns decides that he would like some peanuts, but since Smithers refuses to spot him some cash, he needs to go get some money from an ATM. So Burns goes to the machine, types in his ridiculous pin number, and requests a thousand dollar bill to come out. Unfortunately they bill flies out of the ATM, smashes into Burns’ chest, and then flies away.

Apparently flying currency is drawn to Bart and Milhouse in Springfield, because just like that time they caught a twenty, this dollar zips right over to the Simpson’s house, and into Bart’s hand. But this time Bart’s not going to go on a massive sugar binge, and instead shows it to the family to spitball ideas. But he gets a bit of a bummer when Marge tells him that it clearly belongs to someone, and he needs to put up fliers and see if anyone will claim it.

Homer and Bart obviously think that this is bullshit, and try to hang the flier as high up a telephone pole as they could, but the people of Springfield know no bounds to their stupidity, and they cut the pole down to read it. And once the news is out, the whole damn town shows up to try and claim the bill. But no one seems to know anything about the bill, and at the end of the day Marge decides that Bart has done his due diligence, and is allowed to keep it.

Bart’s first idea for the money is obviously to make a moon party, but Lisa does her best to guilt Bart into spending the cash on Marge to take her on a nice vacation. But Marge shoots that idea down, so Bart has to come up with a better idea. And it’s a weird one. He decides to open a museum in his treehouse, mostly full of random crap, that includes an exhibit where people can come and gawk at the bill, complete with its Grover Cleveland portrait.


Unfortunately, while business is booming at the museum, they get a surprising visit. Mr. Burns happens to stop by, and has proof that the bill is his, since when it struck his chest it gave him a bruise with the bill’s serial number. So with irrefutable proof that the bill is his, they give Burns back the thousand dollar. Luckily though, the museum somehow raised three thousand dollar, so they ended up ahead. And, because it’s okay this time, they decide to spend the money on a vacation for Marge.

The family come up with idea for the vacation, but are quickly shouted down by Grandpa, who wants to go to England. Turns out he was temporarily stationed there in the War, and wants to track down some woman that he had a romance with. The family can’t come up with any other ideas, and they decide to head out to England.

And that’s when the cameo’s start rolling in, because as soon as they get off the plane in London they’re met by Tony Blair, who introduces them to his country before strapping on a jetpack like James Bond and zipping away to great some other family. And after meeting the Prime Minister they drop Grandpa off at their hotel and hit the streets of London, looking to sight-see and find as many random British celebrities as they can.

They run into JK Rowling at a bookstore and talk about Harry Potter for a moment, go to a Judy Dench’s fish and chips fastfood restaurant, run into Ian McKellen getting ready to perform MacBeth and learn about the superstitious nature of the theater, and the kids get all blitzed on British sugar, running around London in a hyper haze.


But at this point the episode needed some conflict, so they Simpsons obviously rent a car and begin driving around, which is a terrible choice. Driving in foreign countries seems terrifying to me, especially ones that drive on the opposite side of the road than us. Plus, since its London, Homer almost immediately gets caught in a massive round-about, and gets trapped for hours. He finally snaps though, and smashes out of the round-about, jumping right through a fence and crashing into a fancy carriage.

And it’s not just any carriage, it belongs to the Queen of England. Yep, Homer Simpson has just rear-ended the Queen of England. And people are not happy. He gets whaled on by guards before being dragged to a court, becoming a massive media story. The trial is a bit of a shit-show, mainly because they let Homer act as his own barrister, and things don’t go well for him. Especially when the Queen stands up to provide testimony, and convinces the court to punish Homer as severely as possible.

This obviously takes the form of sticking Homer in the Tower of London until he dies, becoming a bit of a tourist attraction. But the family can’t abide Homer’s imprisonment, so they find some old manuscript that details a secret passage in his cell. They sneak in at night, and Homer begins climbing through a secret passage, which unfortunately doesn’t lead outside, instead it leads to the Queen’s bedchamber.

The Queen is not a fan of this outcome, but before more guards show up to beat Homer to death, he decides to try and talk the Queen down. He gives an impassioned speech about how America is England’s ungrateful child, and the he’s sorry, and this somehow convinces the Queen to let him go. So the Simpsons return to America. Oh, and right as they’re about to get on the plane that lady Grandpa was looking for shows up, with a woman who looks exactly like Homer and is obviously his daughter. So Grandpa obviously peaces out, and the family flee back to Springfield, never to speak of this again.


Yeah, this episode doesn’t do much for me. It seems a tad less problematic than the episodes where they went to Japan and Africa, since there’s not as much blatant stereotypes, but I just generally don’t like the vacation episodes. Plus, it’s one of the least inspired cameo-filled episodes. Cameos basically just walk up to the Simpsons, say a sentence or two to them, and then walk away. They didn’t even come up with clever reasons for the Simpsons to speak to the celebrities. It’s just odd. Plus, it seems weird that the family want to spend Bart’s money on a vacation, then don’t, then lose the money, then make the money back, and then go on vacation. That all seemed needless. It padded out the run-time, but I’m not sure why any of that needed to happen. It’s just a dull episode, and it’s a serious bummer that it was the last episode John Swartzwelder wrote, since it really doesn’t seem up his alley and more like he phoned it in. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

Take Away: It’s incredibly easy to meet celebrities in England. And assault the Queen.


“The Regina Monologues” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2003.



Lifetime of Simpsons

S15 E03 – The President Wore Pearls



Hey everybody, have you ever seen Evita? I did a couple months ago, and it’s a pretty interesting musical. The music is a tad dated, but it’s an interesting story. Did you ever think that we would get an episode of the Simpsons that was a parody of it? I sure didn’t!

The episode starts off with the Simpsons and everyone else in town heading to the Elementary School because they’re having some sort of fundraising casino night. Everyone is pretty excited, especially Marge what with her gambling addiction, and it turns out to be a pretty fun night. Which is going well for Martin, who came up with the whole thing as part of the duties of his role as student body president.

However, it quickly becomes evident that there was a bit of a miscommunication when this event was announced, because no one seems to realize that they aren’t actually winning money. It’s all just for fun, and to give the school money. That seems rather obvious, but the idiots of Springfield use this realization as a justification to have a good old-fashioned riot, tearing the school apart and probably causing much more damage than the fundraiser had raised.

So that didn’t end well. And the aftermath causes Skinner to request that Martin resigns as student president. And that void leaves room for a new election, and Lisa decides that she should sign up as a candidate. Oh, and so does Nelson. That’s right folks, the Simpsons just proposed an election between a brainy woman who can get things done and a loud moron with bad hair. The writers are legitimate soothsayers.

Anyway, the two children begin campaigning and trying to convince the other students to vote for them, culminating in a debate. Lisa is pretty worried about the debate, but decides to go with Marge’s advice to just be herself. Unfortunately the students don’t really like Lisa and her platform of reform and actual goals, and just like Nelson making muscles and avoiding answering any questions. Seriously folks, this is ridiculous.


But in the face of defeat, Lisa decides to throw a hail mary, and begins singing a song to the kids about how great she will be to the school, to the tune of a song from Evita. The kids immediately love the song, and therefore, Lisa, and she’s elected in a landslide, becoming the president of Springfield Elementary. However, this concerns the school establishment (Skinner, the teachers, Willie, and Superintendent Chalmers) and they decide to curb Lisa’s powers, fearing that she’ll actually get things done.

And the best way to do that, they assume, is to get her distracted with a make-over. They bring her to the teacher’s lounge, sing a song, and get her all made-up, becoming Eva Peron. And the kids love it. They start worshipping her, and she adores the admiration. Which works well for the teachers, who decide to keep making Lisa do ridiculous photo-ops instead of actually getting her ideas passed, like bettering the teachers. So their plan is going swimmingly.

But their real master-stroke is when they have Lisa sign some stuff papers that they say gives her access to the study hall whenever she wants, but is actually some sweeping changes that will eliminate art, gym, and music from the school. Which seems crazy. A student body president needs to sign off on this sort of massive change? Whatever, it gave the school establishment a good scapegoat to blame all of these events on when the kids inevitably get pissed that their favorite classes are cut.


So the kids hate Lisa now, and she’s realized that she’s been made a pawn. She gets rid of her fancy clothes and hair, and goes back to being normal, trying to convince the kids that this wasn’t her fault. And she does this by convincing the children to go on a school-wide strike to show everyone how much they hate that these classes got cut. And the strike goes great. It starts getting media attention, Skinner and Chalmers are pissed, and they even get the police to join the strike when they come to break it up.

So that plan backfired. Skinner and Chalmers are pissed about the strike, and they realize that they need to do something about Lisa. She’s just too charismatic. And their best plan is to send Lisa away to a magnate school, because she’s too smart for this school. So Lisa ends the strike, gets on a bus, delivers a sweet song to the children of Springfield Elementary, and heads to the fancy new school. Well, that is until Homer shows up and tells her that this school is too far away, and brings her back. Apparently that fixed everything though, because the episode is over, and a little text epilogue informs us that everything went back to normal.


What a weird episode. I’m kind of shocked that the plot of “Lisa becomes president of the student body” hadn’t been sued before, and I think it’s a great premise. But the idea to take that idea, and make it a weird reference to Evita? That’s just bizarre. The plot of Evita doesn’t even really line up that well! It’s just kind of random. And the ending is nonsense. Lisa leaving the school ends the protest, but then she goes back the school and it doesn’t just keep going? I don’t know. I guess they couldn’t figure out how to end the episode, and just let it end while some text told us that everything ended up okay. But there are some good parts too. The songs were all pretty great, and even though I didn’t talk about him, there were some amazing Willie stuff in this episode. He’s just completely unhinged and steals the art-room to cook food in and is referred to as an escaped serial killer. He’s pretty fun. And then there’s the weird fact that parts of this episode became a pretty fantastic metaphor for the 2016 presidential election, which is insane. But overall the episode just felt too weird to me. It wasn’t bad; it’s just kind of baffling.

Take Away: It’s hard for an intelligent and qualified woman to beat a loud and stupid man.


“The President Wore Pearls” was written by Dana Gould and directed by Mike B Anderson, 2003.



Lifetime of Simpsons

S15 E02 – My Mother the Carjacker



Howdy everyone! I’m back from my week-long break and ready to keep fighting through the ever-growing jungle of madness that is the Simpsons. And we continue on today with Season Fifteen and some straight-up soap opera stuff today folks. Get ready.

The episode starts off with Homer and the kids hanging out in the backyard, doing chores and hating it. Because yard work is the worst guys. And they’re super suspicious of Marge when she shows up and tells them to come inside and watch TV, assuming that there’s something far worse than chores waiting for them inside. But they deal with it, and come on inside, dreading what’s going to be awaiting them in the house.

Luckily it’s not chores, it’s the news. Marge has them all park on the couch and watch Kent Brockman give an introduction of a segment of his called “Oops Patrol” that’s basically just that thing Jay Leno used to do where they mock typos in local newspapers. But this time the person who found that awkward newspaper headline is Marge, leading her to get some special t-shirt that says she’s a member of the Oops Patrol.

And this infuriates Homer. Apparently everyone is Springfield knows this segment, and Marge becomes a big deal in the community as she walks around in the t-shirt, to the point that all the attention starts to drive Homer crazy. He even tries to put the shirt on himself, stretching it out like crazy. Marge yells at him, and he decides that the only way to make things right is to find a ridiculous newspaper headline himself.

This obviously means that he’s going to become obsessed with newspapers, and starts to hang them around the bedroom and look at them like he’s a goddamn serial killer. But one night, while slowly going mad staring at headlines, Homer notices something strange. There’s an article in one of the papers where the first letter of every line seems to give a message directed to him, telling him to meet someone under an underpass that night.


Homer wakes Marge up to tell her about his find, and she basically just tells him that he’s crazy. But that’s rarely enough to stop Homer, so he grabs Bart and the two head downtown in the middle of the goddamn night to meet with some mysterious person. And they promptly are visited by the stranger, who turns out to be someone pretty shocking. Mona Simpsons, Homer’s mom. Turns out she’s still on the run from her previous episode, and used her connection in the liberal media to plant that story to find Homer.

Homer, Mona, and Bart go to a diner to catch up and talk about how she’s missing her family and has decided to come back and hide-out with them again for a while. But the heat is instantly put on them when Wiggum, Lou, and Eddie show up at the diner, and recognize Mona, causing the Simpsons to flee. Unfortunately when getting away they smash into the police station, and Mona is instantly arrested again.

You know what that means, it’s trial time! Oh, and we also get the incredible joke where Kent Brockman mentions Mr. Burns and shows up him “terrorizing children in this 19th century woodcut,” which I adore. But anyway, the trial begins, and despite the handicap of having Gil as her lawyer, things go pretty well for Mona, especially when Homer gets up to do his character witness testimony. Homer uses the opportunity to give an emotional speech, causing the jury to find in Mona’s favor, and let her go free.


So Mona is free, and comes to live with the Simpsons, being the mother Homer never had. Which is kind of weird, because we see him getting baths, acting in plays with children, getting a toupee knit for him, and just generally acting like a child. He even brings Mona to Moe’s to meet his friends. However, things aren’t all great, because Mr. Burns still holds resentment for what Mona did, and is deadest on getting her imprisoned again.

And that master plan comes to fruition when Burns announces he’s changing the germ warfare lab that she attacked in the 60s to a museum, and invites her to come to the grand opening. And while having her sign the guestbook he manages to get her to admit that she signed fake names when she was on the lam, including to enter national parks, which is apparently a felony. And with that admission, Mona is arrested again, and the she’s removed from the family.

But Homer’s not giving up his mom that easily, so he decides to break her out while she’s being transferred to a federal prison. And he does this by messing with a sign to cause the prison bus to stop to put on its snow-chains and then hijack the bus. Homer speeds away with a bus-full of prisoners, and manages to let all the other women out before driving away with his mom.

However, the police quickly show up, and Mona begins telling Homer to bail and let her take the blame. Homer refuses, saying he doesn’t want to lose his mother again, but Mona points out that he would be abandoning his family like she abandoned him, and decides to take matters into her own hands. She tazes Homer, tosses him out of the bus, and keeps fleeing from the cops before seemingly driving off a cliff and blowing up.

So Homer’s lost his mother yet again, and seemingly forever this time. The family hold a little funeral, even though they couldn’t find a body in the wreckage of the bus-crash, and the begin to move on. But Homer won’t give up, and continues to check newspapers for hidden messages, not finding anything. But Marge lets him continue, figuring there’s nothing wrong with him keeping hope. Which is a good call, because we learn that Mona actually did survive the crash, and is sending Homer messages to know that she survived.


I guess this episode is okay, but it definitely doesn’t hold up against the original Mona episode. That episode ended on a pretty amazing note, so I feel like you would have needed a seriously great script to justify Mona coming back, and this episode just didn’t fulfill that need. It just didn’t have the emotion that that episode had, and its structure just felt super strange. They had Mona come back, get her arrested, free her of all charges, then re-arrest her? Why did that minor segment of the episode where Mona is a free-woman have to happen? It’s just muddled. And that ending, while still pretty sweet, definitely didn’t have the beauty of that first episode. Seeing Homer thoughtfully gaze at the stars has far more emotion, and served as a much better farewell to Mona that having this weird story where he survived a bus-explosion and had chowder with some random couple. I remember this episode from when I was younger, and I don’t remember Mona every coming back, and I really hope she never does, because if this episode proves anything, it’s that Mona returning is diminishing returns.

Take Away: If you end a story on an emotionally satisfying note, maybe don’t revisit it.


“My Mother the Carjacker” was written by Michael Price and directed by Nancy Kruse, 2003.



Page Turners

The Conspiratorial Weirdness of Crooked


Presidents are pretty fascinating people. I’ve only ever lived in America, so I don’t really know if other countries fetishize their leaders to the extent we do, but it seems pretty strange. We treat the forty-four men that have lead this nation like gods-among-men who are something more than the rest of us. Grand figures that become mythological. The eternal bravery of George Washington. The impeccable honor of Abraham Lincoln. The boyish sense of adventure of Theodore Roosevelt. These men have taken on larger existences than you would even imagine as time has gone on, and have become characters to be examined and re-imagined as time goes on. But there’s one president that always stands out, who doesn’t quite fit the mold. Richard Nixon. If I had to pick one president whose life and career is usually portrayed in a different light from the rest of his colleagues, it would have to be Nixon. There are obvious reasons to this, chiefly among them the fact that he’s the only president to have voluntarily resigned from Office in the light of legal woes, but there’s just something about Nixon that people love to hate. He’s basically the closest thing to a supervillain president we’ve ever had. I’m sure there have been presidents before and after Nixon that have done equally worse things, or even significantly worse things, but Nixon just seemed to have come along at the right time to make him some sort of historical villain. Which probably explains why most portrayals of Nixon don’t tend to cast him in a favorable light, most tending to skew somewhere closer to Futurama’s take on the man. But, since for whatever reason, we love to cast our leaders in fictitious adventures and stories, and Nixon is not immune to that. I’ve actually already talked on the site about a novel that took a real-life president and sent him on a ridiculous adventure, Taft in that case, and as luck would have it I’ve stumbled upon a rather bizarre novel that pretends to hold the truth about the administration of possibly the most reviled United State’s president of all time, and his personal war with the forces of black magic, Richard Milhous Nixon.

The premise of Crooked is that its the secret memoirs of the 37th President of the United States, letting us in on the true goings on in his administration. The novel more or less traces Nixon’s rise and fall, seemingly accurately, just with some ridiculous magic thrown in. We see Nixon rise from the son of inefficient lemon-farmers into a more or less accidental politician, before being thrown onto the national stage when he begins aggressively going after the threat of Communism in the late 1940’s to gain a name for himself. But while investigating the Communist threat posed by Alger Hiss, Nixon ends up getting blackmailed by two Soviet spies who end up bringing the politician to their side to spy on the US Government. But it’s not Cold War secrets that they’re after, it’s magical ones. Apparently the United States, and most other countries of the world, have been embroiled in magical wars for centuries, and there’s a sort of Black Magic Gap going on between the two superpowers. In the course of investigating the United State’s magical powers for the Russians, Nixon ends up being put in positions of power, becoming Dwight Eisenhower’s Vice President and learning the truth about the American presidency, and the role of chief sorcerer that that entails. And after some trials and tribulations, and the introduction to a millennia-old Bavarian sorcerer named Henry Kissinger, Nixon fulfills his life’s goal and become President of the United States, and takes on that magical burden that that entails. He discovers secret teaching, magical artifacts, and wages war against the Russian magical elite, culminating in the destruction of some Democrat magicians who were trying to make a deal with a literal demon, which was misconstrued as the Watergate scandal.

Let me make this very clear. This is a monumentally silly book. But I had a pretty great time with it. I’ve recently been getting into the delightful podcast Last Podcast on the Left and one of the more fascinating topics that they broach are that of conspiracy theories. I’ve never really given those types of theories much thought, but hearing three men slowly lose their minds after deeply researching the insane beliefs of others, and then patiently explaining them to me, the layman, I’ve come to find them fascinating. And one of the most prevalent type of conspiracy seems to be that the government is doing much more than they let on, be it getting in bed with races of lizard people, having people assassinated indiscriminately, or dabbling in dark magic. So the premise of taking one of our most disastrous and misguided President’s and explaining that the reason that his administration went down such a dark path was that he was actually busy protecting us from magical threats that we’ll never learn about, was pretty great. Historical fiction is a lot of fun, and coming up with such insane explanations for historical events, like the fact that the moon-landing was faked because they actually ran into a Chthonic civilization on the moon, was pretty damned enjoyable. I read this novel with a grin more or less plastered on my face, actually feeling sympathy for this version of Richard Nixon, and loving almost every minute of it.

Crooked was written by Austin Grossman, 2015.

Bat Signal

Issue 739 – “Jurisprudence, Part II”


Welcome back to Bat Signal, my ongoing experiment to read random issues of Detective Comics regardless of what came before or after it. And we sure do have a complicated issue today. A few weeks ago I happened to pull the issue right after Bane broke Batman’s back, and we were given an issue that taken out of context was utterly baffling, since it was smack-dab in the middle of a massive storyline. But that issue doesn’t have any thing this week’s issue, because if you thought Knightfall was an intricate storyline, you haven’t heard of No Man’s Land. I’ve mentioned No Man’s Land before on the site, but we’ve only had an issue that was a fall-out of that event, not one that took place in the actual event. Which is kind of shocking since it ran for 11 issues just in Detective Comics. The whole damn story spanned 14 different series and dozens of issues of comics and revolved around Gotham dealing with a massive earthquake that left the city in shambles, cut-off from the outside world. It was basically a post-apocalyptic Batman story, with various villains and heroes forming gangs and controlling the city in violent turf-wars. It’s an incredibly dense and complicated story that really has to be read beginning to end to fully comprehend everything that’s going on, but that’s not really how this project works, so let’s just dive on into a random issue!

Now, this issue is a part-two, so it’s going to be even more confusing than it would normally be just jumping into an event, and it sure starts off in an odd place. With Two-Face holding a machine gun up to Commissioner Gordon’s head in a destroyed courthouse. At this point in No Man’s Land Two-Face had kidnapped Gordon for some slights that Gordon has put across him, and is getting ready to hold a trial for Gordon, with himself as judge, jury, and executioner, and the kidnapped Renee Montoya as the bailiff. The issue starts straight off with everyone at each other’s throats, and Two-Face announcing that his goal is to prove that Gordon was guilty of violating the terms of an agreement the two men made to survive in No Man’s Land.


We then briefly cut away to some other plot that I really have no idea what’s going on. Batman and Robin are watching Harvey Bullock and the police deal with some hostage scenario with some dude who seems to be wearing one of those crazy plague-doctor masks from the Renaissance. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the issue, so we just cut back to the courtroom where Two-Face is really starting to irritate everyone involved. He insists on keeping with courtroom decorum, and is prosecuting Gordon like a real attorney, despite the fact that he himself is also the judge. But when you’re held captive by an insane former lawyer with a machine gun, I guess you just have to play along.

First up he puts Renee on the witness stand and stars to interrogate her, trying to prove that Gordon did shady things. And through the interrogation we start to get some back story. Apparently Gordon and his gang were doing poorly in No Man’s Land, and he wanted an alliance with a more powerful and successful gang. He decided to choose Two-Face’s gang, and picked Montoya to infiltrate the gang and try to negotiate the alliance, knowing that Harvey had a bit of an obsession with Montoya from before the earthquake. He gets Gordon to agree that he sent Montoya on a dangerous mission, and used her respect for him to get her to do something against her best interests. He then starts to get really creepy with Montoya by kissing her on the forehead while talking about how he’s kept her captive for five months.


Yuck. Anyway, Two-Face continues to yell at Gordon, saying that Gordon was selfish, and had a responsibility to protect Montoya and every other citizen in Gotham, and instead was thinking about himself and his own power. And after making some closing statements about how terrible Gordon is, Two-Face decides that he’s won the case, and prepares to execute Gordon as punishment for the slights that he more or less imagined. But before killing Gordon, Montoya declares that things are unfair, since Gordon didn’t get a defense. Two-Face laughs at her, and explains that there aren’t any other lawyers around, and since he won’t let Gordon defend himself, there’s no point in pretending.

But Gordon does have an idea about who can defend him. Harvey Dent. He suggests this, and Two-Face is a little taken aback, but decides to give it a coin-flip. And when it comes up good-side, he decides to give it a shot, and begins a defense of James Gordon, against prosecutor Two-Face, to judge Two-Face. Things get complicated.  Especially when Harvey Dent calls Two-Face as his only witness, and begins to cross-examine himself. Which turns out to be a bad call, because it quickly becomes apparent that Harvey Dent is a better lawyer than Two-Face, and he’s able to get Two-Face to confess  that he blackmailed Gordon and that their alliance is null and void, thus ending the case in favor of Gordon. He acquits Gordon, and lets him go, while keeping Renee prisoner. Although she kind of stays because she feels bad for Harvey. The issue then ends with Gordon returning home and having some strong words with Batman who is waiting for him, but that just feels superfluous after watching a villain destroy himself.


So yeah, this is an odd issue. It’s another one that Batman barely shows up in, instead focusing on some side-characters, and it’s also a tad baffling when taken out of context like I have here. That’s obviously not the issues fault, since it’s a part in a larger story, but if this happened to be the first issue of Batman you’d ever picked up you’d be a little confused. But taking that all out, it’s a pretty great issue. I love Two-Face, and find him a fascinating and compelling villain, and his potential is pretty well on display in this story. The idea that Two-Face is always at war with his two identities is really brought to life in this story, showing Harvey and Two-Face arguing about the harsh reality of their twisted life. The larger No Man’s Land story is a great one, and I really love the bizarre world that it created, but this little slice-of-life holds up just fine. Seeing Two-Face argue with himself someone managed to create a wonderful amount of drama and pathos, and became one of the most enjoyable issues I’ve tackled on this project.

“Jurisprudence, Part II” was written by Greg Rucka, penciled by Damion Scott, and inked by John Floyd, 1999.




Aloha everyone. There’s not going to be any Lifetime of Simpsons up on the site this week because I’m taking a page from the book of the Dread Dormammu and am relaxing on a beach. I’ll be back next Monday to continue my never-ending task of watching every episode of the Simpsons.