The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #16 (Bongo): Editor Bill Morrison makes a wise choice to lead with the strongest piece by Evan Dorkin. By combining near perfect art homage with precise word choices (like Mr. Burns use of the term “puckish”), he’s able to evoke the voice of every character in the mind of the audience. Professor Fink, Bart, Flanders, Ralph, Nelson, and all the rest hum with the familiar brand of humor. The humor works here because Dorkin pairs logic with the ludicrous, as evidenced by the line “Pfft! Why not make them use the buddy system? That way everyone dies with a friend.” This main set piece has plenty of time to develop, taking playful swipes at Family Guy, Glenn Beck, Twitter, FEMA, and a wide range of targets along the way. It gets laugh out loud funny by the end, near the Android’s Dungeon, which is littered with humor rooted in comics, from Darkseid to Brainiac 5, from Scott Free and Mjolnir references, to Comic Book Guy owning a CGC’d lock of Stan Lee’s toupee! Dorkin shows off his sci-fi muscles as well, making a well timed reference to the fabled lost city of Agartha, which I last saw referenced in Warren Ellis’ No Hero at Avatar Press. What I really enjoy about the annual Treehouse of Horror issue is that it’s the one time where no punches are pulled and anything goes, even the in-story deaths of the beloved characters. This effort was pitch perfect and an easy Grade A+. Kelley Jones turns in an interesting piece that’s inspired by classic horror, with a darkness to the art that’s juxtaposed nicely against the occasionally hilarious line like Homer saying “Ugh, too hoppy!” as he mistakes formaldehyde for a German beer. This quick piece rates a Grade B. The trading card insert is an ambitious idea. However, it requires a lot of effort on the production side and unfortunately it yields little comedic result. It’s basically the only “miss” in the book, earning a flat Grade C. I really enjoyed the art of Peter Kuper’s contribution, which possesses a looser art style and captures the raw energy of the early Tracy Ullman appearances. The bad news? It’s not that funny. The Usher bit really doesn’t go anywhere. Grade B. The book ends with a Tom Peyer story that has a similar dynamic. The art is accomplished, with a painted quality to it that evokes the early EC comics motif, but the novelty of the Motorhead appearance just isn’t as funny as it needs to be. This one comes in as high as it does primarily on the strength of the art alone, with a Grade B. Overall, the book is slightly on the pricey side with a $4.99 price tag, but comes close to being worth it. It’s still something I look forward to every year, and this time out the pieces average out to about a Grade B+.