One of the many things Matt Groening’s animated series’ Futurama and the Simpsons have in common is that their defining agenda is to provide commentary on, primarily by making fun of, other pop culture artifacts – and as the Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis proved, merging their worlds together results in a universe where the defining feature is meta-commentary.

Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis – written by Ian Boothby, penciled by James Lloyd, inked by Steve Steere Jr., and lettered by Karen Bates – was a two-issue miniseries, released in 2002-2003, which featured the line between “reality” and comic books being obliterated in typical Futurama and Simpsons fashion, well before the two fully crossed over in animated form.

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crossover crisis cover

From 2000-2018, Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics produced eighty-two issues of their Futurama comics line, as well as two Futurama/Simpsons crossover specials. The first consisted of two issues, “Somewhere Over the Brain-Bow,” released in August 2002, and “Liquid Diamonds is Forever!” which was released in January 2003. The first issue begins with the Planet Express crew headed to pick up a massive comic book collection from Futurama’s version of Marvel’s Ego, the Living Planet. There they encounter perennial adversaries the Brain Spawn, who trap their minds in one of Fry’s old Simpsons comic books. As usual, it is up to the super-intelligent Nibbler, and the super-dumb Fry, to save the universe from the Brains.

A Simpsons Comic Becomes A Battleground For The Fate Of Reality

Homer and Marge reading the adventures of Homer and Marge

The second issue of Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis sees the iconic Futurama and Simpsons characters teaming up to defeat the Brain Spawn – as well as Mr. Burns. The issue includes gags like Professor Farnsworth and Professor Frink interacting, Zoidberg falling into a radioactive vat and being transformed into a hunky, muscular, blonde human, and Smithers ripping off his face to reveal he’s really Amy Wong, wearing a Smithers mask – only for Mr. Burns to pull off his face, revealing he’s really Smithers. Most notable though, is that the issue’s plot hinges on the Simpsons family realizing they are fictional characters.

In a later Futurama comic – issue #28, “Let’s Twist Again”, from 2006 – it is revealed that the Planet Express crew’s favorite TV show, The Scary Door, is in fact, true stories from a parallel universe, one where “the principal law of physics is irony.” The Futurama/Simpsons crossover makes a good case for the idea that both series exist in a universe where the laws of physics are contingent on whatever joke is being made at any given time. Considering both series’ humor is best seen as pop culture commentary, putting them together, and giving them the opportunity to comment on one another, creates what is best described as a meta(commentary)-verse.

The Crossover Crisis concludes with the Brain Spawn defeated – destroyed by Nerdanus XII, the living planet, when they tear the Simpsons comic the Futurama cast are trapped in, rendering its “mint” grading inaccurate – but Leela is left asking the Professor, “do you think there will be any side effects to our weakening the barrier between reality and the world of comics?” Though the Professor replies, “what a forced and odd question,” the final two-page spread of the comic reveals a chaotic merging of the two worlds, with analogous characters from Futurama and the Simpsons coming face-to-face, promising more adventures in the meta(commentary)-verse to come.

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