The Simpsons

Season 2 Episode 21

Three Men and a Comic Book

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM May 09, 1991 on FOX

Episode Recap

Opening Credits: Blackboard joke: (In a fancy old English type font.) I will not show off. Couch gag: The couch tips over backward with the weight of the family, and with everyone's feet pointing up to the ceiling, Maggie pops up from behind the couch and looks at the TV.

Act One: In the backseat of the car, Bart and Lisa debate about Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, and Radioactive Man comic books, as Marge drives them to a comic book convention. Marge drops the kids off at the convention center and Bart and Lisa wait in line to purchase tickets. Lisa points out a sign that says that if they would've come dressed as comic book characters, they would've saved money on the cost of admission. In true superhero comic book style, Bart rushes into a nearby phone booth and emerges, wearing a purple cape and cowl, claiming to be "Bartman." But, when Bart makes it to the front of the line he is forced to pay full price anyway.

Various happenings occur inside the main convention area: Mayor Quimby stands at a podium and addresses the crowd. When he mistakenly calls Radioactive Man Radiation Man, the kids in the audience laugh and the bully, Jimbo, Jones quickly points out the mistake. After his speech, an angry Mayor Quimby turns to his security guard and orders him to get Jimbo's name. Martin Prince searches the lost and found for his missing left Vulcan ear, and Otto waits in line to have his own comic book idea evaluated by the comic book legend, Jolly Jack Tate. As Bart talks with Otto, Milhouse and Martin approach and tell Bart that Bubby Hodges, the actor who played Fallout Boy in the old Radioactive Man TV series, is about to give a Q & A session for his fans.

In a separate room, Bart, Milhouse, and Martin, along with some other kids, watch an old clip from the Radioactive Man TV series. Buddy Hodges, now an older and sophisticated stage actor fields the kids' questions about Radioactive Man lore. Later on Bart tours the convention show floor and passes by a display case with some old Radioactive Man comic books inside. The vendor at this booth and display case turns out to be Comic Book Guy. (His first appearance on The Simpsons.) He notices Bart's enthusiasm for the old comics and pulls out a briefcase that contains Radioactive Man issue #1. Bart is stunned and awed, and Comic Book Guy offers to sell the vintage comic for $100. Bart unfortunately only has $30, but a look off determination comes over his face as he proclaims his new goal in life is to own Radioactive Man #1.

Homer and Marge pick up Bart and Lisa at the convention, and on the ride home, after a discussion about Wonder Woman, Homer announces that they are all going to stop at Krusty Burger for dinner. Bart attempts to butter up Homer and get on his good side, but Homer senses something is up. Bart confesses that he needs $100 to purchase a comic book, and Homer scoffs at the idea. At Krusty Burger, Bart resorts to constantly pestering Homer about the $100, but Homer continues to refuse. Marge tells the story of when she did her older sisters chores, to earn money for an easy bake oven. A flashback shows a young and naïve Marge being ordered around by Patty and Selma, and when Marge finally earns enough money, she buys her easy bake oven and is forced to make the treats for her older sisters. Back in the present, Bart misses the point of the story and Lisa spells it out for him; she suggests to Bart that he get a job to earn enough money to buy the comic book himself. A parody from The Wonder Years ensues; the song Turn, Turn Turn by Pete Seeger plays in the background, while Daniel Stern narrates as an older version of Bart, who realizes that getting a job marks the beginning of the end of his childhood.

Act Two: Bart begins his search to make money by first looking in the couch cushions, dumping out the remains of a 2-liter of cola just to receive the 10 cent deposit, and exchanging a old coin set from Bolivia that he received as a present from Patty and Selma. These schemes do not net Bart much in the way of currency, so he decides to open a lemonade stand in front of his house. After being humiliated and failing to sell any lemonade, Bart turns to a different product: Beer. Business booms and Bart even avoids being shut down without a liquor license, by local cops Eddie and Lou, when he bribes them each with a glass of beer. But the operation comes to an end, when Homer comes home from work and discovers Bart selling his beer.

At the hair salon, Marge sits underneath a hair dryer and talks with a senile elderly lady named Mrs. Glick. Marge tells Mrs. Glick that Bart is looking for ways to earn money and Mrs. Glick tells Marge to send Bart over to her house, where she has chores he can do for her. Later on, Bart arrives at Mrs. Glick's house; he visits with her a little bit and she tells the story of how her brother Asa died in the Great War after holding on to a grenade too long. Bart is anxious to get to work and Mrs. Glick sends him out into her overgrown backyard to clear out all the weeds. After an afternoon of pulling weeds Bart returns back inside covered from head to toe in scratches and cuts. Mrs. Glick sees the bleeding Bart, and quickly remedies his cuts with some iodine. Bart, having never experienced the effects of iodine before, screams loudly in pain.

Back at home, a tired and weary Bart grabs a pop from the fridge, comments about the hard work to Marge, who is busy cooking, and expresses his true feelings for Mrs. Glick under his breath. A montage ensues: Bart cleans out the built up sludge in Mrs. Glick's gutters; he helps Mrs. Glick wash her 50 year old wedding dress; he walks by The Android's Dungeon and Baseball Card Shop and eyes Radioactive Man #1, which rests on display in the window; and while Bart cleans out Mrs. Glick's cat litter box, the cat attacks Bart and scratches him up, causing yet another treatment of iodine for the cuts. At the end of the week, payday finally arrives for Bart and Mrs. Glick rewards him with 2 quarters. A stunned Bart storms out of Mrs. Glick's house and mopes around at home, muttering about his small payday. He complains to Homer that he has tried to earn $100 for a while now, and all he has earned so far is $35.

At Comic Book Guy's shop, Bart eyes Radioactive Man #1 in the display window again. His breath fogs up the window and when he wipes the fog away, Bart is shocked to see the comic book is now gone. Inside the shop Martin Prince is trying to haggle with Comic Book Guy and purchase the comic book for only $40. A perturbed Comic Book Guy flatly refuses, and becomes more irritated when Bart asks if he can purchase the comic book for $35. Just then Milhouse walks into the shop with $30 and asks Comic Book Guy if he has the 1973 baseball card that features Carl Yastrzemski with big sideburns. Comic Book Guy wanders in to the back to find the card, and suddenly Bart gets an idea. Bart suggests to Milhouse and Martin that if they all went in together, they could purchase the $100 copy of Radioactive Man #1. Martin and Milhouse both like the idea and when Comic Book Guy returns with Milhouse's baseball card, Bart announces that the three of them are going in together to purchase the Radioactive Man comic book. Outside in front of the comic book shop, as storm clouds start to gather, Bart, Milhouse, and Martin hold the comic book together, open the protective sleeve, and take in a whiff of the vintage newsprint. They notice the storm clouds, and Bart suggests that they get the comic book home before it rains. All three have a firm grip on the comic book and when they start to head in three different directions, they all realize they've got a problem. Some lightening flashes, and Comic Book Guy peeks his head out of the door and emits an evil laugh, as he sees the predicament the boys have put themselves into.

Act Three: Up in Bart's tree house the three boys carefully read the vintage comic book, and they learn how an ordinary man becomes Radioactive Man after being snagged and hooked on a barb wire fence at an atomic bomb testing site. When a bomb is tested, the man doesn't die, but instead develops radioactive powers from the atomic blast. The boys finish reading the comic book and Bart places it back in the protective sleeve, telling Martin and Milhouse that they can come over and read the comic book anytime. Martin and Milhouse balk at the idea of keeping the comic book at Bart's house, so Martin comes up with an elaborate plan involving a random number generator and paper, rock, scissors competitions to determine on which day each kid gets to keep the comic book. Finally, everyone agrees upon Martin's plan, and Martin grabs the comic book, citing the fact that it is Saturday, which happens to be one of his selected days for the comic book, and begins to head home. But before he can make it out of the tree house, Bart stops him in his tracks and takes the comic book, telling Martin and Milhouse that regardless of the plan, on this night the comic book stays in the tree house. Martin and Milhouse, not wanting to let the comic book out of their site, inform Bart that they will be staying the night also.

As the evening wears on, the wind picks up and Bart places a brick on top of the comic book to keep it from blowing away. The three boys silently stare at each other suspiciously, as they keep an eye on the comic book resting on the table in front of them. Suddenly, Milhouse reaches for the comic book requesting to read it again, but Martin stops him, telling him that they want to preserve the comic book by minimizing the wear and tear from turning the pages. Martin tells them that they want to preserve the comic book, so that the last one of them alive receives the honor of being buried with it. A suspicious Bart misunderstands Martin's statement and suspecting that Martin means to kill him, he gives Martin a shove. Milhouse comes to the defense of Martin and Bart begins to suspect both boys. A choking and shoving match ensues, as the three boys clearly do not trust each other. Just then, Marge climbs up the ladder and offers the boys microwave s'mores. The three stop fighting in favor of snacking. Soon, once again, the three sit, facing each other with comic book in the middle, while munching on s'mores and suspiciously eyeing each other.

Later in the night, the storm has begun outside, as the boys sleep in the tree house. When Martin gets up to go to the bathroom, Bart stops him in his tracks, threatening him with his slingshot. The commotion wakes up Milhouse and he suggests tying up Martin, for trying to steal the comic book. Martin tries to plead his case but it does no good. With Martin tied up, Bart and Milhouse decide to take turns staying awake to keep an eye on Martin. When Milhouse decides to stay up first, Bart becomes suspicious of him, and balks at the idea. In defense, he picks up the brick being used to weigh down the comic book, and soon the two are wrestling around in the tree house. As they wrestle, Milhouse accidentally rolls out the tree house doorway and Bart quickly grabs Milhouse by the sleeve. As Bart struggles to hold on to Milhouse, who dangles perilously high above the ground, the wind whistles through the tree house and it lifts the comic book up out of its sleeve and into the air, pinning it against the edge of the tree house doorway. The comic book flaps around in the wind just out of Bart's reach, and when Milhouse's shirt sleeve tears away, Bart is forced to grab him with his other hand. He pulls Milhouse back up to safety and before he can grab the comic book, the wind changes direction and the comic book floats down to the muddy ground. Bart and Milhouse watch in horror, as Santa's Little Helper promptly tears the comic book to shreds, and as a lightening bolt strikes the comic book into further obliteration. Marge makes things a little better when she climbs up to the tree house again and offers the boys some marshmallows and hot cocoa inside.

The next morning, the three boys gather around the shredded remains of the comic book, and a somber Bart realizes that this wouldn't have happened if they had learned how to share. Nearby, up in a tree, a bird makes a nest using parts of the shredded comic book for the nest. The last panel of the comic book can be seen and Radioactive Man narrates the last line: "Well, the world is safe again, but…for how long?"

End Credits: The normal Simpsons theme plays as the credits roll over a black background.

Run Time: 22:55
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