Comic Book Review: Christmas Special: Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #4

Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #4

There’s an old joke that Christmas has become so blown out of proportion that it’s slowly consuming all the other holidays. In truth, in a commercial sense, the only two holidays that seem to matter anymore these days are Christmas and Halloween, and with the Christmas advertisements starting earlier and earlier every year, even Halloween is barely holding on by a thread. Well let me tell you this my friends, Halloween ain’t going down without a fight, and to that end, I’ve enlisted the help of the original masters of Halloween parody, The Simpsons, to bring us a Halloween story set at Christmas.


We open with Lisa Simpson writing in her diary about an evil that had plagued her family this past Christmas, and the twisted irony that it was her environmental awareness that allowed said evil to descend upon them.

Our story begins properly with Homer screaming in terror. Don’t worry, it’s a fake out; he’s just upset that their fake Christmas tree is rusted so now it won’t reflect the mood lights. Lisa suggests getting a live tree to plant in the backyard and enjoy year round, an idea that Santa’s Little Helper appears very excited about.

Later that day a very annoyed Homer drives the family to a tree lot where they will find a tree that they can dig out without killing it. Initially, Homer decides on a very small and pathetic looking tree but unfortunately it’s already been sold to someone named C. Brown. Lisa however, spots a nearly perfect looking tree and has her heart set on it. Despite the hippie who runs the tree lot not having never seen that tree before, he still charges them a hundred bucks, much to Marge’s chagrin.

And so the Simpsons drag the tree into the house and decorate it. It looks like it’s shaping up to be a merry Christmas at the Simpson house, but Lisa is concerned that the tree is unlike any she’s ever seen before, which is made more clear that night when she examines it and learns that it has piercing red eyes and razor sharp teeth.

Lisa is naturally terrified, and the tree, named Tahn-Enn-Bahm, tells her not to hold her terror back. The tree reveals that he is a vanguard for a coming alien invasion from a race of evil trees just like him. He has deduced that the human race will be easy to conquer and soon, all will be enslaved by the aliens and those who resist will be ground up into fertilizer.

Lisa threatens to chop the tree down, but the tree knows of Lisa’s environmental consciousness and knows that she can’t bring herself to chop down a tree, not even an evil one. And so Lisa runs away, swearing she will stop find someone who can.

Lisa reaches out to whomever may be able to help, including a nice cameo from Mulder and Scully of the X-Files, but no one believes her story, much to Tahn-Enn-Bahm’s sadistic delight. Seeing no other option Lisa turns to Homer.

Homer naturally doesn’t believe Lisa either, thinking this to be one of her lies, like the time she said that she’d created life in a margarine tub or the time she said that Principal Skinner was cooking children in the cafeteria. With nowhere else to turn, Lisa gives up hope and tells the tree that he wins. However, the planet Earth’s salvation comes from the most unlikely source as Homer trips while trying to water the tree and causes the fuses to short-circuit, electrocuting and killing Tahn-Enn-Bahm and causing the invasion force to retreat. And so Lisa is happy that the earth is saved, Homer is happy he won’t have to water the tree anymore and Bart is happy that now everyone will forget about the time that he burned the tree a few years ago, but all is still not well as another spaceship looms in the darkness of space manned by evil alien chocolate rabbits and marsh mellow peeps.

What Works:

As one would expect with The Simpsons, this comic is hilarious, all the jokes hitting their mark. Something else that stands out is Tahn-Enn-Bahm himself, who is actually a very intimidating antagonist, especially for a Simpsons comic. He takes a sort of sadistic glee in Lisa’s terror as well as the futility of her situation, making him as much a psychological threat as physical one.

What Doesn’t:

I think Lisa’s environmentalism was a bit too much. I get that she doesn’t want to kill plants, but she’s also not stupid and knows that Tahn-Enn-Bahm is evil. Personally, I think her refusal to kill him was a bit contrived.



I joke about the holiday season, but in reality, I love this time of year. I’d like to take this time to wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday, whatever that holiday may be.

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