You know my biggest complaint with the Smallville comic? It is so good.
I know, on the face of it, that statement makes little sense. But the truth is, this is a very good comic. And it makes me wonder just how good Smallville the show would have been if the abandoned the 'no tights, no flights' nonsense of the early years and let the show mature to a Superman show. Because frankly, what I am reading in this comic is solid writing with great plots, characterization, and action. And I don't think I was always able to say that when I was watching the show.
Smallville #6 concentrates on the Superman/Batman crossover story including the near-mandatory fight between the heroes. But writer Bryan Q. Miller continues to let the other plot lines percolate in the background, moving things along. We also get to see Miller write
As if the story wasn't enough, this issue is a special treat because old friend Jamal Igle provides the art and really brings it. And we get to see Igle draw
Despite the last issue ending with a prison brawl between Superman and Batman, Miller opts to start the issue away from the battle. We haven't seen much of Chloe lately so I was glad to catch up with her and Oliver. Remember, these two know about the imminent Crisis and are trying to figure out just what is happening.
Remember, the Earth 2 Chloe was shot and killed in that cornfield. And seeing that has clearly effected this Chloe greatly. I love how the picture of her corpse is in the background, looming. It helps the reader know just how big this is for Chloe, how it is literally always in the background. That pained face on Chloe in the second panel is just wonderful expressive work by Igle.
As is usually the case when two heroes meet for the first time, Superman and Batman fight. They both have an interest in talking to Bruno Mannheim. Supes want to question him about weapons in the city. Bats wants to know about Joe Chill.
But Miller does a great job here showing the different approaches the heroes have.
Superman is absorbing blows but basically doesn't want to fight. And he is so polite about it, even adding 'if you don't mind.'
Meanwhile Batman shows he has researched Superman extensively, studying Kryptonian glyphs, studying Zod's solar tower plans, and building a red sun generator into his bat suit. It is that attention to detail that borders on paranoia that makes Batman Batman.
But he also knows strategy. So while they fight
Green Arrow arrives to help out and squares off with Nightwing.
Seriously, this is
Realizing that Batman is Bruce Wayne and hearing why Batman wants to talk to Mannheim, Superman takes matters into his own hands. He stops the hero-on-hero skirmishes and takes Mannheim for a conversation several thousand feet up.
Another great moment. Miller has always infused just the right mix of humor into his books. First he has Superman voice how he will be in trouble for using such crude interrogation methods. Then he has Superman drop him.
Such a great moment with
Mannheim admits that he pointed criminals towards Chill so that the criminal element could arm themselves appropriately against the explosion of super-heroes in the world. Chill decided to make a deal with the Feds and so is in custody.
It's Lois who figures out that the weapon maker is Oswald Loomis, a savant like the Toyman. Loomis is, of course, the Prankster.
As I have said before, I love the Lois in this book. She is strong and independent and has a 'guy everywhere' for information. You are right Lois ... you are awesome.
Batman and Nightwing try to find Chill's safe house leading to this great exchange.
I love how
And I love his retort that she can always join the super-team as Supergirl. She remarks she wouldn't use that name (she didn't want 'Batgirl' either) and besides there already is a Supergirl.
We better see that Supergirl in this book soon!
The safe house is located and both Superman and Batman have reasons to head there.
What I love about this is that Miller doesn't have Superman back down to Batman. Superman says that Metropolis is under jurisdiction and that Batman has to play by the rules. 'It isn't our job to determine justice, only to make sure it exists.' That's Superman.
A begrudging team-up emerges from the conversation. Again Igle shines here. Superman's country boy grin shows he thinks he has made a new friend. Batman is basically frowning and just seems so rigid. This isn't an easy alliance.
Unfortunately, Lex hears about the emails from Oliver who thinks he is being punked. Luthor knows his body is being used. I wonder where all of this will go.
As I said it isn't an easy alliance. At the safe house, Batman tries to go solo and confront Chill on his own. This Batman seems even more unhinged than the usual version. He kicks the elderly Chill forcing Superman to physically put a stop to it.
It is so refreshing to see Superman actually not be outsmarted or beaten up by Batman.
Unfortunately, the heroes probably led super-villains to Chill's safe house as well. Mr. Freeze and The Prankster arrive. Nice cliffhanger.
There are a lot more worthwhile, funny, and powerful moments in this issue ... probably my favorite of the run. Seeing Ollie get bruised up from Nightwing, Steph's Barbara's constant quips, Batman's straight man responses and one good zinger about why Superman must like him ... it's all there and more. I would watch this show ... I wish I was watching this show.
And Jamal Igle is the perfect choice here, bringing great expressions to add to the words and plot, filling in so much subtle information by his art choices.
Another month ... another very good Smallville issue. Just the right mix of action, seriousness, and humor. Wow!
Overall grade: A