Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: Smallville #7

Smallville #7 came out in print this last week and I was yet another entertaining issue in this title.

I have said it before. Smallville is the place where people looking for the 'old' Superman fans to go when they need a fix. If the DCnU Superman, the floating guy distanced from humanity and kissing Wonder Woman seems off to you ... if you want a smiling, heroic Superman who is in love with Lois ... look no further.

But on top of those continuity issues, Smallville also has the tone that I feel has been missing for the most part in the dour DCnU. This is a book with some drama and some dark moments. But it also has some light moments, some humor, some romance and love. It is a mix of emotions that frankly mirrors real life.

And since those lighter moments are scarce right now in the main DCU, they mean so much more here.

I really have to give Bryan Q. Miller a lot of credit for finding just that right mix of tones for the book. No one emotion dominates the story. And that just works.

Chris Cross does the art on this issue and I think it is some of his best work. There are some stellar panels here ... as you will see.

Another thing that I love about Smallville is Lois. She is a bit more of a hothead than the classic comic Lois. But that passion and intensity for truth, for justice, for her family and friends is refreshing.

Here I love the panel makeup as she confronts the Toyman about how his tech has been used by The Prankster. The Toyman in Smallville is a bit of a nut but he has his own ethics. He doesn't like that his tech is being used without his permission. Lois points out the obvious ... Toyman is in jail.

That zoom in for personal moment, zoom out to put the Toyman's life in perspective works wonderfully. Toyman is a little person in a box. He is insignificant and therefore can't intercede in the outside world.

And the Prankster and Mr. Freeze are gunning for Joe Chill since he has turned evidence into the government. Prankster is not usually a hit man but he says he needs to impress Intergang to get back in their good graces.

This is a confident Superman, maybe one who hasn't been challenged in a while. He tells Batman to leave so he can mop up the villains. Interesting ... I haven't seen a Superman step up to the plate like this recently.

Turns out the villains aren't that easy to defeat.

The Prankster has some tracer bullets locked on to Chill. I don't know why I love this so much. Reminds me a bit of Darkseid Omega beams, or Robotech missiles.

And ..... he also has Kryptonite bullets! Maybe that wasn't confidence before, maybe it was over-confidence.

But this is such a great panel and just shows why I am loving this interpretation of Superman and Clark. Realizing he might actually die here, his last word is a quiet Lois.

I have said it before when reviewing this comic. If DC doesn't think "Lois and Clark" works, they should read this book. They might see the light.

Another thing I like about this book is how seamlessly the heroes work together. Chloe and Oliver want to help Clark and decide to hack into Luthor's computers to grab the tracer intel he has on Clark.

In the course of that conversation, designed to give Chloe time to hack in via the phone, Ollie talks about the late night emails he has been getting from Lex. Luthor is finally able to put 2 and 2 together. Tess is still kicking around inside him and has exerted some control.

This is the plot on the back burner I am most enjoying. I like Tess a lot and glad she is still around, even in this wraith-mode.

I talked about panel composition before. This is my favorite sequence of the book. Mr. Freeze catches up and puts Chill on ice, killing him. I don't exactly know what this Batman was going to do with Chill. But now we will never know.

I love these panels. Chill frozen. Then that similar pose but frozen in time, as he killed Bruce's parents (great red background). And then a similar pose in Batman, angry at being denied whatever his closure was going to be. That is just solid solid work. Impressive.

Their job done, the Prankster and Mr. Freeze flee the scene, victorious. That alone is interesting.

But now the police are arriving, Superman has Kryptonite bullets embedded in his abdomen, and he doesn't look good.

Despite their differences, and despite Nightwing tell him to bail, Batman decides he cannot leave Superman. He cannot have people learn of his weakness.

It is true that this wouldn't look good for Batman if there are so many bodies around as he leaves. He throws Superman into the Batmobile and takes off.

In another nice touch, Superman reveals his name is Clark to Batman. It shows the trust side of Superman. He knows Batman isn't a bad guy.

But it is the Lois portions of the book I absolutely love.

First off, she refuses to simply let Batman drive off with an injured Superman in tow. That's her husband. In classic Lois style, she grabs a police motorcycle and follows along.

Now that is Lois!

But she isn't all spit and vinegar.

She knows that Clark might be dying in that car. And when a line is opened up between Lois, Chloe, Nightwing, and Batman, she breaks down a little.

Look at that tear-soaked expression in the opening panel as she struggles to get and give information.

It won't be easy to pull out those bullets with half the police force bearing down on him. There is a nice little chase scene and Batmobile tumbling in the subsequent pages. Luckily, not only does Batman remove the K-slugs, he also gives Supes a jump start of yellow sunlight from his Bat-suit (which previously was dishing out red sun rays).

I have never been too keen about the Green Arrow of Smallville. But he does have a nice spot in this book. He joined the chase for Clark, catching up earlier with Lois.

And he stops a Metropolis police copter from unleashing an EMP which would have disabled the Batmobile and brought the rescue to a halt. I am sure that was a hard choice. Fighting cops ... who wants to do that.

Of course, that is also interfering with police business and a crime itself.. The last we see of Ollie he is in cuffs. Nice wrinkle to this story.

And the book ends with a nice cliffhanger.

The K bullets had built in tracers. The Prankster now knows where Batman and Superman are hiding out.

Boy, a lot of people can trace Superman these days.

So another wonderful issue of this book. While I am enjoying this Batman plot, I actually find myself wanting more of the Tess plotline and the Crisis plotline as well. And after a fantastic Steph  Babs issue last time, I was sort of bummed to see so little of her here.

But there is no doubt that the best stuff for me this issue was the Clark/Lois relationship even though they are never together! It is so easy to see why Superman would love a woman like her.

Add to that some great Chris Cross art, in all facets ... expressions, actions, panel and page layouts ... and this was satisfying. The Lois crying panel and the Chill/Chill/Batman panel progression were perfect!

Overall grade: B+


LJ-90 said...

Great review Anj!
I just wonder why Clark couldn't just say to Batman "take the bullets out, yellow sunlight" instead of telling him to call Watchtower, then Chloe (who could've said this herself) called Lois...just seemed a little weird to me.

Other than that, I agree with you, great issue!

PRgirl1294 said...

Good review, but Clark and Lois aren't married yet. They're still engaged.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

LJ - good point. I suppose telling him to remove the bullets would be more pressing than revealing his secret identity.

PRGirl - Thanks for reminding me about the impending wedding. I keep forgetting ... probably because this reminds me so much of the old DCU where they were married!

Won't make that mistake again!