Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: Smallville #8

It has been a week and a half since Smallville #8 came out. I am woefully behind in my reviews and I apologize.

This issue closed out the Superman/Batman main plot while moving forward on all the subplots that writer Bryan Q. Miller is weaving into the story. There are a couple of stories being juggled in this book but Miller makes sure that we check in enough to keep them simmering. Perhaps most impressively, he actually has me interested in the Ollie/Chloe relationship. My 'spider sense' is tingling about that plot; I am sensing a sad outcome.

And Miller continues to infuse just enough humor into these stories, even some with tragic overtones like this, to keep the reading popping. Add to that the inclusion of Steph Brown Barbara Gordon as a quirky strong Nightwing and this issue continues the trend of Smallville being one of my favorite titles each month.

Art this month was split between Axel Gimenez and Kevin West. Neither is as polished as Jamal Igle or Chris Cross. But there is a sort of raw energy in their work which suits the issue.

I have said before that the subplot I have been most interested in has been the possession of Lex by Tess. Tess has slowly started to gain control of Lex's body. It has been amusing to read their interactions. This issue I loved that Lex said he was inconvenienced by Tess' presence. She retorts that of course she is more inconvenienced since she is ... in fact ... dead.

I also liked that Lex didn't want Tess to take any more liberties with his body while his consciousness was sleeping. He will be strapped to a bed and locked into a room so Tess can't roam any more. Lex doesn't want to wake up to being in the amorous grasp of any of Tess' prior lovers.

As for Superman, he is healed after some minor surgery by Bruce. The two are recuperating with Lois and Babs on a well-equipped freighter, untraceable back to Batman.

It is the similarities and differences with these characters that make their interactions so wonderful. Clark remains at heart a simple country boy so hearing Bruce complain about his butler must be crazy. First world problems indeed. And Bruce being so irascible in the presence of Clark's sunny disposition is also funny in its own way.

The two realize they need to go after the Prankster and Mr. Freeze. With the powers those 2 posses, some wardrobe upgrades are needed.

As I have said before, I am just not an Ollie guy. But was intrigued by his part to play in this story, especially last issue when he was arrested for helping Batman escape the police.

Chloe on the other hand has become much more interesting over time in my book. She really is strong and independent and the brains behind the super-hero team here. Here, she shows enough knowledge of the law to play the part of Ollie's 'attorney', presenting a good enough case to get him sprung.

Of course, it makes me wonder what she sees in such a brick like Ollie.

The Prankster meanwhile shows that he is pulling a lot more strings than he initially showed. He takes control of Mr. Freeze's power suit, sending Fries out into Metropolis to indiscriminately kill and destroy.

Having traced Superman and Batman to the freighter, he sends an army of thugs to the boat.

And, for good measure, he uses a Captain Carrot Action Figure to get control of a military drone bomber and sends that to the ship as well.

A Captain Carrot figure! I'd buy it.

Unfortunately, Superman and Batman are in their fancy suits and not on the boat. Superman is in a lead-based suit, enough to block out the Kryptonite the Prankster has at his disposal. Batman is in a heated sun suit to fight Freeze.

The Prankster has his own power-suit, a sort of Giant Robo/Metallo mix.

I love Superman's deadpan 'another robot'.

Whatever she is called, this Nightwing reads like Steph Brown to the point that she is Steph in my mind.

With that gang of bruisers storming the boat, Lois and Nightwing prepare for battle.

Steph Babs says she is ready for an ass-kicking, a sort of reverse tough statement. When Lois calls her on it, she recognizes what she said and moves on. That is laugh out loud funny. And that, by far, was my favorite moment of the issue.

And then  Lois and Nightwing bring the fight to these guys, taking them down.

There are other fun moments like Ollie knocking the controlled Mr. Freeze off his feet with a boxing glove arrow. Even better is Ollie basically saying he had to do something comedic - either a boxing glove arrow or a bad pun.

But the Prankster is really looking to make a splash. He has overloaded Freeze's suit. It is basically a cold bomb which will wipe out a chunk of Metropolis.

While Superman defeats the Prankster's K-Suit with some ingenuity, Batman unplugs Freeze.

But the big thing here was that both hero, when faced with something disastrous (Kryptonite or cold suits)  says 'Not if I take them out of the equation'. It just was a nice way of showing that these guys might not be as different as they seem. Both know what needs to be done.

The freighter in the mean time has been perforated by drone missiles and is sinking.

As Nightwing and Lois scramble to make it to the surface the whole boat lurches. Superman has hoisted the ship on his shoulders, saving the day.

These two panels are great as the particulars all respond.

Nightwing is shocked.
Batman is incredulous.
Ollie is calmer but still amazed.

And Lois pronounces her love! Man, I miss the Clark/Lois relationship. It is so good to see it alive and well here.

Later, Bruce places roses in Crime Alley. Superman shows up.

This was a very well written scene and I wish I could include it all.

For one, there is this part where Superman reminds Bruce that he tried to save Chill from the Prankster. Bruce would not have killed Chill if he had been given the chance.

But there are also panels where Clark says that Bruce not only mourns his parents but the death of his own innocence as well.

Again, you have a mix of humor and seriousness sprinkled nicely throughout the book.

And then some joy with Chloe announcing she's pregnant.

Now that is interesting!

But I do worry here. We have already seen on Chloe die in this comic, albeit the Earth 2 Chloe. But could that be foreshadowing?

I doubt Miller would resort to a 'refrigerator' role for Chloe. But I do think this adds a layer of peril to her character. I will be watching closely.

And so 'Detective' comes to a close. But not without a cliffhanger.

Lex suddenly realizes that Tess probably has valuable information about Superman, information that is literally in his head. And it is time for him to have access to it.

Maybe having Tess downloaded into a robot shell would have been favorable.

So I think the small moments in this book, the dialogue and characterization is all solidly entertaining. Do I quite understand why The Prankster was doing what he was doing, why he brought Freeze along, why all these things intersected? Not really. But I think I can roll with it given everything else that comes here.

I also think, unlike a lot of DC books right now, there is a sense of fun and joy in this book. It isn't slapstick ... but it does feel like real life. There are ups and down, sad moments and happy ones. How great was it to hear Lois say she was going to kiss Clark's 'stupid face'? Completely endearing.

Smallville continues to be the most well-rounded of the super-books. It has a nice pre-New 52 feel to it without the ennui of the television show. I wasn't even sure I was going to get this book. I am glad I did!

Overall grade: B+


PRgirl1294 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PRgirl1294 said...

I wouldn't worry about Chloe dying anytime soon. Remember that the series finale of Smallville showed Chloe alive and well 7 years in the future, telling Clark's story to her and Ollie's kid and congratulating Lois on her and Clark's wedding.

But overall, good review. Please review Superboy #15 soon. It's a lot better than some people are saying and it confirms the third donor being canon.

Anj said...

Thanks for the post.

I forgot about the flashforward on the show. So I guess Chloe is safe.

Superboy review up Monday.

valerie21601 said...

I am interested in hearing what you will say about Superboy #15 too, Anj.

The art debate alone is causing quite a huge stir with the Superboy and Super Family fans.

LJ-90 said...

I loved all the "little moments" in this issue, Superman making it snow (in issue #5 Dan Turpin mentions that a heat wave has hit Metropolis), Superman and Batman bonding, Otis, everything. I'm not a big Batman fan so I'm kinda glad we're going to see Impulse now (I really liked Bart in the show) and some movement in the Crisis front. According to Bryan, this "episode" we'll be like a mid-season finale, so I can't wait to read it.

Have you read the latest BQM interview Anj? If so, what do you think about the digital-exclusive Smallville comics?

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I did not read about Smallville going exclusively digital. Can you give a link.

Asnd you are right, there were a ton of small nice moments here. It was hard to choose which panels to scan.

LJ-90 said...

Basically, in print you buy a "chapter" (10 pages) every week for 3 weeks, and then there's a week off (the week the issue sees print), and it's like that every month. Now in that week off there will be a "spin-off" of a kind, and it will be digital exclusive. Just wondering what you though of that, hopefully in that side stories we'll see Superboy or Supergirl, it would be nice.

Kent G. Hare said...

Is this it? - - If so, I read it as being supplementary "side-story" material that will eventually see print in the trades, but not in the monthly compilation issues of the three preceding digital releases.

Kent G. Hare said...

Oops, spent a little too long tracking it down, then didn't see somebody beat me to it....

Anj said...

Boy, for a 'print only' guy like me this is digital-only stuff is terrible news.

Someone will have to let me know if the 'extra' chapter is Supergirl. I might *have* to buy then!