Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Smallville Chaos #2

Smallville Chaos #2 came out last week and this arc has certainly lived up to its title. It is totally chaotic in this book right now with 3 ongoing plots  happening, each one unraveling in front of our eyes. It isn't pretty right now and I'm not sure which arc is the most frenetic and hectic right now.

Bryan Q. Miller has been leading us to a Crisis-event since the very first issue of Smallville Season 11 and this is the closest we have come. I have been completely impressed with Miller's approach to this undercurrent of a universal threat. At times it has surged to the forefront of the book. But when it hasn't been in our face, it has been simmering in the background. This time, our noses are shoved in the danger of the Crisis with one of the most powerful scenes I have read in this book.

Add to that the Eclipso-invasion in Metropolis and the Luthor-led hostile takeover of the Holt/Kord particle accelerator, and you get a Smallville book on shaky ground. Thank goodness Lois is a rock!

The art is handled seamlessly by Agustin Padilla and Daniel HDR, bringing the right energy to a wild ride of security forces, demonic hordes, and planetary destruction.

We start out in Metropolis where an army of Metropolis' citizens have been possessed by the Eclipso diamond shards. We have become somewhat accustomed to the Watchtower group, this justice league, being able to mobilize and deal with a threat. That isn't happening here. Tess can try to spearhead communication and organize the team ... but when no one can respond, she isn't of much use. Metropolis is on fire. Superman is on another Earth. Emil and Bruce are trapped in STAR Labs. Everyone is off-line.

Metropolis needs a hero!

Meanwhile on another Earth, Superman is trying to save the day. But this world is literally being carved into pieces by the Monitor attack ships. At the very least, he can smash the advance Manhunter troops, making sure they don't hurt the populace.

But it is clear that this Earth is dying. The skies are red. The planet is crumbling.

I do like this Superman fighting until the end.

But here is where this book suddenly silenced me. This is perhaps the most powerful scene I have witnessed in Smallville.

The Lois of this world has been trying to help people, to fight to save this Earth. But that Lois has given up hope. The people she leads, in a church, all turn guns on themselves, a mass suicide in the face of planetary destruction. Imagine that ... a Lois that has lost hope that much. Scary.

There is power in this panel. The bodies slumped. The hand on gun in the foreground. A faceless dead body lying down in front of us. And our Lois and Superman hugging each other, but tiny. They weren't able to save these people. Keeping them small adds a feeling of helplessness. Great stuff.

And don't forget the third plotline as Lex takes over the particle accelerator so he can use it and Monitor tech to contact other universes.

I always love when Lex panels have him saying noble things while the evils of his ways happen around him. Here he says he is going to save the world. All while his Yellow-ringed Lex Corps gun down the security force. I suppose Lex could have simply asked to use the thing instead of getting violent.

The dissonance between words and art work here. Lex is deluded.

Metropolis needs a hero. Suddenly they have one.

Hank Henshaw, digitally trapped in a robotic body, and quite mad a few arcs ago, decides he needs to do better ... he needs to help. And just like that he enters a bunch of sentry droids, creating an army of one, and takes out the Eclipso victims.

I am glad to see Henshaw redeemed. And glad he wasn't forgotten. He does look a bit like the helmeted Superman of Futures End, don't you think?

With the Earth dying around them, Superman goes to the one place he hope exists and can help them. This Earth's Fortress of Solitude.

It is clear there is no way to save this Earth. It is being eaten by waves of energy, just like the Crisis on Infinite Earths worlds.

Beautiful art here.

And now, the mandatory monthly 'Lois is Awesome in this book' moment.

Flying into the Fortress, this world's Jor-El recognizes Superman as 'not Kal' and embeds him in some sort of crystal. Lois tells Jor-El that he is making a mistake and when he asks who she is to question him, she answers appropriately.

She's Lois Lane.

This is who Lois should be. Strong and confident enough to stand up to anyone.

We learn a little bit more about Luthor's plots. He isn't trying to reach out to other Lex's any more. He is reaching out to someone else. Hmmmm ...

I bet he wants the evil Earth 2 Superman to join him on this world. Or maybe Zod?

And we seem to be seeing some lack of 100% loyalty in Otis. I wonder if Mr. Berg is going to end up betraying Lex. He is the only one left who can. Booster Gold has been defeated by the Yellow Corps.

But back on the doomed Earth we see another power of Lois. The power to speak the truth, to love, help.

She tells this Jor-El that every version has worked to save Kal. Why shouldn't this Jor-El help save a different Kal. And then ... the soft please. It humanizes Lois a bit, shows her and Clark's love.

So Jor-El will help, if she will take him to safety as well. Shrunk to a power crystal, this Jor-El shunts the pair to a different Earth.

We see this Earth fade away. Worlds will live. Worlds will die.

Unfortunately, Jor-El doesn't send these two back to their world. Instead they land on shambles of an Earth. There are Manhunters amid the debris. The Monitors were here. There are also human skulls with omega signs burned into them. And a black crackling planetoid crashed into Earth. This place looks enough like Apokolips for me to be worried.

Chaos indeed.

I have to say this was a great middle chapter. The story moved forward on all fronts. We see the threat the Monitors are, an Earth vaporized. We see Lois and Clark use their brains to escape that fate. We see the emergence of a new hero. And we see the evil of Lex, suddenly openly and brazenly malevolent.

And we are that much closer to the Crisis. Unbelievable. Incredible.

Overall grade: B+/A

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