Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Smallville #13

Smallville Season Eleven #13 came out last week and as usual I am a bit delinquent in getting to the review.

Smallville has yet to disappoint bringing action and drama as well as some much needed levity to the DC line. It also has a more classic Superman feel to it with Superman being an extremely good hero, an inspiration, with Clark and Lois together happily. It amazes me that Smallville ... which mired a bit as a show ... has turned the corner and become the place to go if you want some pre-New 52 Superman. This issue has all that!

And as if that wasn't enough, writer Bryan Q. Miller is using this 'season' to really expand the Smallville universe wider and wider, bringing in all the other DC characters that we was in the television show as well as other heroes. Can't tell you how great it has been to see Cyborg Superman, Jay Garrick, Impulse, Batman, and Steph Brown Batgirl in this book.

Now we have 'Argo' which includes two of my favorite DC  properties: Supergirl (shocking I know) and the Legion. And we also have Booster Gold and Blue Beetle in this issue too! Incredible.

Daniel HDR does the art here and he has a nice smooth style which works well with this arc's futuristic bent. I have seen his work in Legion of Super-Heroes as well as Green Lantern Corps and R.E.B.E.L.S. His stuff works well in that sort of story environment.

I have never warmed up to Booster Gold as a character and I wonder if I am limiting myself by not trying his book. I will admit that my exposure has been in the animated JLU and Smallville where he is really smarmy and almost idiotic. I am sure he has greater depth in his own book.

This issue starts with Booster trying to save an Antarctic exploration team from a Yeti-type creature. Unfortunately mid-battle, his Legion gear recognizes him as a non-Legionnaire and stops working.

As I said, humor plays such an important part of this book. I love how the helpless Booster yells to Skeets 'Tell the world my story!'. Awesome.

The Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle shows up to save the day and Booster's bacon.

Another thing that Miller does incredibly well is showing the love between Clark and Lois. Their dialogue always crackles. And he does their small moments wonderfully as well. Here Miller initially titillates the reader by implying that Clark and Lois are having sex in the shower when, lo and behold, it turns out Clark is washing Lois' hair and she is really ... and I mean REALLY ... enjoying it.

These two have recently been apart so it is nice to see these little moments in their lives which show just how much they love each other.

And yet, as soon as they are together, they are going apart. Lois is going to explore a news story (which we know will be Lana in an upcoming special). And Clark, still feeling the loss of Impulse heads to the Planet where he runs into Booster.

Now as I said, Clark really comes across as a (pardon the pun) super-nice guy in Smallville. So I love that we finally see him a bit miffed when he sees  Booster in his office. It is clear he doesn't like Booster ... and why should he!

When the two come together, Booster's Legion ring activates 'Legion Protocol Six'. The ring opens up some time rift, flinging the two into the future for a presumed threat.

It is a stark image of the future with the city aflame and a giant Superman statue in ruins. I have certainly read many stories with dystopian futures which have forgotten Superman's ideals. So what is up with this one?

Last month Tess was downloaded from Lex's mind and uploaded into some new electronic form of life.

I like this new look for her which has just a smidge of Tron to her, something which will never be frowned on by me. And I like how she has taken over the Chloe job of Watchtower monitor duty, touching the floating screens of the heroes ... Blue Beetle, Impulse, and ... Lois! How great that Lois has made the cut for her own screen.

Skeets arrives looking for her help, knowing Booster has been flung into the future.

Back in the future, we see how the Legion have become 'enemies of the state' and Lightning Lad has been captured. Brainiac Five has arrived and freed Garth but the resulting fight causes the ship to nearly crash.

A couple of things here.

First off, I like how Lightning Lad here is really something of a hothead, wanting to lash out even with lethal potency. There is sort of a 'Livewire' feel here.

Second, I didn't realize Brainiac Five was Brainiac at first. I know we are in the Smallville universe so Brainiac has never been green. And yes, after I realized that it was Brainiac I noticed the classic three circles and belt. But at first I thought it was Cosmic Boy. Then I thought it was Element Lad. The pink aspects of the jacket (pink being part of Jan and Rokk's uniforms), the circles (which have been on Rokk's costume), and the lack of green skin made me confused at first.

Lastly, in one panel, I liked how the S-shield is reflected in Brainiac's eyes as Superman streaks to save the ship.

After saving the ship, the heroes are accosted by the Science Police. It turns out that the reason why things are so tense on Earth is that a war is going on between Earth and New Krypton! Booster Gold finally gets to do something functional, helping the Legion and Superman escape.

Hard to believe that the New Krypton story arc in the Superman books is about 3 years old now. Maybe Miller will pick up some of the beats of that mega-arc.

But the plot thickens a bit.

The Legion did not activate the Protocol Six. So who did? And why?

My guess is someone wants all the Legionnaires together so that some sort of group arrest or assassination.

New Krypton is the result of Clark defeating Zod and the Kandorians on the show. He flung them to 'Argo' ... which I assume is Argo City although it might be an actual planet. Those Kandorians survived and built the place into New Krypton. Unfortunately, the planet was denied entry into the United Planets becayse they were 'too young'.

But that can't be all that caused the 'war'. Earth has 'earned' the attacks. Before they reveal what it is, Brainiac asks Superman if he can control his temper. So it must be a doozy.

The question is just what is the culture on New Krypton after 1000 years of rebuilding. Are they war-like? Peaceful? And why were they denied? I hope we get to see more of the world. This is a place Zod built. Will 1000 years be long enough to wash away any of his taint?

As if riffing on the New Krypton arc wasn't enough, Miller also seems to be melding the Geoff Johns' Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes story arc from Action Comics as well. It is hard to believe that story line was 5 years ago!

Here we see Earth Man, the xenophobe from the Legion, who is working with the EarthGov to keep New Krypton at bay. But he sounds like he and they are all against 'aliens' calling the Legion 'xenos' and only tolerating them because they bring in funding to build a fleet of warships.

Seeing Earth Man puts the earlier views of life on Earth into a different context. We have seen how awful life was on Earth under his rule in Action.

As he discussed 'the prisoner', Superman breaks into the facility and ...

Discovers that the 'prisoner' is Supergirl!! Yeah, I think telling Superman his cousin has been imprisoned might make his temper flare.

Is Kara's incarceration the root cause of the war? Was she leading New Krypton? Was she on the Legion and considered a possible 'embedded enemy' on Earth?

Regardless, I am thrilled to see Supergirl here and to see what Miller has in store for her. She was a true hero on the Smallville show, often overshadowing Clark with her proactive nature and her willingness to be out in the open as a hero. And I loved how Miller wrote Supergirl in Batgirl (although that is a very different Kara than the Smallville Kara).

So this was a perfect opening chapter. It showed up enough of the plotlines to get an understanding of the story but there is still a lot that needs to be shown and explained. It continued to expand the Smallville universe, giving us great guest stars. Despite the main story being in the future, Miller still shows us enough of the present to keep the 'small moments' quotient steady. And what a cliffhanger!

Oh yeah ... and Supergirl has a big role in this arc.

I'm happy. This comic has not disappointed.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Smallville's restricted view of Supergirl never wavers, depowered, imprisoned and or off screen seem to be the gamut of the character's settings.


valerie21601 said...

I'll have to remember to call my LCS and reserve my Smallville (Legion of Super Heroes issues).

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I think Miller is going to show us more of the kick butt Kara in future issues.

Anonymous said...

I really loved this arc. And the cousins' interactions were perfect.