Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Smallville Chaos #1

Smallville:Chaos #1 was released last week, the first part of the next arc of Season 11 and that much closer to the upcoming Crisis. And it is evident that the Crisis is probably right around the corner as we go to one of presumably Infinite Earths and see dead heroes and red skies. It amazes me how much I am geared up for the finale of this 'season', having enjoyed just about every step along the way.

But writer Bryan Q. Miller does more than just bring us to a new Earth so we can see some tragedy up close, he starts two other subplots as well, re-introducing us to a classic DC villain as well as progressing a lingering plot point from Smallville:Lantern. I will admit that I am impressed at how beefy Miller is making this Smallville universe, filled now with versions of many DC heroes and villains. And I am impressed with how he is able to make this feel like a team book, at times feel like a DC Universe book, but still keep Lois and Clark in the spotlight. No one feels cheated or overlooked here.

The art is split by Daniel HDR and Agustin Padilla and both do very well with the material here, especially the action sequences. They complement each other so that there isn't any sort of disconnection while I was reading.

We start out in Metropolis where Professor Bruce Gordon has been possessed by a black diamond "big enough to eclipse the sun". That's right, Miller is bringing Eclipso into the Smallville universe. And he is a good villain to have here as his powers certainly can be a threat for even Superman.

But I love how Superman implores him to take the fight outside the city. Superman's first thoughts are of the safety of the citizens. I feel like I should keep a file of these panels on hand and then email them to Snyder and Goyer.

The fight ends up being brief as Superman smashes the diamond underfoot, releasing Gordon from the spell.

Meanwhile Lois is at the supercollider being built by Michael Holt and Ted Kord. So Mr. Terrific and Blue Beetle are in the book as well.

But the collider wouldn't have been built without a last minute influx of cash by Lex Luthor.

Lois is such a powerful figure in this book. It makes me wish we had a Lois like this in the main DCU books. Maybe Johns' will bring her back.

Luthor isn't there simply for scientific advancement. He has Otis attach the monitor communicator Lex pilfered in Russia to the device. And just like that a dimensional rift is opened. That's right ... a gateway to another Earth!

Perhaps my favorite part about this is that Lois simply says typical as this disaster unfolds before her, as she is sucked into the portal. There is no screaming in fear. There is no 'help me Superman'. There is just a 'typical' which becomes a more frustrated and exasperated 'TYPICAL'!!

Love it.

Of course, even if she doesn't yell 'help me Superman', Clark is always tuned in to her. He flies to the rescue, grabbing her but unfortunately tumbling through the dimensional gate as well. And when the collider goes off line, the tunnel closes behind them.

I wonder if every Superman writer tries to think of a scenario where he can have Superman say 'I've got you' and Lois retorts 'You've got me. Who's got you??'. I am almost positive Johns' had the exchange in Superman:Secret Origins.

It might be almost cliche to have it but I like it every single time.

Of course, this Lois is so used to being rescued, so used to Superman's powers, I don't particularly know why she would ask it. But I don't care.

Meanwhile, Chloe and Ollie are being wooed by Steve Trevor and Diana Prince of the DEO. Trevor is hoping that Ollie will join the DEO as a teacher, training the DEO soldiers. Nice little OMAC reference by Ollie.

The Chloe/Diana scenes are precious with Diana oohing and ahhing over Chloe's pregnant body.

But all of this makes me think that Ollie is going to be the tragic loss in the Crisis. This overwhelming sentiment of trying to keep him on the sidelines so he can be there for his family makes me think he ends up sacrificing himself for everyone.

And the Eclipso storyline isn't exactly over.

When you shatter one diamond that can possess one person, you just might make a lot of diamond shards which can also possess someone ... like this Metropolis detective.

An army of Eclipsos suddenly is forming in the city, all bent on destruction.

And with Superman somewhere else, it might be time for another Kryptonian to defend the city!

As for Superman and Lois, they are stuck on a world. A world with red skies. A world with a fleet of Monitor ships in the air. A place where the Superman variant Mr. Majestic is dead and hung on the Daily Star.

It is getting real.

Again, nice nod to DC history by including Majestic here. And nice nod to the original crisis. Those red skies don't lie.

So Eclipso in Metropolis.
Lois and Clark in another Metropolis.

And in Antarctica, Lex decides to take control of the collider and all it can do. And what better way to do that but with Team Luthor, a group of Lex soldiers armed with yellow lantern rings.

Hmmm ... how are they powered?

Now Lex has been manipulating things from behind the scenes all season. This is pretty much out there, a very public super-villain move. I don't know if there is coming back from this.

We must be very close to the finale.

But on Earth-? Superman and Lois run into the 'other' Lois. And she isn't too happy. The heroes seem to have let this Earth down. The Monitor ships are arranging themselves in the sky in a way where they will blow up the planet. All seems lost.

I thought this was a great scene. I love that Lois is still a hero on this Earth. It looks like she is leading the resistance or holding people together. But, despite that, you can see how she is broken a bit, saddened by the loss of her love and the impending destruction of her world. She isn't invulnerable ... and this humanizes all the Loises in this book. It also shows just how strong she is as a person that even in the face of death, she is a force of will.

So a tremendous opening chapter with three subplots brewing and a Crisis right around the corner.

As usual, I am impressed with this book.

Overall grade: A-

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