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Review: Smallville Season 11 Episode 3 “Haunted”

smallville #9Well, 4 more months have passed, and that means that it is time to review another episode of Smallville’s season 11 prints.  Episode 3 is contained within the pages of Smallville Season 11 #9 – #12.  Major SPOILERS are contained in this review, so turn away now if you don’t want to know.

#9 Part one:

Let’s start with the cover art.  I’m not impressed.  Superman looks like a manga character (which I wouldn’t mind if it was supposed to be that style).  The concept is nice, with him and Impulse zooming at the viewer, but it is the art that I don’t necessarily enjoy.  And what is with Bart Allen (Impulse’s) redesign.  I’m not digging the bleached blonde look, but his new suit on the other hand is not that bad.  Thankfully, the art within this issue is much better than the cover.  The shading and ink is especially nice.

Now on to the story.  There is a brief flashback in Lex’s mind of when Tess was being brought in by Granny Goodness.  For anyone who had seen the final season on TV, Granny ran a foster home for girls.  These girls became her Furies.  This flashback scene was great in the way that it reaffirmed Tess’s presence in Lex’s mind.  The “dream” sequence here shows both an adult Tess and her child self running away from Lex.  Luthor here is telling Tess that he knows she knew things, and he plans on unlocking those memories.  As they run from door to memory door, there are a few sights of season 1 flashbacks as well as others when Clark had saved people.  Remember, Tess knows that Clark is Superman.  Lex finding this out could be disastrous.  Tess finally manages to lock a memory door temporarily, which wakes Lex from his “dream”.

Again, the intro was perfect.  Evenso when he woke to find Otis before him, Lex was obviously irritated.  To top off the failure he just had in his dream, his assistant tells him that Superman is handling a situation outside.  I won’t go into this battle in detail, because it speaks for itself.  DC villain Psimon is duking it out in the streets with the Man of Steel.  Psimon’s design is quite different from the comics, whereas instead of a fully exposed brain, he has holes in his head.  Apparently he was another of Lex’s experiments before Luthor lost his memory.  Threatening to kill Luthor for what he had done, Psimon is thwarted by Superman saving his nemesis.  I like that Psimon could stand toe to toe and do battle with Superman.  One thing I always hated was that minor characters seemed to never be able to hold their ground.  Psimon did so, at least for a little while here.  The best part is that it wasn’t Superman who stopped him.  It was Bart.  Impulse is back for a visit, but we do not yet know why.

In the next scene, we get a great angle from the artist.  They emphasize Lois using her attractiveness to her advantage.  She puts the heat on Otis, and then Luthor.  Lex is witty with this confrontation, but as cliched as it sounds, his right hand doesn’t know what his left hand is doing.  Tess is writing “Help” on a note, and Lois sees this.  She does not yet know what it means, but she knows that something is not right.  The duality continues to be played well here.

After a brief romp around the world, and some catching up, Superman and Impulse have a discussion about how Bart has gotten faster.  Emil Hamilton has told Bart that he worries about him turning into raw energy because of how fast he has become.  Their conversation is interrupted by a call from Watchtower telling them about a break in at an art gallery.

As the heroes race off, Lex pays Psimon a visit.  Locked in a cell, the psychic villain has a bicycle helmet of sorts holding his powers at bay.  Lex wants his help unlocking the secrets of his own amnesiatic mind, but Tess wards the psychic off.  With no cooperation, Luthor leaves.  I’m not sure I like this scene.  Why would Psimon back off, just at the sight of Tess?  I get that he hates Luthor, but it just doesn’t add up.

Next, we get to the art gallery scene, and we find out that Mallah and the Brain are using an army of monkeys to do the dirty work.  Again, I lovedSmallville #10 the cameo villains, but I’m not sure we would have ever seen this in Smallville.  If we did, we would have gotten some kind of origin, which here we didn’t (at least not enought of it) so it was a bit misplaced.  For the last few frames of this issue, we have Superman taking out the army of apes, while Bart is haunted by a mysterious dark figure.  It races towards him wanting his speed.  Can you say, “Black Flash”?  Yes the death racer appears for the first time, but other than a slight demonic silhouette, you don’t get much of a view.  And of course we are left wondering what this means.  Out of 5 stars, I give this issue a 2.5.  To me it didn’t seem like Smallville as much as the others, but let’s see where it goes…

Issue #10 part 2:

And another crummy cover.  Still, the concept was awesome, but the anime style doesn’t fit.  It is not conveying the “realism” that the stories are trying for.  SMH.  It somehow even translates into the first few pages of this issue, and I hope that it doesn’t continue on this path.

Anyway, Chloe is working on her archery accuracy as Oliver is drawing up a blueprint.  After his meeting with Batman in the previous issue, Oliver decides he wants an arrowcar.  Okay, it is cheesy, but a well deserved laugh moment was needed.

We then skip to Superman carrying Bart.  Bart explains that this Black Racer or Speed Demon first arrived when he was locked in a trap by Luthor in one of the previous seasons.  That little room, where he had to run in circles for hours, caused him to hit a new tier of speed, attracting this thing.  We see more flashbacks to the previous seasons here, and it was reinterpreted quite well.  Actually it was accurate to the point of me remembering those scenes the exact same way.

Many more flashbacks continue, and we get to see that the Black Racer is there to steal the speed force.  It is what fuels him.  While Clark takes Impulse to Hamilton, Bart’s speed has affected areas around the world, causing some kind of kinetic disturbance.  The disturbance is beginning to take lives due to the Black Speedster.

The next few pages tell us a little more info, but all in all it becomes very bland.  Then we get to see Bart and Clark racing on treadmills in STAR Labs.  The goal here was to get up to speed so that Clark can see the Black Flash with his own eyes, and that he does.  We finally get a full shot of it, and like I say “it.”  They don’t really explain in this episode WHAT he is.  He is very demonic looking however, and I love the design they did for it.  Black Flash tells CLark that his speed is not “puuuuururrrrrreeee”.  I get the feeling from the text that the dark one speaks like a whisper.  Kinda cool in my opinion.  He clocks Clark across the room and then vanishes.

smallville #11While Clark and Bart head off to the old Justice Society’s headquarters to find Jay Garrick, Chloe is linked to Chloe of Earth two’s mind.  In this way, Hamilton can show her the last few moments of Chloe 2’s life, and what she was trying to warn them of.  All we get to see is a large ship and destruction, and Chloe 1 screaming at the sight.  End of part 2.  My rating?  Still, I can’t go above a 2.5 out of 5.  It was great in spots, but there was a lot of buildup with no real satisfaction.  Don’t worry it gets better.

Issue #11 Part three:

Okay now I’ve given up.  Cover number 3 I have to give credit to only because it sticks with the crappy art theme.  Let me reclarify… I don’t think the art is bad, but WTF is up with the Manga style for this?  It doesn’t make sense.

Then, the highlight of this episode happens… Jay Garrick is shown.  His attire, though is not convincing.  The design is great and perfect, but would we really see him sitting around his house in a red jacket with a lightning bolt on its front?  Not in reality.  The retired hero is not happy to see his visitors and explains a little bit more about being a speedster.  Finally, we get some answers about the speed storms and Bart’s stalker.  The answer though is that Jay says Bart has to die in order for the Black Flash to be gone, and the storms to stop killing innocents.

Chloe begins having more visions of Chloe 2’s memories.  These are more violent.  Here we see Ultraman (Clark of Earth 2) literally killing people.  He is unrelenting and very brutal in his search, but is deterred by Chloe 2’s Kryptonite.  We get some more Earth 2 action with Chloe 2 and Oliver 2 talking about how to kill Ultraman, and then another speed storm occurs, which rips Chloe back to the here and now.

In this world, Lex fires his staff, including Otis, and Clark dons a new Blue suit.  If you look back in DC comics, after Superman died in 1992 Death of Superman, there was a brief period where Superman was a red energy and a blue energy.  This suit is very reminiscent of that Blue suit.  It is explained here that Hamilton says it can collect energy.  In this case, if Superman were to move fast, the energy would build and accelerate him to an even faster pace.  I’ll accept that.  There is a quick cameo by Barbara Gordon (always welcome) and then the battle begins.  Blue Superman and Black Flash collide.

While we don’t know what happens from this collision, we do know that Jay explains a little more to Bart, and mentions the other flashes by name “Max Mercury, Barry Allen, and Wally West.”  I give this issue a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  It was well rounded other than the art in places such as the cover and first few pages, but overall pleasing.  Now for the final part

Issue #12 Part Four:

Although still cartoony, this is the best cover of the 4.  We have a clear image of Black Flash, Superman in his Blue suit, and Impulse in an epic smallville #12battle.  While the depth of the image is not all too perfect, it is nice to see it fully presented.

Beginning on Earth 2, Oliver 2 presents the citizens of Metropolis with Kryptonite rings, but in return, Ultraman snaps Oliver 2’s neck completely backwards.  This was unexpected, but done well, and it was reiterated that here, his Ultraman’s real name is Clark Luthor.

On our Earth, Superman in his Blue attire continues to battle with Black Flash, who is beating the Man of Steel.  No worries, Bart shows up, and grabs Superman to race off.  He uses the speed collected by Superman’s Blue Suit and accelerates himself literally out of existence.  Before he evaporates into the Speed Force, Bart has some flashbacks to when he and Clark first met.  Again, this was reinterpreted well from the early season.  As a result of his speed, Black Flash is gone in the same way.  Now that that threat is over, I want to mention that this was very touching.  The battle was epic for Smallville and Impulse was shown as a true hero.

With that threat over, we are given some answers about Earth 2.  The Crisis is still a mystery to the Smallvilleverse, but the cause is revealed as a race of “Monitors”.  For any DC fan, this reaffirms that they are going to presenting in some way, the Crisis storyline.  With Earth 2 now destroyed, and Chloe 2 dead, the only remnants are in Chloe of Earth 1’s mind.

And we are presented with the end of the issue.  Clark no longer has to fear Lex finding out who he truly is for two reasons… 1: Bart’s acceleration destroyed the radiation tracker in Clark’s bloodstream, and 2: Green Arrow, Lois and Superman confront Lex and Lois knocks him out.  While he is unconscious, they use a device to collect Tess’ consciousness from Lex’s mind.  Tess Mercer is then reborn as a hologram in the watchtower.  With her there to be the oracle figure, Chloe finally announces that she and Oliver are leaving Metropolis for Star City AGAIN.  I would assume that we won’t see any more of Green Arrow and her maybe for the rest of the series.  They were written out in a way that they want to be parents to their soon to be child.  Clark wishes them luck, and the episode is over in a Smallville finale type of way.  I give this issue a full 5 stars.

Summary

Overall I was pleased with how this episode ended and what it opened for future storylines.  It started out rough, but was done well.  Still, I feel it wasn’t the best episode this season, but had some great aspects to it.  All in all, my rating is a 6 out of 10.  I know that doesn’t gel with my other ratings, but I am also factoring in the entirety of the episode here.  I hope you enjoyed this review, and I’ll keep bringing them to you as well.  Chime in with your thoughts.

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Review: Smallville Season 11 Episode 2: Detective

5The moment in Smallville history that I’ve waited eleven years to see has finally arrived.  So the question is, was it worth it?  Here is a breakdown and review of issues #5-8 of the Smallville Season 11 comic, that make up episode 2.  This review will be FILLED WITH SPOILERS.  Here we go.

The episode begins with Lois and Clark in a playful bedroom setting in the Fortress of Solitude.  As I mentioned in the previous review, I love how they captured Lois’ personality, and Clark’s slightly more serious side.  He is so focused on his work as Superman, that he sometimes doesn’t realize how vacant toward their relationship he can sometimes be.

Meanwhile in Gotham city, a group of thugs is in negotiations with Intergang.  While waiting for their meeting, they get their asses handed to them by Nightwing.  The hero takes down the whole high tech weapon armed group single handedly, but as one man flees, he is stopped by The Batman himself, and Bats wants answers.  Here is what I think.  Gotham city is drawn the way it should be.  It’s rainy and dark, and looks like scumbags would be running the streets.  When Batman speaks, I can hear Christian Bale’s barking voice.  The way the artists made the word bubbles show that he is growling in his darker tone.  It works very well for this comic too.  The action and way that Batman and Nightwing take down the group feels just like Batman.  Here are the differences… Batman and Nightwing are wearing slightly different attire than what we are used to seeing, but it is close enough to the source material to still be true and exciting.  At first I had an issue with Nightwing not being Dick Grayson or Robin not being Batman’s sidekick, but I actually don’t mind it now.  Barbara Gordon is the one behind the Nightwing mask.  I like this for the mere fact that it gives Batman a counterpart, and adds to the variety of interactions he has to deal with.

After a brief showing of Lex and Otis speaking at Luthorcorp, and Lois at the Daily Planet, Superman discovers that a thug’s laser weaponry was manufactured by Luthorcorp.  The writers brought back Detective Dan Turpin for a few frames, and then we are brought to a lunch meeting between Lex and Bruce Wayne.  The wealthy business men are discussing Waynetech’s building of a Supercollider in Antarctica, which he is looking for partners.  When Lex declines, they are both relieved.  Barbara and Otis sit at an adjacent table eavesdropping on the conversation.  I love the business meeting, as it was necessary to explain why Bats would be in Metropolis, even though he was there to track intergang’s weapons to the same source Superman found.  What I don’t know about is how they portray Barbara here.  We know Otis is a loof, but they almost have Barbara as a little quirky and goofy.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it just seemed off in this setting.  Not to mention, they don’t explain who she is to Mr. Wayne.  Is she just another woman he is using as arm candy?  We don’t get to find out because Superman interrupts the lunch to discuss his findings with Luthor.

A small cameo by another Smallville/DC character in his jail cell is shown, and then Batman is interrogating Bruno Manheim in a different jail altogether.  Superman appears to show his distaste for Batman’s methods, but Batman is prepared with a defense.  Yes, his chest emblem is harnessing red sun energy.  The Dark Knight won’t have interference, and cracks the Man of Steel in his jaw, sending him sprawling on the floor.  —-end part 1smallville-season-11-6

Begin part 2—–The cover for this comic is definiely world’s finest at its best, but what is inside is better.  Chloe and Oliver briefly discuss the Earth 2 issue, and are still trying to figure out what is coming.  I have to say, this is killing me.  They are talking about this Crisis, and I know I will have to wait for months to find out the answer.  As long as they keep teasing it little by little, I’m fine, but I really wish they would just publish the whole episode in 1 large part instead of 4 that lasts for months.

Batman and Superman are still duking it out, but it seems to be more of a test on both their parts as they don’t really try to hurt each other.  Batman uses kryptonite centered batarangs and his red sun effect to even the odds.  As the battle escalates to the rooftop, Superman discovers what the fight really is about.  Batman uses it as a distraction.  He wanted Manheim to escape, so that Nightwing could pursue.  A quick reference to Checkmate in a few frames, and the Batwing overhead get the fanboy in me going, but even better than the World’s finest duel is when Oliver shows up to take on Nightwing.  I won’t spoil how that battle goes, but it is worth seeing.

When Superman successfully interrogates Manheim, where Batman could not, the Bat is impressed.  He is shown here in the batwing with nightwing, and apparently when he has his mask off, Batman paints the lower half of his face with black makeup in this version.  It makes his cowl appear all the darker.  I’m not sure how I feel about this either.  I get it, but what if Wayne had to show up really quick after a battle.  Does Batman really have time to put on makeup and take it off during transitions?  I doubt it.

We get a few pages of non costumed interaction, which fills in the minor plotlines nicely.  This is probably one of the best parts of this issue as far as story goes.  Okay, well that is until Superman and Batman meet again on a rooftop (I won’t spoil how Bats knows to meet there).  When the two agree that their methods are different, but they will work together, an epic handshake seals the deal.

Oliver further investigates Lex for some harassing emails that he is getting from him.  Little does he know that Tess is still in Lex’s subconscious attempting these methods of communications.

As Joe Chill, who is old, in a wheelchair and needs an oxygen tank, is confronted by Batman, the Dark Knight keeps his temper in check.  After all, this is the man who killed his parents.  I love the flashback frame here.  They made the young Joe Chill really look like Jack Nicholson in the frame where he aims at Mr. and Mrs. Wayne.  I don’t know if this is coincidence, but it is really interesting to think of an easter egg like that.  As the heroes discuss happenings with Joe Chill, a pair of villains 7shows up.  It was the perfect way to end an issue, but killed me to wait another month. —-end of issue #2

Beginning of part 3——  Lois Lane, drawn in the sexiest way with Erica Durance’s likeness confronts the Toyman, Winslow Schott, in his jail cell.  She believes he is behind some of the criminal activity, but he points her in a new direction.  The man he accuses is Oswald Loomis, who goes by the name Prankster.  So, Smallville changed his costume, but this is one of the cases where I think it works for the better.

As Prankster and Mr. Freeze (who looks awesome) attack Batman and Superman, their partenering appears to be too much.  Chill is taken out, Batman is frozen solid, and Superman is shot with kryptonite bullets.  Oliver and Nightwing help the two to get away from the authorities, but now the police believe that Batman is the one who killed Superman.  I just need to say, that I missed what the Batmobile is supposed to be.  While I enjoyed Nolan’s version, the badass car is always my preference.  This entire issue is dedicated to showing how Batman is able to get away from the authorities in order to save Superman’s life.  It is action packed, and in my opinion is the best of the four parts.  The final frame reveal is Loomis and Victor Fries in a sub zero room, where the Prankster informs Mr. Freeze that his kryptonite bullets have tracking devices in them.  Sure, Bats and Supes may have escaped, while hanging onto life’s thread, but with the villains knowing their location, we are left to wonder how they could possibly succeed. —–end part 3

Begin part 4—– Lex and his subconscious conversation with Tess is entertaining, but I wonder how long they can keep this8 up.  It seems like it is going in circles a bit.  The only real progress we’ve made at this point is that Lex tells Tess that since she is in HIS mind, he plans to find a way to access her memories, and anything he used to know before losing his own.  This would mean that he’d know EVERYTHING about Superman and his past with Clark, Oliver and everyone else.  Bad News, but good for the suspense.

Superman has had successful recovery thanks to Batman, and when he awakens, he is approached by Barbara and Lois.  Oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention in the previous part.  Superman did figure out who Batman is just by hearing his voice.  He distinguished the vibrations of his vocals and remembered hearing Bruce Wayne’s vocals in their brief meeting during the billionaire lunch.  This was a unique way to do it, and yet careless in a way on Clark’s end.  Why?  Well Lois is there, because Clark just flat out told Batman and Nightwing who he was and who Lois was.  Its good on the trust factor, but a little risky in my opinion.

During Clark’s recovery, Batman was hard at work.  He built 2 suits of armor, and tracked the villains to their hideout.  How much time has passed here?  It doesn’t say, and I wonder how he could possibly do something in so little amount of time.  I’d only assume that weeks have gone by.  Superman’s new suit is a golden colored lead suit with his “S” on the front.  This is to protect him from Kryptonite, while Batman’s new armor will shield and keep him warm from frigid temperatures.  Neither suit has a cape either.  I do enjoy the designs and variety too.

Green Arrow is questioned by police in the meantime, and Prankster betrays Mr. Freeze.  Now, Freeze is being controlled by Loomis, and is literally a walking nuclear freeze bomb that will detonate and kill everyone within a mile radius.  There is also a very creative and cool “toy” here that is a Captain Carrot action figure.  Another geek out moment on my end.

Now for the final showdown.  Superman takes on Prankster in a giant robot that sort of resembles an oversized Megaman likeness.  I’m not for the look, but the battle is pretty cool.  Of course, Supes’ new suit is destroyed, but he bests the Prankster.  In the meantime, Batman works to save Mr. Freeze’s life and those lives of the people in the city.  We get to see a real quick use of Green Arrow’s Boxing glove arrow.  It had been mentioned earlier in the series as a joke, but has since come to fruition.  Batman of course makes fun of Arrow’s new toy, but it was effective.

And what about Nightwing and Lois?  Well, they team up to kick some armed bad guy butt, and boy do they hold their own.  Well, that is until there is an explosion, that literally rocks the boat.  Superman lifting the whole yacht out of the water was nice because we got to see Batman’s reaction to such an amazing sight.

At the end, Bruce is shown in Crime Alley.  Superman finds him, and there is a brief mention of Alfred.  They basically thank each other here and Bruce offers his assistance whenever Superman might need him.  Clark says he’d offer the same, but knows Batman would never ask.  They shake one final time and part ways.

Oliver thinks about training Mia Dearden to be his full time sidekick, Speedy, but as he talks about this with Chloe it begins to snow.  This is all courtesy of Mr. Freeze’s gun which Clark is flying high over the city.  It is implied that this happens around Christmas time (and perfect because it was released in December).  As the perfect final Christmas gift, Chloe announces to Oliver that she is pregnant.

All in all, it was what I would expect from Smallville.  They created their own versions and story based on what we all know and love.  There were some down moments, but for the most part, it was everything I wanted it to be.  I’m not sure if they modeled Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon after any specific actors, but they fit right in with the CW “pretty person” syndrome, if you know what I mean.  I recommend picking up these issues, but do it as all 4 parts.  You will want to read straight through instead of waiting for the next issue.

Episode # 3 review of “Haunted” will come in 4 months.