Well, 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 loved 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.
While 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 battle. 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.
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.