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Mild Mannered Reviews - Smallville Comics

Smallville: Season 11 #15

Smallville: Season 11 - Chapter #15

Released Digitally: August 31, 2012

"Detective" - Chapter 3

Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Penciller: Chris Cross
Inker: Marc Deering

Reviewed by: Marc Pritchard

Click to enlarge

Superman hands the teleporting bad guy from last issue over to the police while the children from the suspended bus look on and boo the captured thug. As Supes flies off, enter Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon who discuss the shades of light and dark that define the space between Metropolis and Gotham.

Over lunch, Bruce invites Lex Luthor to join him in a joint venture energy project. Lex declines, which Bruce says is a relief - his knowledge of the Veritas "cult" (an invitation from Lionel Luthor to join which Bruce's father declined) has evidently led Bruce to mistrust the Luthors.

Superman arrives and wants to talk with Lex. They examine the control chip from the teleportation suit, and Lex says that Lexcorp designed the chip but not the suit. Supes has reason to think the suit's mastermind could be Toyman, but he's been under constant supervision in "hyper-solitary" at Stryker's Island prison.

Meanwhile, Batman has infiltrated Stryker's and apprehends Bruno Mannheim, leader of Intergang and Batman's best bet to find Joe Chill. Already on site, Superman intervenes but Batman attacks him with powered fists of some kind.

Story - Rating Deferred: It's safe to say that I have pretty much no idea what to make of the motivation of the Smallville incarnation of Bruce Wayne/Batman - both generally and in terms of his attack on Superman at the end of this chapter. I'm befuddled about that, in fact. This issue was mostly also a lot of set-up for stuff still to come - Luthor's protestations of innocence, Toyman, Mannheim and the Crime Bible, Batman's aggression toward our boy: all investment in some future pay-off.

So, I'm going to reserve formal judgment on the issue as a whole until we see what gets paid off, and how.

But, some reflections...

That scene at the end is a mostly useful way to head into the next brief little hiatus for the print edition. I'll give it that. But it is still Batman getting one over on Superman, unidentified-tech-assisted or not. And that's blech-y.

There was otherwise a lot here all around, which, right up until the end, tended to flow in a logical and coherent way.

Bruce Wayne is introduced effectively, and though I am not enjoying Barbara Gordon (see below), the dialogue between the two of them as they walk toward lunch did good character and world-building work without being awkward or unnatural.

It doesn't really make sense that the Wayne family would have had some relationship to Veritas - it's an effort at trying to claim, essentially, that Batman has always been there in Smallville's background even though he was never before allowed to come out and play. But it's a shoehorn move that, here in the Smallville foreground, feels all too familiar, rather like Veritas itself. You get the feeling that Wayne and Luthor have lunch here only so this connection can be revealed, not so much to forward anything to do with the energy project, which will likely prove to be completely incidental to whatever else ends up happening this chapter.

Two weeks ago I noted that Nightwing's design was reminiscent of Harley Quinn from the Animated Adventures. This week, I'm hearing Harley's Brooklyn accent and its nasal delivery in Barbara, who, combined with the near-constant gesticulating and color commentary, drove me straight-up batty in this issue, frankly. Maybe she'll grow on me, but she'd have to even out a bit.

Bottom line anyway on this chapter to date: I'm not sure I'm too intrigued by it. But there's so little to go on anyway in terms of how everything interrelates, no point in commenting further just now than to say, "Go on."

2Art - 2: What's with the way Superman hovers horizontally when he confronts Luthor? That was extraordinarily awkward. But anyway, I'm taking the art down a notch this week on the back of its easily most glaring example of likeness infidelity (which persists on the whole, frustratingly), namely the wildly divergent profiles of Superman in the scene at Stryker's Island. I mean, just compare the one in the third panel of that scene with the one in the first panel of the next "page." You would think these were done by completely different artists, but as the credits don't give us any indication that this was so, I'm just going to have to call it bad work. In fact, all around, the art has become more comical in "Detective." It's almost caricature, and I don't like it.

Cover Art - N/A:

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