Smallville Season 11 #14 is part two of Detective, and while Batman is a much hyped guest star, the episode so far is still Superman-centric. This is going to be a spoilery review of the latest digital installment, so with that in mind let’s proceed! Lex Luthor’s assistant Otis gets the first panels of the book, and while his portrayal isn’t as slap stick stupid as the version from Superman: The Movie, he’s still very much a harmless comic relief type of character. Lex is surprisingly open with him, partly for exposition, but given the storyline it’s a believable relationship. Jeff the Intern gets in on the humor act as well, when he falls out of his chair in shock after being busted by Lois for daydreaming about Clark! There’s a charming innocence to these early scenes, they’re just good clean fun, and you’ve got to love Clark’s nearly imperceptible “whooshing” into the office to sneak in what I think was a quick kiss. That vibe actually carries through the rest of the book, as Superman is lecturing people on their language and basically wagging his finger at the police about collateral damage.
Superman faces a villain armed with a teleporter vest, which allows for a lively showcase of super powers, and things get real as said villain hijacks a bus full of children. The big reveal of the day is that none other than Lex Luthor himself has a hand in this advanced weaponry. That cliffhanger is probably the biggest plot advancement, but number fourteen is a really packed issue – there’s just so much going on. If last issue read through quickly, this installment was the exact opposite, after you put it down there’s a lot to digest. The average number of panels per page is up, with more pages hitting the top of that range. The digital medium has given rise to a lot of experimentation with styles, and it’s encouraging to see Smallville pick up that gauntlet, and to do so with such short learning curves! One of the main overall themes to take away from this issue is that when Superman is burning the candle at both ends, everyone feels its effects. We the audience all know that he’s doing it because he can’t go home or slip into his Clark Kent lifestyle without being detected. Now, I was under the impression that the world knows that Superman was formerly The Blur, and that it had at least an inkling that he had a secret identity, but I still can’t help but feel like he’s given away more than he intended to here.
As always, please buy Smallville, don’t pirate this book. Remember, we vote with our purchasing power, and it only costs 99 cents a digital chapter to flex your consumer muscle on this one. Another print collection will be available soon, so if digital isn’t your thing DC has you covered! Also, let’s make sure to give credit where credit is due: