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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Smallville: Season 11 #17 - "Detective"


With DC Universe Shout Outs To:

This week's Smallville eases us down from the adrenaline-fueled fanboy geekout of last issue's Superman vs. Batman super fight, the best physical encounter between the World's Finest heroes since "The Dark Knight Returns". Solid character work via writer Bryan Q. Miller and artists Jamal Ingle and Marc Deering take the place of action and violence, unless you count plummeting a man from the sky so he'll talk violence. Which apparently Lois Lane does, but more on that in a bit.

Suffice to say, the current "Detective" arc is a Smallville high; Miller, Ingle and Deering are doing truly stellar work depicting Superman as the Clark Kent we know and love from the show fully evolved (and having fun) as the Man of Steel while also playing with the wonderful toys of Batman and Nightwing and yet making it all still feel like Smallville. Would that we could actually see this on television. Nevertheless, for my money, Smallville is the best, most Superman-y version of Superman currently published by DC Comics - better than The New 52's current version, or Earth 2, or Earth One. To me, this is Smallville and this is Superman. And their Batman is surprisingly great too!

Picking up moments from Superman whisking Bruno Manheim up, up and away last week, the Green Arrow is racing for his green Arrowcycle trying to catch up with Batman and Nightwing. The Caped Crusaders are getting away via the Batwing. The fact that Batman has "a stealth hovercraft" leaves Green Arrow feeling hopelessly outclassed in the rich man's gadgets department, as he laments to his wife Chloe Sullivan at Watchtower. This does beg the question why Green Arrow chose to take a motorcycle as his transport to an island prison and how he got on or off that island, but whatever.

In the skies above Metropolis, Batman is feeling awesome. He didn't get to interrogate Bruno Manheim about the whereabouts of Joe Chill like he wanted to, and he got his ass handed to him by Superman, but as he takes of his cowl (he wears a weird padded head dress and he paints his jaw black - gross), the Batman is all smiles. And it's creeping Nightwing out. Why's Batman so damn happy?

The banter between Batman and Nightwing is highly amusing. Batman isn't loathe to admit he got a good feeling from Superman. "I think he likes me." Aww, Batman made a Super Friend. More importantly, Superman exceeded Batman's personal evaluations as a good guy who he can trust. Batman doesn't tell Nightwing he totally blabbed away that Joe Chill killed his parents to a Man of Steel he just met and fought.

Speaking of blabbing, Superman flies Manheim into the stratosphere and he's downright loquacious. He's supposed to be interrogating Manheim about the whereabouts of Joe Chill and his connection to Batman and Intergang, but Superman can't help talking about himself. He mentions he was raised to see the goodness of humanity, and he even tells Manheim he has a better half. One who will "read him the riot act" for what he's about to do. Which is this:

And Superman didn't even have to yell "SWEAR TO ME!!" Well, Bruno's not made of stone and hs underpants can only take so much soiling. Manheim gives up the goods: Intergang came to visit him in Stryker's soon after Superman pushed Apokolips away from Earth. Intergang is concerned about "hero expansion", but Bruno's out of the crime business and directed them to a guy who could move weapons for them, that guy being our MacGuffan and Wayne shooter-of-er Joe Chill. Turns out Joe Chill decided to rat out Intergang and is now being held in federal custody. Manheim passed Superman's Super Hearing lie detector test and, being no dummy, Superman knew Batman placed a little Bat tracker listening device on him. The Batman got what he needed and zooms away.

Later, we check in with the Sullivan-Queens as Oliver needs his body and ego massaged after at best, fighting a nineteen year old girl to a draw. Although she could also be twenty. Chloe offering the Wonder Twins as back up doesn't help Oliver's pride much. Chloe has news on the mysterious emails Oliver receive and she's decoded and "he's not gonna like it". But whatever it is can wait a while. Meanwhile, Lois Lane has a blue tooth date with Superman atop the roof of the Daily Planet and they get each other up to speed on things. Lois needles Clark a bit about his "drop 'em from the sky" interrogation techniques but the meat of their talk is about who's manufacturing the weapons if the Toyman is sequestered in Stryker's. Turns out Oswald Loomis, the Prankster, tried to visit Winslow Schlott several times in prison, maybe to discuss which of them has the lamer name and is the real bottom of the Superman villain barrel.

Superman decides he needs to contact Batman as he hovers over a freighter called (wink wink) Leviathan. (Amazing in-joke. Where is Talia al Ghul in the Smallville universe?) Freshly showered and relaxed, Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon plot their next move. Bruce's people in Interpol checked in with their people in the FBI, but all Barbara can talk about is Superman. Then there's this fantastic exchange:

Leviathan's TroubAlert troubalerts Batman to some trouble and he decides it's time to put his working cowl back on, leaving us this week with a close up shot of Batman's eyes mirroring the panel of Superman's eyes last week. Superman is calling, and he's giving the signal.

Now there's something you don't see over Metropolis every day, or ever.