March 7, 2013

Bart and Clark Come Face to Face With The Black Racer! (review of Smallville Season Eleven #11)

Category: Reviews — By @ 4:52 pm

Smallville black racer 3In Smallville Season Eleven, issue 11 we follow Bart and Clark’s efforts to track down the elusive Black Racer, to see if there is a way to end its threat to speedsters past and present.  This issue treats us to a meeting with the Smallville version of Jay Garrick, the original Flash…but is he still ready to run?  Can he help…or is he even willing to try?  This issue of Smallville Season Eleven collects the digital editions (chapters 33 through 35) as we attempt to answer these questions and more…

SOME MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD – PLEASE READ THE ISSUE BEFORE CONTINUING!

The story picks up with “Speed Storms” springing up all over the globe, coinciding with places Bart has used his powers in the recent past.  While the death tolls from these “storms” are rising, Clark and Bart track down Jay in Utah, finding him dressed in a version of the old Golden Age shirt that JSA fans will love to see.  We find that Bart has no recollection of his life before he gained his powers…but he knew some very important names as soon as he connected to the Speed Force.  That explains the false ID cards he carries for Bart Allen, Barry Allen, Jay Garrick and Wally West (wow, another mention of Wally…but unfortunately outside normal New52 continuity).

When asked for help, Jay makes his own revelation…that he wants nothing to do with his powers as the Flash!  His leg was broken by the Feds when they rounded up the JSA members many years ago, and he never had his leg set.  The reason? He had seen the Black Racer himself and knew that if he continued to run he would have to face it again.  He tries to warn Bart that if he continues to run he will die.  In a speech that reminds me of a site related to SpeedForce.org, Jay said, “We only ride the lightning, son.  We sure as hell don’t own it.”

As they talk about the “Speed Storms”, Jay tells Clark and Bart that this may be the Black Racer’s doing, sending out pieces of the Speed Force in an effort to create a new speedster that he can then track down and consume.  The three get word of a new “Speed Storm” in Las Vegas, one that is more deadly than those that have come before.  Fortunately, they find that there may be help available from S.T.A.R. Labs – in the form of a containment suit that Clark can wear to siphon off the excess Speed Force energy found in Vegas.

Clark dons this containment suit, which is vaguely reminiscient  of the “Superman Blue” uniform found pre-New52, and gathers up Speed Force energy, having his own speed boosted as he runs along.  This grabs the attention of the Black Racer…who is now ready to go after Superman!

Back in Utah, Bart decides that he must go to help Clark no matter the risk to himself.  Jay tells him one more important thing…that when he first gained his own powers, Jay heard Bart’s name as well!  He tells Bart that he will never be alone, and wishes him Godspeed as he runs to help Clark.

There is even more to be found in this issue of Smallville Season Eleven than Bart and Clark’s adventures against the Black Racer.  While Oliver and Chloe anxiously await their child, Chloe is having strange visions that show her the Earth 2 memories of her doppelganger from that world.  Lex is trying to get Tess Mercer out of his head…literally, as her consciousness is somehow planted into a part of Lex’s own brain.  And, Tess is somehow able to impact events using Lex’s own body without his knowledge!  What will happen to Clark and Bart?  How will they be able to go up against a Black Racer that has so far defeated every speedster it has ever faced?  Will Lex be able to get Tess (literally) out of his mind?  Those are questions for upcoming “episodes” of Smallville Season Eleven – available through weekly digital chapters and monthly print editions.

Bryan Q. Miller does the scripting for this series with art by Jorge Jimenez and colors by Carrie Strachan.  They do an excellent job of bringing to print the live Smallville series, faithful to both the look and feel of that show.  This comic is presently drawing in a lot of non-traditional comic readers who have been fans of the TV series, and that is great news for those of us who love comics as a medium.  Even if you weren’t well-acquainted with Smallville before, this series is very accessible, and no matter your comics background it is definitely worth a closer look.