This episode’s main focus is on that of the recently returned Tess Mercer(she just never dies does she?), struggling with her humanity, and life as a computer program. The episode is tonally darker than some of the episodes this season but the bits of humor and character interaction help brighten up the mood.
I was quite excited for this episode being that is features the ever so brief return of Black Canary and Mia Dearden(Who guest starred in two episodes of Season Nine where she was hinted to become Speedy only to never be mentioned again till this season’s second episode “Detective” where Oliver brought up the possibility of training her). It was a fun little scene which shows in Oliver’s notable absence, Mia has become Black Canary’s apprentice and is operating out of Seattle as Speedy. Bryan Q. Miller has done a good job of making sure no plotline goes unresolved with the return of Mia(who will be in the upcoming “Titan” special alongside Season Nine’s version of the Wonder Twins Zan and Janya) and nice little callbacks to the previous seasons.
The real highlight of the issue however was Tess’s scene with Hank Henshaw. BQM’s spin of the character of Hank is refreshing and new, and the scenes between him and Tess were a joy to read. Unlike in the mainstream comics where he is presented as crazed mass murdering sometimes yellow lantern version of Superman, here he is much more human(whether or not he likes to admit it). I hope we get to see more of Hank in the future, because his talk with Tess was very interesting.
The Tess and Emil relationship is sort of touched upon but it’s not the focus of the episode. I liked the little joke about having to get her some “clothes” to wear to hide her “bits and bytes”. I’m not a huge fan of Lex this season, he’s kind of a super douche, and I never really feel like he’s a real threat. I did like Tess choosing to save Lex in the end, in order to preserve her humanity.
The art is absolutely stunning. The artist really takes the visual constructs and runs with it. The likeness is spot on, but never feels like it was traced. The art was a real standout as was the writing. I always enjoy these side stories like the last one with Lois and Lana, they provide a fun look at what’s going on while Clark is of saving the world. Bryan Q. Miller does an excellent job brightening the mood with some humor here and there as well as giving the episode a darker tone than some of the others. I enjoyed the necessary exploration of Tess’s character, who has mostly been just appearing in cameos these last few episodes(“Argo” and “Olympus”, didn’t even show in “Valkyre”). He also connects the episode with the ongoing “Olympus” storyline showing us Tess’s side of the conversation with Clark, and I definitely enjoyed Clark showing up in this episode.
Overall a very entertaining new installment of Smallville. The biggest development that Lex is looking into the upcoming crisis(can’t wait to see how that turns out), but the episode is mostly a character piece regarding the underused Tess Mercer. The little cameos and throwbacks were nice(there’s a little Blue Beetle and Martian Manhunter cameo thrown in). Can’t wait to see what’s next for SV.