ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Smooth Criminal,’ Issue #5

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Smooth Criminals #5

Smooth Criminals #5 is published by BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios which focusses on producing comics with experimental content, specifically using creators outside of the traditional comic industry like web cartoonists, fine artists, and illustrators. The series follows Brenda, or as the internet knows her, Killa-B as she befriends a cryogenically frozen thief from 1969 names Mia as they embark pulling catching the thief’s white whale: the Net of Indra.

Smooth Criminals #5 is written by Kiwi Smith and Kurt Lustgarten, with art from Leisha-Marie Riddel, with additional inks by Raven Warner, colors by Brittany Peer, and letters by Ed Dukeshire. Last issue, Brenda and Mia were training for a heist with makeshift laser grid of rope and talking teddy bears. Additionally, Mia’s mother is revealed, the feds are hot on Mia’s track, and Mia’s rival Hatch is alive, well, and ageless thanks to a mysterious serum.

Now, in Smooth Criminals #5, it’s time to get down as the heist is just days away. All while Brenda has an online crush and Hatch has infiltrated their training space, leaving with a few Talky Teddy tips. This issue delves more into each woman’s personality and ultimately showcases an adorable romance brewing between Brenda and her online friend Talulluah Blue, a musician who enjoys indie coffee houses and open mic nights.

While Mia and Brenda plan out the heist and train, ending the issue with only 24-hours left before the biggest score of Mia’s career, the issue really hones in on their developing friendship. In the last issue, Brenda opened up to Mia about the fear she feels about coming out as queer. Mia offered her kindness, acceptance, and validation while identifying herself as bisexual. Now, Mia helps push Brenda out of her comfort zone and uses her sleuthing skill to find T-Blue, the nickname that Brenda came up with for her friend.

There is a sweetness to the crush that Brenda has and although she needs to find the courage to make it known, as Mia suggests, Brenda has every right to pull back and retreat. As the two grow from the experience, they begin to understand pieces of each other that end up making their friendship stronger. Now, while Brenda just showing up to find T-Blue is slightly creepy, Mia, as a woman out of time doesn’t understand that.

In fact, I’m hoping that as they go Brenda is able to grow in confidence and branch out to meet T-Blue, but I also hope that Mia begins to take time to understand that her way isn’t necessarily everyone’s way. That being said, their exchanges in the arcade show that Mia has more to learn about who Brenda is as a person and the way things have changed, but as she shows later, she’ll put in the work.

The art from Riddel in this issue is great, and the way Peer has colored the scenes in the arcade is immersive. The dull glow of the machines lighting different areas of the panel, the pinks and blues, is visually like every arcade I have entered. Getting this atmosphere right was amazing. The slight dark tone with shadows over the panels in the scene makes me feel like I can hear the machines and buttons just looking at the pages. To top it all off, the Tomb Raider references make my heart sing.

Smooth Criminals #5 continues to have heart. The series may be centered around a quest to pull off the biggest score the frozen woman from 1969 has ever attempted, but at its heart, it’s about friendship. It’s about the relationship between our two leads and how each woman grows individually as well as together

Smooth Criminals #5 is available everywhere comics are sold April 24, 2019.

Smooth Criminals #5
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TL;DR

Smooth Criminals #5 continues to have heart. The series may be centered around a quest to pull off the biggest score the frozen woman from 1969 has ever attempted, but at its heart, it’s about friendship. It’s about the relationship between our two leads and how each woman grows individually as well as together