REVIEW: ‘Smooth Criminals,’ Issue #6

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Smooth Criminals #6 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. It is written by Kiwi Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, and Amy Roy, with art from Leisha Riddel, colors by Brittany Peer, and letters by Ed Dukeshire.

Last issue, we saw Brenda meet her online crush, Hatch receives vital information on her and Mia’s plan to steal the Net of Indra, and ultimately built out their friendship while setting up the height that was at that point, days away. Now, in Smooth Criminals #6, Brenda and Mia get word that the exhibit is moving locations and while Brenda is excited to hail taxis in New York City, Mia is devastated.

Having come out of cryostasis, Mia has been written as adaptable thus far, but when the chances to pull off the heist of her life look to be falling apart we realize that stealing the Net of Indra isn’t just the big score for her. Instead, this about reclaiming her life, a life that was stolen from her 30 years ago by Hatch and the Ice Man. Instead of giving up, the two women work harder and try to problem solve in order to pull off the heist before they’re ready.

With the various webbed talking teddy bears screeching I love you while Mia repeatedly fails to clear the mock motion sensors in the right amount of time the two have to get creative. Ultimately, they decide to use Brenda’s super skill of hacking and computers to loop the story playing on the glass, getting Mia just enough time to complete the task, in theory anyway.

With the issues before this one building up the heist, fans of the series finally get to see it in Smooth Criminals #6. Given that this is a long-awaited moment I won’t spoil the specifics, but I will point out that the writers integrate all the moving parts that have been set up in the story up until now. The online crush, the FBI agents, Mia’s mom, Hatch, and of course our protagonists all have roles to play in this issue and they’re brought together well and in some ways that I definitely didn’t expect.

The writing from Smith, Lustgarten, and Roy in Smooth Criminals #6 continues to build characters that the reader can identify with, offering depth to their personalities each issue. While the two have become quick besties, they are ultimately people of two different mindsets.

Mia wants to escape to a beach after she steals the Net, she wants to be doted on by a hot guy, she wants a life. Brenda wants a life too, but for her, it’s different. While Mia wants to escape, Brenda wants to enter her rightful place at M.I.T., finish school, and live. While this dichotomy isn’t the focus of the episode, as the heist unfolds it was all that I could think about. Not to mention, people with two different end goals often see conflict, even when they care for each other.

The art in this issue is solid, with Riddel’s illustration of the women embodying the differences in their personalities that the writing team details in their dialogue. In fact, her ability to show Brenda nervous, unsure, and anxious resonate with me, seeing my face in her face, her attempts to make her self seem smaller, to go unnoticed like I attempt to. With Mia, she is out there, she is confident, and her crop top is a piece of fashion I have to thank Riddel for.

But for the art of Smooth Criminals #6, I have to call out the moment of the heist as my favorite, where the Peer’s colors and blue, green, and yellow palette set the tone for an anxious heist and Riddel’s ability to show Mia doing something extraordinary while also doubting herself comes off the page. Throw in the dialogue that showcases multiple voices, Brenda singing, a child saying I love you, the story playing on the glass, all while Mia is trying to concentrate was the perfect choice.

Overall, Smooth Criminals #6 offers up a climax to the big score we’ve been waiting for but ends on a cliffhanger that will you counting the days until issue seven comes out.

Smooth Criminals is available now.

Rating: 5/5