Smooth Criminals #8 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 webcartoonists, fine artists, and illustrators. This issue marks the end to the series and is written by Kiwi Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, and Amy Roy, with art from Leisha Riddel, letters by Ed Dukeshire, and colors by Joana LaFuente, and Gonçalo Lopes.
Last issue, Brenda had secured herself a spot in prison to save Mia, now in issue eight, they’re pulling off a heist and stealing the Net of Indra back from Hatch. Opening the issue with Brenda’s take on Reservoir Dogs was a great choice, that being said, the make-up of the group is confusing. T-Blue is now working with the FBI to help aid in the heist, Hatch is quite literally Red Hulk, and apparently, all you have to do to escape felony charges and get invited to work for the FBI is to orchestrate a heist to steal from a bad guy.
I have been in love with this series, but after the last issue, the rushed pacing and illogical jumps in time and choices got to me. In Smooth Criminals #8 it’s no different. While the ending is full of the friendship that made me fall in love with the series, everything else is just empty. The rushed conclusion has only a shell of the emotion compared to earlier issues. The relationships don’t pack a punch. In fact, T-Blue kissing Brenda is shoved into one single panel instead of being a big momentous occasion given the issues that Brenda explored with her queer identity.
Beyond that, Mia wins over a Hulky Hatch because she uses herself and her past love with him. This seems to undercut the entire agency of her character, not to mention having her get beaten to a pulp for pages. While I didn’t enjoy this issue, especially as a conclusion, the team brought a solid first six issues. And outside of the pacing, the actual dialogue from Smith, Lustgarten, and Roy is still noteworthy.
In addition, the art from Riddel is superb and honestly is the best part of the book in tandem with LaFuenta and Lopes’ colors. While I don’t enjoy the choice of the fight scene, given that no Hulk-like injection has been established prior, it is extremely well illustrated. It’s dynamic and highlights Mia’s athleticism, even if she’s losing.
The other high points in the art come during the start of the heist as our smooth criminals enter Hatch’s house, diving from the roof to the balcony, Mia graceful and Brenda flailing. When they get in, not only is the stillness captured by the illustration but the deep and dark color palette captures the night perfectly.
Overall, Smooth Criminals #8 is a rough ending to a stellar series. While I love Mia and Brenda, the speed with which their story concludes makes me want better for them. I want the character choices to make sense but we haven’t had enough time for them to do so. While I recommend the series as a whole, I’d wait for a trade to be published before picking up your copy.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.