Review – Smooth Criminals #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios (BOOM! Box Imprint)
Created and Written By: Kurt Lustgarten & Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith
Artwork: Leisha Riddel
Colours: Prittany Peer
Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 21st November 2018

Smooth Criminals is the latest offering from the husband and wife writing duo of Kurt Lustgarten and Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, hot on the heels of their impressive Misfit City, a series which served as both a love letter to and tongue-in-cheek subversion of beloved ‘80s movie The Goonies.

This new series, set in 1999, introduces us to self-styled “super hacker” Brenda (sorry, “Killa-B”) who, as part of her part-time job working in a Community College Computer Lab (hey, even black hats need to pay their tuition fees, right?), stumbles upon Mia, a cryogenically frozen femme fatale cat burglar from the 1960s in the Lab’s store room. As you do. She accidentally thaws Mia out, sparking off a chain of events that promises to put both ladies in danger as Mia’s aborted heist from 1969 looks set to catch up with her.

It’s all quirky charm and soft, cartoony artwork to this point, which is great for an imprint like BOOM! Box, and Kiwi and Kurt’s gift for amusing dialogue shines through over the course of this first issue. Brenda serves as a likeable enough leading lady, and her inability to keep her inner monologue ‘inner’ provides some chuckle-worthy moments. It’s also great the way Kurt and Kiwi make sure that she doesn’t come across solely as a clueless dork, showing exactly how capable and talented she is as she uses her hacking skills to completely out-manoeuvre the fleeing Mia.

It’s a cool enough concept overall, taking a ‘60s femme fatale cat burglar and putting her in the modern (well, modern-ish) world, and this issue is primarily concerned with establishing our two female leads and the bizarre situation which brings them together. That said, it doesn’t quite have the spark of Misfit City yet, and while there’s an endearing quality to Brenda herself, most of the other characters feel a little like one-dimensional props – for the time being, at least.

Leisha Riddell and Brittany Peer’s artwork serves the story perfectly, providing an expressive, lively aesthetic and infusing things with the distinctive all-ages sense of fun that goes hand-in-hand with some of BOOM! Studios best work. The character designs are great, the brief chase sequence is impressively executed, and while there’s perhaps nothing too ambitious on display here from a visual point of view, there’s no disputing the fact that Riddell and Peer more than hold up their end of creative process.

A promising start to what has the potential to be another great series from BOOM’s all-ages imprint then, and while this first issue does a solid enough job of introducing our two leading ladies and establishing the unusual premise, the real test of this quirky heist tale is going to come as the story gradually unfolds in the upcoming issues.

Rating: 3.5/5.


ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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