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Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville #1 Review

4 min read
The team here has captured a lot of this very well and has me excited to see what's next for it and how their lives in Smallville will play out.

Smallville faces its greatest threat yet.

Creative Staff:
Story: Joanne Starer
Art: Natacha Bustos
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ariana Maher

What They Say:
Things could not possibly be worse for Fire and Ice, in Beatriz da Costa’s professional opinion. Superman sent the former Justice Leaguers packing for Smallville following an extremely public and utterly disastrous mission (that was all Guy Gardner’s fault, thank you very much) and in doing so doomed them to a fate worse than death: irrelevance. Ice finds herself drawn to the quiet life and dreams of planting roots. But Fire…well, Fire will do just about anything to get the heck outta Dodge and back on the hero circuit-including challenging the DCU’s biggest villains to a knock-down, drag-out, live-streamed brawl in the streets of Smallville! A raucous, timely, unflinching comedy about a decades-long friendship on the brink of disaster and what it means to be a superhero at a crossroads in your life, Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville reintroduces the iconic duo to the Dawn of DC, in a series from rising star Joanne Starer (The Gimmick, Sirens of the City) and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur co-creator Natacha Bustos!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Like a lot of fans from my era, there are certain stories and characters that have resonated for years that will always get me to check out where those characters are now, if they’re presented in a similar light. Joanne Starer has certainly set the right tone with this series with its focus on the title characters of Fire and Ice as they’re not hard to write for but you have to really hit a certain style for it to work, which they do here quite well. It’s not trying to recreate the past, which is important, but building upon it and moving forward. It also helps that Natacha Bustos is not just a great artist in general but is ideally suited to capture the right tone here with the designs, expressions, and the characters involved. Which the ever-talented Tamra Bonvillain is able to expand upon with a pitch-perfect color design.

With events that are recapped light, Fire and Ice find themselves setting up shop – literally – in Smallville after things went wrong and Superman is trying to get them to take things seriously. Originally, they were going to move into the Kent farm but Bea opted for a lease above a salon that Tora has decided that they’re going to actually try and run. The dynamic between the two women has always been a bit of push and pull in personality and that’s in full display here as Bea is basically trying to show everyone that she’s still got what it takes to be in the big leagues while Tora is just so close to not being involved at all, mostly because Bea keeps doing things that put other people in danger. Hence their being here and focusing on smaller things. It doesn’t help that L-Ron is here as well and Bea runs roughshod over the robot, making him an easy accomplice for all the things she tries to do.

The settle-in period is always chaotic and there’s a good run of introducing characters here – and making sure Ma Kent gets some good time as well – while also making this feel very Smallville in the right ways. The problem is that Bea basically invites every villain to come here and challenge her, and she’s got the data to try and do it having learned a lot doing monitor duty for years. It’s a foolish plan in a lot of ways because it basically asks Smallville to become a battlefield and because it’s not just the low-rank villains that show up. King Shark is the first one that comes bounding for her and that has Superman stepping in because he naturally keeps tabs on his hometown. The opening installment covers a lot of ground in this dynamic while also giving some of the supporting cast good time, such as the hair stylist Tamarind and hinting that the waitress may have more going on as well. It’s some well-done layering and preparation for what’s to come.

In Summary:
While we don’t get too far in terms of any actual larger plot or story here, and I’m sure there is one, that’s more than fine. I’m still of mind that we need more low-stakes books that just enjoy good character material and engage in the world with them without it being some massive threat. The low stakes make it easier to enjoy and keep it from being so intense as to take the fun out of it. And while there are serious aspects to a Fire and Ice story, they excel in lighter fare. The team here has captured a lot of this very well and has me excited to see what’s next for it and how their lives in Smallville will play out. I just hope it doesn’t become too big and over the top because a smaller approach works better.

Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: DC Comics
Release Date: September 5th, 2023
MSRP: $3.99