Writer: Joanne Starer
Artist: Natacha Bustos
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Ariana Maher
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: September 5th, 2023
Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville #1 immediately follows the events of Power Girl Special #1, where Fire had a disastrous battle with Guy Gardner. With the robot L-Ron at their side and Martha Kent bringing them apple pie, what could possibly go wrong in good old Smallville? With Fire craving the action of a big city and Ice loving the quiet of Smallville, the little town in Kansas may end up creating an irreparable rift between the two. And what’s going to happen when King Shark comes calling, looking for blood?
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Anyone who enjoyed J.M. Dematteis and Keith Giffen’s run on the post-Crisis Justice League back in the late 80’s will love Fire and Ice: Welcome to Smallville #1. The book is filled with humor akin to that series, except there’s no Batman punching out Guy Gardner, unfortunately (“One punch! One punch!”). Two great friendships came out of that era of the Justice League: Booster Gold and Blue Beetle and Fire and Ice.
Where Booster and Blue Beetle are pretty similar in every way, Fire and Ice are total opposites. But being opposites makes their friendship just as strong, because, as Rocky Balboa once said, they “fill in gaps” for each other and compensate for the other’s weaknesses. Fire (AKA Beatriz Da Costa) has a quick temper and impatient with everything. She craves action. Ice (AKA Tora Olafsdotter) is very chill (no pun intended) and loves living a simple life. So when the duo move to Smallville, Ice is in Heaven but Fire feels like she’s definitely in rural Hell.
This first issue does a great job establishing the supporting characters, including L-Ron and Martha Kent. Martha Kent’s especially fascinating here, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen her be a major player in a book that didn’t involve that Kryptonian guy. Amazingly, Martha fits in the book like a finely tailored suit, immediately taking a liking to Ice. The two spend a lot of time together and I’d love to see Martha become a mother figure for Ice, someone Ice goes to regularly for advice or company when Fire’s off on another of her crazy tangents.
Speaking of Fire, she’s hilarious throughout the book. She’s sick of Smallville 5 minutes after she and Ice arrive there and does different things to get attention on the internet. In my favorite scene of the book (that had me laughing out loud), Fire and L-Ron make a TikTok-style video (complete with dancing!) where she brags about her history battling various super-villains. It goes as well as you expect. The book feels like a superhero version of “Gilmore Girls” or even “Friends”. It’s light-hearted, so much fun and I look forward to seeing Fire, Ice, Martha Kent and the other supporting characters’ future misadventures in the cozy town of Smallville.
Natacha Bustos’s art on Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville #1 is a unique but lovely style that complements the humorous elements of the story. I especially love the way she draws L-Ron, who walks around on spindly legs with a hammer shaped head, always having something hanging off of him as he helps them move into their new place. In one panel, he has a potted plant sitting on his head, in another he has a teddy bear hanging off his arm. There are a lot of background details like these that pop up throughout the book, warranting a second read through to see all the gags. It’s great work that really enhances the story.
Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville #1 is a hilarious book reminiscent of the glory days of late 80’s Justice League. The humor comes naturally and never gets too silly and I love Martha Kent’s presence in the book. A surprise character pops up at the end and promises to make next issue equally fun. Recommended.