Smooth Criminals #1 Review



So, Brenda, are you okay? Are you okay, Brenda?

The year is 1999! Tech geek Brenda is trying to make her way in the world, working at her college as part of a work/study program and dreaming of the day when her enemies will know her wrath. We’ve all been there. Secretly, Brenda’s a hacker who goes by the (admittedly fantastic) handle “Killa B.” She has dreams of making her mark on the world, once she’s through stealing from it. Her boring life is thrown for a loop when she stumbles upon Mia Corsair, a cryogenically-frozen art thief from the swinging sixties. Now these two very different classes of criminal will join forces to get what they want!

I had a fun time diving into this first issue. The script by Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Kurt Lustgarten is clever and cute, spending much of its time introducing us to Brenda and her outlook on the world before hitting us with the fun sci-fi aspects of the story. It’s a lot of setup that reads like a breeze thanks to Brenda’s sarcastic narration.

A screenwriter best known for modern teen classics like Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You, Kirsten Smith’s style is well-suited to this nineties adventure. Smith excels in writing loveable underdogs and, despite her aspirations to thievery, Brenda definitely falls into that category. I knew I loved our protagonist from the first page. As an avid comic book reader and daydreamer, it’s not that far of a leap for me to identify with someone who narrates her day-to-day as the hero of her own story, occasionally comparing herself to the real daredevils she views from afar.

BOOM! Studios

Leisha Riddel’s artwork is cartoonish but expressive, simultaneously bringing to mind books like Lumberjanes and classic Jim Steranko Nick Fury comics, as well as modern animated series like the recent She-Ra reboot. It’s an effective blend of styles that mirrors the culture clash between the two lead characters. I was unfamiliar with Riddel’s work prior to reading this issue, but she’s quickly become someone I will keep an eye out for. The chase sequence between Brenda and Mia is a lot of fun and showcases both characters’ strengths: Mia is a stone-cold badass with moves like Emma Peel and style to match, whereas Brenda prefers to use her hacking skills to stay one step ahead of her target. It’s a great way for the writers and artist to show readers what a perfect team these two will make, even before the characters themselves realize it.

I was born at the tail-end of the eighties, so the nineties flair of this book hit a real sweet spot for me. All of the references and slang work to set the tone for the book without being too precious or hackneyed. Also, considering the resurgence of 60s/70s chic that actually took over the late-90s (it was a strange time, y’all), it’s a really clever idea to literally bring the two decades together in this story. Sure, the central idea is similar to one we’ve seen before in films like Austin Powers, but this first issue does an admirable job of making the idea seem fresh and interesting with its well-defined lead character. Overall, it’s a solid start and I’m curious to see where the mystery of Mia’s imprisonment(?) leads us! Hopefully, to some awesome kung-fu heists and lots and lots of girl power!

Smooth Criminals #1
Is it good?
This first issue takes some familiar ideas and makes them new again, thanks to a relatable lead character.
Quick, witty dialogue and amusing narration
The characters are already well-defined
The artwork is perfectly suited to the story
Feels like we've seen some of the basic story before, but future issues may erase that VERY minor gripe
9
Great