Review: The Baby Smurf
The fourteenth volume of Papercutz’s Smurfs collections introduces a brand-new character into the village, a character who the volume is named after: Baby Smurf.
And where, exactly, do baby Smurfs come from? Well, a stork delivers this Baby Smurf, on the night of a blue moon, which cartoonist Peyo’s translated narration assures us is when “a marvelous, extraordinary event is going to occur.”
And where do storks get baby Smurfs? The comic is predictably, if playfully, coy: The Smurfs all deny parentage at first, and Smurfette is offended by the suggestion that its hers. When Brainy Smurf presses Papa Smurf with the question of where babies come from, he uncomfortably demurs: “We could smurf about it all night, but if I tell you that it’s all, in fact, a great mystery, I smurf that you’ll understand me! Right?”
Questions of Smurf biology aside—remember, this was an all-male species until Gargamel alchemically created a Smurfette—the entire village adopts baby Smurf, save for Grouchy Smurf, who characteristically meets the news of the new addition with “Me, I don’t like Baby Smurfs.”
His grouchy heart is heartily un-grouched by the presence of the baby, however, and this story is perhaps the one in which Grouchy is given the most to do and the most dynamic character arc; previously, he’s done little more than declare his dislike for whatever another Smurf has just mentioned.
Rounding out the volume are two shorter stories, including “A Smurfing Party,” in which the Smurfs throw a party and get an uninvited guest in the form of a poorly disguised Gargamel, and “The Weather-Smurfing Machine,” in which Handy Smurf creates a machine capable of controlling the weather, which leads to disaster in the face of two Smurfs’ child-like inability to compromise.
Fans of the previous thirteen volumes will find more of what they liked in this volume, and those who were disappointed by any aspect (the lettering, for example, or the small format) will likely be disappointed by those same aspects. Like those previous thirteen volumes, though, this offers a nice, economical package of some fairly masterful cartooning, presenting beloved pop culture stars (from the cartoons of the ’80s or the animated feature film, depending on the age of the reader), with a bit more bite and personality. And, as always, it’s completely standalone, and can be enjoyed just as much if it were your first exposure to the Smurfs or your fourteenth visit with the little blue characters.
This volume also includes a three-page preview of Benny Breakiron, a comic about a super-strong French boy that Peyo created and that Papercutz will be publishing this summer. Three pages obviously isn’t much to go on, but it looks promising—it should be interesting to see the familiar stylings of the creator of the Smurfs applied to the real-world of modern human beings.
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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