There are four different stories collected in this volume and I was kinda surprised by which ones my favorites were!
It seems almost churlish to say that the two that were fine but not otherwise astounding were the tales that bookend the volume, both classic Smurfs tales created, if not completely birthed, by comics legend Peyo himself. The shorter one, which he wrote and did the art for, was actually my preferred of the two, as The Miniature Smurfs tells its cute tale of a green witch miniaturizing and kidnapping various woodland denizens, including several Smurfs, as a gift for her granddaughter. The tale is punchy, sweet and not over-long, with a comeuppance for series nemesis Gargamel to go with the lesson the granddaughter learns about empathy and kindness.
In contrast, the titular opener feels like it drags on for quite a while. After the Smurfs’ ceremonial golden pole, made from the remains of a rare tree, is struck by lightning and burnt to a crisp, bad luck seems to plague their village. Papa Smurf knows this is nonsense, but try persuading the superstitious Smurfs that they make their own luck. So off Papa Smurf goes to find them a new rare tree around which to dance and ensure prosperity for the village for another year. Hijinks ensue.
The story that follows this was my first exposure to the hilarious Benny Breakiron, a kid with super strength except when he has a cold. When the criminal mastermind Lady Dolphine (who’s actually a robot in the guise of a sweet little old lady) escapes from the basement of her inventor Monsieur Serge Vladlavodka, it’s up to Benny, Serge and Serge’s hapless cousin Melchior to get her back before she ruins the small country of Monte San Son. Tho, really, it’s up to Benny, as the lady has compelled the cops to tie up the adults with paperwork as she seeks to manipulate their young friend and his super strength to her own purposes.
That was a highly entertaining criminal romp set in mid 20th century Europe, but my absolute favorite story of the four here was the most modern installment, featuring the all-female Smurfs from Smurfy Grove. Papa Smurf, Brainy and Grouchy are helping them find a new place to live after the events chronicled in Smurf Tales Vol 3, and come across far more than they bargained for. The story is cute and lively — with a hilarious back-and-forth between Brainy and Blossom — but my absolute favorite part of this vignette was the outstanding art by Laurent Cagniat, and particularly Paulomaddeleni’s warm, gorgeous colors. Were Peyo alive, he would certainly embrace the wonders of digital coloring, especially as exemplified by the team’s work here.
Overall, this was a very cute mix of old and new Smurfs Tales, that will delight both old-school fans and new.
Smurf Tales #5: The Golden Tree And Other Tales by Peyo was published October 25 2022 by Papercutz and is available from all good booksellers, including