Written and drawn by Peyo
The latest volume of Papercutz’s welcome translations and publication of Peyo’s Smurfs comics takes its title from the name of the first story in the 56-page collection, but this one (the sixteenth in the series, already!) is much more of an anthology than some of the previous volumes, containing a half-dozen short Smurfs stories. These are all extremely episodic in nature, and almost all pit the Smurfs against their mortal enemy Gargamel, who has a particularly tough time of it in this volume.
In “The Aerosmurf,” the little Smurf who dreamed of flying way back in the first volume suddenly has the inspiration for how he can achieve his dream: An airplane! He more or less invents it out of the blue, drawing up blueprints for blue engineer Handy Smurf to build him what is essentially a toy airplane (with a wind-up key and everything). A straight gag comic, the action climax involves a dog fight between the Flying Smurf and Gargamel, who just so happens to have recently invented his own flying contraption, this one complete with a gatling gun that shoots arrows (Lucky for the Smurfs, they generally have a fair amount of high explosives near at hand, thanks to Jokey Smurf’s exploding gifts).
It’s followed by “The Masked Smurf,” in which a cleverly disguised vigilante Smurf terrorizes the village by throwing cream pies in his neighbors’ faces; “The Firesmurfs,” in which the village gets its first fire department and Gargamel gets the idea to try to drive his foes out of the forest by starting a forest fire; “Gluttony and The Smurfs,” in which Gargamel bakes the Smurfs a delicious poison cake that turns them into stone (only to be undone by his own gluttony/failure to ask a grown-up before eating a strange treat); “The Smurf and His Dragon,” in which Timid Smurf goes looking for a pet and ends up making a friend (and powerful ally) for the whole village and, finally, “Jokey Smurf’s Pranks,” in which the most annoying Smurf must swear off his exploding gift gag forever, only to branch out into different, more creative, less destructive pranks.
Most follow the pattern of “The Aerosmurf,” consisting of gag-driven narratives among a cast of characters that, at this point, are so fully developed that elaborate plotting isn’t necessary—Peyo needs simply toss a new idea or basic premise into the middle of the Smurf village, and it will bounce around from character to character and joke to joke like an elaborate comic book pinball machine.
Of these, “The Masked Smurf” probably comes closest to being “about” something beyond Smurf comics, as it dabbles in the everyone-is-flawed societal criticism of some of the more powerful, earlier stories, like “King Smurf,” “The Purple Smurfs” and “The Smurfette.” Every Smurf is appalled when they are the victim of the crime, and each publicly decries the act, but when The Masked Smurf announces that he will be happy to throw a pie in the face of any Smurf that any other Smurf requests, the village keeps him plenty busy fulfilling their many anonymous request.
Pretty deep stuff, particularly for a story that ends with a pie fight.