Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: Smallville Season 11 #1

Smallville #1, the print copy, came out last week after being initially submitted digitally. And with me being a paper sort of collector, I had waited to read the book until in print.

I have reviewed some Smallville here on this blog (pretty much the episodes with Kara in them) and have discussed my problems with the series in those posts. In short, I felt that this Clark/Superman dragged his feet a little in the series, moping and being reactive rather than proactive. In the later seasons, as the Blur, he seemed to be stepping up his game but never quite reaching his potential. In fact, Supergirl out-shined him so much in her episodes as a go-getter, as a hero, that they needed to eliminate her as a comparison. So she was mind-wiped in one season and then 'instructed to go to the future' in the last so that she wouldn't stand in the way of Clark's destiny. Finally, in the last episode, Clark dons the blue and reds and saves the day pushing Apokalips away from Earth. Still, that was 10 seasons of Clark sulking, brooding, and being awkard.

So why get the book? Well, the two biggest reasons are the creators attached. Bryan Q. Miller wrote the Steph Brown Batgirl series, a book I stumbled upon by accident and immediately loved. Pere Perez drew the Nightwing/Flamebird arc in Action Comics, he drew a bunch of Miller's Batgirl books, and he has a smooth organic style that is really engaging.

So with Clark now Superman and the right people on the book, I had to try it. It really felt like old times again catching up with this version of Clark and Lois, Oliver and Chloe, and even Lex. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would and that is always appreciated.

It's been six months since the Apokalips invasion and the first appearance of Superman in this world. And he has become a fixture in Metropolis. His flying through the city in the morning has become something people expect and wait for, even Lex (although he does it with more disgust than admiration). Lex even has a doddering yes-man with him named Otis (shades of the Donner films).

Clark seems to have embraced his role as Superman flying into space to save a Russian science satellite which has been damaged by some brief phenomenon in space, an odd red 'northern lights' explosion.

This is pure Silver Age goodness here as Superman says he is no more of a hero than the Cosmonaut looking for an autograph to bring home to his son. In fact, as he flies off Clark is smiling widely saying he is 'just doing his job'. We never really saw this sort of passion, this embracing of his role, on the TV show. It's about time!

With the Superman introduction out of the way, it is simply time to go around the cast and see what everyone has been doing for the last 6 months.

Clark and Lois are happily living together although not yet married (sounds like a great event for the season finale!). Lois is still as feisty as ever, putting herself in harm's way to get stories. And she continues to support Clark 100% telling him how he is inspiring.

It looks like the hero-hate from last season might be replaced by a xenophobia plotline as Superman being an alien has not been disclosed.

As for Lex, he is still recovering from memory losses and setting himself up as the oily megalomaniac he has been on the show and in the comics. One thing that Smallville did right was the 'villain's journey' of Lex. Much like the hero's journey, it was great watching Lex slowly make his way down the path of evil.

Here he is conniving with General Lane about trying to get military contracts to set up Earth defenses against other alien invasions. So, more of that xenophobia plot is taking shape.

Finally Lex and Clark meet again ... for the first time. Lex has no recollection of Clark and can't believe they were once friends. It shows how far Lex has descended that he can't imagine interacting with someone like Clark in a meaningful way.

There was too much water under the bridge for Clark to be out in the open as Superman and not have Lex recognize him so the amnesia bit helps.

You know what else I like? The movies playing in the background, a shout-out to Batgirl again - the 24 Draculas Supergirl issue and Unsinkable, the last issue.

But this is my favorite panel.

Lex sees his dead half-sister in the street talking to him. Is it a ghost? Is he insane and hallucinating? Or something else all together?

I liked Tess in the show as she was a complete jumble, both good and bad, although in the end siding with the heroes. She was complex and interesting so I am very happy  to see her back in some capacity.

And Oliver and Chloe are happy. Oliver is still fighting crime as Green Arrow even though his identity is known. I'm not sure how that would effect Chloe other than to put her in harm's way. At least initially it sounds like the two are moving to Star City.

There is some funny banter between Clark and Ollie as they compare war stories and life in the trenches. Clark says Superman isn't squeaky clean and hasn't kissed any babies. Clark meanwhile did kiss and exploding baby once (did that happen on the show?). Look at the exasperated Ollie, bemoaning the lack of exploding babies in Star City. Funny.

In the end, Chloe uncovers that the 'northern lights' from the opening scene was more like a portal through which a ship has emerged. Hmmm ... who could that be.

On twitter, Miller told me that a Supergirl/Legion appearance is going to happen. Could this ship be them? Or some villain from the future they are tailing? Nice hook to end the first issue on.

So overall, this was a pretty good episode of Smallville ... at least that is what it felt like. And there was something interesting about reading this Superman again, now that he has donned the S-shield and become a symbol of good.

Add to that the inclusion of Tess and a promise of Kara and the Legion and I guess I will stick around for more.

Perez does his usual solid work here and clearly has a grasp of the actors from the show as I can see them in the renditions.

Overall grade: B+/B


Gustavo Delamarques said...


Anonymous said...

Lois has just changed places with Ma and Pa. Smallville Superman is just a big manchild that needs petting all the time and being told how great he is. Lois is pretty much a glorified cheerleader and as usual gets into trouble and hoe fortunate for her he can save her. Smallville is the worse version of Superman ever.

Anonymous said...

Yes sadly, there really was an exploding baby on Smallville. That particular plotline is ranked as one of the worst. Probably not THE worst, but really up there with the stupid.