The print version of Smallville Season 11 came out last week and continues to be a fun read picking up where the series left off. In some ways, this book is coming off as a more 'traditional' Superman book, more like the past comic incarnation than the current DCnU Superman. And for those who miss the Clark/Lois relationship, it is an oasis.
Of course, this isn't necessarily a Superman book ... it is a Smallville book. That means that the supporting characters from the series are given decent screen time here. That means personally, I have to take the good (Lex and Tess) with the bad (Green Arrow, I never really cared for the Smallville version).
Writer Bryan Q. Miller does a good job on the book infusing the right amount of action, drama, and humor to keep the plotlines moving along nicely. And Pere Perez art is smooth and silky, a nice fit for the book.
So there are some steps forward on some of the mysteries that have cropped up so far in this 'season'.
For one, the spaceship that came into Earth's vicinity via a space-time rip and crash landed in Smallville turns out to be something built at Queen Industries. So it looks like my guess last time that the female occupant is not Supergirl but instead Chloe from the future is still a possibility!
There is a lot of banter between Chloe and Oliver here, about their marriage, about moving to Star City, about their passion. I don't know ... I just never have been able to warm up to Oliver or this relationship.
As for Hank Henshaw, he seems to be in a 'locked in' medical state, unable to do voluntary movements (such as speak, move, etc) but with an active brain state.
Despite Henshaw's heroic sacrifice having Superman save his crew while he piloted the ship, Henshaw's wife blames Superman for not saving her husband. I understand grief but it is clear she has heard tapes of Henshaw saying to save everyone else first. She should be proud of her husband's heroism rather than curse Superman's inability to save him 100%. Or she should be upset at the engineering failure of the ship.
Seems like it is common in comics for folks to blame Superman for the imperfect world we live in.
Doesn't take Superman long to deduce that Lex sabotaged his own ship. And when he angrily confronts Lex about it, Luthor seems smug. I know ... shocking.
It is one more disaster that Superman has been in the vicinity of! Now he is seen attacking Lex. It is all a plot for Lex to discredit Superman, make the Man of Steel look dangerous. It shows just how warped is that Lex would demolish his own billion dollar investment in hopes of sowing seeds of distrust.
I did like that Lex asked if he knew Superman from before because he only gets deeply under the skin of people who he interacts with often.
And, as this is a comic published after 2000, the military arrives and attacks Superman for talking to Lex (albeit after smashing in the skyscraper's windows). General Lane is all to eager to light things up.
I think every plot since New Krypton has had the US military attack Superman at some point. Here the attack goes a little off plan. An army helicopter crashes into the street almost killing Lois. General Lane almost killed his daughter. Seeing that he calls off the attack.
I am expecting some drama with General Lane here. I think he basically knows Clark is Superman. So how will he respond?
My favorite subplot so far has been the Lex/Tess dyad. Who is she? How is she?
Well, it turns out she is neither ghost nor figment of Lex's psychosis. She is actually the consciousness of Tess living inside Lex's body courtesy of the nerve gas she used to wipe out his memory. That explains his ramped up brain activity and her intact personality.
I am sort of bummed that the mystery was solved so quickly. I was hoping to see Lex suffer a bit more with the concern that he might be insane. Still, it does leave the door a bit more ajar for an actual return of Tess.
As I said before, this place has been a haven of hope for all the Clark/Lois fans out there. Despite all the chaos surrounding everything that happened, the two realize that this has been the first quiet moments alone they have had.
I miss this romance. At least I have a bit of it here.
And as I said above, I think Miller has some nice comedic moments in this book, keeping some lightheartedness infused in the more dramatic overall arc. I think this was the magic of his Batgirl.
I love that Miller has included a bumbling Otis henchman for Lex here. That wordless last panel after Otis 'talked' to Tess is priceless.
But Lex has a decent idea how to get Tess literally out of his head. He will download her consciousness into another receptacle. As a dry run, he convinces Mrs. Henshaw to try it on Hank, a way of giving the astronaut a second chance.
I knew it wasn't going to end pretty. Sure his consciousness does get downloaded into one of the Hazardous Environment Drones but Henshaw doesn't seem happy. As I said last issue, this is a guy who loves the senses of touch and taste and smell probably isn't happy in a robot. I thought we would see these drones in action much later in this arc so I was surprised to see it used so soon. That's a good thing.
So no complaints about this economical issue. Things progress nicely with the appropriate mix of action, drama, romance, and humor. In fact, things seem to be moving so quickly that maybe Henshaw isn't the big bad of this season but more of a mini-boss?