Smallville: Alien #1 came out this week, the equivalent of Smallville Season Eleven #20. With the need to make comics accessible to everyone, the decision was made to keep the numbers on the book low. Someone may be more apt to pick up a first issue rather than a twentieth. I would love if there would be some episode number on the book as well though, aiding me in aligning these things in my long boxes.
I have sung the praises of the Smallville comic for a long time here as it represents the best of all things: classic Superman sensibilities and great stories. That's all Superman fans are looking for. Now I worried about Alien as an arc because it follows Olympus which, frankly, was just freaking spectacular. Would Alien suffer from having to follow in those big footsteps.
Luckily, Alien works just fine. Writer Bryan Q. Miller takes a step back in this issue, catching us up with all the players in the book, moving the over-extending arc of the Crisis forward, and throwing in a more recent trend in comics - people distrusting Superman. Not bad at all. I have been eager for the Crisis stuff to be brought to the forefront of this book so seeing a Monitor made me happy. There is one thing that made me cringe a bit ... more on that later.
The art is done by Edgar Salazar and continues a trend of very smooth looking artists on this book. There isn't the degree of stylization that we saw with Jorge Jimenez but it is slick. And, as always, Cat Staggs provides a great cover. Love her work.
Last issue, Superman finally revealed to the world that he is an alien. It certainly wasn't an easy decision.
Miller allows us a glimpse back to some of that home-town Smallville 'Pa Kent' wisdom. In Clark's early years, he had to give a speech in front of the school auditorium. Clark thinks the crowd is 'huge' when in actuality it is only a handful of people. Still when his nerves are about to overwhelm him, Pa is able to calm him down with a little mantra "find your center, stand your ground, speak your piece'. It is that intestinal fortitude that allowed Clark to reveal his alien heritage ... because it was important to do so.
I do love that Clark's speech, even at that young age, was 'What's so funny about truth, justice, and the American way'.
Meanwhile, the world is still reeling a bit about the news. Clark hopes his reveal will show people that those 'different' don't need to be vilified and feared. Instead, it seems like it has had the opposite effect. People are fearing Superman instead.
Despite saving a Japanese bullet train (which has the young Hiro Toyman as a passenger - probably pre-villain), the rescued passengers run away from Superman. Except for these folks who ask some pointed questions.
Hopefully this Superman will simply carry on. Being an inspiration and doing good in this cynical world isn't easy. But Superman should rise above.
Meanwhile in Russia, a Monitor somehow blips into our universe and crashes to the ground.
Called to the White House, the President shows Superman the satellite images. Superman knows what the Monitors can do, killing the Earth 2 Chloe for one, and vows to investigate.
Whenever you see a Monitor, a Crisis can't be far behind.
The President isn't the only one who is interested in this Monitor. When Lex hears about it, he wants in.
This is such a bizarre and intriguing Lex. Recovering from his amnesia, I don't think this Lex really has a raison d'etre yet. He seems to be reacting as opposed to acting. You know there is this underlying malevolence in him. Nothing is constructive. Everything is destructive.
I keep waiting for this Lex to shake off the confusion of his existence and become the calculating ruthless villain as opposed to just a bored bad guy grasping.
As I said above, Miller uses this issue to catch us up on some of the lingering plot lines that are out there.
One of them is the fact that Chloe and Oliver have moved to the West Coast. Miller brings Chloe back to Metropolis on a visit. Since she merged her mind with the 'other' Chloe, she is haunted by visions of that destroyed planet. We see glimpses of Earth 2's destruction.
Chloe is an integral part of the Crisis arc so I am glad to see her back.
In this scene we also see a more well-adjusted Tess, now a 'clothed' electronic spirit.
And then the thing that made me thrilled and cringe at the same time.
Lex decides to fly to Moscow in his private jet and Clark joins him. To make it appear that Clark and Superman can't be the same person, a flying red/blue figure streaks above them.
But it isn't Superman! It's Supergirl!!! Fantastic!
I am glad that Miller has had Supergirl return to the present. I would love to see more of her here. And she looks gorgeous.
But you put Supergirl in a Crisis story and bad things could happen.
Bryan Q. Miller ... if you read this ... 'DON'T KILL SUPERGIRL!!!!'
Characterization is a strong point of this book and I love that Chloe has returned to Metropolis because her role as loving wife and expectant mother is boring to her!
That is totally consistent with her character!
And Miller adds a little bit of backbone to Clark as a hard hitting reporter. On the flight, Clark asks Lex about the attack on STAR Labs back in the Tess Special. Lex states that Lexcorp would never do that. Clark then points out that he wasn't besmirching the corporation and instead talking about Lex himself.
It actually gets a nod of respect from Lex.
I am glad Miller doesn't have Clark as a buffoon in this book.
For once, it isn't the United States Government that is the villain of the story! It's the Russian Government!
Russia has the Rocket Red Brigade escort the Lex plane to the ground. And we see the Monitor hooked up to some very Granny Goodness style machinery.
I have no complaints here. So far so good! This is a perfect opening chapter, grabbing me with some good hooks and continuing great characterization of not only Superman/Clark but the supporting cast too! And we see Supergirl again!!!
But please Bryan Q. Miller .... PLEASE .... DON'T KILL SUPERGIRL!!!
Overall grade: B+