Isn’t it odd that there was never an ongoing ‘Smallville’ comic when the show was actually on the air? Is that because the show itself appealed to a different demographic than comics themselves? Possibly. Because just when the show hit the point where fanboys would have tuned in in droves, with Clark Kent as portrayed by Tom Welling, at long last emerging as comics’ Man of Steel– Superman, the show ended. Or did he just retreat into familiar territory?
The new ‘Smallville’ online comic debuted today and will appear each week with a new installment, sort of like a lengthier, modern day comic strip. Periodically, the strips will be collected as trades, the first arriving on May 16th.
The strip opens on Metropolis, still reeling from the almost invasion by Darkseid in the final episode of the TV series. We get an ever so brief interlude with Cloe Sullivan-Queen and Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow, who has just gotten home from a night of crime fighting. Ollie says he will go to bed in a few minutes. “You just want to see him before you do,” Chloe says. Lois Lane gets an even briefer cameo, asleep alone in bed next to a conspicuously open spot. At Lexcorp, a mysterious silhouette is listening to a news broadcast about how “Earth is a much safer place now than it’s ever been. All thanks to the tireless efforts of one person…” he orders his aid Otis to turn it off before this person’s name is given. “Sure thing, Mr. Luthor,” Otis says to the mysterious silhouette. Cue sinister monologue. “Right on schedule,” the mysterious silhouette says as a red and blue blur streaks across the Metropolis skyline. Suddenly, the mysterious silhouette is revealed to be… Lex Luthor! Whaaaaaaaaaaat?! (No, kidding. It was super obvious the whole time.)
We cut to a Russian space station, which is suddenly imperiled by a… solar flare? Some sort of red energy zaps the craft and threatens to destroy the entire vessel and all on board. Suddenly, things quiet down and their systems come back on line. In flies, Superman! Hooray! The cosmonauts thank him profusely, mostly in Russian, which he doesn’t understand, but luckily one person on board speaks English. He has a short, inspiring chat with the Cosmonauts, then heads back to Earth.
Yes, it’s brief but it’s not a full-length comic book. In fact, it doesn’t read like a regular digital comic. It reads sideways, for bigger panels. They managed to squeeze in cameos by most of the important characters and basically establish that Superman is a good guy, in a scenario that probably wouldn’t have looked so good on TV since the show had a limited budget. That’s one of the benefits that comics have always had over live action media, unlimited budgets, limited only by the writer’s and illustrator’s imaginations. That could mean big things for ‘Smallville’ which had a tendency to look a little chintzy when the television show got too ambitious. Now the sky isn’t even the limit!
The art, by Pere Perez, is smooth and clean. The action sequence was very well rendered and full of movement. The tender moment between Cloe and Ollie was also full of nice little details, like Cloe wrapped in a blanket, carrying two cups of coffee, on on top of the other. Obviously Perez based his renderings on the likenesses of the actors that embodied these roles on the TV show, but the likenesses fall short. Which… is honestly a good thing. I don’t really want to see an artist struggling to craft the perfect likeness of Tom Welling in every panel at the expense of just drawing a good story, with realistic anatomy, story telling and proportion. They look close enough and that’s good enough for me.
The one scene for me that didn’t work was Lex Luthor’s, but that isn’t due to the art. It was just so obvious from the first image. There was no need to conceal his identity for the entire scene, especially when Otis literally calls him “Mr. Luthor” in the second panel.
All-in-all, not a ton to sink your teeth into, or to process even, but it was entertaining and the art was very clean and nice. For 99 cents, you could get a lot less!
Smallville Season 11 #1
Written by Brian Q. Miller
Art by Pere Perez
Cover by Cat Staggs