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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Smallville Season 11 #1 - "Guardian"

Almost a year ago, Clark Kent completed his ten year journey to become the Man of Steel and flew out of our lives, triumphantly concluding the longest-running and most successful superhero show in the history of television. Smallville's "Finale" saw Clark fulfill his destiny as he finally learned how to fly, destroyed Darkseid, and saved the world from the planet Apokalips about to collide with the Earth. To quote Chloe Sullivan, "And that's how the boy grew up and became...





Smallville is back! (In comic book form.) Smallville: Season 11 picks up six months after the day Superman pushed Apokalips back into space, far, far away, presumably never to darken Earth's skies again. The Daily Planet has never sold more copies and according to news reports in Metropolis, Earth has never been safer. The first appearance of Superman proper (as we know, Clark had patrolled his city for years from the shadows as The Blur) is referred to as "Contact". I would have preferred "Caped Wonder Stuns City", myself.

No one has interviewed Superman yet either, I gather. That would be the most important interview since God talked to Moses.

Anyway, it's a bright, sunny day in bright, sunny Metropolis. Smallville: Season 11 #1 checks us in first with the happily married couple of Oliver Queen and Chloe Sullivan-Queen, enjoying take out coffee (from what looks like that one cafe on that one street in Metropolis where Chloe and Lois always bought coffee) and waiting on the balcony of Watchtower. I guess they never did go back to Star City?  "Long night," Chloe asks. "Nah," Oliver responds, wearing his Green Arrow leathers. "Quiet as always." Looks like Clark keeps the world so safe, Oliver wears his green leathers for nothing. The Queens wait in their loving embrace, "just to see him..."

In Lois and Clark's apartment, Lois Lane, wearing a blue Superman T-shirt (the same shirt that made Marlon Brando give Margot Kidder the evil eye in Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut), is dozed off and jabbering in her sleep quoting Alice in Wonderland, I think. The other side of the bed is empty. 

Meanwhile, in the Lexcorp tower, Lex Luthor, whom we last saw had murdered his sister Tess but was stricken with amnesia as a result, listens to the news reports and watches from his office window for Superman. But he's not alone, he has a new henchman: Otis! A younger Otis, it looks like, but once again Smallville flaunts its status as the rightful inheritor of all things from Superman: The Movie. Man, what a shame Tess was killed off, we could have had Lex, Tess and Otis reunited, maybe hanging out in an underground pool that looks like Grand Central Station.  

When a familiar red and blue blur streaks across the Metropolis sky, observant Lex can tell right away: "He changed his costume."

Where is Superman going? Why to space, of course. Because Clark can do that now, any time he wants. His reason today is because the Russian space platform Korolyov is under attack by what looks like the Nexxus from Star Trek Generations. (The return of Smallville is like being inside... joy...)  A cosmonaut free floating outside the space station is saved, and seconds later, heat vision seals in the damaged hull saving the other cosmonauts inside. "Look, up in the sky!" one exclaims in Russian, never mind that A) they are in space so there is no sky and B) they are all currently sealed in the space station. Sigh.  But no matter, somebody saved them. Who? No one has to actually say it, but it's more fun if they do. Yell it out, even. In Russian.

Yes, Superman. Strange visitor from another planet. Note the new costume, everyone. Red underpants are gone as per DC Comics new rules that ...uh... red underpants are gone.  But you know what, this suit is way better than the ceremonial Kryptonian armor Superman wears in the current The New 52 comics in DC continuity. Interesting they chucked out the Brandon Routh Superman Returns suit so quickly, the top of which Tom Welling wore in the very last shot of Smallville the television series.

But now here he is, our television Clark Kent as Superman. And the art by Pere Perez amusingly and gratifyingly makes it clear this is Tom Welling as Superman. It's him, all right. Look, the hair. The lips. The chin. Perez got it all.

When the Russians start jabbering to him in their native tongue, Superman admits he hasn't gotten around to learning Russian yet. (You should get right on that, Clark.) Then comes the best part of the whole issue, the moment that makes all of this truly, uniquely Smallville. Superman asks the cosmonauts where he can find the nearest airlock. (Clark, the station's not that big. Also, how did you get in in the first place?) But then this happens:

That's right: Superman Super Blurred away... a distance of about three feet! And then he goes to open the airlock at normal speed! Amazing. This is followed by the second best, and first hokiest, moment in this entire issue: When Clark informs the cosmonaut who tells him that his son looks up Superman "Your son already has a hero to look up to, Cosmonaut. His father." Cosmonaut! At least ask the man his name, Clark!

Superman is thanked once more by the cosmonauts for his tireless efforts in saving them from being forced to meet Whoopi Goldberg or maybe getting asked by Captain Picard to go back to Veridian III and help him stop Soran, but he assures them he needs no thanks. Superman: "That won't be necessary. I'm just doing my job." And up, up, and away, Clark flies down to Earth and soars over some unidentified body of water to end the issue. What a hero. God, he's great.

To be continued... (Pony up a buck for next week's continuation. I sure will.)

Smallville: Season 11 #1 was extremely brief. For $.99 it was the equivalent of the teaser of an episode of the television show. In fact, it should have come with an audio file that played "Save Me" at the end. But here's the thing: It's Smallville. It's totally effing Smallville. These couple of dozen panels completely invoked the goofiness and famous level of quality established by the previous ten years of the television series. For a buck, getting a quick download of Smallville silliness is a lot of fun if you love Smallville. Brian Q. Miller, a former writer for Smallville the television series, totally gets the tone of Smallville and delivers a jaunty mix of familiarity and fanboy servicing, like Otis joining the Smallville universe.

Fridays are for Smallville again.

Welcome back, Clark.