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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Smallville: Season 11 #4 - "Guardian"


ROLL CALL:

SUPERMAN! LOIS LANE! LEX LUTHOR! CHLOE SULLIVAN-QUEEN! TESS MERCER! DR. EMIL HAMILTON! OTIS! HANK HENSHAW!

After a three week break since issue #3 was released digitally, to allow the print collection of Smallville: Season 11 issues #1-3 to sell in comic stores, we are back with the best chapter in the story yet. For reals. This one was worth the penny-under-the-dollar.

Lex Luthor, concerned about his Tess Mercer hallucinations, is at Metropolis General for a medical checkup. Lex is, after all, an Lx clone of himself, and he's better than he was before: his brain, while fully grown, is essentially new. What's more, the neuro-toxin Tess used to wipe his memory had a beneficial side effect: Lex's brain now operates at a higher percentage than before. Lex is even more of a genius now. But he's still insane and, according to Tess, "obsessing about whether Superman will kill us all."

Tess reappears and insists she's not a ghost or a hallucination. (My guess is the neuro-toxin comic bookily contained the consciousness of Tess in nano-form. which allows Tess to share his brain and project herself into his vision - hence Lex's brain functioning at a higher capacity in order to accommodate them both. If I'm right, that's so crazy it's kind of awesome and I wish I thought of it, which I sort of just did.) Anyway, Otis can't see her, but I guess he's already used to his boss talking to himself in hallways. Otis dutifully reminds Mr. Luthor he has a press conference scheduled.  Ooh, time for Lex to bring joy to the masses.

Meanwhile, in orbit above the Earth, Superman is scanning for traces of the alien ship Watchtower detected that arrived when the Russian space station was attacked. Superman hanging in space using Infra-red vision is pretty awesome. Plus his call sign: "Watchtower to Boy Scout." Superman: "It's okay to use Superman now." But Oliver insists Chloe use "Boy Scout".  Oh, that Oliver, ever the prankster. Chloe had no idea Superman has new vision powers, but Dr. Emil "I Banged Tess Mercer" Hamilton informs that Superman has had access to a wider range of vision for months, due to strenuous testing of his X-Ray Vision.

We're in STAR Labs; "STAR" in Smallville continuity stands for Swann Technology And Research, established by Dr. Virgil Swann(!) to give The Traveler everything he needs to find his way on Earth. STAR Labs comes complete with a statue of Christopher Reeve. Man, I love stuff like this. Again, Smallville is the inheritor of everything from the Richard Donner Superman movies. At STAR Labs, Emil also has a legion of Hazardous Environment Drones, but they're not ready for field work or to go on a rampage for Superman to eventually destroy yet. (C'mon: an army of robots? Telegraphing this a mile away, guys.)

Superman doesn't mind being sent out in the field on a routine scout mission and Superblurs back into the same room Chloe and Emil were standing in. But his crotch starts beeping because of Lois. Rather, his belt buckle is also a cell phone and Lois has sent him a text: UR LATE SMLVLE. God, Lois can't spell and she texts at a 12 year old's level. Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, is due at the Lexcorp press conference.

Superman: "Why is it I never find myself looking forward to any news out of Lex's mouth?" (If this were seasons 1-5, insert gay joke here.)

Okay, we're now at Lexcorp for the press conference and here's a sequence that I especially wish were on television so that the actors could perform it because it's vintage Superman/Smallville goodness. Lex isn't even one sentence into his opening statement when a reporter's hand goes up.


Of course, the pushy reporter is Lois Lane and she won't stop riding Lex's resurrected clone ass. Lois demands to know "Where were you?" She means where has Lex been in the years since Tess appeared to run Luthorcorp and declared him legally dead to the moment Tess herself "committed suicide" in Lex's office the night Superman pushed Apokolips away from the Earth? Lex states his time away was for his own protection because the Luthor name had been soiled by the dastardly actions of his twice-dead father Lionel Luthor. (Seems to be a family tradition that Luthors die at least twice.) Lex claims it was the legacy of their father that turned Tess against herself (well, there's a hint of truth there somewhere) but Lex is back to bring forth the change Luthorcorp and the world needs.

Clark Kent arrives, apologizes for being late...

Lois: "Space?"
Clark: "Space."

And hey, why does the Daily Planet need two reporters to cover a press conference? Clark whispers to Lois that they both know Lex murdered Tess (how?) but they have no proof. Lex isn't done by any means and hammers home his new "aliens are going to kill us all" fear mongering agenda:


Look! Apokoliptian Para-demons! This is all preamble to announce Lexcorp's Guardian Defense Platforms, which will be placed in orbit to protect the Earth from the next time aliens threaten humanity from beyond the stars. Lois immediately wants to know who Lex is going to get to place the Guardians into orbit on short notice, but that's a question Lex was ready for. Lexcorp's "savior", their very own "Superman" is...

Commander Hank Henshaw!

Uh, who (many ask)? This guy.

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