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Friday, May 25, 2012

Smallville: Season 11 #5 - "Guardian"


ROLL CALL:

SUPERMAN! LOIS LANE! LEX LUTHOR! CHLOE SULLIVAN-QUEEN! THE GREEN ARROW! DR. EMIL HAMILTON! COMMANDER HANK HENSHAW!

It's launch day (already) for the Lexcorp Guardian Defense platforms. This storyline, Lex Luthor privatizing space travel, is now incredibly timely and relevant with the recent successful mission launch of Space X and the impending privatization of space travel that will eventually let ordinary people willing to pay through the nose to travel into space. Lex Luthor isn't quite there yet with the space tourism, unless he sells tickets to let ordinary people use Guardian to shoot at aliens and Superman.

At the Lexcorp Cape Canaveral 50 miles outside of Metropolis (still in Kansas, of course), Lex receives an unexpected visit from his old private school chum Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. Ollie's got his arrows in a knit but he's kind of all over the place: first he questions what Lex is up to in space and why the military is letting him go ahead and place Guardian in orbit, then he swings around to Tess and her "suicide". Oliver outright accuses Lex of murder, whereas Lex tows his company line that "faced with a failing company and the end of the world", Tess must have thought suicide was her only way out.

This scene actually raises a few logistical questions, the kind Smallville always likes to shirk off as if Superman glares at you for tugging at his cape: Queen Industries and Luthorcorp were a combined conglomerate all the way up to season 10. At what point did Lex separate the companies, or is Lexcorp a brand new company (that still is housed in the Luthorcorp Building, which became the Lexcorp Building when the Apokalips incident shook some letters off the sign)?  One would have to surmise Lex privately did all the necessary wheeling and dealing to establish Lexcorp as completely his once again.

In any case, Lex knows a lot more than he lets on about what Queen Industries is up to. Such as the fact that Queen is financing and constructing a mysterious "facility" on the far side of the moon(!). "Building a little clubhouse for our super friends, are we?" Holy Building a Lunar Watchtower Without The Explanation of Being Financed By Bruce Wayne's Money! (Plans were drawn, metals were mined, as Grant Morrison once put it.)  As for Lex's memories, he remembers being bullied at prep school by Oliver Queen quite well. In fact, Lex seems to remember much more than he's letting on.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent is in the Lexcorp dining room exclusively interviewing the man of the hour, Commander Hank Henshaw, who's chowing down as if he's Wally West. Quite a spread he's got on the table: spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, burger and fries, and a sensible salad. Henshaw explains this as his pre-flight ritual, as someone who savors the senses of "touch, taste, and sensation". Henshaw reveals that he's married and that in the Smallville universe, like ours, there's no more national space program. A private company like Lexcorp is the only game in space for the adventurous astronaut with the Right Stuff. Then the discussion turns towards everyone (but Lex's) favorite Man of Steel:


Red flag, Clark! Red flag! Henshaw sounds like some kind of closet fascist. Also, Henshaw watched Superman: The Movie since he's describing Superman's first night on the job. The interview concludes amicably and they both have jobs to do: Henshaw has a spacecraft to pilot and Clark has to report on it.

At STAR Labs, all monitors are also on the Lexcorp Guardian launch, but Dr. Emil Hamilton informs Chloe Sullivan-Queen that the scanner Superman placed into orbit last issue picked up an ion trail. Something landed... in Smallville. Chloe with the best line of the issue: "Why would anything crash anywhere else?" All roads from all points in the universe do always lead to Smallville for some strange reason.

Finally, we have liftoff, as Lois and Clark look on with the press and other on-lookers. Lois has a bad feeling about this, but Clark counters with that cheerful boy scout optimism that sometimes makes your jaw clunk on the floor. Clark notes that Superman can't be everywhere (and he should know) and that maybe the Lexcorp Guardians can actually help people. And Henshaw seems all right -- except for his fascistic tendencies. I guess Clark, with all his super senses, missed the red flag. Lois points out that even with amnesia, Lex is "dangerously charismatic". That sounds super-sexy. I'd like Lois to insult me some time.

Clark uses his Super Hearing to track Henshaw's progress in the cockpit and wouldn't you know it -- before you can even finish saying "Challenger", something goes horribly wrong and the Guardian goes KABLOOEY!!

Everyone's shocked... except for a woman dressed like Master Chief in Halo!


Update: I'm taking a stab in the dark on who the mystery woman above is. My guess: It's Lana Lang, who is superpowered when we last saw her, but emits Kryptonite radiation and can kill Clark by proxy, thanks to Lex's dirty tricks. Hence, the suit, for Clark's safety. If it is Lana, she has ample reason to want to stop Lex's Guardian program: she hates her ex-husband. We'll see if I'm right.

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