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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Smallville: Season 11 #6 - "Guardian"



The sixth chapter in "Guardian" should be called Action Comics because this super puppy is wall-to-wall action. This is Superman at his Superman-iest; perhaps the best recent showcase of Superman being Superman since the first issue of Grant Morrison's Action Comics. It's maybe even better since Superman is being 100% Superman, flying and doing what he does best, saving people the way only Superman can. 

"The unthinkable has happened," reports Angela Chen of Galaxy Broadcasting. The Guardian exploded, but no one was killed - yet. Still, the crew of the Guardian needs a miracle. And a miracle in a red cape, blue tights and a big red and yellow S is what they're about to get. If the six astronauts on Guardian all sang Remy Zero "Save Me" together, they're in luck because this is a job for Superman and he's great at his job.

Superman rockets into action after the rocket and here, Smallville does something so simple yet novel, it's a wonder no one's really done this before: Superman has a bluetooth and communicates with Watchtower throughout the rescue. Usually, Superman just does his thing quietly solo, but Smallville allows its Superman to have the eyes, ears and intel of Chloe Sullivan and her super computers to back him up. It also provides a way for Superman to deliver dialogue and necessary exposition.

Zooming after Guardian, Superman asks Chloe for a rundown. It's a damn good thing that's Chloe Sullivan in Watchtower and not Jim Halpert in The Office, who has no idea what "a rundown" is. Chloe is right on it, informing Superman where to blow his Super Breath to put the fire in the cargo bay out before it hits the fuel tank.  Superman separates the craft from its fuel tank but Chloe's relieved attaboy is premature: Super Vision spots a radiation leak that will kill the astronauts in the Guardian platform even if they reach orbit. Superman contacts Commander Henshaw and informs him he'll rip the cabin door open and start ferrying the crew back to terra firma. Henshaw, while understandably under immense stress, is kind of a dick about it.

Red flag, Clark! Red flag! Henshaw also forebodingly informs our Man of Steel that "there's something [he] need[s] to know..."  No time for that piece of exposition yet, though, as Superman zooms the rest of the astronauts home, and then blazes back into the sky after Henshaw and the Guardian. Pere Perez's artwork is simply stellar, the way he conveys Superman's velocities as he's running out of time to save Henshaw, who starts cooking from the radiation.

The final thing Henshaw sees before he blacks out is the S on Superman's chest (foreshadowing?). But Superman saved the day and Henshaw is placed by paramedics in an ambulance. Superman vetoes getting him to ICU in favor of Dr. Emil Hamilton's care in STAR Labs. He even gets Watchtower to make sure all traffic signals are green for Henshaw's ambulance. (Why not just fly the ambulance to STAR yourself, Clark?) Lois comes running up to Superman to get "a quote for the Daily Planet", and Superman tells her he "spoke to her husband Clark Kent", who won't be home in time for breakfast. Why? Because Commander Henshaw told Superman the explosion on Guardian wasn't a misfire.

As if to point the finger, the scene immediately switches to Lex Luthor, who is currently disinterested by Otis' news that their lab has analyzed the toxin Tess used on him to wipe his memory and he isn't going to like what they found. All things in good time, though, because Lex wants to savor the moment. Otis, much more on the ball than expected, reminds Lex the Guardian explosion could have been a fatal disaster and is a terrible thing for Lexcorp. But Lex says it's quite the opposite, because...

About what? The San Andreas Fault? Beach front property? Otisburg? I guess we'll find out... when Smallville: Season 11 continues, probably in a couple of weeks after this batch of comics goes on sale in print.