Saturday, June 23, 2012

Smallville: Season 11 #8 - "Guardian"


ROLL CALL:

SUPERMAN! LOIS LANE! LEX LUTHOR! TESS MERCER! GENERAL SAM LANE! DR. EMIL HAMILTON! COMMANDER HANK HENSHAW!

It's 4am in Metropolis but who can sleep at this wee hour when Superman is streaking across the skies chased by military helicopters launching missiles at him? I'd totally be on some rooftop watching that fireworks show. You don't see that every day, even in Metropolis.

On the ground, Lois Lane uses all of her considerable clout as reporter for the Daily Pla -- as the daughter of General Sam Lane -- to get her daddy on the phone. The general seems proud of his little girl's pushiness and explains that his people simply want to ask Superman some questions and they're attacking because his men saw Superman's eyes light up with that "laser vision". "Heat Vision," Lois corrects. And this brings up a pet peeve I've had with DC Comics for the last year or so since The New 52 was announced: this penchant for constantly depicting Superman with his eyes lit up red like he's about to fry bears and deer and set forest fires where ever he goes. What's the deal with that? Superman is all about friendliness and approachability. Hence, no mask. His whole M.O., unlike say Batman's, who wants to terrify criminals, is that you don't have to be afraid of him, that you could walk up to Superman (if he happened to be on the ground) and he'd look you in the eye with his big blues and he'd give you the time of day. Now, he's always  shown blazing with the red sun eyes. Anyway, Lois knows Clark better than anyone and defends him that even if his eyes get a little red, he wouldn't just start melting people, even if they're hardcase soldier types.

Up in the sky, Superman receives a phone call from Lois on his blue tooth (she lists Superman in her cell as Tony's Pizza - clever girl) and they have an amusing boyfriend-girlfriend banter while Superman catches missiles and detonates them with his bare hands. Superman is awesome. No one does stuff like him. Well, Supergirl can, but she learned all those tricks from him. Also, Superman isn't the first guy to not like his future father in law: "Your father is a psychopath." Then we get the first of some intriguing dialogue this issue:


Superman: "He said something once." And we get a flashback panel to an episode of Smallville where General Lane confronts Clark in his barn. I forget the episode and what was said - Was it the one where Lucy Lane guest starred for the final time? Anyway, how could Sam Lane possibly know Superman is Clark Kent, besides the fact that the general wasn't exposed to any memory-wiping toxin, isn't blind, and knows that Superman and Clark Kent have the same face?  Neither Lois nor Superman reach that conclusion, but Lois offers the reassuring thought that "If he knew I was engaged to Superman, I'm almost fifty percent sure he wouldn't be shooting at you."

Hey, who has the better couple banter? Lois and Clark or Chloe and Oliver? It's a toss up. They're all written so well by Bryan Q. Miller with easy familiarity and wit.

General Lane gets on the horn and announces that they have Superman surrounded. Not really, sir. Superman can fly in any direction, including straight up or down. Superman asks them to stop fucking shooting at him already (he didn't swear, I did). "There's no need for more property damage. I can have most of this fixed by rush hour." Superman cleans up after himself! Did The Avengers clean up New York City after they and the aliens trashed it in the biggest movie of 2012? Nope. It turns out this is all an exercise; Sam Lane is hesitant to continue with this charade but "the brass wants to see what he's really made of." As Superman yells at Lois to get as far away as she can, the helicopters open fire on Superman. Of course, every bullet bounces off of him but ricochets all over Metropolis, including into the rotors of one of the helicopters. That's some smart soldiering. Lois takes cover under a car but now a helicopter is spiraling out of control and about to land right on top of her. 




Superman saved Lois, of course. It was an interesting tactical choice. I mean, Superman is a romantic and his first thought was to save his girl. However, Superman could have just caught the helicopter instead and prevented a fiery explosion on the streets of Metropolis. But then who's to say the helicopter wasn't going to explode anyway? Well, Superman could have, maybe with freeze breath. But whatever. The soldiers in the helicopter bailed out, the copter went kaboom, and Superman saved Lois Lane as he's wont to do. General Lane is so impressed by Superman saving his daughter that he calls off the attack.

Meanwhile, at the Lexcorp building, Lex Luthor begrudgingly admires Superman's convictions when he gets another visit from his ghostly sister Tess Mercer. Lex asks where she goes when she disappears and whether she can control her comings and goings. Nowhere and no, apparently. And here we get the most interesting exposition-y dialogue of the issue. I'll just let Lex do all the talking here:


Lex concludes: "All of my increased intelligence, my higher brain capacity... it's my way of handling a second consciousness on board." Aha! Aha-ha-ha! Just as I suspected weeks ago! In fact, here's what I said in my recap of issue 4:

"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."


Man, I'm good. I bet I'm right Master Chief lady is Lana too. 

Tess isn't that crazy about sharing Lex's brain (but maybe if she were as sharp as her bro, she could think, "Hmm, maybe I could access the stuff in his brain and use it against him..."). Lex assures her he is taking steps to remedy the situation, but he "just needs someone to test the procedure on first".

Cut to STAR Labs and the slowly dying Commander Hank Henshaw on life support. Lex Luthor barges in, overrides Dr. Emil Hamilton's protests by citing his family's old timey, going way back connections to the late Dr. Virgil Swann, and declares to Mrs. Henshaw that "Lexcorp will do everything it can to help Commander Hensaw get back on his feet." And then he offers to purchase one of Dr. Hamilton's robot drones. 

To be continued.

Heh. Note Lex didn't say anything about healing Hank Henshaw. "Mrs. Henshaw, your husband's gonna be a robot! And if this works, and I can put his brain in a robot body, I can do the same to my annoying Casper ghost of a sister!" Plus maybe your husband can destroy Superman. Lex really is a genius.

Wait, wait. So was the Guardian platform space launch thing all a ruse? Was it just a bizarre long range scheme to get a guinea pig in Hank Henshaw in a position to become a vegetable so Lex could perform his brain-to-robot swap, or did Lex just switch to this new plan in mid-stream? Does Lex still want Guardian platforms in orbit shooting at Superman. He probably does, I guess. I'm confused. I mean, I'm pretty intelligent, but who can keep up with the Wile E. Coyote super genius that is Lex Luthor?

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