Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why I'm actually REALLY excited about the "Smallville Season 11" Comic

Last year, I spoke a lot about Smallville being in its final season. For ten long years I followed the interesting ups and the jaw-dropping downs of that TV show as it stumbled through a retelling of Clark Kent's ascension into superheroism, ultimately culminating in a very silly finale.

Well, this morning DC announced that they're continuing that particular universe of stories with a comic book that will act as a "Season 11" of the show. A lot of fans correctly see this as being kind of pointless. The whole point of Smallville is to act as a precursor to the story of Superman; surely a story where Clark is Superman is just a regular comic book? That's all well and good, certainly, but I think they're missing the point.

This show is certainly the wackiest, most bizarre Superman TV show ever (and that's really saying something). It started off respectably enough, only to sort of morph into a "Diet Superman" show where everything in the DC Universe and pretty much every conceivable story twist (however insanely illogical) was fair game, as long as Clark didn't put on the red cape. A lot of people felt cheated in the final episode when Lex Luthor had the sum total of memory from his entire life completely wiped, just so he wouldn't know Clark was Superman. Not to mention, we were never given a concise reason as to how all of those people who had seen Clark throughout the years as a handsome, courageous young man who didn't wear glasses and seemed to always be solving crimes, suddenly didn't suspect that this identical-looking man flying around Metropolis in a red cape was blatantly Mr. Kent.

The series just got so completely bonkers in its later years that it became wonderfully self-parodical. Unfortunately, on top of its ruthlessly lazy storytelling, it was hampered by budgetary restrictions and the ever-annoying inability to show Clark actually wearing the Superman costume. They tried to get around this by giving him the new identity of "The Red Blue Blur" followed by just "The Blur" when he got a darker costume; (and to be honest this actually made sense in a crazy sort of way), but they could never really get around the fact that they had no money to give us the epic stories we deserved.

So why am I looking forward to this comic book?

Because here, there's no budget, no TV executives, no filler episodes; only the writer and artist's imagination. Here, Clark is finally, fully, absolutely SUPERMAN in all of his glory. But best of all, given that this isn't going to be a comic that ties into the core DC Universe, writer Bryan Q. Miller (who wrote some of the most wonderfully zany episodes of the show, as well as some great comics) can pretty much do whatever the Hell he likes and get away with it. "Smallville" the TV show is over and this comic isn't trying to tie-in to the regular DC Comics universe. It's got an almost-guaranteed audience in the fanbase of the bizarre show, so why not just have some fun? "Smallville Season 11" could work out to be a great no-holds-barred Superman book that could make fun of the show while trying to resolve some of the nonsensical, unresolvable plot-holes they left us with (Lex's amnesia, Clark's obvious identity). They could even make fun of DC Comics in general, what with all of the revamping and rehashing of old ideas they've been guilty of, of late (eagle-eyed readers will note that in the picture at the top, Clark's not wearing the Superman Returns costume he wore in the finale; he's wearing his New 52 regalia; another story-opportunity!).

There's just so much potential for light-hearted glory with this book, given all of the daft story problems Miller is going to have to deal with. The great thing is that given the short-lifespan that this book is most likely to have (I supremely doubt it will still be on the shelves in the promotional run-up to the new Superman movie - which stars a different Superman actor), it can go in any direction it likes with its characters, possibly even developing them in ways contrary to anything that's been done with them before.

For once, there's no status quo that needs to be adhered to, all bets are off. Because really...what sacred cow could this book possibly slaughter that the TV show Smallville hasn't already mutilated, doused in ammonia and sold to Malaysian McDonalds outlets?

And on a slightly more serious note, it will be genuinely awesome to finally, (almost) properly see Tom Welling (sort of) wearing the Superman suit. That alone is worth the price of the first issue.

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