Friday, September 16, 2016

Trade Tales! - Smallville Season 11: Guardian

Next up for this month, it’s time to revisit something cool. Smallville may not be one of my favorite TV shows, but it is at least in the top 20. The show went from showcasing the early days of Clark Kent to almost becoming a Superman show in itself. It definitely felt like that in the last few seasons when Clark actually got his crap together. I know the series finale disappointed some and I was a little underwhelmed as well. It was less “where is the suit” and more “this should be a little better” for me. I still enjoyed it in the end.

In 2012, DC was getting its digital release schedule together and one of the new series put out there was Smallville Season 11. The comic was released weekly digitally in parts and the whole story would be put into print the next month. The comic ended up getting written by Bryan Q. Miller, one of the show’s executive story editors. He pretty much stuck with the series until its end in 2015. The pencils and inks for this volume was provided by Pere Perez.

Here’s a quick recap or those who don’t remember the finale.  The forces of Apokalips were staging an invasion on Earth. Clark ultimately saved the day when he finally donned the traditional costume and literally pushed Apokalips out of Earth’s orbit. How he did that and how Apokalips was able to do that, I don’t remember. Also, Lex Luthor returned to the land of the living via cloning, Darkseid, and a Lionel Luthor from the alternate Earth. Unfortunately (for him since he knew Clark’s identity), his memories were somehow erased when he killed his illegitimate sister, Tess Mercer. Wow, that show got convoluted in the end. The comic series would take place six months after those events.

Smallville Season 11 Volume 1: Guardian
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Artist: Pere Perez
Letters: Saida Temofonte
Colors: Chris Beckett and Randy Mayor
Cover Artist: Cat Scaggs

It’s been six months since Superman saved the world from the threat of Darkseid. These days, Clark is flying around doing his job and sporting a new suit. We see him helping in a situation involving a Russian space station. We find out that Lois and Clark are living together but haven’t found the time to tie the knot yet. Ollie Queen and Chloe Sullivan-Queen are planning on moving to Star City and are trying to help set up a Watchtower on the moon. Lex Luthor is getting his bearings with his company even though his memories are gone. While his memories are gone, he still has plans on messing with Superman.
I like it. It's new but has what it needs to be called a Superman suit.

Things go for a spin with Lex when he starts to see Tess Mercer, his dead sister, walking around and talking to him. A physical reveals that he’s not only healthy physically but his mind has also improved since his memory loss. The physician suggests Lex see a physchiatrist, but Lex knows it’s more than that. Meanwhile, Chloe’s investigation into the space incident reveals that a rift opened and caused the station to act up. A small ship came out of it as well and it landed in Smallville of all places. Before Superman can really do anything about it, Lex announces that he will be launching defense platforms into space. The pilot for the first mission will be Commander Hank Henshaw.

While Lois and Clark deal with Lex’s new plan, Chloe and Ollie head to Smallville. Back in Metropolis, Henshaw’s launch goes off and immediately starts to have problems. Clark changes into uniform and his able to save the other astronauts but Henshaw is saved last. He ended up getting major doses of radiation and is left in coma. Superman realizes that Lex caused the problems to happen and he harshly confronts him at Lexcorp. Unfortunately, Sam Lane (who is less of a monkey’s butt in this universe) and the military try to arrest Superman. Superman refuses and a fight breaks out in the sky. Lois does get involved and that kind of gets the fight to end.

While all of that goes down, Lex finds out why he’s seeing Tess. He does have a solution though but he plans to use it on Henshaw first. He asks Prof. Emil Hamilton if he can use one of STAR Labs’ new Hazardous Environmental Drones for the experiment. The procedure is done and Henshaw is put into the robotic body. Of course, he doesn’t take it well and attacks Lex. Luckily, Superman gets there stop Hank. Hank then attacks Superman and they fight for a bit in Metropolis. Superman is able to calm Henshaw down and take him back to STAR Labs.

In Smallville, Chloe and Ollie find the ship and it’s revealed to house Chloe Sullivan from the alternate Earth. Before anything can be done, an unknown figure shoots Alt-Chloe. Before she dies, she says that Earth-Two has been destroyed. Ollie realizes that a Crisis is coming. Clark confronts Lex again and this time it’s less of a mess. He does find out that Lex can now track him via non-harmless radiation from the shuttle incident. Since its half-life is 500 years and he can’t get rid of it, Superman can’t live his personal life until a solution is found. The trade ends with Lois telling Superman she loves him.

I thought this was a good start to this series. It pretty much does what the show wasn’t able to do. It finally gives us Clark doing his thing as Superman. He’s in the suit (a new, albeit better one) saving lives and doing amazing feats. It also ramps up the action in a way the show couldn’t do with its budget. Everyone feels and acts the way they should act from the show. The dialogue definitely sells these characters. Clark and Lois act as adorable as ever. It definitely feels entrenched within Smallville lore. The biggest things are mentioned as well as the little things.
Chloe Sullivan? Cool.
Chloe Sullivan married to Green Arrow? Random... but cool.

I also though the antagonists were pretty cool too. Lex especially feels like the Lex we know and love. Even though his memories of the past 10 years are gone, he’s now more of a threat than ever. I liked how Miller were able to fold in Hank Henshaw from the comics in a familiar, but new way. For those who don’t know, he was the Cyborg-Superman in the comics. We also get a sense of big things coming that involve Earth-Two and a Crisis. By the way, it’s an Earth where Clark was raised by Lionel Luthor and was a villain.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about the story itself. There was some dialogue that felt a little out of place. I also kind of thought it was weird that Henshaw’s wife would easily be for the whole transferring thing. I though the artwork was just fine. It wasn’t really good but it wasn’t really bad either. I did like that Perez tried to get the likenesses of the actors down in the art. The action was also pretty good. That being said, there were times where it didn’t always work for me.
Sweet. Now if only we got to this with the show itself...

Overall, this was nice. If you are a fan of Smallville and want to see it continue, then check this out if haven’t done so. I know this run of comics ran for a few years, so I may check more of this out. I know the next volume involves a certain Dark Knight, so that may be interesting. Well, that’s another one down. Next time, I’ll be slowing things down a bit and looking at what some say is a good one. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and never trust the bald guy especially if he’s wearing a black glove.


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