Over the course of ten years, Smallville told the story of Clark Kent growing up and very, very slowly becoming Superman. Last year, the series finally ended, but in a surprising announcement early this morning, DC confirmed that Smallville is returning for "Season 11" as a digital-first weekly comic by writer Bryan Q. Miller and artist Pere Perez with Cat Staggs illustrating the cover of issue #1. This follows the Smallville TV show tie-in comics DC printed between 2002 and 2005.
Miller returns as a veteran of the show, having written episodes in the last few seasons. Here at ComicsAlliance, however, we have our own Smallville veterans: Chris Sims and David Uzumeri, who were contractually obligated to watch every episode of the final season for our series of recaps. So how to do the Smallvillains react to the news? Find out now!
Chris Sims: Well, David, I thought we were done with Smallville when the series finally ended last May, but it looks like we forgot to saw its head off, stuff its mouth with garlic and bury it at the crossroads, because that motherf***er just came back from the dead. In comic book form!
David Uzumeri: DIGITAL comic book form, no less! Yeah, Bryan Q. Miller (who was also a staff writer on the show) and his Batgirl partner Pere Perez are doing Smallville Season 11 as a digital comic. Late last year the rumor broke that Miller might return to the series as a novel, and I have to say, an online comic is definitely a better choice than THAT. I also suspect he's been busy on this for a while, since he's been working on a non-New 52 project for DC ever since Batgirl wrapped.
Chris: I'll admit right up front that there's a lot of this that's intriguing to me. I like the idea of DC doing something digital-first with Superman, especially since this is clearly meant to appeal to the people who watched the show rather than going for the established direct market. And I think you and I are both on board with Bryan Q. Miller and Pere Perez as creators, generally speaking.
David: This is their second foray into the digital market after the Beyond books, I think. The digital-first market, that is. It's interesting that they seem to be focusing on the non-core interpretations of their properties for their outreach initiatives like this. I presume also that, like the recent Justice League Beyond digital comics, these comics will be initially formatted for an iPad. I wonder how they plan on printing them? Two iPad "pages" per print page? I'd also like to mention that Gary Frank is the print cover artist, and it will be surreal to see him drawing a Superman that looks eerily like ANOTHER actor.
Chris: Which brings me to my major question. Why did it have to be Smallville?
David: I can see the logic: Miller wrote for the TV show, he worked with Perez on Batgirl. This is about the best creative team you could assemble for this particular project, but: why does this particular project exist?
Chris: Exactly. Again, I'm not knocking the creators, but it just seems pointless. I mean, isn't the entire point of Smallville that we get to see what happens to Clark before he becomes Superman? That's kind of the entire deal, right? Now we get to see what happens after that, which - correct me if I'm wrong here - would just be Superman comics. And really, if you put Bryan Q. Miller and Pere Perez on Superman, I'd be excited as all get-out for it.
David: It's weird that DC is planning on publishing multiple different interpretations of Superman at once like this, between the New 52 edition, the Smallville version and the, sigh, Earth One version.
Chris: Which is the other crazy thing: This is going to show us what Superman's first year in the costume is like? We already have that book on the stands happening right now. We have it twice, if you count Justice League.
Chris: There is no doubt in my mind that Miller and Perez are going to do the best Smallville story that it's possible to have, but I just don't get why. I mean, what are they going to do that they haven't done on the show? I guess he could fight Doomsd- no, they've done that. He could join the Justice Le- no, that too. Maybe he could get married to Lois La-- no, they did that one too. I guess he could meet Batman, in which case... hoo boy.
David: Perhaps we'll have a Smallville Crisis!
Chris: Well like you said, there are certainly enough versions. Three and a half completely different "First Year as Superman" stories are now happening in comics. That's apparently the story so important that we need that many versions of it.
David: I can understand why you'd want to do this, but I can also understand more why you WOULDN'T want to do this. I don't know, this isn't where I'd rather Miller and Perez ended up, but I'll certainly give it a fair shake, and if this is what Miller really wanted to do, well, then maybe that enthusiasm will rub off? I have no idea.
Chris: It just feels like diminishing returns. I guess I know the answer, but I don't see why they'd put this energy into a plan that'll keep the Smallville brand alive when they could be putting that energy into their "main line" of titles. Of course, in fairness, I'm only judging this by one single announcement. But in even more fairness, I really really hated Smallville.
David: It's interesting that DC's actually placing a LOT of eggs outside the New 52 basket right now. Between this, Before Watchmen, the Beyond stuff... I don't know if diluting some of their best talent like this was a good call? I mean if not for the digital Beyond titles, this and Before Watchmen, we could have had, like, Darwyn Cooke, Dustin Nguyen, Bryan Q. Miller, Norm Breyfogle and Brian Azzarello on more New 52 books. But maybe it's not a zero-sum game like that.
Chris: I get that they want the million people who tuned into Smallville right through the end - I mean, if they sat through that finale, their standards are low enough to buy whatever you put in front of them - but who knows? Miller wrote some of the few episodes I remember us really enjoying. Maybe there's some good left somewhere in Smallville. There would almost have to be, since they sure didn't use any on the show.
David: I wish the announcement gave us an idea of the direction Miller was taking it.
David: Like, I'd love it if Miller just said "you know what? F*** Smallville, I'm just writing the Superman book I always wanted to write."
Chris: Well from the looks of things, Clark's in a cape and tights flying around. Just like you loved to see on Smallville!
David: But seriously, is Miller going to be writing like he's still writing for television, or is he going to be going crazy since everything's getting drawn? I'm guessing, and hoping, the latter. Miller's an imaginative guy, as his Batgirl run proved, and I think that the constraints of broadcast television really held him down. I'm guessing he has far more creative control here, since he likely has just a few editors to report to rather than like eight other writers with equal stakes. And he can do things like write "Superman punches through the asteroid and throws one of the smaller pieces at Brainiac's flagship" and not have it pared down to, like, Lois on the ground staring up and going "WOW, SUPERMAN IS THROWING A ROCK AT BRAINIAC'S SHIP!"
Chris: Look, I know we're trying to be mature and smart about this, but there are really four words that will decide if I'm getting it or not: "Erica Durance Photo Cover."
David: That photo cover would certainly test your en-Durance.
Chris: Seriously though, Miller and Perez are talented as hell, and if nothing else, I'm glad to see that they're doing something. I honestly hope they can turn Smallville into something I like, as opposed to something that I have terrifying flashbacks to. I just don't get how taking the premise that already collapsed under its own weight and had to do the asinine gymnastics of referring to Superman as "The Blur" for years and then taking even that bit out is going to work. "After Smallville" just doesn't sound appealing.
David: What about Before Smallville?
Chris: Before Smallville, I knew what joy and happiness were.
David: Didn't you ever want to know about how Kara was using Krypto-coke to stay up all night studying after a test, and then Zor-El caught her and showed her the evils of drugs in a Very Special Episode of Before Smallville?
David: What about the episode where Kara gets Krypto-gonorrhea? It's a social disease! Now I'm just imagining a mash-up of every '80s/'90s teen soap ever, which is so much better than anything we got. But I think we've run out of things to say about this hilarious announcement. FOR NOW.
Chris: I'm sure we'll be talking about it for years to come. In therapy.
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