Episode 15: DC goes to the “creative” well again with ‘Smallville – Season 11’

On this week's episode of "The Couch," Andrew Ardizzi offers his thoughts DC's latest announcement, "Smallville - Season 11," as a comic book.
The cover for 'Smallville - Season 11' as drawn by Cat Staggs

In 2001 Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk and Michael Rosenbaum first appeared on our television screens as the hallmark characters Clark Kent, Lana Lang and Lex Luthor. Feel free to cue up Remy Zero’s “Save Me” for nostalgia’s sake. For ten seasons, despite cast departures, Superman fans tuned in to watch the “Man of Steel” endure his trials and tribulations as he walked a hero’s path towards the destiny set forth for him while battling the likes of Zod, Lex Luthor, Doomsday and Darkseid. It wasn’t always positive, and there were surely as many downs as there were ups over the decade Smallville was on the air. Certainly, the series was tired and drawn out at times, often staggering through repetitious stories in the middle seasons concluding with Rosenbaum’s departure. Yet there were just as many seasons which were inspiring, heroic, and true to the form of the character. Some periods were memorable, some were completely forgettable.

When the show began, Miles Millar and Alfred Gough said the mission statement of the show was quite simply, “no tights, no flights.” It’s a credo the show stuck by even after both left the series. That of course came to an end in the series finale where not only did Tom Welling don an oddly similar costume to the one worn by Brandon Routh in Superman Returns, but we finally saw Superman flying and in action. Although you could argue viewers were altogether shortchanged considering it was actually done using CGI, those last moments of the series were the culmination of ten years worth of work, which had to satisfy fans whether you were perturbed by not really seeing Tom Welling in the suit or not. In the end, through better and worse, the show’s writers told their story of Clark Kent’s rise from mild mannered farm boy to inspirational superhero. That is why I feel the idea of continuing the series, albeit as a comic book, is unnecessary.

DC announced through its Source Blog Feb. 9 that it would be continuing the series’ story through digital format, later releasing the books as a print serial. The series, which will be written by former Smallville writer Brian Q. Miller, will debut April 13, 2012 and promises new digital chapters released weekly. Meanwhile the issues will be released in print starting May 16. Season 11 will essentially pick up right where the series left off, including many of the characters we came to know from the series.

“Six months after Clark Kent donned the cape and took to the skies to save Earth from Apokolips… enter Season 11!” Miller said in the press release.  “New allies abound!  New enemies afoot!  And old friends return where they’re least expected!  Pere (Perez) and colorist Chris Beckett have done a fantastic job of capturing the look of the show and the players, and Gary and Cat are knocking it out of the park on covers. I couldn’t be more excited to help give seasoned viewers and new readers an all-access pass to Clark’s first year in the cape.”

While there is surely a fan base for this series, I question the necessity of it. There are already a number of Superman related titles available, one of which specifically focused on Superman’s early days in Metropolis, not to mention the wealth of Superman origin stories currently available such as Superman: Earth One. Is there a need to revisit this? Considering the premise of the series was to explore Clark’s early years as he flies towards his destiny, what mission statement can they possibly adopt that hasn’t already been explored regarding the character, and isn’t being explored right now in the existing titles in both Action Comics and Superman? Smallville – Season 11 runs in the same vein as the Buffy and Angel series published by Dark Horse and IDW respectively, leaving it fairly obvious that DC Entertainment is looking to capitalize on the phenomenon with its own property.

Whether I agree with it or not, facts are facts. Even in its tenth season, the series drew over three million viewers for its finale. If even five per cent of the show’s fans who tuned in for that episode buy the issues digitally or in print, that instantly puts it near the top of Diamond’s top titles. In that respect, it’s a smart move with huge upside for DC. Creatively however, I can’t help but feel like the universe that was created for the show is barren for new ideas. But that’s not the point, is it?

Andrew Ardizzi
Andrew Ardizzi

Andrew Ardizzi is an honours graduate of journalism from Humber College, and is currently working out of Toronto as a freelance writer and editor. He's also the Senior Editor at Crystal Fractal Comics. You can find him at his blog, or follow him on Twitter.

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Ed Campbell
Ed Campbell
12 years ago

I’m excited. I think Tom Welling should have been Superman somewhere around season 7. I am going to buy this comic because I love the Smallville universe.