Shiny Shelf

Smallville #1

By Mark Clapham on 23 May 2012

… or, to give it the full title on the inside of the book, ‘Smallville: Season 11′ #1.

Because almost no-one demanded it, here’s a follow-up to a TV series that only ended a year ago and which, depending on your mileage, ran between one and ten seasons too many.

The finale of the tenth season saw the TV series shed the last vestiges of its over-extended prequel status, with Clark Kent finally putting on the Superman costume and taking flight. This means that ’season 11′ isn’t an extension of ‘Smallville’ as Superman-prequel, but a Superman comic. And, as eagle-eyed readers might know, Superman comics are a thing that already exists. Arguably, this is ‘Smallville’ stripped of its USP, its twist on the familiar re-straightened.

Surprisingly, though, it actually works. Yes, Pere Perez’s art wobbles as it balances the twin priorities of good comic artwork and maintaining actor-likenesses – an eternal curse of the TV/film spin-off comic – but Perez’s work is also open and expressive, and Brian Q Miller’s script captures the TV versions of these characters while off-loading some of the show’s more irritating cliches.

Most of all, compared to the high-collared alien-murdering dick that Superman has become in most DC titles lately – and, to a lesser extent, the quasi-30s brawler in ‘Action Comics’ – this Superman, wearing Tom Welling’s face and with a costume that’s clearly supposed to look like it could fit on a real actor even though it only exists on the page… this feels like the good-natured, affable Superman of popular imagination.

It’s weird that a TV tie-in comic should provide the most authentic-feeling take on one of DC’s signature characters, but then DC’s editorial priorities are weird. Comics are weird. Life is weird.

Backwater or not, this is the kind of fun, engaging superhero comic I wish DC made more of. It’s not high art by any stretch of the imagination, but I found it deeply likable.

‘Smallville: Season 11′ is being serialised in cheap weekly installments on Comixology, or alternatively the print version wraps up three weeks of story along with sketches and a rather pointless episode guide (I suspect reprinted, though I haven’t checked, from a similar feature in the last ‘Smallville’ comic DC put out a decade ago). The episodic online version works fine, but each chapter feels a little thin so you might want to stick to print instead. Pick your poison.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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