Smallville Season 11 has begun!  The first issue is out, but does Guardian deliver the goods?  A lot of Smallville critiquing in the past came down to analyzing how well it respected its source material, and now that the show has transferred to comic book form we have at least two layers of conversion to assess, as well as a comic to judge on its own terms.  Let me say that before even reading the book, I’m immediately impressed by three things:

  • It came out on a Friday.  Obviously new comic book day is normally Wednesday, but bucking that trend keeps with our old Smallville traditions.
  • Also in keeping with traditions, the first issue has the one word title Guardian.  The one word titles are a staple of the show that I’m glad to see continued.
  • It was written by Bryan Q. Miller.  I’m starting to make an effort to credit more than just the household names on pieces I review, but I have to drop his name first because he’s part of what made the show so great.

Season 11 is starting some new traditions too.  Clark is doing morning flybys along the Metropolis skyline.  Watching him is becoming part of everyone’s daily routine, and he’s become the beacon of hope that reassures everyone as they start their day.  It’s a very upbeat opening, and a great introduction to the post-contact world our characters have lived in since the season 10 finale.  So much of season 10 was about stepping out into the light, and it’s glorious to see it here both figuratively and literally.  The sun is shining or reflecting in just about every panel and I can almost feel those toasty rays. It sets a bright and warm tone for the book, and the early outside settings are a breath of fresh air.  As we breeze through the first few pages we pass Chloe, Oliver, Lois, and Lex, who are all old regulars that we can expect to see a lot of this season.  I can’t wait to see their full take on this version of Lex Luthor, and how much his new assistant Otis ends up resembling his predecessors.

A beautiful Metropolis morning protected by our guardian SupermanClark is fully caped, booted and suited now, and his first super save of the season is up in space!  An orbiting station finds itself on the wrong end of cosmic disaster, with a depressurized cabin, gravity offline, and a man trapped on the outside.  I love these kinds of rescues because they’re the type of thing only a super hero can handle, and it shows them proving their worth in some way other than cleaning up their own mess or defeating a nemesis with a personal vendetta.  Fans of the show will be happy to see how strongly the characters resemble their live action counterparts, especially Lex and most especially Clark on the Cat Staggs drawn cover.  A lot of Smallville’s success can be attributed to its charming cast, so capturing their voices and likenesses will be important.  I certainly heard the old Green Arrow I know and love loud and clear.  This first issue was more or less an introduction, but an entertaining one and a smooth read.  The digital first concept seems to have played heavily into how the comic was put together, because it’s one the best experiences I’ve ever had reading a comic book on this medium.

Not only is this a great entry into the digital marketplace, but it has the potential to be the best Superman book out there.  The New 52 versions are taking bold new steps into the future, and the Smallville comic could be a great avenue for fans that aren’t sold on that particular re-brand yet.  The change in suit is a DC mandate, but it’s still ironic that after all the scrutiny Smallville was under, and all the debate over how well it adapted the mythology, that the Smallville universe may be closer to the traditional Superman than DC’s main line.  That being said, please don’t pirate too much,  Smallville fans have been a very vocal fan base in the past so let’s make sure the decision makers know how much we appreciate this version!  Speaking of appreciation I want to take a moment here to credit the art of Pere Perez, colorist Randy Mayor, Saida Temofonte’s letters, editor Kwanza Johnson and assistant Sarah Litt.  The last line of this issue was “I’m just doing my job,” and I thank you all for doing yours so well!