There are many positives to continuing Smallville on the printed page and digital domain. The comic book medium frees up the story lines from the confines of budgets and deadlines directors and show runners had to face throughout the ten year run of the show. It’s easier to draw Superman flying through space battling giant monsters than it is to produce it for a live-action television show. The only real negative to continuing the show in comic book form is the fact that they’re still looked at by many as only for geeks and kids, which is a real shame because things are constantly getting more interesting for Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and the gang in Season Eleven.
No doubt trying to pull Batman fans into the world of the television show to either give it a try or get them hooked, Smallville: Season Eleven Issue #5 has the Dark Knight storming Metropolis with his female sidekick Nightwing. He’s on a mission to track down his parents’ killer, Joe Chill, who is rumored to be vital to a ring of weapon’s smugglers working between Gotham and Superman’s majestic city. Meanwhile, the Man of Steel is busy searching for the maker of a teleportation vest. All clues seem to be pointing to two individuals: Lex Luthor and Toyman.
It’s interesting to see a version of Batman completely disconnected from any one already realized in his many comic book and graphic novel appearances. This Caped Crusader blends together the elements of Batwing’s armor and Christopher Nolan’s Kevlar-suited super hero.
Instead of Robin, we get a female counterpart using the name Nightwing whose costume resembles a mix between the actual character’s outfit, a strange skirt / cape resembling Red Robin’s feathers in Teen Titans, and the batons used by Tim Drake as the third Robin. Her hairstyle is reminiscent of what we saw on Carrie Kelley’s Robin in The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel. It’s a fascinating and unique combination of all the different Robins and Nightwings we’ve seen in the past.
Writer Bryan Q. Miller is perfect for penning the continuing adventures of Clark and crew. He served as a staff writer for the television show and worked on comic books like Teen Titans and Batgirl, both of which feature Batman and Superman family members. Miller spins complex tales that successfully weave together and make it hard to put down the issue once you pick it up. Thankfully, with three print issues coming out a month readers don’t have to wait too long in between their fixes.
I have to say artist Chris Cross doesn’t fully capture the likenesses of the actors in the television series very well. You can see similarities to some of them, but some readers might be turned off by the lack of detail shown to the individuals who brought the characters to life for so many years on the show. My advice is to try to get past all this and just enjoy the continued stories we’re fortunate to be getting.
This issue features an extra page devoted to giving us a look at Chris Cross’s concept designs for Batman. There’s also a two-page breakdown of Season Three and Episodes One through Eleven. It’s fun to read through the different episode descriptions and remember the episodes.
Aside from my issue with the character likenesses, I found Smallville: Season Eleven Issue #5 entertaining. Of course the entire time I was reading it, I couldn’t help wishing I could have seen it realized in a live-action setting. I applaud DC Comics for continuing the beloved television series and not just leaving it in the archives. There are plenty of fans out there who want to keep it alive for many years to come. If you haven’t given it a chance because of personal problems you have reading comics, let down your guard and give it a try.