Digital comic book form, to be precise. Interesting that not long after Marvel took the top publisher spot from them that DC is now in the news two weeks in a row…
As you may be aware, last May finally saw the end of the longest running live-action television adaptation of a comic book character ever with the tenth season finale of “Smallville.” At the time, the show that was ostensibly about Clark Kent becoming the future Superman was airing on Friday nights and only those who truly loved the show (or felt compelled to find closure after years of eye-rolling and hand-wringing) still watched it. Basically, it took 10 years for Tom Welling’s Clark to learn the life lessons necessary to fight for Truth, Justice, and all that stuff that Chris Hemsworth’s Thor learned in less than two hours.
One would think, no matter the subjective quality of “Smallville,” that DC Comics and their parent company Time Warner would want fans of the finished TV series to follow the character to his comic roots — especially with the company-wide reboot that’s allowed them to tell new stories of Clark’s first year as Superman. Grant Morrison’s Action Comics for DC’s New 52 isn’t steeped in any continuity — comics, movies, TV or otherwise — so the new or lapsed readers that “Smallville” was apparently meant to bring in will know everything that longtime readers do. It seemed like a natural win-win; again, no matter how good or bad that show may have been.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case, as DC has just announced they will be producing a new, digital-first format
only, Superman title based entirely on the WB’s “Smallville.” This is despite the fact that the TV Supes encountered so many friends and foes alike from the original comics, that the sheer number of already-used storylines make his inevitable tenure as the “real” Man of Steel seem uneventful in retrospect. This Superman will have already tussled with Lex Luthor innumerable times, already met and wed Lois Lane, already watched Jimmy Olsen die, already saved Earth from both General Zod and Darkseid, who already fought the alien monster who was meant to kill him (Doomsday), and whose secret identity is already known by pretty much everybody who would care to know. So other than diluting their product and trying to capitalize on an audience that probably doesn’t exist, what’s the point of turning a crappy TV show into a crappy comic book?
Well, just to play devil’s advocate, the creative team behind the new project is Bryan Q. Miller and Pere Perez who did pretty stellar work on Batgirl up until DC rebooted. Of course, Miller also wrote several episodes of “Smallville” and his handle on Batgirl was much more deft than it was on Superman. Albeit, the TV Clark Kent had no personality because Tom Welling is a terrible actor, so it’s possible a funny book version drawn by a talented, expressive artist could help matters in this regard.
But the digital domain is why this is really happening. DC wants new readers, the only way the publisher can legitimately survive is with new readers; so they’re trying to go where the kids are: online, on iPads and Kindles. Of course, that was supposed to be the reason behind the New 52, much of which was touted as being tailor-made for n00bZ. It worked for a while, then the same thing that always happens happened — people stopped reading over-priced periodical stories to wait for the eventual collected editions and trade paperbacks. Or, just to move on from the genre until the next headline-making maneuver.
I’ve a feeling Smallville: Season 11 won’t be much different. This isn’t “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” With Joss Whedon’s nerd approved cult classic, there was no place for fans to get new stories of the Scoobs before Dark Horse Comics began publishing the financially (if not wholly creatively) successful Season 8 comics, followed by the current Season 9 tales, as well as IDW’s Angel: After the Fall. Besides the books, Superman has been available in pretty much every storytelling format known to man for the past 80 years. As we all know by now, there’s another movie coming out next year that will reach far more susceptible brains than the syndicated TV show, or a digital comic based on that TV show, ever would. And even Zack Snyder can’t possibly make anything worse than “Smallville”.
Then again, I’m not this guy:
When I watched this happening live, I just kept wondering why they never actually showed Tom Welling in the super-suit, which I thought was the whole point of the series. So, I may have no clue what I’m talking about.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into that sort of thing). He actually has one of Cat Staggs’ indie books from the early aughts, as well as a signed print. Jealous?