Cover of "Smallville Vol 1: Guardian." (DC Comics)Link
Tom Welling as Clark Kent in "Smallville." (The CW)Link
Tom Welling as Clark Kent and Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan in the "Smallville"finale. (The CW)Link
Tom Welling as Clark Kent and Erica Durance as Lois Lane in the "Smallville" finale. (The CW)Link
Cover of "Smallville Season 11" #14 digital comic. (DC Comics)Link
Clark Kent returns home in chapter 40 of the "Smallville" digital comic. (DC Comics)Link
“Smallville” concluded its television run on the CW with a series finale in May 2011 that saw Tom Welling’s Superman finally take to the skies, but the emotional moment didn’t exactly signal the end of the show. Almost a full year later, the show’s 11th season kicked off via a digital comic penned by former “Smallville” writer Bryan Q. Miller, and last week the first four issues were released as a single print graphic novel with cover art by Cat Staggs and interiors by Pere Perez.
Set six months after the events of the finale, “Smallville Vol. 1: Guardian” sees Lex Luthor launch his “Guardian Defense Platforms” to ward off alien invaders after the scare of Apokolips — but he obviously has other, more nefarious plans in mind.
Hero Complex caught up with Miller to ask about the creative impetus for telling “Smallville’s” 11th season on the paneled page and the challenges of adapting the saga for a new medium.
HC: Did you approach the storytelling differently writing for comics rather than television?
BM: From a writing standpoint, I approached it the exact same way, so it certainly isn’t being written any differently — it’s just being written a little bigger. It’s about having more space and time to tell a story. We don’t have to worry about fitting a story into 42 minutes of TV — you can fit it into 120 pages over four months…. The show, since it had its very practical budget, you could have episodes where there was practically no super anything. But then when you translate that into a comic, it’s not a comic that’s built to be a talking head comic. We try to keep the action up. So, in answer to your question, just shifting gears to make the book be a little more action oriented than talking, without abandoning either one, has been a good kind of hurdle. It’s a challenge more than a hurdle.
HC: There’s no particular notion of doing real live television movies in the future, right?
BM: If there are, that’s way outside my purview. I’m not looped in on those conversations. I’d say logistically and financially, it’s highly unlikely — but never say never.
HC: Is the comic book on a seasonal arc like the TV show? Is this the “Guardian” arc?
BM: The arc for the season will be as we’ve done in the past — like in Season 7 it was all about the Traveler; in Season 8, it was all about Doomsday. In Season 9, Zod. And then in 10, it was him becoming Superman in our overarching arc. So in Season 11, which is no secret at this point cause we’re a year in, it’s all about the Crisis. So the larger “Smallville” arc for the year is a little bit Infinite Crisis, a little bit Crisis on Infinite Earths — but it definitely has to do with the Monitors… It’s kind of blatant if you know what you’re looking for, but we finally gave them a name.
HC: How much input do “Smallville” creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar have in the direction of the book?
BM: I love them and they helped get me started, but I haven’t talked to any of those guys. I am all by my lonesome, so the pressure is all on me to impress and disappoint all at the same time. I bear that burden.
HC: What made Pere Perez the right artist for the comic?
BM: I had worked with Pere before, so we had a very good relationship and a very good shorthand, so that was certainly helpful with getting the book off the ground. We’ve been rotating artists ever since [on the digital series], just as we rotated directors on the TV series, giving different artists a chance to take a crack at the universe with each episode. It’s a good way, I think, for lots of different artists to draw lots of different characters. It’s a way for everyone to take a crack at a Superman story, and it’s a way to give our readers exposure to an artist they might not get to know otherwise.
HC: Do the events going on in the New 52 universe affect what you do?
BM: Not in a direct way. There may be bits and pieces of terminology, like A.R.G.U.S., “Oh yeah, A.R.G.U.S. is a thing! We can put them in.” Not saying that we do that specifically, but that’s the kind of thing that we can glean from it. We’re just going to take from the wealth of original things and from DC stories past and make what would be a fun story to see through that “Smallville”-colored lens.
HC: As someone who’s spent a lot of time thinking about Superman as a character, what’s your take on “Man of Steel”?
BM: I’m excited to see it just like everyone else. I hope it does smashingly. I hope it does very well and I hope children go to it cause I do hope younger readers and viewers get some Superman back in their lives.
— Jevon Phillips
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