Smallville has historically divided comics fans; while many have seen it as tonally one of the truest interpretations of the character ever to be filmed with real humans, both post-Crisis fans of Superman and purists of any era have taken issue, at various times, with the show’s use of Superboy, its continuity or, most recently, the bizarre death of Jimmy Olsen (don’t worry, folks–his parents have another kid also called Jimmy).
All that said, this writer had never been able to get into the first few seasons simply because they seemed aimed at a different audience; the teen angst on display in the first few seasons was much more reminiscent of Dawson’s Creek than of any Superman comics I’d ever read, and the involvement of Jeph Loeb (whose Superman comics were hit-or-miss for me) kind of poisoned the well a little bit, too.
Still, by the time Geoff Johns came aboard with his Legion episode, I was willing to give the show another shot. In spite of having my reservations about the way they’d handled the costumes of Oliver Queen and Bart Allen (not to mention the total lack of Martian-ness in Martian Manhunter and the “kid in foil shirt” look of Cyborg), the prospect of a live action Legion of Super-Heroes and the real discussion of what Superman’s legacy would “mean” to the future was irresistible. After all, one of the biggest problems with every live action iteration of the Man of Steel is that they’ve dealt so much with the day-to-day problems and the dropping of buildings on supervillain heads that they’ve failed to talk about the importance of Supes as an inspiration not just for the heroic community but for the rest of the world in general–and that, of course, is so much of why the character remains beloved in spite of now being one of thousands of metahuman characters.
There was more of that this season, of course, once again in the hands of Geoff Johns as the series takes a midseason break from the ongoing General Zod storyline for the double-sized “Justice” event, featuring the JSA. Dr. Fate starts to tell Clark about his importance, and Clark takes it to heart, so much so that it utterly defines what he feels to be his responsibility during the final episodes as he stands off with a couple of dozen Kryptonian villains. Ultimately, the Zod story is a fairly satisfying arc, even if the ending makes very little sense and even if the basic plot is difficult to distinguish from what was already going on in the Superman comics around the same time with Zod taking charge of a group of Kandorians (granted, in space rather than the streets of Metropolis) in World of New Krypton. As well-done as the story was, and as good as the casting of Zod and the character arc that Clark took in trying to save him might have been, I’ll look forward to a tenth and final season where Blue Beetle and Booster Gold show up–but where we have (presumably) only one Kryptonian.
That said–those who are familiar with the show’s mythology and some of the rules governing their uses of Kryptonite, Kryptonian relics and the Book of Rao can probably tell me: Will Kara Zor-El have been snatched off to another dimension at the end of the season? Apparently in order to avoid it one had to be in contact with blue K and have no powers. Will her absence from the scene be enough to keep her grounded to Earth and give writers an opportunity to bring her back?
The upcoming season is being aggressively touted by the CW as a Lois-and-Clark season, which can be both good and bad. Frankly, the show’s ninth season set up the old problem that Lois, ostensibly one of the great investigative journalists of her generation, can’t seem to figure out that her boyfriend and Superman ”The Blur” are one and the same.That seems to have fallen apart with their kiss in the season finale, but whether that will stick, especially in the face of an apparent Lois-as-hostage A-plot for the first part of the season, remains to be seen. Still, the chemistry between Welling and Durance is great, and while I personally like Kristen Kreuk better as an actor (bring her back to Chuck, Zev Borow!), the flatness of most of her interaction with Clark (that I’ve seen–please don’t flame me, shippers!) helps to sell Durance’s Lois as a true soulmate.
Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season was released back on September 7, so if you hurry you can own it on DVD and Blu-Ray before the tenth and final season starts on Friday night.