Disclaimer: This is the first issue of Smallville Season Eleven I’ve ever read and I have not seen the television show. While I will review the issue itself, I’ll mainly be editorializing on the character of Wonder Woman, her storied origin, and how this issue introduces the character into the Smallville-iverse. With that out of the way, all speed ahead!
Smallville was a popular television show, created in 2001 by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, that depicted the early days of Clark “Smallville” Kent ( aka “The Man of Steel”, “The Man of Tomorrow”, faster than a speeding… yada yada SUPERMAN! ), Lana Lang, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor – as portrayed by Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Erica Durance, and Michael Rosenbaum respectfully. It lasted for ten seasons and was notable for focusing on the human drama aspects of Clark’s life (his relationships with Lang, Luthor, and Lane) and less for cape-donning fisticuffs. Ending after ten seasons, the show was revitalized in 2012 by veteran television writer Bryan Q. Miller in comic form. Enter Smallville: Season Eleven.
Creatively, a comic book continuation of a television show allows the writers room to do things that may have otherwise been hampered by budgetary restraints and deadlines. Clark wears the tights, flies, fights, and is able to meet other DC Universe characters such as Batman, Nightwing, Supergirl, and now Diana of Themyscira. Up until this point, Wonder Woman has only been hinted at in the Smallville universe, most famously in the Season Ten episode “Fortune” where the character Chloe Sullivan mentions to Clark how she encountered “a wondrous woman who’s gonna throw you for a loop”.
So how does the Princess of Themyscira’s introduction fare?
This is the best reworking of the Wonder Woman / Steve Trevor origin story in recent memory. The choice to have them meet as children is practically divine in its simplicity and yet incredibly effective. The story opens with little Steve washed up on the shores of Paradise Island, a sinking cruise liner burns at sea, in a classic case of “show, don’t tell” that too many comics forget these days. A small island girl with a spear appears, introduces herself as Diana of Themyscira, and hides Steve away.
In roughly 5 pages, writer Bryan Q. Miller immediately establishes a number of things: 1] somewhere exists a fantastical island of women warriors that have not seen the likes of men, 2] Diana is not content with the confines of this place, obvious by her intrigue in this oddity washed up on her shores and 3] she will protect her “new boy” from those that would harm him.
The introduction hits just enough notes that it doesn’t feel too far removed from the original source material, but is different enough that it doesn’t feel like a tired retread. In a way, it is even more eloquent than the very well done 2009 animated Wonder Woman film. What? You haven’t seen that yet? Well, you really should because it is quite excellent.
The tone of “familiar but different” continues right into the main story set “Twenty Years Later” as Martha Kent (a Senator in this iteration) meets with the shady Director “Bones” to discuss some important political business. The meeting is interrupted, however, by a gang of magic wielding terrorists. But have no fear, as a certain gauntleted Amazon warrior arrives to save the day!
Again, Bryan Q. Miller shows off his knowledge of the character’s origins by reintroducing us to her Gauntlets. This scene instantly reminded me of George Perez’s post-Crisis Wonder Woman #1.
In that issue, Diana is given the Gauntlets of Atlas as a final test of her worthiness. After blocking her first bullets she is granted the uniform and title of Wonder Woman, defender of Paradise Island.
So Diana’s first act in the Smallville universe is to save Superman’s mom. Not a bad start. Diana also refers to Martha Kent as “sister” clearly an homage to the characters iconic status of female empowerment. And as the issue ends, Ma Kent makes a frantic phone call to her son, asleep in bed with Lois by his side, detailing her ordeal. Clark can hardly believe his ears and who can blame him? He’s usually the one doing the saving.
The only bad thing about this issue is that it is too short. But at $0.99 – and with another to be released digitally next Friday, July 26th – it is hard to complain. Bryan Q. Miller crams so much into such a small page length and yet the book never feels cluttered.
Lately in the news there has been a lot of talk about how “tricky” a character Wonder Woman is to adapt. You know, as opposed to the man who dresses like a bat and punches clowns or the alien from another world who shoots laser beams out of his eyes.
Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment, has talked about how the character doesn’t “have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes.” Oh really? Amazon princess, kicks butt, fights for peace in Man’s World? Is it really such a complicated concept? Wonderfully talented writers like Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, George Perez, Brian Azzarello, and now Bryan Q. Miller have been doing just fine crafting interesting, intelligent, and exciting stories for such a “tricky” character. A character, as journalist Alan Kistler eloquently points out, that has been around since 1941. Surely there is at least one storyline in the last 72 years that is worthy of adaptation?
As far as adaptations go, I easily have to give Smallville Season Eleven #56 a:
Writer Bryan Q. Miller, with beautiful artwork by Jorge Jimenez, weaves an entertaining, fun origin tale, effectively bringing Diana of Themyscira to Smallville.
What did you think of the issue? Are you enjoying seeing your favorite show continued as comic book? Please feel free to comment down below and like us on Facebook and follow our Twitter@DCComicsNews!