Don’t you just hate it when your favorite television show gets canceled? Even if the series had a satisfying conclusion, sometimes you still feel like you want to see the story of the characters you have grown attached to over however many seasons continue.
Believe it or not, many comic book writers feel the same way. It is not an uncommon practice for the stories of certain television shows to continue in the comics even after the show is canceled.
Shows like “Gargoyles,” “Star Trek” and “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” have all continued their stories in various comic book series. Today we take a look at the continuation of one of my favorite television shows, “Smallville.”
The show “Smallville” aired on the CW, at the time called the WB, from 2001 to 2011. Initially, the show was meant to be a prequel to Superman, focusing on a young Clark Kent in high school learning to control his powers and discovering more about his alien past.
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In later seasons, the characters started to take on a life of their own and the focus shifted to one more based on retellings of classic Superman story arcs, with the series ending with Clark finally donning the mantle of the Man of Steel.
The show had a pretty devoted fan base, but several comic fans have expressed their dislike for the show, often making complaints in the vein of, “It’s been ten years, is he Superman yet?”
I personally loved the show and loved how the characters evolved over time without necessarily restricting themselves to the 60-year-long continuity of the comics.
Throughout the later seasons, several other DC heroes were introduced as recurring characters or in some cases regular cast members. Characters like Aquaman, Black Canary, Martian Manhunter and most notably, Green Arrow, all had their time to shine during the series.
However, there was one character that never was featured in the show, much to the disappointment of the fans. Fortunately, part of the beauty of making the transition from television to comic books is being able to write stories that would otherwise be impossible to bring to life in a live action show.
Today, we have the debut of Batman in the Smallville Universe. The story begins in Gotham City with Batman and his sidekick Nightwing fighting off some arms dealers. One of the crooks drops the name Joe Chill, a name Batman recognizes as that of the man who murdered his parents.
After that there is a hostage situation in Metropolis where Superman defeats a petty criminal with a high tech teleport suit. The rescue is witnessed by billionaire playboy, Bruce Wayne, in town for a meeting with Lex Luthor, or at least that’s what he wants people to think. That night Batman breaks crime boss Bruno Manheim out of jail for information on Joe Chill, only to be stopped by Superman. This leads into a confrontation between the two for the next issue.
I can see this as an episode of the TV series and a good one. Several nods to the series are included but not to the point where they alienate those who have never seen the show.
The scenes with Batman are well done and the character’s introduction in this universe is handled exactly how it should have been. In regards to the artwork of this week’s comic, the characters from the show are all recognizable and resemble the actors from the show.
The design of Batman is also nice. Batman’s costume looks a lot more like a high tech suit of armor and appears more practical and realistic than other incarnations but does not lose the iconography of the character. The illustrations excellently shift the mood between the dark and dreary streets of Gotham to the bright and colorful Metropolis.
The characters from the show, namely Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, all feel like what their counterparts from the show would eventually become. Clark and Lois’ quirky banter as well as Lex’s obsession remain intact. Batman on the other hand is a bit more complex.
It seems they’ve opted for a more a much darker and more morally questionable Batman than one might expect, it’s not a bad change, just a change and it creates a nice contrast for Clark, who is an icon of truth and justice, adored by the entire town. Nightwing is the only character that bothered me. In this universe, Nightwing is Barbara Gordon, Batgirl in the main continuity.
I don’t understand why the change was made nor do I understand why they made the ordinarily compassionate and book smart character of Barbara into an annoying little girl who’s excited at the prospect of beating up criminals.
Wes Serafine can be contacted at