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Why DC Comics Needs “Smallville” to end on a Modern Age Note

April 11, 2010

(Wallpaper by Erika – click on thumb to access)

Why DC Comics Needs “Smallville” to end on a Modern Age Note

By Erika Blake
Admin & Founder OSCK

I doubt that anyone out there would’ve believed that “Smallville” the teenage soapy Superman show from The WB would not only still be on the air nine years later, but at the end of its historic 10th season that will air next year (2010-2011,) “Smallville” will take over the reins from “Stargate SG1” as the continuously longest running sci-fi series in television history. To put that into perspective, “Smallville” is the longest running Superman television franchise and has been a part of Superman mythology for nearly 1/7th of its 72 year history. The little show that everyone assumed would fade into oblivion has now become a major part of the Superman mythos, so much so that references to it are popping up in the modern mythos. Meteor freaks, Lois’s mother dying when she was young, the hints are small but they’re leaking in. There was even a recent copy of a Green Arrow comic that showed The Green Arrow sporting Smallville’s Green Arrow costume. In ABSOLUTE JUSTICE, when Geoff Johns wrote Dr. Fate telling Clark that he’s going to “bring in the dawn of a new  Silver Age” this has me worried, particularly since he’s now the creative head of DC Comics. Paying tribute to the past is all good and fine, but can we please leave it there where it belongs?

When “Smallville” began its initial creators Al Gough and Miles Millar created the series as “Dawson’s Creek” meets “Superman.” Neither of the two men ever envisioned the series lasting beyond high school – which is evident by the uneven and wildly messy 3 seasons that followed Clark Kent graduating from high school while they were still in charge of the series. Both men had limited knowledge of the franchise when they began the series. With Warner Brothers knee deep in lawsuits with the Siegel heirs they often found their hands tied with being allowed to pay homage to some of the most basic components of Superman lore, such as Clark being able to sport an “S” on his chest or being allowed to fall in love with Lois Lane at first sight. With their knowledge of the franchise mostly being limited to the silver age Donner films, the early years of “Smallville” were very much homage to the early classic lore. In many of the older comics from the 50’s and 60’s Lana Lang and Lois Lane often fought for Superman’s affections and during that era fanbases were divided in support of the two leading ladies. “Smallville” took those reigns and kicked up the race even further by inserting its own original character, Chloe Sullivan into the relationship mess. This strategy created a divided and bickering fanbase that even today refused to see eye to eye on anything – even that Clark Kent should be the center of the show.

In the midst of the fan whining, the early years had a brightness to them, they focused heavily on Clark and his normal relationship with his adopted parents Martha and Clark Kent. Throughout his teen angst issues, his parents were always there to keep him morally grounded and surrounded by love. Season 5 marked the death of Jonathan Kent, an event that scarred Clark’s moral center and sent him spiraling for 2 ½ seasons without a moral compass to guide in the right direction, particularly once Martha accepted a job in Washington as Senator, leaving him alone and purposeless on the Kent farm in Smallville.

The series was steeped in Silver Age lore during its early years with Lex Luthor being Clark’s main nemesis. And occasionally other modern re-interpretations of other iconic Superman villains made their appearances onto “Smallville”: Mxyzptlk, Brainiac, Vandal Savage, and Zod. However, it wasn’t until new producers took over the series during season 8 that we truly got our first glimpse that the series might be moving in a new direction with the introduction of Davis Bloom aka Doomsday. Doomsday is a 100% Modern Age villain who was best known for killing Superman. Although many (this site included) argued that the Doomsday arc was the weakest part of the season it was the first sign that perhaps the show that spent so many years paying homage to the Silver Age might now be looking to the present as a guide for how to wrap the series.

At the heart of this transition is Lois Lane. DC Comics allowed for Millar/Gough to utilize the beloved, brazen heroine of the series and insert her into Clark Kent’s life at a time when she had never met him before in all previous Superman mythology. This fact of course infuriated a large portion of the fanbase, however, over time Erica Durance’s sassy, smart, funny, and independent portrayal of the iconic character won over many doubters. DC was wise, when they let her onto the show in season 4; they tied Millar/Gough down with tons of restrictions in being allowed to use her. She couldn’t work at The Daily Planet, she and Clark could’ve been in love, couldn’t show real feelings for each other in real time, etc. This provided them with a rare opportunity to answer one of the time old questions – “Why did Clark Kent fall head over heels in love with Lois Lane from his first day of seeing her at the Daily Planet?

Because it’s me, Hello?” (Lois Lane, Bloodline.)

With these restrictions in place we got to see a fun reinterpretation of the origins of one of the greatest love stories of all time. Lois and Clark began their relationship in an unexpected place the future husband and wife butted heads and were barely friends. They bickered constantly but there was always an underlying current that there was more going on in their relationship than either cared to admit. Always in previous incarnations that bickering was one sided with Lois not noticing Clark and Clark being hopelessly smitten with Lois. This go around, Clark’s attraction to her was subtle – a fact that he hid from everyone, including himself. Clark openly denied being even remotely interested in Lois to any short female companion around him, “Lois? She’s bossy. She’s stuck up, she’s rude, I can’t stand her.” (He doth protest too much.) Both Chloe and Lana bought into his stories and failed to notice how his eyes always followed Lois whenever she was in the same room with him, or how he flat out could never refuse anything that she requested, of that he happily offered up his bed for her to sleep in when she had no place else to go, or with how strangely comfortable they were together when Clark was uncomfortable with everybody (excepting his parents.) From the moment they met, Clark trusted Lois completely – something that could not be said for any of the other women on the show (barring Martha.) Others however were able to see through his bluffing and called Clark out early on his posturing. Upon being in a room with Clark for all of two minutes, Oliver Queen had Clark’s denials pegged, “If I lived under the roof with such a beautiful woman I probably would’ve masked my feelings in sarcasm, too.”

From the early seasons Clark was always stronger whenever Lois was around. He moped less, he was quick to think on his feet, and he usually performed extraordinary feats of heroism to help get his leggy companion out of trouble. Lois was a blur of activity, lived in the moment, and always encouraged Clark to be on the move. This was always a stark contrast to Lana whose own personality mirrored Clarks and was moody and prone to brooding herself. Whenever they were together she brought out the worst qualities in Clark and his growth stagnated.

Lois was another story entirely. Unlike both Chloe and Lana who fed into the hero worship of Clark Kent, Lois has never seen him as anything more than a typical guy with hormones run amok, the attention span sometimes of a gnat, and a teeth grinding habit of annoying the hell out of her. Lois seemed to always know that her tall, dorky friend had potential for more in life but not in the way that Clark envisioned his own future. With everyone around him always focusing on Clark’s super heritage and his destiny to be a great…something…for humanity, Lois Lane was there providing him with scenarios on how she envisioned his life being. In the season 4 finale COMMENCEMENT she informed him that she saw him being a Smallville Sheriff and living happily with Lana and chasing their brood of children around. When things fell apart between Clark and Lana, Lois Lane did the one thing that no one had done considered, she handed him an application for The Daily Planet. In doing so, she provided Clark with the key that will unlock him finding that balance with his two heritages. Even today she continues to think only of Clark by shouting at him to “Go get your Pulitzer, Smallville!” whenever he parts from her side to investigate on his own.

Our newest show runners Brian Petersen and Kelly Souders who always wrote the best mythos episodes in the earlier seasons have spent the last two seasons expertly exploring how Lois’s influence on Clark has helped to change him into the man who will one day be ready to become a symbol of hope for the entire planet. Even though in season 8 Clark and Lois continued butting heads when they now sat across from each other at The Daily Planet, their relationship by this point is a far cry from any previous comic incarnation where Lois has zero feelings for Clark. In COMMITTED, under duress she admitted that she loved Clark, and in BRIDE she left town rather than deal with seeing Clark and Lana together again and getting her own heart stomped on. Lois Lane is the strongest woman on earth, except in matters of her own heart. In that flaw she and Clark are united.

This season, Clark got a glimpse of what kind of a man he would be without Lois in his life and he did not like the results. Joyless and beaten, Clark Kent simply no longer existed. With our iconic couple dating and awkwardly taking their sweet relationship at a snail’s pace (in order to do it correctly,) this season we have seen joy return to our superhero’s heart and a spring to his step. After many years of Clark trying to find his place in the world, he has realized that in Lois Lane is where his heart as found its home. Clark is bumbling and gazing dreamy eyed at her and there’s no doubt over why this is the case. The long build up of their friendship has led these two characters to this place where they completely trust each other – they just need to get over their own unique insecurities in order for everything to fall into place.

The triangle built for two (Clark/Blur/Lois) is in full swing with Lois being confused over her conflicting feelings for The Blur and Clark. Clark who is still not ready to show his face to the world (and there’s that little issue of the inability to fly) can’t hold off the inevitable for too long – destiny is getting closer than ever on the series.

With “Smallville” having limited amount of sand left in its hour-glass, has the rare opportunity to take the series completely out of the Silver Age and into Modern Age as it comes to its conclusion. This would mark “Smallville” as being the one Superman franchise that pays homage to its past and present all in one fell swoop and providing a wonderful taste of the entire Superman legacy for someone who has limited knowledge of the franchise. It would serve as a great way to introduce new readers into the rich world of Superman lore by bridging the two eras. Existing fans will always be able to find something to enjoy in the series.

In a perfect world the series would end with Clark finally telling Lois his secret, her being 100% accepting of him (which we already know to be the case from IDOL & INFAMOUS,) and together they craft Clark Kent into being the Superhero that world needs to be. We’ve already seen that Lois Lane loves making costumes, why not turn mythology on its ear and have her make his costume for him? With the lawsuit stuff out of the way, Clark can now wear his father’s shield on his chest – isn’t it time for the boy who once was left hanging in a corn field with a red S painted on his chest to soon proudly wear one in red on his chest in the finale? Zantanna can come back and zap everyone into believing that Clark has always worn glasses and Clark will be able to show his face to the world without worrying about exposing his human identity. The two could then marry and fly off into the sunset in the grand finale with one of the final shots being the back of a bald head marking the return of Lex Luthor. This would be then a great launching point either for the new feature films, “Smallville” spin-off Direct to DVD movies, or a new series of Superman comics that continue with the mythology that was built from “Smallville.”

Not only would this kind of an ending perfectly align the series with the Modern Age of comics where Lois and Clark have been happily married since 1996, but with the new Nolan “Superman: Man of Steel” film that sounds like it will be a Modern and not Silver, it’s only fitting for this to be how they end “Smallville.” The failure of “Superman Returns” at the box office has proven one thing – the Silver Age is dead. With this ending for “Smallville,” we would get the endgame that mythos fans have been longing for with the series since Lois Lane arrived on the series in season 4, but it would be a fitting tribute to the series as a whole. Clark Kent finally finds the peace and happiness in his life and becomes the man who we all have wanted him to be, because he’s found the one person who makes him a stronger man because Lois is able to share him with the world. The young, lonely hero who spent years worried that he’d be alone and always longed to be loved, will find his soulmate and will finally be a complete person.

DC Comics shouldn’t see a downside to this kind of an ending either, particularly since they’re about to reboot the comic book franchise with it returning back to Clark & Lois as the core characters in new adventures and with the new film being from the same era, they’ll find a whole new generation of ‘Smallville’ fans who will be able to easily accept the transition and turn them into Modern Age fans.

Superman is all about hope, how could it possibly be wrong to hope that our hero will get the happy ending that he deserves when “Smallville” ends and that we will finally see the Silver Age fade back into the past where it belongs?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. WendySue permalink
    April 11, 2010 9:06 pm

    I loved everything you said in this post.. About clark finally finding the one person who will accept who he is..and it definitely was never Blana.. And Chloe who isn’t even in the superman Lois and Clark forever..


  2. thehumanscorch permalink
    April 11, 2010 10:38 pm

    Why Smallville WONT: Remember their track record:
    READ litany on Blondie and Lana

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