Matt D. Wilson
Over the past year, writer Bryan Q. Miller and a rotating team of artists have been slowly building the universe of “Smallville” into its own, far-reaching superhero continuity in the “Smallville Season 11” digital-first comics series.
In August, that reach will extend a little bit further. “Smallville Season 11” #16 will introduce one of the DC Universe’s top-tier characters into the mix, and while she may not necessarily play the role she does in the New 52, she’s sure to shake things up. I asked Miller what’s in store, and just who this character, a princess from an island, if you were wondering, is.
MTV Geek: From the start of “Smallville Season 11,” you’ve been introducing a lot of DC Universe characters into the world of “Smallville” (Monsieur Mallah!). Was that one of your main goals from the start, to make the Smallville U look more like the larger DCU?
Bryan Q. Miller: The series, in hindsight, can be looked at in chapters, or phases. High school (Seasons 1-4) – like any teenager, Clark’s day to day problems consume his life, regardless of what his responsibilities may or may not be. He’s struggling to be who HE feels he needs to be, regardless of what his parents, friends, etc. tell him. Then College/post-High School (Seasons 5-7) – Old enough to vote. Old enough to go to war. Not yet old enough to drink. The time when you begin to really sow the seeds for what will eventually become your adult personality. Then the “adult” era (Seasons 8-10) – Pro-active Clark. He starts taking chances. Takes a few wrong turns on the road to hero (by way of vigilante). But accepts his mistakes. He learns from them. He’s determined at this point to be a better man. And, all the while, his world becomes larger. Magic. Sci-fi concepts. The Multiverse.
“Season 11” takes that ball and runs with it. He’s Superman. He’s Clark Kent. He’s a reporter. He’s become the man both that he wants to be, and that he was always destined to become. Now he needs to use those talents, those gifts, to make the world a better place. Not because anyone’s telling him to, but because he KNOWS it’s the right thing to do. And as he does that, his world continues to get bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Populated with more heroes. More villains. And now, more Wonder. All of those elements have been present, all along – he just hasn’t been able to fly high enough to see the full landscape until Season 11. So the intent isn’t to necessarily “make” it line up, but to continue what we’ve been doing. The last half of the series already placed it within the confines of an aggregate, somewhat independent DCU continuity. I’m just watering the plant.
Geek: When I hear the words “princess” and “island” in reference to a DC comic, my mind definitely goes to a certain place. Is this what I think it is?
Miller: I could not be more excited to say “A thousand times yes!” Diana of Themyscira. Daughter of Queen Hippolyta. Amazon Princess.
Geek: How will this new character differ from the version we’re used to seeing in the DCU?
Miller: That’s the trick, isn’t it? What version ARE we used to seeing? Consistency and Diana don’t have a very good relationship with one another. There have been a host of different takes, reboots, re-brands, etc. of late. All have their merits and strengths! For “Smallville,” I’ve tried to mine and exploit the characteristics that, to me, embody the best of any interpretation of Wonder Woman. Strength. Intelligence, Nobility. And, most importantly, Love. But when we first meet Diana, she isn’t being called “Wonder Woman” just yet. She’s got a very specific mission. There’s a very big reason that she left the island, which we’ll eventually cover. Does she have the bracelets? Oh, yes. Like you see on the cover. And pants, of course. Regarding the rest of her “traditional” look – something tells me she might find her way to a lasso and some armor by the time all is said and done!
Geek: Will her appearance affect any of the romantic relationships in the book?
Miller: Clark and Lois are happily engaged and have been to hell and back – they’re stronger than ever. That said, there will definitely be a bit of a record scratch, but not about who (or between the two people) New 52 readers might expect.
Geek: Characters are definitely different in the “Smallville” continuity, but Monseiur Mallah was basically still a big gorilla. You wrote some episodes of the TV show as well as this comic. Do you have more freedom to cut loose in the comics pages than you did on TV?
Miller: Yes and no. There are certainly things (like the Monkey beat, or the Shuttle disaster from “Guardian”) that we never in a million years could have pulled off with any measure of success on the show proper. So I CAN cut loose – there’s no financial budget on the stories I’m telling. But there’s definitely a “real estate” budget. You only have so many pages and panels to get the story done. Is a certain sequence/gag/action beat/joke worth the page count that might be better spent on character/mystery/romance/etc.? It’s a hard line to walk, for sure.
Geek: We’ve already seen Green Arrow and the JSA in the TV show. Batman and Martian Manhunter have appeared in the comic now. Are you building to the Smallville Justice League?
Miller: Whether or not they’re called the “Justice League,” we’ve been building a community of heroes, with Clark at the center, since Season Four of the show. New heroes come in (Impulse; Martian Manhunter; Aquaman; Cyborg; Arrow; Zatanna; the Wonder Twins; Supergirl; Superboy; Booster Gold and Blue Beetle; the aforementioned JSA; the Batman and Nightwing), then retire to their respective corners away from Metropolis. Players have moved onto and off of the board as the years have passed, but Season Eleven is definitely building toward a Crisis that may very well be too big for Superman to handle alone. What’s important – and is something we always strived for on the show and I continue to strive toward now, in the comic – is that each hero somehow takes something away from his or her interaction with Clark/Superman. Their lives (just like Clark’s) are and should be the better for having crossed paths with the Man of Steel.
“Smallville Season 11” #16 is on sale August 14.