The hit TV series might be based on Superman comics, but that doesn’t mean it can’t inspire its own comic books. Wait, what?
Smallville Volume 1 is the first and only collected edition graphic novel or trade paperback that was released during the show’s original run.
The Smallville comic book was set in the world of the TV series and told stories that supplemented the show. A special one-shot issue titled Smallville: The Comic was released between seasons 1 and 2.
Following the success of the one-shot, a regular comic book series debuted in May of 2003, around the time of the TV show’s Season 2 finale. In total, 11 issues of Smallville volume 1 were released between then and January 2005.
Comic Books Collected: Smallville: The Comic and Smallville Volume 1 Issues #1-4
Where to buy: Trade Paperback
Jonathan and Martha Kent
The official synopsis, from DC Comics:
Nine exciting comics stories featuring characters from the hit WB! series explode in this 160-page trade paperback collecting material from SMALLVILLE: THE COMIC and SMALLVILLE #1-4! Clark Kent battles a raptor-like Kryptonite freak and an invisible foe in Smallville, while strange things happen at the Miss Smallville beauty pageant. Plus, find out what Chloe did on her summer internship at the Daily Planet! All this, and much, much more!
More “meteor freaks”! Clark and Lana pining over each other at The Talon! Lex and Chloe doing Lex and Chloe things! All the core elements of Smallville Seasons 1-4 (ish) are here for your eyes to see.
A total of 5 issues are included in this volume. There are also some short stories included. The titles, with a quick description can be found below:
- Raptor – A new “meteor freak” named Greg Fox, who Lana briefly dated in junior high, seeks revenge on Lex for firing his father. May or may not involve a dinosaur.
- Exile and The Kingdom – This is a short story that explores the Lex/Lionel relationship and why Lex doesn’t move back to Metropolis.
- Paterfamilias – Pete and Clark try to have a camping night in the woods, only to find out Jonathan has been abducted.
- Beauty – A mystery develops at the “Miss Smallville” beauty pageant where Clark and Pete are volunteering.
- What I Did On My Summer Vacation – Chloe investigates a mob boss with the help of Pete during her summer internship at the Daily Planet.
- Chimera – In the aftermath of the attempted murder on Lionel, Lex is framed for a different murder.
- Vows – Lex and Lana look back at lost loved ones.
- Phelan – Clark reflects on his time with the mysterious Sam Phelan and wonders what he really was trying to accomplish.
The nice thing about comics is that they aren’t limited by a TV budget. They are only limited by imagination. So if you want to see Clark take on a dinosaur, you don’t have to worry about the cost of CGI or practical effects. These issues take advantage of that, although I feel they could have pushed it a little further.
The downside to comic books set in the world of a TV series is that nothing terribly important can happen that would alter the show. Any big revelations, important character back stories, or key plot devices would have to be included on the actual TV show. After all, Smallville Season 2 averaged 6.3 million viewers per episode. Many popular comics sell less than 100,000 copies per issue.
This means that little is added to the overall mythology of a young Superman in these comics. You could take these scripts, make a few tweaks, and drop it into any random part of Season 1 and nobody would notice. That could be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.
For Smallville fans who had never looked into the comics, getting to see more from their favorite characters will be the highlight of this book. The characterizations are spot-on if not outright re-hashing of personalities on the show. This makes sense, as some of the writers of the comics were also writers for the TV show.
Basically, if you like the characters on the show, you will like them here. There are some new characters who never appeared on the series, but I don’t think there are many new ones created that fans would be clamoring to appear in live-action.
The book features a variety of artists from issue to issue. Because of this, the quality and consistency is obviously pretty mixed. There is some standout artwork, though. Issues #1 and #2, Paterfamilias and Beauty, have some fantastic artwork that does a great job of bringing the show to panel form.
Some of the issues in the series have lesser quality art. As someone who prefers consistency when reading a series, that is a bit of a downer. The good news is that it isn’t a struggle to recognize the characters. If you’ve seen any of the early seasons, you’ll have no problem identifying any of the main characters.
TV series continuity
While this is clearly in the world of Smallville and I believe it is considered part of canon, there are some small things that question that. For instance, one issue features the “Miss Smallville” beauty pageant. This appears to be similar to the Season 7, Episode 3 title Fierce. Does a small rural town in Kansas have multiple beauty pageants? It’s certainly possible, but it would have been a treat to fans to see the same name used?
There are plenty of other minor things like this that come up. They in no way impact the quality of the books and they don’t create major plot holes for later seasons. But since I assume only Smallville fanatics would be reading these, I know this is the kind of thing they think about.
There’s also some fun Easter eggs that fans might enjoy. For instance, did you know that Chloe’s password is “wallofweird”?
Besides the main stories, there are a few special features included. The introduction by Jeph Loeb, writer of many comics and Smallville TV, is particularly interesting. It takes fans back to the days when the show was first being aired.
Included in the back of the paperback is an article written by Chloe Sullivan that was for the Daily Planet. There is also a behind the scenes article about the TV show.
As far as I know, these comics have yet to be released in digital format, which is a shame. If the TV series was airing new episodes today, a digital comic would be perfect for holding fans over between seasons. It also could be marketed to fans more easily today. Many fans didn’t know these books existed when they first came out. Luckily, the new Smallville: Season 11 comic will have a chance to do that for fans who were sad to see the show come to a close.
Smallville Volume 1 doesn’t offer earth-shattering revelations about our favorite characters or introduce any other lasting impact on the continuity. However, it does offer some fun new stories about some beloved characters and is a worthy addition to any Smallville fanaatic’s collection.