EDIT 9:23 AM PT: The original version of this story had an incorrect release date for “Smallville: Season 11 – Chaos” #1. The first chapter debuts online Friday, June 6; the print collection goes on sale August 13.
Bryan Q. Miller started his decade-and-counting long run on “Smallville” in 2004 when he joined the popular TV series as intern during Season Five. He was hired as a writers’ assistant for Season Seven and after completing the WB Writers’ Workshop, was promoted to staff writer for Season Eight. And when “Smallville” completed its 218-episode run with Season 10, he was serving as Executive Story Editor. His time with the franchise didn’t end there as he has been writing the digital-first “Smallville: Season 11” for DC Comics since its launch in 2012.
Fully invested in the TV series’ mythos, Miller told CBR News that the multi-arc comic book series is heading towards its climax and the upcoming miniseries titled “Smallville: Season 11 – Chaos” brings Clark, Lois and Lex closer than ever to the Crisis that the series has been building toward since its inception. But before the climatic crisis strikes, Lois and Clark must survive a wild adventure through the Bleed — an event triggered when Lex Luthor and Ted Kord join forces to fire up a supercollider in Antarctica.
Miller also discussed the multi-layered storytelling a digital-first comic allows him to tell, why writing super-geniuses like Lex, Ted, Michael Holt and Bruce Wayne offers a unique power-set to superhero comics and teased which classic DCU characters will be making guest appearances in “Smallville: Season 11 – Chaos,” which takes flight this August.
CBR News: The next arc on “Smallville: Season 11” is called “Chaos.” Whenever I hear the term “chaos,” I think of Dr. Malcolm from “Jurassic Park.” Does this upcoming arc deal with chaos theory like Dr. Malcolm investigated — which is the basically the study of our present not affecting our future — and if it does affect it, it’s only by chance?
Bryan Q. Miller: In this arc, chaos is a little less about the science of the story and a little more about the very nature of what’s happening in the story. A lot of things for the season are coming to a head and we have three stories happening simultaneously throughout the course of the arc. And each one is very crazy, very big and epic in its own way. Literally, by design, it is chaotic thus the title “Chaos.”
From the solicitations we know that Lex is looking to invest in Ted Kord’s new supercollider experiments in the Antarctic. When we saw Ted Kord on the “Smallville” TV series, we also met Jaime Reyes — are we going to get some Blue Beetle action in “Chaos?”
You’ll see Ted, in action, in a sense. What we set up in “Smallville: Season 11” back in “Detective,” which featured the first appearance of Batman, was that Bruce Wayne comes to Metropolis, he has a meeting with Lex about the joint WayneTech-Holt Corp supercollider that’s being built in Antarctica. And Lex is not interested in joining the funding of that project. He has more pressing things to do. When we visited the scientific compound in Antarctica at the start of the “Argo” arc, we caught up with Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, who were serving as security. Given the events of the rest of the season, including what Lex experienced in “Alien, when he went face-to-face with one of the Monitors and saw what damage one of the Monitors could do and in an interesting way, some stuff spinning out of the events of the “Lantern” arc, which concluded last week, Lex heads to Antarctica to reconsider the prospects of joining the supercollider project but of course, to his own nefarious end.
Superhero comics are so often forged in the brawn of its characters but when you are focusing on the brainiacs of the DCU — Lex Luthor, Bruce Wayne, Michael Holt and Ted Kord — and their personal sides, does that allow for a different brand of storytelling?
Having worked on the TV series and its comics for 10 years, “Smallville” is very much an environment that the person behind the mask — even though we didn’t have masks — always came first. There was always a personal side to everything. The secret identity was always at stake. And today, when writing characters like Lex, even with his underpinning supervillain trying to creep out, there is a still a grounded element to him, a personal side to him that we have access to. There is still humanity with Lex, which is very, very important when you are doing Lex Luthor.
And Lois is heading to Antarctica too. Have Ted Kord and his team of scientists discovered something special that warrants coverage from the Daily Planet?
She’s there and she has an exclusive through the Planet for the official first firing of the WayneTech-Kord Industries-HoltCorp supercollider. Of course, because Lois is there for that, you can expect something to go very, very wrong. She doesn’t know that going in but trouble just tends to follow her no matter how far below the equator she goes.
Obviously, this is fiction, and specifically comic books, but have you been following the discoveries being made in Switzerland at the Large Hadron Collider and does that research at all inspire what you are doing here?
In a sense, yes, but in our story, the supercollider and the firing of it are just the starting point of the adventure, for actually two of the three adventures. It sets two stories in two different directions. Not really, too close to the nitty-gritty of actual science but enough that a passing person would say, “Oh yeah. I have heard of the Higgs boson supercollider.” There is just enough science to make it have some semblance of sense so that the events of this story have a starting point that people can understand.
You mentioned there are three storylines. One, obviously, is the Lex storyline. Is Lois’ story tied into that one or is that its own separate story?
The two stories branch off at a specific point. On the cover for the first print issue and the digital cover for weeks 1, 2 and 3, it’s Superman chasing Lois through a red rift. And that red rift, as we’ve seen a few times in “Smallville: Season 11” is the Bleed, which is the energy that fills the space between the realities of the Multiverse that the Monitors can weaponize and use. If you connect the dots, you can assume something goes wrong with the supercollider and then Lois and Clark end up on an adventure through at least a corner of the Multiverse as it’s under siege from the Monitors, who are annihilating everything.
We’ve talked about this before but one of the beauties of the medium — digital comics — is that you can have a full-fledged war with Monitors in the Bleed in “Smallville: Season 11,” something which would have been difficult to produce during the run of the TV series.
One of the things that we have done during “Smallville: Season 11,” and it’s been fantastic, is get a new artist on board to draw each arc. On the TV show, we had a new director for each episode. We rarely had the same director twice in a row, so you get a slightly different feel and mood and tone for each episode. With every artist/inker/colorist team, we get a different feel for each episode. The unique thing about “Chaos” as an arc is that once, much like we did in Season 10 of the show with Luthor, and our first trip into the idea of parallel Earths, when Clark swapped country mouse/city mouse-style with a Clark raised by Lionel Luthor instead of the Kents, we get to see that Earth Two, as we called it, the visual look of Earth Two was different. It was dark and dingy and metallic. While Earth on “Smallville” was always warm and full of color.
The great thing about this arc is that when Lois and Clark are lost into the rift, when they visit each different world, we are rotating artists into each of those different worlds. The main story, which are the two other stories happening back on the regular “Smallville” Earth, are being done by the same artist but when we travel, we give each world a different look with a different artist. That’s super exciting. We have Agustin Padilla on the main story for the arc and we also have visits from Daniel HDR and Marcelo Di Chiara.
The Lex story is one. Lois and Clark traveling through the Bleed is two. What’s the third story?
The third story is the chaos that is happening back in Metropolis where there is a dilemma and a quarantine situation regarding a little something called the Eclipso gem. And Superman is gone so who is going to save the day? That’s a surprise so we can’t get into that just yet.
I was going to ask you about Booster Gold but are we going to see another classic DCU character make his or her “Smallville debut” in this arc?
No. It’s some returning favorites. And because he is security at the supercollider facility, if something were to go down and Lex was forced to stay in Antarctica, Booster would definitely come stumbling into that.
You mentioned earlier that we were nearing the climax of “Smallville: Seaason 11.” Are we coming to the end of the series too?
I would say that the Crisis is closer than it’s ever been. Crisis has been looming all year and the events of “Chaos” bring us closer to it than we have been all year.
And what about “Smallville: Season 12?”
I am still mired in finishing the weekly “Season 11” [Laughs]. That’s like asking someone that still hasn’t crossed finish line in one 25km marathon what they are going to do for their next marathon. [Laughs] I’m just hitting my water cups and looking at the ground and heading toward that finish line.
The digital-first “Smallville: Season 11 – Chaos” #1 is set to debut online June 6; the print version arrives in stores August 13.