When Clark Kent sent his people to found the new Kryptonian homeworld that would become Argo, he triggered a series of events that he could never have foreseen; with the sector repopulated, the Green Lantern corps demanded a new member, which only serves to land Clark in a new world of trouble. Bryan Q. Miller contributes a wonderful addition to the Smallville universe with “Smallville: Lantern,” which seamlessly incorporates the Green Lantern corps into the show’s mythology. With Marcio Takara’s lackluster art, “Smallville: Lantern” #1 marks a solid if flawed debut for “Smallville’s” latest offshoot.
Story-wise, Miller’s writing continues to be spot-on. As with the rest of “Season 11” so far, the characters’ dialogue emanates off the page; you can almost hear the actor’s voices in their speech patterns and conversations with one another. It feels like the same old show with the same old characters, but with a world of potential that Miller isn’t afraid of tapping. He uses the “Smallville” season 9 finale to situate long-time fans in the sequence of events. With a short recap and a glimpse into the Kryptonian side of the story, this segues naturally into the “how” and “why” of this new story. He organically fits this story into a timeline of events both new and old, using both the creation of Argo and the Justice Society of America as holding points for the show’s continuity while branching out to establish this parallel history. What’s more, Miller infuses the story with plenty of nods to the Green Lanterns’ mythos, including nods to Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner while he holds to the Paralax storyline and in classic Lantern villains, the Manhunters.
Likewise, Miller throws in some genuinely funny and heartfelt moments that truly humanize the characters. He includes some quieter but not understated scenes, such as Chloe and Oliver reaching a lovers’ agreement with a pinky swear and Lois and Clark on date night (complete with a clever “Avengers” reference, to boot). Additionally, some sequences are downright hilarious, up to and including Clark’s failed attempt to rid himself of his Lantern ring by throwing it into the atmosphere. Miller lays on the charm as Clark fumbles to use his new “skill set,” instilling Clark’s character with palpable frustration as he struggles to save the day.
Where Miller’s writing is so enjoyable, Marcio Takara’s artwork only disappoints. His style feels rushed; none of the figures have any likeness to their actor counterparts and the backgrounds are largely blank, using the city skyline only where it was imperative. His characters lack details even when they are the sole focus of the panel, with fingers that run together, few facial features, and overuse of shading. In areas that demand creativity, Takara’s answers are dissatisfying; for instance, the Green Lantern Corps’ costumes become terribly bland with an all-black body suit that lacks all detail save for a few paltry patches of armor. He also breaks his own continuity in a few sequences, occasionally forgetting Clark’s glasses when he’s dressed as a civilian. Although certain scenes are ripe for Easter eggs, like the panel that displays the past glories of the Green Lantern corps, Takara includes nothing of importance. The only flare comes from Carrie Strachan’s eye-catching colors; her neon greens pop against the dark blues and blacks of the background, from Oliver’s stash in his clock tower to the armor incorporated in the Lanterns’ outfits.
Can Bryan Q. Miller do no wrong? Under his guidance, “Smallville: Lantern” #1 is nothing but lively and enjoyable. Although the book suffers from its uninspired artwork, the story holds strong with fantastic continuity, humor and heart.