In “Smallville Season Eleven” #16, Bryan Q. Miller and Jorge Jimenez continue to expand “Smallville’s” universe with the addition of a wonderful new character who remains an old fan favorite: Princess Diana of Themyscira. The issue craftily blends together conventions from the television show with opportunities more suitable to comic book formatting, ultimately capturing the voice of the characters in this fun and fantastic series. With an updated backstory and mysterious motives, Wonder Woman flourishes under Miller and Jimenez’s tutelage in an effective and effortless way that remains faithful to the show’s atmosphere.
As a show, “Smallville” had a tradition of cleverly reinventing characters to break them out of outdated roles; the comic series continuation thankfully maintains this practice with Wonder Woman. Nothing captures this more clearly than her new, Lara Croft-inspired outfit, which gives her character a more modern flavor even while incorporating homages to her original costume. What’s more, the new getup emphasizes how in touch Diana is with “man’s world” through its style and practicality. Miller’s Wonder Woman is no fish-out-of-water who gawks in awe at man’s technology. Through her conversation with Lois, the reader sees a savvy, confident Diana who is aware of her surroundings and possesses a sense of purpose, even if that purpose has yet to be revealed. Although readers only get a glimpse of her in this issue, Miller builds a strong foundation for her character, modernizing aspects of her attitude while staying true to decades of character development.
Additionally, the issue is populated by smaller character moments for the other protagonists within the overarching plot, accentuating Miller’s knack for writing well-rounded personalities. From Martha Kent’s suave handling of political issues to Lois’ klutziness to Clark’s dedication to aiding in even the smallest disasters, precious story space dwells on asides that ultimately shape them into the characters we love and the issue is stronger for it. This way, Miller also preserves each character’s unique voice; the dialogue and actions build organically off this as well as the ten years’ continuity from the show. Miller exercises mastery over “Smallville’s” mythology in his character building.
Jimenez contributes to the issue’s scope with his distinct character design and sweeping, detailed landscapes. However, his style suffers a little when drawing children; more often than not, he draws children with heads that are proportionally too large for their bodies. Since Diana’s childhood is an important aspect of the issue, this becomes hard to ignore, giving the scenes a cartoony feel that the rest of the issue lacks. The transitions between the past and the present, so fluid elsewhere in the story, become jarring when the children are in the same frame as an adult. Elsewhere, the artwork — aided by Carrie Strachan’s gorgeously vibrant colors — stays consistently fantastic.
“Smallville,” at home in its new format, excels as a comic book by seizing opportunities it couldn’t afford as a television show. Miller utilizes every ounce of its potential through his bold characterizations and his ability to tastefully update beloved heroes, with Jimenez neatly tying the issue together through a fluid layout and detailed scenes. “Smallville Season Eleven” #16 is an absolute pleasure to read. Any person who calls themselves a fan of the series needs to pick this book up immediately.