As far as television tie-ins go, this is quite unique: a comic, based on a television series, that's based on a comic. Smallville is a reworking of the pre-history of Superman, charting his time as a teenager, growing up on a corn farm in the eponymous mid-western agricultural town. This is a coming-of-age Clark Kent, not yet fully conversant with all his super-powers, and certainly not flying or wearing the red cape.
There's a certain assumption of familiarity with the TV series in this book, as you need to know that in the Smallville version of events, Superman landed on his adopted parents' farm amid a heavy shower of meteorites. These space rocks were fragments of Clark's home planet, Krypton, which have a normalising effect on Clark, neutralising his powers, but a mutating effect on any locals who come into contact with it. And of course, comics fans will also need to come to terms with the fact that Clark Kent and Lex Luthor are best of friends.
Some mention is made in the introduction that things can be done with the comic that can't be done in the TV series due to its budget limitations and, as a result, we see the fragments of Kryptonite that are dotted around the countryside turning young men into half dinosaurs or giving them translucent powers. This is all very well, but the TV version of Smallville is almost better for its non-reliance on special effects, allowing more space for character development and Clark's interest in the insular, everyday problems of life in a small town.
In the same breath, the comic also suffers from the usual problem of tie-ins with ongoing television series, in that nothing can actually happen to any of the main characters that might change them in any way, because that would mess up the continuity. And since most of the best ideas are going to be kept for the TV series, there are essentially a bunch of stories where nothing much happens to anyone except the incidental characters that are introduced. Still, you could argue that the same is true of the Smallville concept as a whole, since Clark, Luther and chums have got to survive to grow up into their adult roles.
Having said that, the writers don't to a bad job. There's a nice story that's slightly reminiscent of elements of V for Vendetta, where Lex Luthor is kept locked up by FBI men who aren't quite what they seem. The remainder scrabble their way above average, though enormous fans of the series will certainly get more out of them than an indifferent bystander.
On the art side you've got a selection of artists with different styles, all trying to recreate the look of the actors who play the characters on TV. Thankfully, they do a fair job at this and there aren't enough key characters with similar appearances for it to prove problematic.
Newcomers who've fancied the series on TV but never really got round to it would probably be better off looking to the DVD set of the first series (available from Amazon: US/UK), while uber-fans will be delighted their favourite characters are getting more of an outing. However, this certainly isn't something that's likely to convert the barely interested to the Smallville phenomena.
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