Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lex And Lionel

Point of view is perfectly controlled in the Smallville novel, Whodunnit by Dean Wesley Smith (IN Smallville Omnibus 2, London, 2006).

As yet, I have reread eight of the twenty two chapters. So far, the point of view characters have been Clark, Chloe, Lionel and Lex. Thus, we have seen Lana, Pete, Jonathan and Martha only externally.

Lionel and Lex are strong viewpoint characters. There has been a complete reversal here. If a comic strip has a viewpoint character, then it must be the hero, thus Superman in Superman. Lex Luthor was created to be a villain in Superman comics but now we can read prose fiction in which Lex and even his father are viewpoint characters. This may be the only time when we get Lionel's pov? He is kidnapped so the only other way to narrate it would have been to give us the perspective of one of his kidnappers. Instead of that, what we read is Lionel's deductions about where he is being taken, plans to escape and/or negotiate with his captors etc and we must learn about them as he does.

These Luthors are complete reversals of the ones in the prestige format comic book Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography by James D. Hudnall. There, Luthor Senior is a drunken Metropolitan slum-dweller murdered for insurance money by his High School-attending son who, in this version, is self-seeking and even spiteful from the start and had been a class mate of Perry White, not an older friend of Clark Kent.

In Whodunnit, the Lex of the Smallville series pauses when it occurs to him that Lionel might already be dead at his kidnappers' hands.

"How often had he wished for that?" (p. 39)

But Lex energetically takes charge of the attempt to rescue his father. I have as yet seen little of the TV series but do remember that one Season ends with Lionel, life endangered, appealing to Lex whose dark side might be about to emerge...

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