Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Understated Clark And The Heroic Lex

In Whodunnit by Dean Wesley Smith (Smallville Omnibus 2, London, 2006), Chloe, Clark and Lana have found two bodies in a pond at the Franklin farm and alerted the police. Later, investigating a second pond hidden in a swamp at the back of the farm, they see from a distance flannel and human hair on a tree and again contact the police. Clark alone has discerned two human bodies among the weeds but must wait, like everyone else, for police divers to recover a body that can be identified as a third murdered Franklin.

This is a far cry from the Superman that Clark will become or even from the Superboy that he was in earlier versions of the story. Apart from his more acute vision, he is just one of the crew. There are a couple of less obvious differences. He does not sweat. Insects rarely bite him and do not like it when they do. As for his special vision, Chloe notices:

"Clark...looked past her, staring at the spot where the divers had gone down. She doubted that he was really looking there. He seemed to be seeing something beyond all of them." (p. 109)

In one of the comics, Lois Lane comments on Clark Kent zoning out yet again. Chloe calls him "Eagle Eyes" and quips that he has "X-ray vision" (pp. 87, 82). It would be difficult to conceal the use of such powers especially when sharing information with someone as observant and suspicious as Chloe.

In Metropolis, Lex, not yet a villain, is instead a veritable hero marshalling not only the resources of Luthorcorp but also his own shady Metropolitan contacts to track down his father's kidnappers. At his command, a team of hackers traces the blackmailers' email and fax. This Lex is simply a different character from the original comic book villain. Even when he does become evil, it cannot possibly be in the same way as the earlier version.

Meanwhile, it is ironic but also appropriate, that Superman was first published in 1938 yet this novel, which was published in 2003 and is about Clark Kent before he became Superman, is fully up to date with its references to the Internet, faxes and emails. Superman exists in the eternal present.

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