Tuesday, September 21, 2010

COMIC: Introducing Chloe Sullivan (Commentary)

Comic book reading Smallville fans have been clamoring for years for DC Comics to find a way for the TV series' beloved original character, Chloe Sullivan, to become immortalized in the pages of the Superman comics the show was based off of. This year that wish will finally come true as Chloe makes her DC Universe comic debut in Action Comics #893 out next week on September 29th. TV Guide has a first look.

Chloe will be part of the Jimmy Olsen-centric back-up feature in Action Comics issues written by Nick Spencer and drawn by R.B. Silva. To fit her into a universe she was never a part of before Smallville created her ten years ago, her character's continuity has been tweaked from the show's universe and readers can only assume we will be given clarity to the extent of the changes in the issues over time.

I, for one have been supportive of the idea of bringing Chloe Sullivan to the DCU proper but I would have been just as acceptable of her staying only on the Smallville show because her friendship and support of Clark has been a big part of what the show is about. To bring her into the DCU as the exact same character and with the history of Smallville would be nearly impossible because in the decades of Superman comics continuity, that role of Clark's best friend and supporter during his formative years in issues of Superboy was filled by Pete Ross and Lana Lang.

Retcons or Retroactive continuity, are prevalent in the world of comic books and could be done in this case but the Superman mythos is so old and well known that there is a careful balance that needs to be used when the story needs to be tweaked to fit the new circumstances around the character. This was done partially in the recent Superman: Secret Origin six issue mini-series by Geoff Johns where in one of the early issues when the story was still in Clark's boyhood days of Smallville, Pete Ross had a cast on his arm and there was a partially hidden signature of "Chloe S". It wasn't blatant but fans of Chloe and Smallville would recognize what it was, a nod to the character.

The problem with introducing Chloe Sullivan, a character vital to Clark's maturity from teen hero to adult savior, into the Superman universe is that in the comics Clark has been beyond his Smallville days for decades. Most writers find it difficult to write Superman, and outside of the recent development of the last few years his supporting cast gets little to no focus in the stories. To now add a character that was a close friend to Clark would make no sense given that Jimmy Olsen has had the 'Superman's Best Friend' role since forever ago and Lois Lane, who is Superman's wife, barely gets any panel pages of her own.

So I can understand the need to tweak Chloe to have her character make sense in the modern DCU. But there is importance to stay true to her character and it looks like writer Nick Spencer is attempting to do just that, saying in the TV Guide interview that "[Chloe] is a very successful and dedicated reporter and a major player in Metropolis." It's great to see that DC agrees with my thinking that the Daily Planet has room for more than one Lane/Sullivan reporter at the same time, I only wish Smallville had felt the same way.

My only problem with the Chloe integration is that the feeling I get is that she will be much closer to Jimmy Olsen than Clark Kent. The latter would probably be high reaching and impossible to make sense but if done well would still be satisfactory to everyone. I'm hoping at the very least Chloe will eventually get integrated with the rest of the Daily Planet staff and will have cameos/scenes where she interacts with Clark, Lois, Ron, Cat, Jimmy and Perry at the Planet.

Now that Chloe in the comics is shortly about to become reality, my idea of introducing her will never come to be but I thought I would share it here anyway. My idea had Chloe still living in Smallville, much like Pete Ross currently is, and that perhaps some accident had happened during Clark's Superboy years to Chloe that kept her from continuing on with her Daily Planet dreams and Clark felt guilty about it and avoided her thinking she blamed him. Lois and her keep in touch, and Chloe ended up as a Smallville High counselor and advisor for the Torch.

Then with the upcoming Superboy title I would have her be a main part of the supporting cast as Conner's mentor/confidant as he has his adventures in Smallville and she with mutual experience with Clark and Lex would be another perspective on Conner's struggles with his roots. And she would be a nice visitor/friendly face for Martha Kent now that Jonathan is gone ... again.

Either way, I look forward to Chloe's Action Comics debut and I hope her character is treated with the respect she deserves so that fans of Smallville and Chloe will check it out and not be disappointed.

NOTE: For those of you that are not on Android for your mobile consumption, I hear that DC Comics' Comixology iPhone/iPad app is currently offering the first ten page Jimmy Olsen backup story (with Chloe's debut) for free in their store.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Titans themed picspam.

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