Superman and Lois: The Best of Smallville
March 24, 2021 4:42 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

It was fine. I mean I still like the Lois-and-Clark relationship. The boys seem like good brothers. Yes, Clark is a softie (and that's the say it should be.) I just don't really care about anything that is happening.
posted by sardonyx at 6:26 AM on March 24, 2021

My family (including my kid who is a Superman fan and a Superboy superfan) begged me to turn this off and give up.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:19 AM on March 24, 2021

The question is why isn't this working? So many of the right elements are there, so what's missing? Is it a case of trying to stuff too much stuff in (family and relationship and reporting and episodic adult villain and episode teenage nemesis and two bigger story-arc villains)? Or is it something else?
posted by sardonyx at 7:29 AM on March 24, 2021

For us, it lacked joy. In the most recent comic reboot, Superman and Superboy's relationship--despite whatever travails they face--is usually one of positivity and enthusiasm. Superboy is having the time of his life... The drama they have comes in the inherent danger of a child (even if he has superpowers) thinking that fistfighting aliens is a super fun time.

It's a story about a smart, goodhearted kid who can't wait to see everything and try everything and the parent trying to keep them from taking too much risk and getting ahead of themselves. This is relatable to parents and kids even when neither of them have heat vision.

This fucking kid is anguished about being (basically) Superboy? GTFOH.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:39 AM on March 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

TL;DR: the story of Superman and his son Superboy is not supposed to be fucking angsty. It's supposed to be fun.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:45 AM on March 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Makes sense. I'm glad to see that they've got Clark and Jon's relationship right in the comics, especially after the hash they made of Clark and Kon (at least from what I can tell, as I wasn't reading those titles at the time). Is this aged up time-travel/space travel Jon or have they walked away from that decision?
posted by sardonyx at 7:52 AM on March 24, 2021

To be fair, yeah, they did age Superboy up in the comics, so I guess the version I/my family like is not the most recent. Bendis has him disappear into space with Jor-El and come back suddenly an older teen. Not coincidentally, this was when it stopped being good.

The first few volumes of Action Comics after the Rebirth reboot are phenomenal and would have made a better blueprint for this.

As background for those, the New 52 reboot had made Superman grimdark. He died. The Rebirth reboot revealed that the previous more Christopher Reeve/classic Supes didn't die, he just moved with Lois to the earth with grimdark Superman. Not being needed, he went into semi-retirement and they had a kid, Jon.

When grimdark Superman dies, he decides the world needs him, even if it's not exactly his world. Meanwhile, Jon starts becoming Superboy, and Lex Luthor, shaken by the noble sacrifice of grimdark Superman has become an Iron Man type hero in a suit.

The comic is about our Superman not just coming back into action but also trying to regain a foothold for his kind of old school good guy ethos. He has to do all of this while also being a middle-aged dad whose bounding, hyperactive kid is fast becoming superpowered.

It's legitimately awesome and unlike anything else I can recall having made it to screen.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:29 AM on March 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Super Sons comics with Jonathan Kent Superboy and Damian Wayne Robin are shockingly delightful.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:34 AM on March 24, 2021

I read a few of those Jon-in-space-with-Jor-El issues and bleak is about the best description I have of them. Aging up Jon (and giving him his own family) seems like a huge mistake.

The idea of Jon and Damian seemed like a good one and a great entry point for young readers which, as I've said before, is exactly what DC needs more of, but it's one I personally didn't read (as I'm about as far from a young reader as there is). World's Finest used to be fun read about the friendship between Clark and Bruce (even when the story got serious and the villains were challenging, the respect and like and admiration the two title heroes had for each other came through in spades) and a mini-me Super Sons version should definitely be high on DC's plate of properties to promote.

I get the feeling that kind of thing is considered too immature for TV these days. The kids have to have problems and be suffering angst in the CW teen-drama way things have been developing for the past 20 years.
posted by sardonyx at 11:26 AM on March 24, 2021

And in reading you all it just clicked. This is the most Berlanti formula of the shows thus far. This the soap of Brothers & Sisters with a sheen of Superhero. Instead of allowing the show to fly the writers' room seems to devoted to keeping the characters grounded. What should be a nice companion and eventual replacement for Supergirl is instead Dawson's Eyebeams. The twin sons are not a great idea in the execution, not a fault of the actors, but because it doesn't offer anything new or really interesting. So maybe some Jack & Bobby thrown in too. So basically distilled Berlanti. Except he is not a writer on the series. So imitation distilled Berlanti. We are watching an imitation distilled Berlanti-esque version of Friday Night Lights, and it just does not seem to be pleasing to the palate.

I hope that the Supergirl writers can give them some pointers on putting hope and resolution of family issues front and center. Or maybe someone can do something that does not feel like a plot by the numbers. When Jordan and/or John gets possessed by one or more of the Kryptonians in the yellow kryptonite it will not be a plot twist. When John shows the potential for powers as well it will also not be a plot twist. If Morgan Edge turns out to be possessed by the spirit of a Kryptonian, say Jor-El, that might be a plot twist. None of which will matter because the scope of the Superman stories is so small in the series I almost don't care. Alt-Luthor is just a misunderstood hero. Who cares? Alt-Kal-El went way dark and murderous despot? Ok, sure that can happen. Give me an alt-Kal-El who used Kryptonian tech to brainwash his Earth into sycophantic worshipers or found a way to virally alter human DNA into Kryptonian DNA or something more than laser-eye murder Superman with variant black costume.

I ain't hating the show, but I need something to care about. Soon.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 7:51 PM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

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