When I first got my hands on this book (which I first thought was going to be a magazine) I didn’t really think much of it. Thanks partly to my bloated ego of knowing a lot about Superman and because we run this website, about Smallville. But as I have been in the past and admitted, I was wrong. This book is the most comprehensive, entertaining and informative collection of writing you can find about Smallville. Besides, I’ve always been interested in what goes behind off camera, the backstage clips, the bloopers and the interviews out of character. It is because we always look at the actors as the characters themselves, but the actors themselves are different people. It always amuses me how Michael is the funniest guy on the set, seeing how he plays the villain of the show. This and much more is all present in the companion.
At the very beginning, there is a foreword by Justin Hartley who was a guest character on the show but left a lasting impression on many viewers. He recollects the time he had working with the crew and even shares some anecdotes about how much it was working with Michael (I guess everyone does like him!).
Then the book goes into detailing every episode, how it happened, what happened and the storylines branching from the episode. The episode recaps show how much thinking goes into the plot development (even though I’ve cribbed so many times, that there isn’t any development), there are comments from the production crew and the writers on how they felt a certain scene would be received by the audience. I have a new found respect for the writers (just kidding, I still think they butchered Superman). One of the biggest things in the companion and rightly so is Justice. There is an extensive coverage on it, from cast interviews to intital costume designs and in fact they even talked about the rumored spin off! If you loved Justice, you need to get your hands on this one. If that’s not enough, the companion is loaded with extras such as articles written by Lois Lane which she was working on in the episodes (yes she actually writes them) and blog posts by Chloe on her thoughts about Clark’s behavior and her and Jimmy’s relationship. Last but not the least, there are references to comics! It was such a pleasure to see it there in the book, it makes me feel that all my posts about comics haven’t been a waste of time. During Hydro when Clark became the Green Arrow, they actually mention how in the comics Batman and Superman have often posed as each other to assure Lois that Clark and Superman or Bruce and Batman are different people. I am impressed, and it is hard to impress me.
The companion wouldn’t be complete without a deeper focus on the characters that make the show. We already know what happens to the characters and some of the emotions that they go through, in fact Smallville is famous for its big heartbreak scenes especially between Clark and Lana, however a lot of focus on the emotion was on Lex Luthor this season and although it was to a point that it made me start to resent the weak character in Lex, but after reading through the very detailed and in depth character guide that the companion holds, you actually might want to reconsider that. Michael Rosenbaum clarifies some of Lex’s emotions in fact stating that Lex did indeed love Lana deeply and it wasn’t something to hold against Clark in order to “get back” at him in some crazed way. We will all remember a memorable scene between Lex and Impulse in Justice, where there was a certain ponytail in question. Michael recalls how the producers mentioned that it wouldn’t work, but he had to convince them that it would give some dry humor to Lex who was known for some witty lines (Its not just Chloe who can have classic one liners).
The last few parts of the companion actually surprised me, especially the Production part. One of the shows’ execs had already thought of the “Lana clone” angle and so by special request, the final shot of Prototype which showed Lex’s army of clones, if you notice closely, you can see one of the clones with long hair! Just reading that gave me a new sense of respect for the show because I didn’t expect them to follow such intricate details especially with the plot holes! Way to go Smallville!
There is a section discussing the Smallville Phenomenon (as we know it), because from its beginning Smallville brought in a whole new generation of fans and introduced them to Superman, and most of those fans have stayed loyal, making Smallville one of the most popular shows on the CW and the companion covers it all. For all you Clana fans, you should be happy to know that there is a big mention to your efforts to get back the Clana ship, and the producers do sadly acknowledge that. They were aware of the reactions they would get from breaking them apart and then getting them back together. So all your campaigning actually worked!
Lastly, this wouldn’t be much of a review if there weren’t any complaint and I am surprised there aren’t too many. The companion does have pictures galore, however only in the middle are the nice glossy colored pictures and although it does sound a bit demanding, I would’ve liked more color pictures, especially the on set ones. The colored pictures are the ones we’re already seen in promo shoots. Also, one of the first things that I looked for was a pull out poster, but there wasn’t any. It would’ve been nice to have one just to pin up somewhere. (I’m a poster freak). Apart from that I couldn’t really think of anything that would’ve made this companion any better than it already is.
If you’re a Smallville fan, you NEED to have this companion, pick it up, read it and keep it in your collection. If you have a DVD set, or a copy of the episodes on TiVO, then you’d love to watch the episode and read about it in the companion or vice versa. It is definitely a must-buy for the average Smallville fan since it not only expands your collection but it will make you see Smallville in a whole different light. As cheesy TV commercials say “Try, it! I did!”
Lasting Value: 9/10
In stores on March 25!
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Big thanks to Tom Green for letting us do this review!