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Feature: Smallville

'Ere, Loeb!

Tom Welling as Clark Kent

With the fourth season of Smallville underway in Vancouver, we tracked down the show’s Ambassador to Spain – apparently – Jeph Loeb, to find out what will happen next…

Viewers place your bets! When asked who would win a Superman Trivial Pursuit game between Smallville creators Al Gough & Miles Millar and consulting producer Jeph Loeb, Loeb pleads the fifth and plays it super safe. “Answering questions like that gets me locked in the Phantom Zone, which, if I remember correctly, is a closet on the third floor of our building,” he chuckles.

Looking at Loeb’s track record, he should take the risk. Before landing on the second season of Smallville, he wrote such Eighties flicks as Teen Wolf, Commando and Burglar and was set to serve as the executive producer on the once dead but recently resurrected Buffy The Vampire Slayer cartoon. However, for most fans Loeb is the man who brought the Batman comic book soaring back to number #1 on the sales chart and is currently chronicling the relationship between the Dark Knight and Man of Steel in DC’s Superman/Batman. So, besides the obvious age gap, what is the difference between working on the teenage television Clark Kent as opposed to his older counterpart?

“I get asked this a lot,” says the writer. “The simple answer is the Clark on our show hasn’t grown up yet. The concept of being a superhero hasn’t been introduced so it’s all about the journey. Al and Miles refer to the show as ‘The Trials of Clark Kent’. The comic is about the greatest hero who ever lived. He’s at the top. So it’s like working in the Past and the Future while still in the Present. And that’s the simple answer.”

Simple is one word Clark could never use to describe his life. In last season’s Exile, the young Kryptonian explored his bad boy side in Metropolis and worked alongside crime boss Morgan Edge. That soul-searching trip was a tough lesson that Clark and those around him won’t soon forget. “Clark has grown up a bit,” offers Loeb on how the character has changed. “He realizes that his actions have a reverberation throughout all the people he loves. His relationship with Lex, Lana, his parents – all of them are a little stronger, a little more difficult, a little more honest, and a lot harder to handle.” Loeb adds the overall theme for Season Three was definitely “taking responsibility for your actions. Each of the characters made decisions about who they wanted to be and we saw what it cost them. It’s part of the journey.”

But not all the Smallville cast has a yellow brick road they can follow to some magical happy ending. Lex is destined to be Superman’s greatest foe, and this year Luthor Jr was almost pushed over the edge. In one of the more gutsy plots, his father, Lionel, questioned his son’s sanity and condemned him to a mental institution for extreme shock therapy. “Madness is a very delicate path, and in Memoria, particularly because it was written by Al and Miles and directed by Miles, it spoke to those issues in the strongest voice of all,” says Loeb.

by Bryan Cairns

Get the full interview in:
Cult Times #108

Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #108, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #108
September 2004
ships from Aug 19 2004
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