A team of Titans are visiting Smallville this week, as readers of the TV show-turned-comic book learn more about Jay Garrick's school for the "gifted."
The school was mentioned in a recent issue of the ongoing digital-first series Smallville: Season 11, the comic written by Bryan Q. Miller that continues the continuity of the Smallville television show.
Beginning this week, in a four-week digital-first story titled Smallville: Titans, readers will get to see the Smallville universe's version of characters like Conner Kent (Superboy), Mia Dearden (Speedy), Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle) and Zan and Jayna (The Wonder Twins).
It's not the first time Miller has written a Titans team — his first comic gig was writing a story arc of Teen Titans in 2009. Along with his current Smallville comic, Miller has been working on other comics projects, including a Kickstarter-funded title called Earthward, as well as the Syfy TV show Defiance.
The Titans special comes as the ongoing series switches its numbering system to mini-series. After the end of the "Olympus" story arc in the ongoing series (in which Wonder Woman was introduced to the Smallville universe), the Smallville comic will pick up with a new #1 issue and new story arc titled Smallville: Aliens.
Newsarama talked to Miller about the Titans special and the future of the Smallville comic.
Newsarama: Bryan, how has it been overall to expand the Smallville universe through comics, and why was the switch made to mini-series and specials instead of the ongoing?
Bryan Q. Miller: To the best of my knowledge, we shifted gears a bit in presentation to help lower the intimidation factor for new and potential readers. If you're on the digital store, and you see "Smallville Season 11: Chapter 70," that's kind of two sets of qualifiers that shout "You're really behind on your reading!" So rolling back to #1 with each new arc lessens that.
Nrama: What was the motivation for the Titans special?
Miller: Aside from me wanting to play with a version of the Teen Titans? Superboy. We've been doing "parallel" stories that are shorter than the main arcs and sort of run along side them, from a narrative standpoint. We had some staggering craziness happening as we transitioned from our previous main Supergirl arc ("Argo") into our current Wonder Woman arc ("Olympus") that dictated we start the next side story before "Olympus" finished. So we had to get a new smaller story started, with someone related to the show but not involved in all the madness in Washington D.C. in the main arc… and since we mentioned that Conner (who we first met in Season 10) was at a school for the "gifted" in San Francisco during "Olympus"… you can see where we're going.
Nrama: Besides Conner, what other characters will we see in the issue?
Miller: Jaime Reyes! Megan Morse! Mia Dearden! Zan and Jayna Whatever Their Last Names Are! And their mentor/teacher, Jay Garrick! As well as a villain we haven't met, but who has ties to some bits and pieces of Season 10.
Nrama: You've described where Conner is, but can you describe the status of some of the key Titans characters as they start this story?
Miller: I certainly can, but then that gets into some of the reveals as to why they've come to Garrick's school in the first place, which we reveal as the four-week story unfolds.
Nrama; What are some of the more interesting relationships you're getting to portray?
Miller: There's tension between Jay and Conner, for sure. Conner's got an "S" on his chest, and all the perceived responsibility that comes along with that. And Jay's seen "little punks" come and go his entire life. "Scion" in Season 10 was about Conner struggling against his Luthor and Kent genetics. Titans sees him trying to figure out how to not let those base instincts rule in either direction, and be his own man. And, to the delight of some Young Justice fans, there's a good chance Conner and Megan might get some alone time.
Nrama: Is it a side story, or does it further the themes / evolution of the characters you've been exploring in the ongoing?
Miller: It's a side story, but ties in with the very last moments of "Olympus" — though the reader will get to read the end of "Olympus" first.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the art for the four-week story?
Miller: Cat Staggs, who does our covers and did full interiors on one of our previous side stories, "Valkyrie," returns with a vengeance for Titans!
Nrama: What's coming next for the Smallville comic, as the ongoing series switches to mini-series?
Miller: Smallville: Alien — our over-arching story for the year involves a race of inter-dimensional beings called Monitors. They destroyed Earth 2, and our heroes know that something called "The Crisis" is coming. In Alien, a Monitor literally falls to Earth in Russia. Superman and Lex both know how valuable it is to get face time with one, and it turns into a bit of a race, with some secret identity complications.
Nrama: You came to comics from the world of television, and I know you've got some other projects happening in both media. What else are you working on?
Miler: On the comic book side, the digital version of my funded Kickstarter, Earthward, is going live to backers in the next few days and will see print before Christmas. Then, next May, I've got Space Mountain coming out through Disney comics.
Over on the TV side, I just turned in my draft for my season 2 episode of Syfy's Defiance, which the world should get to see maybe in July, I think.
Nrama: Then to finish up, as we look at a preview of this week's first issue of Smallville: Titans, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the story?
Miller: Lots of action. Lots of heart. Lots of angst. It's the Teen Titans, after all!