Longtime Smallville viewers get a treat on March 12th. That’s when Superman #674 hits the streets, and Chloe Sullivan hits Metropolis. For years, the intrepid young reporter has been a favorite of viewers, and though hints had been dropped about her arrival in the DCU, she never materialized. Now, she’s finally joining up with the Man of Steel’s supporting cast in the comics. From the outset, Superman Editor Matt Idelson points the finger at series writer Kurt Busiek for bringing Chloe on board – “This was all Kurt’s idea, and it’s something we’d first talked about a couple of years ago.”
For his part, Busiek credits that fact that other members of Superman’s supporting cast have come from other media to the comics as his inspiration (Jimmy Olsen first appeared in The Adventures of Superman radio show in 1940 before being adopted by the comics a year later). “It made me think, ‘Yeah, and the next obvious choice would be bringing in someone like Chloe, but the problem with that would be...’ and then bam, a way to do it fell into place that I thought really served the book well, and made her a strong and useful and fun addition to the cast, one that would give us several elements to the cast structure that have been missing for years, but in a new and different way,” Busiek said.
But bringing a television character to comics does come with some hurdles. Even though they are owned by the same parent company (Time-Warner), DC had to get clearances with Warner Bros. as well as actress Allison Mack, both to use the character as well as to make sure the comic book version looked like “Chole,” but not exactly like Mack (likeness rights are a whole other ballgame).
Nor will the “Chloe” of the comics be a mirror version of “Chloe” of Smallville, Idelson says. “‘Our’ Chloe is clearly inspired by the Smallville character, right down to wanting to be a journalist, and being roughly the same age as the Smallville character. And she’s still Lois’ cousin. Beyond that, though, since she’s obviously a different age than Clark and Lana, she’s got to be her own, unique character.”
As Busiek explains, the differences are needed to prevent duplication.
“The problem we'd have faced if we brought her in with the same background as the TV show is that she'd fill two basic roles -- the Girl from Back Home and the Reporter -- and those roles are both pretty solidly filled in the adult Superman cast, by Lana and Lois. So she's got to have a different spin, one that lets her occupy a different role from either of them. She's the younger sister of someone Clark went to school with, not a classmate of Clark's herself. As a result, she's the new intern at the Daily Planet, fresh out of journalism school and itching to make a name for herself. That'll make her clearly different from Lois and Lana, and at the same time more familiar to watchers of the show.”
Idelson, while still playing upcoming stories close to the vest did confirm a few more key differences between television Chloe and comic book Chloe – she won’t have superpowers, and she doesn’t know Clark’s secret (“No way. No one in Lois’ family - save Lois herself - knows the secret.”). Oh, and while Chloe’s just introduced in #674, she features very prominently in issue #675.
“Superman is visible in all forms of media, and this isn’t the first time something from another medium’s interpretation of the character makes its way back to the comics,” Idelson says. “Kryptonite was actually introduced in the Superman radio show way back when. If anything, the door has always been open, and this is just the latest example.”