Hope (lexcorp_hope) wrote in idol_reflection,

Clark Kent (Smallville)

Title: Learning to Fly
Author: Hope & Wendi
E-Mail: hope@secrets-and-lies.com, wljeff@yahoo.com
URL: Secrets & Lies, Worship

I. Meeting Clark Kent

A rain of meteors pours from the sky, devastating a small town in the midst of a homecoming celebration. Smoke and fire obscure the destruction, but as the wind shifts, two tiny feet appear, walking out of a crater. They take a few steps, oblivious to the heat-steam that rises from the ground. Then, the little boy to whom the feet belong crouches down and smiles at the funny people hanging upside down in their truck, unaware just how spectacular an entrance he's made in Smallville. But that's October, 1989, and that child, for that moment, is Kal-El.

In 2001, his name is Clark Kent. He knows he's adopted, he knows he's loved, but he has no idea that *he* was the meteor shower. The strange strength and speed he possesses, he's noticed- he searches online for other extraordinary kids, trying to put a finger on why they're different- why he's different, but he's never connected the queasy feeling he gets around the pretty girl next door to the piece of green meteor rock hanging from her neck.

He's a normal boy, with ordinary hopes and dreams, until Lex Luthor crashes into him on Loeb Bridge. They both should have died; neither of them did and Clark discovers that his father has kept a secret from him for thirteen years- a spaceship hidden in the storm cellar. Clark Kent may have ordinary hopes and dreams, but he's *not* a normal boy. He's the last son of Krypton.

II. Running: Strengths

Naturally, there is no Clark Kent without solar-powered superabilities. Clark has always had strength and speed- powers that have grown exponentially as time passes. He's probably always had some measure of invulnerability, but he didn't realize that until Lex hit him with his car. Early on, bullets left bruises, but didn't penetrate- now, he barely feels them at all.

The older Clark gets, the stronger he gets, and new abilities crop up all the time. Flash headaches brought x-ray vision, a rush of pubertal hormones brought heat vision, a rush of adrenaline extended his ability to jump until he could nearly fly, a momentary blindness allowed him to sharpen his hearing until it was so precise, he could listen to conversations taking place far removed from him. He's also gifted with a near photographic memory and the ability to figure sums in his head at lightning speed.

Clark is incredibly book smart, but his sheltered upbringing has made him more empathetic than street smart. Clark has a genuine concern and sense of responsibility for the people around him; he wants to be a good person- sometimes going too far to give other people what they want regardless of what he wants- often to disastrous results. He's far from saintly- his compassion started just among his close-knit family and friends, but has slowly branched out to encompass everyone around him. Clark Kent believes in good, believes in comforting those who need it, and he believes in standing up for what he thinks is right.

Given a chance to display it, Clark has a sly sense of humor when it comes to pointing out the obvious, and he exhibits an eagerness to please that's hard to resist. He can be doggedly loyal, and he has a steel of resolve when it comes to accomplishing his goals. When he wants something done, he doesn't give up until he succeeds- or at least realizes that there's no possible way he *can* succeed.

III. Stumbling: Weaknesses

Unfortunately, what he believes is right isn't always. Some of his mistakes are a function of being a selfish age- he forgets to take other people's feelings into consideration, and because of his superior strength, he often acts as though he has a superior right to make decisions for the people around him.

Clark is book smart, but not people smart- he doesn't understand why people can't just silently accept that he has to disappear on a regular basis, he expects people to know he cares even when his behavior suggests that he doesn't. That lack of social smarts also gets him in trouble with people who have no real compunction to be kind. Though Clark can consider cause and effect, he has a hard time considering that one cause can have many effects- trying to outwit a dirty cop with his strength only makes the situation worse. Though Clark is intelligent, he's only beginning to learn to be clever- right now, he still relies on his physical abilities to solve his problems.

Because Clark has such a highly developed sense of right and wrong, and because he has that innate, selfish streak that tells him he's right, his temper is probably his most effective weapon. He remembers people's details with perfect clarity, and turns them to weapons when he's angry. He's also a bad liar, often disparaging the person who's decided to question him rather than merely changing the subject. Coupled with a seeming inability to apologize when it's proved he's wrong, these aspects often make it difficult to maintain a friendship with him.

Additionally, his Kryptonian origin gives him abilities, but it also gives him physical weaknesses. Chunks of green meteor rock weaken and sicken him, and could likely kill him if he were exposed to too much, and the red meteor rocks act as a drug that drives him toward a sociopathic selfishness that spells trouble for anyone who gets in his way.

IV: Becoming

There is no doubt that Clark is Jonathan and Martha Kent's son. They are his primary confidantes and counselors, and the keepers of his secrets. They don't always get along- more than once, Clark has disagreed with his father on things as unimportant as whether Clark can join the football team, to as great as whether he should destroy the ship that brought him to earth. Over the years, however, Clark has slowly learned that sometimes he has to seek the counsel of his parents but other times, he has to decide for himself what the right course of action. Like any teenager, he's growing up and becoming his own man, albeit a man with extraordinary abilities.

Of course, those extraordinary abilities come to him courtesy of his Kryptonian heritage. Though Clark has known for two years that he is the last surviving member of his race, it was only recently during a period of solar flares that he discovered his powers are directly related to Earth's sun. Until this time, Clark had no other reasonable explanation for the continuing evolution and strengthening of his powers that seemed to present and progress as he has matured towards adulthood.

Clark, however, is not the first son of Krypton to roam planet Earth. Stumbling upon the long lost Kawatche tribal caves provided Clark with a tangible link to his father's will and memory. Pre-programmed by Kryptonian explorers before him, the caves provided not only a source of power for the mysterious earthbound AI that remains of Clark's biological father, Jor-El, but since the destruction of his space ship, it is the sole remaining link between Jor-El and his son, and Clark to Krypton.

The caves are also the source of a legend among the Kawatche tribe of Numan, a man with the strength of ten, who falls from the sky in a rain of fire and is a great protector of man. The legend also tells of Numan's future nemesis, Seget, a man who was like a brother to him until he turned against Numan. Together, they are destined to make up the balance of good and evil in the universe.

Though confronted with an unusual destiny, when we first meet Clark Kent, his main goal in life was to be normal, well-liked, and to get the girl next door. His secret had been well-kept by his protective parents, and he starts high school with essentially the same goals as any young man. That quickly changes when the meteor fragments littering Smallville begin to have a detrimental effect on its citizens. Clark is the only one strong enough, fast enough, and invulnerable enough to protect his friends and family from this sudden influx of villains.

As he comes to terms with his abilities- and the responsibilities that come with them- Clark becomes the conservator of his own secrets, which leads to conflict and confusion. Among his friends, it's obvious there's something he's keeping from them, which causes friction, and among enemies, it's a struggle to keep his alien origins guarded from those who would abuse him- or the people he loves- in an attempt to further their own goals.

Clark is motivated to help people because he can, but he must also protect himself and his secret, even when that means lying to those he loves. Clark only shares his secret when forced by circumstance, and has lost not only the trust of his closest friends, but has repeatedly lost the chance to secure a relationship with the girl of his dreams.

His necessary secrecy has led him to a life of relative emotional isolation, often unable to be intimate with the people he cares about most. This self-imposed isolation has led to introspection, and as he has grown both emotionally and physically, Clark has learned to rely on his own instinct and judgment, sparing others from the burden of knowledge at the cost of his own happiness. It is a painful lesson in selflessness that he continues to struggle with as he approaches maturity.

V. Interbeing

Pete Ross: Clark's first and closest friend, among Clark's circle, Pete is the only one who knows the secret of his alien origin and his powers. Though Pete has asked Clark to use those powers to his own benefit on a few occasions, Pete has nevertheless proven himself a loyal friend by protecting the secret under the threat of pain and death. Harboring that secret recently became too much of a burden for Pete, forcing him to leave town in order to protect himself from those who would solve the mystery of Clark Kent at any cost.

Lana Lang: The quintessential girl next door, Lana Lang is beautiful, mysterious, and untouchable. Clark swears he's been in love with her since he was three, and she didn't notice he existed until freshman year of high school. Clark carries a good deal of guilt over the fact that the meteor shower that brought him to earth also killed Lana's parents; despite that, he's come close several times to telling her his secrets just so they could be together. Ultimately, each time, he put Lana's safety and well-being before sharing the full truth; unfortunately, without that, she can never accept him as more than a good friend.

Chloe Sullivan: A Metropolis transplant, Chloe Sullivan entered Clark's life in eighth grade when he was assigned to show her around. She thought that living on a farm meant that he was Amish, and she was kind enough to give him his first kiss so they could get it out of the way and just be friends. Clark took that to heart, and didn't notice when Chloe's friendly affection for him shifted to a more romantic fixation until late in his freshman year (and after a less-than-gentle nudge in that direction by Pete Ross.) Clark attempted to date Chloe, but his heart wasn't in it, and she ruefully tells him once more that they should just be friends. When Clark takes her advice once again, Chloe deals poorly with the realization that he is in love with Lana and attempting to pursue a relationship with her. In the fallout of her jealousy, she makes an ill-advised deal with Lionel Luthor to provide him with information about Clark in exchange for getting a position as a columnist at the Daily Planet. Immediately regretting the decision, Chloe evades giving over any of the insight she has on Clark, and hides his whereabouts after finding him on his self-imposed exile to Metropolis. Learning of Chloe's betrayal damaged their friendship, but she and Clark have since made amends as Chloe faced the unenviable position of being a star witness against Lionel Luthor in a murder trial.

Lex Luthor: Though Lex doesn't remember, he met Clark Kent when he was just nine years old when the Kents stopped to help Lionel Luthor and his wounded son in the aftermath of the meteor shower. Clark and Lex met again in similarly dire circumstances thirteen years later, when Lex lost control of his car and crashed into Clark on Loeb Bridge. Using his remarkable abilities, Clark saved Lex's life and became Lex's best friend- and most intriguing mystery. Though Clark often looked to Lex as a source of advice and inspiration, Lex's continuing interest and investigations has slowly torn them apart over the last three years. Over time, Clark has grown more suspicious of Lex, even while defending him from his father and his other, disapproving friends, and likewise, while Lex has been obsessed with discovering the truth about Clark, he's gone out of his way to protect Clark from anyone else who might harm him or the Kent family. Unfortunately, after discovering that Lex had been keeping a museum of Clark Kent memorabilia in the mansion, Clark called off their friendship but not before testifying against Lex's father in court.

Lionel Luthor: Currently the more dangerous of the Luthors, Lionel has had an abiding interest in the meteors, and in his son's young friend Clark Kent since shortly after the meteor shower, when Jonathan Kent came to secure an illegal adoption for a son who had appeared out of nowhere. Powerful and corrupt, Lionel has been secretly experimenting with the meteors and their various forms of mutations for years- an activity which puts him directly in opposition with Clark. His obsession with Clark's true origins have led to kidnapping, blackmail, subterfuge and an all out war with his son, as they both seek to solve the mystery and hold the all powerful key of knowledge.

VI: Learning to Fly

Until now, gods and heroes have sprung fully-formed from the heads of their creators, perfect, infallible creatures with ivory-clad morals and uncomplicated psyches. At Smallville's heart is the knowledge that the story's ending is already known. Clark Kent will someday be Superman; Smallville is the journey of how he becomes that heroic ideal. This retelling of the story is unique in that it focuses on the making of the man. Where other incarnations of Superman have focused on the heroic alien as the main character with the 'human', daily persona of Clark Kent a necessary precaution rather than a choice, Smallville places Clark's humanity at center stage, tying him to us as a race of people, rather than lifting him above the masses as an ideal.

There are no absolutes in Smallville. Long hailed for its creative twist in shading the previous arch villain Lex Luthor into a sympathetic young man painted in shades of gray and struggling against his fate, it is often overlooked that Smallville has given us much the same in Clark Kent. This is no paragon of goodness and virtue, he is a young man struggling against baser instincts, his own fears and a yearning to be anything but what he fears his biological father has envisioned for him. Clark is every bit as shaded and struggling against his eventual fate as Lex, and it is this mixture of light and dark, of fate and free will that makes his continuing journey a fascinating thing to watch.
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