Saturday, February 6, 2010

Smallville: Absolute Justice 2-hour TV movie review

As an infrequent watcher of television shows with the tendency of acknowledging the existence of serialized dramas, but never wanting to jump on the band wagon while it’s still moving, I have never paid much mind to Smallville. Of course I’ve known about the show since its inception. Being an avid comic reader and fan of the comic medium and its other forms of media I appreciate the existence of a show like Smallville. I think with this show, I have always imagined that the first several years might have been a little drawn out and possibly boring. It seems like forever had passed before Clark Kent had any connection with the famous S that would one day become the iconic symbol plastered on his chest. Perhaps I have never really watched the show because I have never been the biggest Superman fan, though just like any other comic reader, I appreciate and love him. It is in the rule book of fandom after all.

With all that said, this review of February 5th’s 2-hour TV movie Smallville: Absolute Justice comes from the perspective of a life long fan of DC Comics, not as a die-hard Smallville enthusiast. Though I must admit, when The Flash was first introduced to the series, I was right there in front of my television eager to see a rendition of the “Scarlet Speedster” even if I scratched my head to the realization that they used Bart Allen as The Flash. When I first heard last season that The Legion of Superheroes were going to be on the show, I made sure to catch that episode too. Now yet again, when I found out that they were going to incorporate the Justice Society of America into the show I was more than giddy. Seeing Dr. Fate and Hawkman in full costume in the initial trailer for this episode made me promise myself that I will glue myself to my television for two hours even if it was going to be on a Friday night. For any DC fan, it was an exciting two hours to appreciate seeing some of your favorite characters mentioned or shown on television.

The episode starts off with an interaction between Chloe and Sylvester Pemberton, The Star-Spangled Kid. In his attempt to ask for help and give warning for the future, they are attacked by someone who has ice powers who ends up killing Pemberton. We then find Wesley Dodds, The Sandman, alone in his home having a dream about the attacks before being attacked himself. It becomes clear that someone is hunting the members of the Justice Society of America. They leave a smeared calling card saying only JSA on it for the authorities to find taunting any hero who would see it on the news. The most exciting scene for any DC fan was the flashback involving the arrests of the members of the JSA in the past, thus disbanding the team. I know I sat on my bed uttering Alan Scott’s name in anticipation, having a face of excitement when his hand grasped a bar in his prison cell with a Green Lantern ring visible. Though with that little Easter egg (which there were numerous ones present for fans i.e. Dr. Fate mumbling Hourman‘s name, seeing the original Red Tornado, etc.) one has to wonder why he couldn’t just use his ring to get out of prison. Perhaps because heroes aren’t supposed to defy the law (unless they’re Captain America) or perhaps because 24 hours had passed and his ring needed a recharge. To regress, this scene displayed why nobody knew of the existence of the JSA or their legacy.

Clark’s stroll through the JSA museum was a nice treat. I wish we got to see more members of the team in full costume besides Star Girl; who would be the first of a new generation to take on the mantle of a fallen JSA member, Hawkman, and Dr. Fate. The good news is that by the end of the episode Hawkman does mention that there are twelve members still alive and plans to go search for them, so there is a possibility that we could see more of the team on Smallville one day. The villain of the episode turns out to be the modern day Icicle who is hunting down the JSA for putting his father in a vegetative state a decade prior. Just like any DC fan, I anticipated the tension between Hawkman and Green Arrow who famously are at ends with each other in the comics. They bicker just like they are meant to and we even get an origin story about Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The advice he gives to Green Arrow about love was a nice nod to his relationship to Black Canary. The episode bands an unreferenced Justice League of America with an unnamed Superman, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Star Girl, and Dr. Fate banding to stop Icicle from enacting his vengeance. The incorporation that Icicle is just a pawn working for Amanda Waller and Checkmate was a nice little twist. I personally smiled when she uttered; “welcome to the Suicide Squad.”

You can tell that DC powerhouse Geoff John’s put a lot of love in writing this episode. For those who are unaware of who he is, he is the current writer of Green Lantern, the mastermind behind DC’s Infinite Crisis; and their current event, the stellar Blackest Night. He has also had writing duties on nearly every character in the DC universe. So much of Absolute Justice was taken from the comics, properly providing the general public with knowledge of all these great characters. It was an enjoyable two hours spent being proud to be a DC fan. My only wish is that a few of the older JSA members may have appeared in full costume at the end of the episode instead of Hawkman declaring that he wants to find them and have the family back together. With an episode about legacies, family, and teaching and embracing a new generation, Smallville has opened itself to the path of truly involving the next generation of heroes once they are ready to accept their roles. It seems like in the world of Smallville, the inception of the Justice League of America is more than a possibility once Clark is ready to embrace his destiny as Superman.

-Babyface Jones!

1 comment:

Cat Jones said...

Nice review. I loved the JSA Museum, showing us Wildcat's gloves, Mr. Terrific's 'Fair Play' belt, Hawkgirl's helmet, Hourman's hourglass necklace, Flash's helmet, etc. Loved seeing Al Pratt (original Atom) making an appearance, Dr. Mid-Nite being mentioned (even though he was dead), and even Lois mentioning she had an interview with Michael Holt (current Mr. Terrific). I liked how he used the actual reason for why the JSA originally disbanded to explain why they hadn't been heard from for so long. Oh, and Hawkman was written perfectly!!! (I'm sure you were waiting for my Hawkman critique, lol).