Feb 8, 2010

Absolute Awesome

I live for seeing my favorite comic book characters come to life, whether it be movies, television shows or hell, even really talented cosplayers. This past weekend's Smallville two-hour movie "Absolute Justice" wasn't perfect but it did bring me great joy. (Spoilers ahead obviously.)

I'm not a loyal Smallville viewer. I tend to tune in when I hear a favorite character of mine is being introduced into their canon (like Zatanna) or when one of my favorite writers is doing an episode. In the case of "Absolute Justice" it was both. Geoff Johns wrote this movie event which introduced the Justice Society of America to the show. Herein lies my first issue, none of the characters on the show had ever heard of the JSA before, even though their headquarters (and museum) seemingly reside in Metropolis and they were all costumed heroes. I put that aside because this is Smallville and one must have a suspension of disbelief attitude when it comes to Smallville. Over nine seasons they've worked themselves into a bit of a corner on some things so you just have to go with it.

Granted, not every member of the JSA got a starring role in this episode but the majority of them did make an appearance in flashbacks. Not to mention the beautiful piece of artwork depicting them all hanging in the brownstone. Even Ma Hunkel got a few seconds face time! The flashbacks featured the heroes in plain clothes, not utilizing their powers but it was still cool to see. But don't worry, "Absolute Justice" had enough costumes and powers to go around.

The Star-Spangled Kid looked part Jack Knight Starman as he battled it out with the episodes' villain Icicle. In fact, he even uttered Jack's name with his last breath. Yeah, he died but it's OK because sassy Miss Courtney Whitmore was there to take up the mantle as Stargirl almost immediately. Although I thought she acted better while in costume rather than plain clothes, truthfully she was one of my favorite aspects of the whole show. She wielded the Cosmic Rod rather well and it looked just like I always imagined it would.

Doctor Fate was also depicted spectacularly well in my opinion. The helmet was spot-on of course and his powers were subtle, yet impressive. Above all, his voice was every bit as unnerving as it should have been. His dialogue wound up being some of my favorite in the entire two-hours, particularly his brief encounter with Lois Lane. We also have Doctor Fate to thank for the spectacular reveal of John Jones' (J'onn J'onzz) true form for the very first time. It was brief but it was OMG inducing.

Hawkman was one thing that brought this episode down unfortunately. His bitterness and aggression were very accurate to Carter Hall's but the actor portraying him, Michael Shanks, and his costume left a bit to be desired. Shanks felt the need to put on a gruff Christian Bale Batman impression once he was suited up which was not only unnecessary but annoying. I was also distracted by his lack of bulging muscles. What can I say, I'm a purist? His mace and helmet were pretty awesome (although Hawkgirl's, visible in the museum was by far the cooler of the two) but his chest plate and wings bothered me. I hear the chest plate had to be added because of the wires that needed to be attached to make him fly but I think wings are bound to come out looking like crap in live-action no matter what.

There were a few major things that made the show a success in my eyes and that was the inclusion of Amanda Waller, Checkmate and yes, even in it's casual way, the Suicide Squad. I would have preferred someone a little more evil looking than Pam Grier, who felt the need to stick her chin in the entire time to look menacing, to play the Wall but she did a fine job. Checkmate's involvement was subtle but left the door wide open for, I'm guessing, next season's plot. Waller herself opened the door to something huge. While discussing her motives she mentioned the coming "apocalypse." My brain lit up when I heard the word. Geoff Johns confirmed via his Twitter that was, "With a capital 'A' " So we can assume rather, Apokolips. (!!!!!!!)

There was better-than-expected action in "Absolute Justice," particularly the last fight scene where everyone finally banded together to take on Icicle. It wasn't perfect of course, they still have a CW budget, but it makes you imagine the potential of that Justice League movie that's been in limbo for years now. There were great easter-eggs and subtle nods to comic fans that really made the episode shine. In case you missed it, "Absolute Justice" can be viewed via the CW website. One other thing I got out of watching was seeing the preview for next week. They've got me again. Zatanna's back.

8 comments:

Mart said...

Oh phooey, this won't hit the UK for ages. I can't bear Smallville usually but really fancy this one - I can always ignore Clark.

Nice piece.

Brian Knippenberg said...

Nice review!

Concerning how no one knew of the existence of the JSA...1.) they were labeled as an "underground" superhero team insinuating that they were not publicly known, although I don't know how underground they could be while operating in such conspicuous wardrobe (lol)...and 2.)they were already out of action before Clark & Co. settled in Metropolis.

Dr. Fate was outstanding! I definitely could see them doing a Dr. Fate spin-offshow that's a cross between Smallville and Supernatural with a new, younger Fate.

My only real complaint was that I wished they had Wesley Dodds put up a fight.

Dan said...

I had to work while the show aired. My boss, who's as big a comic-geek as I am, called me to tell me how great a movie I was missing! Thanks, boss!

I've never been a "Smallville" fan, but I hope this encourages more JSA interest.

Glad you enjoyed it. I will watch for re-runs.

TS Hendrik said...

I just can't watch Smallville anymore. It lamed out seasons ago. Even with the characters you've mentioned. I've seen to many things on the show start great only to be destroyed.

Nick said...

Great review. Loved it too. Made me wish they would just turn Smallville into Superman with the traditional costume and get it over with already.

-- Nick
from City of Kik
http://nickleshi.blogspot.com

d0nnatr0y said...

I randomly caught this episode on Friday night (now that Dollhouse is over, I had to find something new to watch)and it was the first Smallville epi I've seen in forever. I couldn't agree with you more- Amanda Waller and Stargirl were highlights, as was the J'onn J'onzz special effect. Even my boyfriend got excited exclaiming, "finally, heroes that use their powers!" (in reference to the ultra lame recent episodes of Heroes). But Hawkman was a huge detractor- I didn't even recognize him at first and the whole thing had too much of a Watchman the movie vibe for my taste. I'm also not crazy about Ollie. Fun for staying in on a Friday night though. :)

Mike Brown said...

I think this is one of those things where I have absolutely no credibility or ability to be impartial. Before the episode started, I was thinking, "maybe there could be a JSA series! They could bring in some characters from Earth-2! In the second season, they could bring in '40s Superman and Powergirl!"


Having said that, I'm so glad to see a good review of this. There have been a lot of comments and reviews on comics blogs about how lame it was. Perhaps we're just all used to super blockbusters, but I didn't even think the first fight was shown offscreen just for budget reasons (although, obviously, that was probably part of it), but so that the fight at the end would be better. And would I like to see Clark out of the matrix get-up? Yes. I don't get it at all. No one can see him! He's the damn blur! Who cares what he wears?


I know it's fanboyish, but I was just so happy to see everyone onscreen. Hawkman is a favorite of mine from way back in theory, but there's so little good Hawkman stuff in comics out there that it's difficult to be too big of a fan.


It didn't bother me that Hawkman wasn't more ripped, they were doing an older Hawkman who hadn't been active in a while, but I think you have every right to call them on it. I can't think of any women on the series that have been slightly past it. Hell, Martha Kent was hot! Hawkman in the comics is a big guy and, sort of has to be, since, the way I understand it, he doesn't have any powers. He's just a really big guy who flies and hits people with a mace.


We were having a giant snowstorn and the power kept going out, but it looked like Amanda Waller said, "Welcome to the Suicide Squad" and shot Icicle in the head. I thought that was a pretty non-"Smallville" moment. I also missed Hawkman beating up Green Arrow, but I liked it when HM asked something along the lines of, "Did I make you cry?"


But apart from all that kind of stuff, one thing I liked was that DC did what Marvel is doing, they showed that there can be a giant comics universe and bring in a TON of stuff from the comics and have it be interesting. We had Checkmate and the JSA. That's a show I would watch every week. Hell, if they come out with a stand-alone DVD today of this episode, I would buy it and find all the Easter eggs.

Hawman! Mace! I'm in!

The Vice Presidential Action Rangers said...

i tried so hard to like it cuz i love the jsa but jesus. the guy playing hawkman couldnt work out his arms a little? and what was with the lisp he had? and why did stargirl have a caveman foreheard? and dr fate was 4 foot 5. smallville has always just made my fave heroes and storylines trite and cheap.