Absolut Justice



Over at ComicsAlliance, I’ve got a lengthy review of Smallville: Absolute Justice (or SmAbJust, as Laura Hudson and I have taken to calling it), the two-hour Smallville movie where Clark Kent teams up with the heroes of the JSA.

As I make abundantly clear in the article, I’ve never seen a full episode of the show before last Friday, and while they certainly promoted the JSA appearance, I wasn’t too keen on jumping on now. So why the change of heart? An IM from Kevin Church on Thursday that just said “Let’s get drunk and liveblog Smallville tomorrow.”

Which is exactly what we did.

My weapon of choice was rum and coke; Kevin, being a Taxachusetts liberal, went with red wine, and the end result was the brief, bright Twitter hashtag #drunkville, which saw me twittering so often and so drunkenly that my account got locked down for the night with fifteen minutes left in the show. But it had its moments, and for those of you who missed it, here’s a few highlights:

theisb I like that there’s no attempt made to hide the fact that the Cosmic Rod totally just has a light bulb in it. #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin That’s one way to save on a special effects budget. Put your protagonist in a dumpster and have everything occur outside. #drunkville

theisb So wait. There’s a MARTIAN MANHUNTER on Smallville, but no Superman? #drunkville

theisb Bloodstained American Flag Fabric. Smallville, you are SUBTLE AS HELL. #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin Green Arrow’s pretty handsome. #drunkville

theisb “You don’t think Blondie’s our killer, do you?” “No. Debbie Harry’s still in Arkham.” #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin JSA stands for Just Superman Already. #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin I’m sipping my wine. @theisb is chugging liquor. ONE of us is going to make it to the end. #drunkville

theisb .@BeaucoupKevin It’s not #pleasantlybuzzedville, now IS it, Kevin? #drunkville

theisb I was sure–SURE–Clark was going to say: “They weren’t a team. They were a society. A JUSTICE SOCIETY.” #butiwaswrong #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin (I will say that my fondness for the Golden Age Flash uniform made me happy to see the hat. #drunkville)

BeaucoupKevin Meanwhile, at the Daily Planet where Clark Kent operates in his secret identity of Clark Kent… #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin “It’s been a long while since I made someone bleed.” I love hearing Superheroes talk like that. #drunkville

theisb “Okay we can’t have Superman in tights, the public’ll hate it.” “Right. But we can totally have Hawkman though.” “Oh of course” #drunkville

theisb Wait, they actually have SUPER-VILLAINS?! #drunkville

theisb Like, they for real have super-powered criminals, but NO SUPERMAN?! #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin I never thought I’d miss the fight scenes from MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS, but here we are. #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin daaahahahaha hawkman you guys hahahahahaha #drunkville

theisb oh my god martian manhunter is wearing his suspenders backwards to give him the red X on his chest oh my GOD #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin OH MY GOD QUOTING STAR TREK II FOR REAL. #drunkville

BeaucoupKevin oh my god they actually said “a silver age of heroism” #drunkville

theisb Dr. Fate is coming very close to just straight up cutting an Ultimate Warrior promo. #drunkville

There’s more, of course, but since I’m not sure how well even the best of ’em hold up without the show (and the cocktails) to go along with them, I’ll leave it at that. The important part here is to remember one thing:

It is actually my job right now to get drunk and make fun of Smallville. And dudes… that is pretty awesome.

33 thoughts on “Absolut Justice

  1. Okay, they wanted to be clear that this show was about a young Clark Kent discovering and growing into his powers, and once he puts on the tights he’s stopped being Young Clark Kent and started being Superman For Real. I get that. But it’s been nine years, he lives in Metropolis, he works for the Daily Planet and he apparently fights real live supervillains on a regular basis (ICICLE?). This has long since passed the point of being retarded.

  2. You’re being sarcastic about Lois, right? Because if you ever watched the show on an ongoing basis, you’d know that Erica Durance is the worst Lois Lane of all time. Notice how she gets the tips seemingly from the sky and winds up getting glory she doesn’t deserve. Seriously, I’d take Teri Hatcher or Dana Delany’s takes on Lois than Durance. It was like Nerd Christmas until Geoff remembered that he had to shoehorn Lois into the plot.

  3. Oh. God. I just noticed that “Come and get some ice cream” in the upper right corner of the Comics Alliance page.



    (curling up into a fetal position and sobbing uncontrollably)

  4. Hey man, anyone who read the Ultrahumanite story in JSA knows the Icicle is a pretty crafty dude. Sure, you might be stretching it pretty thin if he can beat heroes like Superman, Martian Manhunter, or Dr Fate, but the show’s “logic” gave some passable justification for that.

    Except that ice cream line. Fucking Johns and his puns. What the fuck does that even mean?

  5. Okay, I’m good. It’s just that fake cover is so nightmare inducing–(gulp, bite lip)– Okay, I’m better.


    “… I’m pretty sure that “Smallville” is not very good.”

    This is where not being a regular viewer is a problem in terms of perspective, because I am, and, just to give you an idea, Absolute Justice was probably one of the best episodes ever.

    As for your comments about Clark and the faux Matrix outfit, you’re right. The big problem is that the series was supposed to be about teenage Clark Kent just coming into his powers and learning who and what he is, and, yes, I do think the plan was for the series to end with him becoming Superman. But rather than having a fixed end date so they could build to that moment, the damn series just keeps going along like a zombie Energizer bunny, and to satisfy the need for material they keep bringing in more and more of the Superman mythology (like Lois) but at the same time they won’t make it Superman because in their minds its still the pre-Superman story. The reality of the show doesn’t sync with the vision of the show anymore, and the problems you see are the result of that.

    Oh, and I’m posting here rather on Comics Alliance because for some reason my posts there won’t post.

  6. If that is really what Clark Kent wears, that’s David Kohl’s outfit from Phonogram, v.1 #1. Right before he was cursed with menstrual cramps by a vengeful Goddess. I just might watch the show if that happened to him.

  7. By the way, I figured out what the deal was with John Jones’ wardrobe. The red X isn’t crossed suspenders, it’s the two shoulder holsters for his guns. Still kind of dumb, though; the only way it would really work is if they were bandoliers, but why would a detective be sporting them?

  8. You know, I would have really liked to see some of the JSA in costumes other than ones lifted straight from the comics. Because as awesome as Dr. Fate looks in a comic or in a cartoon, a fibreglass helmet and rubber pecs are… I think the only word I can use is “awful”.

    It’s not like they couldn’t have gone a bit more low-key. Give him a golden tailcoat, or something. Stargirl, too.

    Basically what I am saying is I love Doc Fate and I was looking forward to seeing an original take on his design.

    Also I’m feeling pretty envious of your job description right now, by the way.

  9. @Thom . . . but it doesn’t mean she’s any good. For long-term relief, I look to Chloe. Why Allison Mack hasn’t bolted from the show like she was set on fire, I do not know.

  10. my account got locked down for the night with fifteen minutes left in the show

    So THAT’S what happened. I wondered why you stopped so suddenly, but then I decided it was the fault of the booze. Now I know it was Twitter… which is weird, because I’ve had to unfollow people who were a LOT chattier than you were during #drunkville.

  11. You know, the first time I visited the blog to check the article, I thought, “Hey, he spelled ‘Absolute’ wrong. Maybe he’ll fix it later.”

    Then I come back to check the comments, and it’s still like that. That’s when I realize that, oh, yeah, it’s a reference to that vodka brand.

    I…uh…don’t drink much. XD

    Anyway, I enjoyed your CA article, and these Twitter comments are just as funny. It’s too bad I wasn’t at my usual computer while you were twittering. I guess I’ll have to go into your Twitter archives to check out the rest of the gems.

  12. “BeaucoupKevin Meanwhile, at the Daily Planet where Clark Kent operates in his secret identity of Clark Kent… #drunkville”

    I just lost it when I read that line….!!

  13. Personally I’m with lethx over at the CA comments. Although it could be a lot better, Smallville’s still pretty enjoyable.

    And it’s better than many movies that DC have produced over the years.

  14. After Absolute Justice (and the underwhelming Legion of Super Heroes episode), I think I may have solved the mystery of why Geoff Johns’ screenwriting career never took off…

    “It is actually my job right now to get drunk and make fun of Smallville.”

    Speaking from experience, this is actually the only way to watch it. I’ve been a fan of Smallville for years, purely BECAUSE it’s a car-crash of barrel-scraping writing that in recent years has actually given up any pretence of sticking to its original premise and just stuck to churning out crass, unoriginal product week after week. It is an awful, awful show devoid of any creative merit whatsoever and if it ever actually became objectively good I’d probably stop watching. My favorite character in the show is Lois – not a single pop-culture reference escapes her mouth that isn’t quite clearly written by someone in their forties, and this has been the basis of a drinking game on more than one occasion. A close second is Chloe and her constant mixing of pop-culture metaphors to the point that it’s practically another language “You went Thelma and Louise with the Creature from the Black Lagoon!” What does that even mean? Who knows, and who cares – just keep on truckin’ Smallville!

  15. I followed that show faithfully until what is now just past the series’ halfway point. Season five was so painful i just couldn’t handle it anymore.

  16. Chris, I owe you such a debt of gratitude so deep I can speak of it.

    Years ago my wife and I were giving this show a chance. At one point I declared that if one more stupid thing happened we were turning it off never to return. And a stupid thing happened and we turned it off in the middle of an episode. That was season two.

    Then all those full page ads of the Just-Vests League of America started showing up on my comics. I discovered that, at one point, Lana is possessed by her French witch ancestor and she kung fu fights with Lex in China. Deciding that was awesome, I dove back in and, shockingly, enjoyed the hell out of myself (knowing what I was in for at the beginning helped until the awesome could kick in).

    But now, here I am struggling through a season that is just TERRIBLE (Doomsday? Effing REALLY? That’s the big villain replacement for Lex?) just so I can see the Legion episode. Well, I saw that and was still slogging through…until you came along and showed me how forgiving of Smallville’s nonsense I had become. I shipped a disc back to netflix with only one ep watched and deleted the rest of season 8.

    I feel…free.

  17. Scott nails it – this episode was fantastic, but only because the show has always been so bad. I gave up about three seasons in because I realized I was just fast-forwarding every time Kristin Kreuk showed up on the screen. I’ve tried to plod through other seasons, but I finally realized that the only episodes I could watch were ones with guest appearances by other heroes. So I just wait for those to show up in the Tivo descriptions. It turns out you can miss five or six episodes in a row and still not have missed anything important to the story.

    Also, I’m apparently the only person who though Dr. Fate looked pretty cool. And while Hawkman’s gut-shaped breastplate and Stargirl’s weird forehead mask were bad, nothing so far has compared to the horrible, horrible Black Canary costume from a couple of seasons ago.

    Also, they need to replace Erica Durance with Jennifer Jason Leigh from the Hudsucker Proxy. That’s a Lois Lane I could get behind.

  18. It is actually my job right now to get drunk and make fun of Smallville. And dudes… that is pretty awesome.

    Sitting at my desk in uncomfortable clothes, waiting for the first of many people to call me and demand product NOW NOW NOW, I must salute you, sir.

  19. All of Johns’ worst writing tics were on display here — the bombastic unearned sentiment, the faux-badass dialogue untethered from any actual reality, the ritual adoration of Courtney Whitmore, sexualized violence and gore — and I once again wonder how Johns managed to read so many comics growing up without understanding a single one of them.

  20. I mean it wasn’t high art, but it was enjoyable. I think a lot of people have way too high standards for what’s basically popcorn fare. Hell, you people like Buffy and Firefly, which are two of the WORST shows this Iranian has ever seen.

    Oh and how many Miller Lites does it take to get your fat ass drunk?

  21. I don’t know… popcorn fare should not leave you feeling hollow. You are supposed feel pretty good after it ends.

  22. I almost gave up on Smallville, years ago, but, like heroin, I can’t quit this low-budget, poorly-written, poorly acted teen soap super-hero show. I thought Absolute Justice was entertaining, even if veering from “Ooh! Ooh! Look! Dr. Fate” to “Good Lord, they didn’t spend a dollar more than they had to” gave me whiplash.

    Martian Manhunter’s harness being holsters = Awesome hilarity.

  23. Even though I recognize that SMALLVILLE still gets relatively good ratings and the CW needs what hits it can get since it’s a miracle they’re still around at all, part of me still can’t believe this show has endured for so goddamn long. I think Tom Welling may have now played the part of Clark Kent for longer than any other actor.

  24. E.Z.:

    I thought the Dr. Fate costume worked as well. In fact, I was kind of surprised that the costumes worked as well as they did (even Hawkman, though they could have sculpted the abs or something).

    I’ve always thought that the biggest problem for live action adaptations of comics has been the costumes. Given their unreal body measurements, the costumes of a lot of characters don’t translate well into live action and just have too much potential to look like bad cosplay. That’s why so many movies and TV shows redesign the costumes (see X-Men). Ironically, the one guy who shows up the most in costume on Smallville, Green Arrow, is one of the few that they probably could have gotten away with without the redesign (which was mainly changing the vest and swapping out the cap and mask for a hoodie and wraparounds).

  25. Jealous of your job, sir.

    Also, I love Erica Durance’s Lois, especially since they stopped having her run around dressed like Britney Spears and got rid of her bad blonde dye job.

  26. Smallville is, and by large numbers, the most popular incarnation of Superman. A reflection on a retarded character as much as the enduring fanbase of the show.

  27. I thought Fate looked cool too.

    As increasingly ridiculous as it is that they don’t just call Clark Superman (hammered home when one tries to describe this episode – “Then Green Arrow, Stargirl, Hawkman and Clark…”) it just ocurred to me that, given how little resemblance characters on this show usually bear to their comic book versions (not including the JSA members in this episode; but seriously Black Canary looked like a background dancer from a Duran Duran video, and Mr. Mxyzptlk was just a European dude with mind control powers) it’s actually reasonable to assume that any version of Clark who actually wears the S-Shield on his chest basically IS this show’s version of Superboy.

    And was it me or did the special effects on Hawkman basically look like an attempt to explain why this show doesn’t let Clark fly more often?

  28. I got a kick out of it initially, and then the “oh my god that was so STUPID” kicked in. I will fondly remember the portrait, the display pieces and the unveiling of the table, and mercifully forget the rest.

    I have to wonder how much of that stuff ended up at John’s comic book store, though.

  29. I was surprised at how effective the Dr. Fate costume was — I wasn’t much impressed by it in the comic books. But I noticed how they got around the fact that human beings aren’t proportioned like super heroes — they showed mostly closeups. You just got glimpses of the full figure. Ingenious.

    I wondered how they would handle Hawkman flying. If he just flaps his wings, he’s only a big not too speedy bird, and flapping wings would require a lot of cgi. Making him zoom solved the problem, but left me wondering what he needed with the wings. He mostly wore them spread out, but once they folded. So they have two settings at least. At least they had the original helmet, not the upper-face model or the yellow hood.

    This was the first Smallville I’ve watched in years. They’ve gone so far from the legend, there’s no way to get back. Clark and Lex as buddies? So when Clark shows up in costume, Lex isn’t going to say, What’s with the cape, Kent? Knowing Lois in Smallville? The only excuse is there’s no Superman legend in the comics anymore, either. Too many changes, artists, continuities. Siegel and Shuster probably weren’t capable of developing their creation, but Shuster’s human-scale Man of Steel remains the archetype for me — I get a genuine thrill when he leaps into the air.