Over the last few years, Smallville has grown immensely more popular among diehard DC fans. Though the show centers around a young Clark Kent, prior to his donning the role of Superman, Smallville’s numerous guest stars are its prime appeal to comic readers. Even in the show’s early seasons, it featured one shot, team up episodes with iconic characters such as The Flash, Cyborg from the Teen Titans, Aquaman, and Green Arrow. Green Arrow how more than a single episode appearance, becoming part of the show’s normal cast. These four heroes even returned together in an episode entitled “Justice” which gave birth to the Smallville universe’s version of the Justice League of America. Fans began to demand more of these team ups, resulting in Supergirl, The Martian Manhunter, and others appearing on the show.
In January 2009, Geoff Johns was called in to script an episode entitled “Legion” as the producers began to realize what the fans really wanted. “Legion” not only featured the first ever live action appearance of Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl, the founding members of the Legion of Superheroes, it further developed the shows’s ties to the real DCU, and set the stage for even greater things to come. The Legion members appeared in full costume just as Green Arrow did. Still more heroes and villains, such as Black Canary, Maxima, and General Zod, were brought in. With fans drooling for more and coming to expect it on a regular basis, the producers answered their cries this year with a two hour movie event called “Absolute Justice”.
Since the 1960s, there has been an annual event in DC comics titles- The Justice League/Justice Society of America crossover. The Justice League is DC’s primary team of its current greatest heroes. Its rooster often features the best of the best that DC has to offer including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), the Flash (Barry Allen), and the Martian Manhunter. In the way that the Legion of Superheroes represents the future of the DCU, the Justice Society of America, or JSA, represents its past, showcasing the generation of heroes who kept the world safe before Superman took flight. Its own rooster is just as huge as the Justice League’s, and features such well known characters as Hawkman, the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott), the original Flash (Jay Garrick), The Spectre, the Sandman, and Dr. Fate. Each year these two teams unite. Sometimes this crossover is a simple and human as the two teams sharing Thanksgiving together, while others are epic as the teams combine to face off against super villains such as Darkseid and the hordes of Apokolips.
Absolute Justice is a true treat for fans. The two hour event not only introduces the J.S.A. into the Smallville take on DC’s history, but also features them side by side with its Justice League. In the aftermath of the events of its climax another DC team is mentioned as well and the viewer is given hints of exciting things yet to come.
The event opens with Alison Mack’s character Chloe, who is the Smallville version of Barbra Gordan (The Oracle), being approached by the Star Spangled Kid, who in the world of Smallville holds Starman’s Cosmic Rod. He is murdered by the son of an old J.S.A. foe known as the Icicle while Chloe watches. Chloe and Clark began an investigation to find his killer that leads them straight to the J.S.A. While they search for the Star Spangled Kid’s killer, Wesley Dodds dons his Sandman gear and faces off against the Icicle’s son only to die as well. Clark and Chloe meet up with Carter Hall (Hawkman) and a broken and nearly invalidated Kent Nelson (Dr. Fate). Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and the new christened Stargirl begin their own search for the killer of their two fellow J.S.A. members. Stargirl is sent out as bait to lure the villain in but Green Arrow finds her first. The two fight side by side against the Icicle’s son and barely manage to drive him off. In the aftermath of the battle, Hawkman swoops in from the sky and snatches Green Arrow. He takes him back to the “Watchtower” and throws him through its man window, telling Chloe and her “League” to stay out of J.S.A. business. Meanwhile Clark and Lois each encounter Dr. Fate. He tells them both hints of their future and place in the world. Finally, the two teams unite to confront the evil they face together. The League is represented by Clark, Chloe, Green Arrow, and the Martian Manhunter while the J.S.A. members featured as Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Stargirl. This team confronts and defeats the Icicle’s son but not before Dr. Fate is killed and Martian Manhunter has his powers given back to him by the Helmet wearing mage. As the event ends, the J.S.A. decides to come out of retirement and help teach the new generation of super powered individuals what it means to be heroes. All through the event, there are hints leading up to the big reveal of Checkmate and The Suicide Squad in its final moments. Amanda Waller, agent of Checkmate and leader of the Suicide Squad reveals the government is responsible for the attacks on the J.S.A. because it needed the team to reform because the Earth will need all its heroes to stand against the darkness and Apokolips (Yes, Apokolips not apocalypse!) which is coming.
The good things about Absolute Justice, beyond the sheer coolness of seeing still more DC characters make the transition from the comics page to live action, were far from short in supply. Michael Shanks, from Stargate, gave a dead on performance as Carter Hall the Hawkman. He nailed the character’s aggressive and violent nature. Doctor Fate’s helmet and costume were very well done considering the budget limitations of TV. Fate’s magic was expertly handled in how it was depicted. There were also numerous nods given to other DC characters and roll on the floor moments of witty dialogue such as Green Arrow telling Chloe as she snooped through his PC, “I swear those emails between Black Canary and myself were completely platonic!”
The not so well done elements of the event were pretty bad however. Dr. Fate’s level of power was so downed played I am sure it left Dr. Fate fans seething with anger. This is rationalized in the show as Kent Nelson no longer being able to fully use the powers of Nabu’s helmet but this explanation falls short when the show’s villains gets his hands on the helmet and is still fairly easily stopped by the combined efforts of the other heroes. Hawkman’s costume is poorly and cheaply done and is at times overly cheesy and distracting. The lack of an appearance, other than in photos and flashbacks, of Alan Scott is also highly questionable. Alan is as much a part of the soul and core of the J.S.A. as Hawkman and Dr. Fate. Hopefully this was done due to an upcoming appearance of Hal Jordan the show merely not wanting to explaining the conflicting mythos of the Alan Scott Green Lantern and the Hal Jordan mythos. Perhaps worst of all though was the power level of the show’s villain. The Icicle’s son was a much more street level character and never should have been a real threat to the J.S.A. much less have the power to murder Dr. Fate.
Overall the two hour event was enjoyable and well done enough to watch again. It sets the stage for all of DC’s characters to appear on Smallville more than ever and speaks of a great and terrible force coming to Earth (Darkseid) which will require of the Earth’s heroes to stand together to defeat. While I personally still long to the Legion of Superheroes return to Smallville with more of its members, I was both satisfied and impressed by the J.S.A. being brought to the small screen in live action. I was also excited and tempted to become a regular viewer of Smallville again when the trailer for the next episode featured Zatanna the sorceress in her trademark top hat and fishnets and already have my DV-R set for her upcoming appearance!
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