Though I haven’t watched Smallville in about 3 years, I was totally excited when I saw the commercial for the two-hour Absolute Justice special. What excited me the most was the possibility of seeing all of the super heroes, the entirety of the Justice Society of America, in action in the span of two hours.
Well, I didn’t get that.
Absolute Justice was written by Geoff Johns, an excellent choice for the special since he began writing the JSA comic in 2000. Since then, Johns has worked on a plethora of comics for DC, including The Flash and Green Lantern. The irony of this is that neither of these characters, in either their Golden Age or Modern versions makes an appearance in Absolute Justice, much to my chagrin.
The episode begins with the murder of two people, who appear to have some kind of connection with each other, but not much else. As Clark and Chloe do their research, they discover a team of “criminals,” whose ranks include the two dead guys. They call upon Oliver Queen to help dig a little deeper, and find that they have discover may not be the full truth.
The search leads to Carter Hall and his not-right-in-the-head friend, Kent Nelson. Hall runs a museum of some sort, though one can pretty much guess what it contains way before the big reveal later (it was in the commercials, remember.) Hall is pursued by Courtney Whitmore, a pesky blonde girl who has some sort of connection to one of the dead guys. At this point, things are a little cloudy, but everything gets explained in time.
Carter Hall is Hawkman. Kent Nelson is Dr. Fate. Courtney Whitmore is Stargirl. All of them are annoying in their own right, but some less than others.
Hawkman plays a central role in the episodes. As the original leader of the JSA, Hawkman is the most conflicted as to the decision to get the team back together. He feels guilty for the deaths of Sandman and the Star Spangled Kid. After all, he ignored their warnings of the return of one of their enemies. Hawkman also feels guilty over the death of his wife, Hawkgirl. He chooses to air his guilt in the form of raspy speech and stupid one-liners (“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Really? You’re going to dredge up that old line?) And even though is delivery is more annoying than Tom Welling’s jaw-clenching in almost every episode, I have to say that Hawkman was played rather well. In the comics, Hawkman is an arrogant dick. Well, he’s the same here. So, all in all, this was rather spot-on.
Dr. Fate, on the other hand, was nothing but irritating. He speaks in the cryptic tones about everyone’s involvement in the future. He serves very little to the storyline besides convincing Clark to don the mantle of Superman (not in so many words, mind you) and to open a few doors with his spectacular powers. OK, maybe he does a little more than that, but not much. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t have been able to stifle a smile after he took an icicle through the chest.
He looked stupid, too. The design team takes artistic license when it comes to the costumes. Green Arrow has a very sleek look. They outfitted Clark in an all-black number, a far cry from his blue and reds. Even tertiary characters like Black Canary are given slight makeovers so as not to come off as tacky. So why directly translate Dr. Fate’s look straight from the comics? The helmet looked good, I’ll grant that. But the rubber suit and cape? It really gave me flashbacks to Shuemacher’s Batman and Robin.
Surprisingly, Stargirl was the least annoying of the JSA. Headstrong and impetuous, she was everything that I expected her to be. She had quite a bit of dialogue, but not enough to give her an excuse to formulate a particular speech pattern, which kept the frustration to a minimum.
Johns chose these characters for a reason, but these weren’t the characters I wanted to see. What I wanted were the more commercial characters, like Flash or the Green Lantern. Hell, I would have taken Wildcat or the Spectre. Sadly, none of these guys make a super hero appearance, but the gears start turning for a possible future development. And, to be fair, I’m not going to complain about the lack of characters. I do understand that to have twenty super powered people would be severe overkill. Including the entirety of the JSA, as well as Clark’s team? I wouldn’t even want to think of the carnage.
Most of the story fit into place. Johns does a fantastic job of creating a noir-style whodunit mystery for Clark, Chloe, and Oliver to muddle through. What I especially liked was the way the fall of the super heroes back in the day paid homage to the fall of the super heroes from DC’s Watchmen. Johns does well having Hawkman struggle with his guilt, paralleling him with Clark and the differences in leadership. Johns even wraps up the Icicle storyline nicely, and how the death of Dr. Fate basically means nothing. But he does bring up a number of questions.
First of all, what is Checkmate? As I admitted earlier, I haven’t watched the show for almost 3 years, so this may have been something that I missed. But, from the set-up, it doesn’t seem like it. So how does this secret group fit into the future? And when did Foxy Brown put on all of that weight?
I know it sounds like I’m tearing Absolute Justice apart, but I’m really not. I have a few issues with it, but I did enjoy it. Of course, it was corny, but, so far, the entire series of Smallville has been corny. I like how they decided to take the risks by adding the other super heroes into the mix. And I can’t wait to see where the writers go after this, and who else they will introduce. Will I finally be placated with The Flash or Green Lantern?
I frigging hope so.