Saturday, February 06, 2010

Smallville Does Justice to the JSA

Last night's television debut of the JSA on Smallville was just campy enough to dissuade superhero naysayers, and just reverent enough to make fanboys like me absolutely ecstatic with the sweeps-snagging episode. Consider Stargirl, the babe (in youth and looks) of the veteran group, one moment swinging her predecessor's gaudy light staff with the straightest of faces, and the next claiming that "Stripesy" is indeed the worst sidekick name ever. If that doesn't represent a realistic portrayal of the superhero myth, I don't know what does. The Justice Society saved the CW's Friday night ratings, too, a responsibility Smallville has grown accustomed to carrying. In fact, writer Geoff Johns might've symbolized both the mantle of heroism and the weight of supporting a whole TV network when Green Arrow said of Hawkman's mace, "It's heavier than it looks."

The winged warrior responded, "You get used to it."

My only criticism was the length of the episode -- not that I minded two hours of superhero TV, but that the reverence of the whole thing demanded so much of its own screen time. Clark soaking in the JSA brownstone, its trophies . . . I guess since the show took the time to make the props, producers didn't want to relegate them to mere background Easter egg fodder. Further, the final showdown was a bittersweet moment, a perfect slow motion panorama of what could've only been 30 real-time seconds of battle. Still, to see Superman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, and Green Arrow fight the Icicle wearing Dr. Fate's helmet . . . it reminded me of the days spent on my bedroom floor enacting similar scenes with my Super Powers action figures.

Like the JSA themselves, it reminded me of earlier, better days. It did those old superhero fantasies justice.

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