Wednesday, December 2, 2009 SuperVision

I've never followed Smallville. The initial "Dawson's Creek with superpowers" concept didn't exactly bowl me over, and nothing I've heard or seen about the series since has grabbed me, either. I don't mind that the show has it's own take on the DC Universe, but that take simply lacks appeal for me. However, I did watch the episode featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes, if just for the novelty of seeing live-action versions of some childhood favorites. And I'm being drawn back again by the upcoming two-parter featuring the Justice Society.

I've long loved the JSA. It's probably due in part to my fondness for the 30's and 40's, the era in which the Justice Society originated. They got to ride on running boards, wear fedoras, and slug Nazis - how cool is that? And I prefer "mystery men" types to heroes with limitless powers. I think that good guys who aren't invulnerable and who can't solve their problems with a wave of their hands are more interesting and more heroic than their bullet-proof brethren. And though the JSA has members who pretty much define "omnipotent", most of the team are regular joes like the Atom and the Sandman. Finally, the relative obscurity of the characters and the whole Earth-1/Earth-2 arcana surely appealed to my geek nature.

So as a fan, my interest was piqued when I heard about the upcoming JSA appearance on Smallville. Then this week, Entertainment Weekly had some promo pics of the episode:

Now, I should be geekgasming over the sight of a live-action Doctor Fate. Instead, I can't help but feel that the costumes may look kind of ridiculous in the context of the show. Again, I'm not a fan, but from what I've seen, Smallville aims for a more realistic (ha!) depiction of superheroes. Compare the JSA shots to the Smallville versions of the Legion and Justice League:

Very streetwear, more X-Men biker gear than comic book spandex, nothing that screams "superhero". So it's a little jarring to see Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Stargirl in such traditional, four-color togs. It may be that Smallville is starting to fully embrace its comic book roots, but their JSA bucks the trend established by the show, and I'm a bit worried they might come off looking silly as a result. Hell, check out this still of Hawkman. I know, right?

I worry because I want the audience to embrace these characters. I want this episode to be a hit. I want the possibility of another show featuring the likes of Wildcat or Hourman or Starman or the current, way-cool Mr. Terrific. I don't care if it requires a more modern take on their costumes or personas. That's what adaptations are for - if you want something exactly like the source material, go read the source material.

Anyway, the trailer for the episode has me a lot more excited than the stills do. The classic round table! Green Lantern! That group portrait! The Sandman! Woot!


While I'm on the topic of superheroic television, I just finished watching the first episode of Misfits, a new British show about urban yoof who gain paranormal powers while performing court-appointed community service. So far, the young characters are realistically drawn, which means they are almost unbearable and nigh unintelligible. The mix of powers displayed so far is interesting and has plenty of dramatic potential, and with only six episodes to a series I'm pretty confident the plot won't be slowly dog-paddling in circles like any given season of Heroes. Well worth a download, though you'll pine for subtitles.


Hecubus said...

I have never ever ever watched a single episode of Smallville but I agree I'm all over the League episode. I was flipping channels and all of a sudden I was like, "Did I just see Dr.Fate?" It was late I was alone and I'm standing in front of my TV going, "No way!"
over and over till Dawn found me in the morning.

Anonymous said...

I admit that although I loathe all versions of the big blue boyscout, including this tv version, I have tuned in on occasion since seeing green arrow in a commercial. I'm a big fan of the comic character. This TV green arrow character is not bad and I find him much more compelling than "Clark". I also am intrigued by the JSA teaser and do find the costumes off-putting in relation to the show. However, looking at that Black Canary picture I’m disgusted. That actress couldn’t hold Dinah Lance’s… um… fishnet stockings! As a youngster, those fishnets and her saucy attitude with Oliver Queen knocked me over with a punching-bag arrow. Other than today’s exaggerated version of Power Girl (no complaints), no comic book woman had made such an impact. The character’s been done an injustice with that weak TV representation