SMALLVILLE - 9.11 - "Absolute Justice" Review -

TV Opinion

Mania Grade: B-

46 Comments | Add


Rate & Share:


Related Links:



  • Title: Smallville
  • Episode Title: Absolute Justice
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Chloe Sullivan, Erica Durance, Cassidy Freeman, Justin Hartley, Pam Grier, Michael Shanks, Brent Stait
  • Written by: Geoff Johns
  • Directed by: Tom Welling and Glen Winter
  • Network: The CW Network, LLC
  • Series: Smallville

SMALLVILLE - 9.11 - "Absolute Justice" Review

Could Have and Should Have Been Better

By Joe Oesterle     February 07, 2010
Source: Mania

SMALLVILLE - 9.11 - "Absolute Justice" Review
© Mania

The much-anticipated 2-hour movie premiere of Smallvile, Absolute Justice began on a high note. DC Fanboys (and girls) must have all geeked out a little in the opening as we zoom down to Chloe coming out of Kyle Rayner’s favorite java joint, “Radu’s.”

I also suspect that many of you reading this enjoyed the aforementioned Chloe getting not so subtlety tossed into a dumpster. I’d like to think that was writer Geoff John’s not so subtle way of hinting to us all he’d prefer not to include the Watchtower maven in this particular story, or even in any story ever again, but maybe I’m just reading into things.

The garbage man in question was none other than original Justice Society member, Sylvester Pemberton, a.k.a., The Star Spangled Kid (Starman.) Unfortunately for Pemberton, saving Chloe was the last selfless act this long-time hero in hiding ever performed. Unfortunately for the rest of us, whoever killed Pemberton left Chloe relatively unharmed.

Before I get too far into this article, I’d like to bring up the fact that I really find it a bit too convenient that in a major metropolis like Metropolis, far too often our main characters are the only ones out on the streets. I’ve lived in and visited plenty of big cities around this country and the world, in my life. It’s very rare that I’m the only one on the street at any time of day or night, but somehow a bustling city like Metropolis (This berg has it’s very own Statue of Liberty to give you an impression on which giant municipality Metropolis is based on) has very little foot traffic, and next to none when the bad guys come out to do bad things.

Now back to our show. The next victim of this mystery killer of masks from the past turned out to be Wesley Dodds, The Sandman. That frustrated me a little. I’d have liked to see some old school Sandman roughhouse, and I felt cheated when a bona fide fedora –wearing Golden Age legend like Sandman goes to his eternal rest without so much as a single blast from his gas gun. I suppose the argument could be made to say that’s how formidable Icicle Jr. was, or how rusty Sandman was, but I’m not buying that. Sandman deserved to go down fighting, not frozen solid while frozen in hesitation.

As I suspected, we got Smallville’s interpretation of at least a part of the film, Watchmen. (A movie I loved, and I realize I’m in the minority on this site.) As Clark and Chloe watched the black and white super 8 footage of this band of mystery men, it was hard not to think it was a watered down interpretation of the opening credits of Zach Snyder’s movie. They even went so far as to cart off hero Kent Nelson to the looney bin. It was also hard to believe that Ted “Wildcat” Grant was so easily subdued by four policemen. I’m willing to accept that Ted figured he would eventually be released and found not guilty of anything, so he didn’t clean clocks like he could have, but come on… Wildcat would have pulverized those mooks without breaking a sweat, and still been ready to answer the opening bell of a scheduled 15-round championship fight.

I’d also like to point out that I was given that very same Allan Scott/Green Lantern ring at my local comic book shop during some recent DC promotion. Love that stupid little plastic ring.

Brent Stait did a nice job as the mentally fragile Kent Nelson (again I felt a Watchmen-ish vibe. Nelson’s internal struggles felt similar to Jackie Earl Haley’s Walter Kovacs / Rorschach) I didn’t however understand why Michael Shanks felt the need to “Batman” up his voice whenever he donned his feathery helmet. Shanks’ own vocal timbre is gravelly and menacing enough – there was no need for the extra audio distress.

Another thing we didn’t really need was the clichéd comic book platitudes, but we had them regardless. Yes, it’s been pointed out in countless Sci-Fi/Adventure/Fantasy stories before that, “Humanity has a great capacity for violence is great, but their capacity of hope is greater.” Klaatu said it, Brando Jor El said it, even Jesus probably said it. We don’t need to hear it ever again. It’s understood. We as a species are potential diamonds in the rough. Blah, blah, blah.

What we could have used is some more John Jones. It was sad to see Dr. Fate run through by an icicle, and again, very hard for a real comic book fan to believe anyone, let alone a guy who shoots ice missiles, gets the drop on Fate. The guy sees the future and has some other pretty impressive powers. You think he’d have conjured up some mystical ice-resistant shield. Surely Dr. Fate, a man who can see into the future, would have prepared for the Snow Miser (as Ollie called him.)

But at least with his dying breath, Fate restored Detective Jones’ Martian powers (as well as his weakness for cookies) and I have to say, that pumped me up. I was looking forward to more Martian Manhunter action. I was also hoping for some Jay Garrick/Flash, Allan Scott/Green Lantern and definitely some more Wildcat. I was let down.

We did get a little of the classic Hawkman vs. Green Arrow tussles, and it was good to see just like in the comics, GA wasn’t completely of league (pardon the pun) against the much stronger opponent. I did however find the animosity between the two to be a bit forced. I couldn’t help but chuckle at Justin Hartley’s eyrolling, “Whatever, Douche” look he threw at Shanks’ Hawkman after the line, “You go back to Sherwood, Robin Hood, I’ll turn the Icicle into slush myself.” To me that was Hartely thinking, “Why the Batman voice dude?… I already know your secret identity.” But then again, maybe I’m just reading into things.

We could have also done with Lois in this episode. The only reason she was featured is so Dr Fate could tell her (meaning the audience) that she’s destined to hook up with “the one who will heal us all.” But guess what? We all know Lois and Clark get together, do the nasty, and have a love that rivals all the loves in superhero land. We could have done without Lois, and been treated to more John Jones, or a bigger appearance from The Golden Age Atom, or seen Sandman put up a decent fight.

We did get to see the great Pam Grier show up as the great Amanda Waller, and it’s interesting to get a whiff of how Tess Mercer became such a lethal hand-to-hand combatant.

Overall, while I enjoyed parts of this blockbuster, I didn’t love it. Absolute Justice didn’t have any off Smallville’s too often truly sucky moments, but considering all the hype, at least here in this Smallville-loving community it didn’t deliver the kind of Grade A entertainment we got from last week’s regular season episode, “Disciple.”



Joe Oesterle is an award-winning writer and illustrator, but what he often fails to mention is that many of those awards were won on a New Jersey boardwalk. Check out some of Joe’s other writing, illustrations, animations, and photography. If he can’t get a blister doing it, Joe does it.


Showing items 1 - 10 of 46
1 2 3 4 >  >>  
SgtTechCom 2/7/2010 8:29:40 AM

Episode was Amazing. A grade if anything.

The hints of clarks future by Doctor Fate ...the red/yellow cape flying in the air haha chills.... Martian Manhunters green/red under his coat then his alien/martian appearance showing when doctor fate did his lil thing on him. Amazing! Glad he got his powers back too he totally rocks and Phil Morris is perfect for the role.

The Hawkman / Green Arrow moments were great totally comic book like how they basically hate each other but still get the job done.

I loved how they all teamed up against Icicle in the end using their own individual abilities... doing their "superfriends" lol type of thing.

The best was when Oliver - MM and chloe all kinda hung out together and you can really see them all coming together as a team which rocks!

Great Episode care to speculate on the end what Pam Grier said? Did she mean Apocalypse or Apokolips....??? HMMMM Darkseid? hahaha stayyyyyyyyyyyy tuned !

millean 2/7/2010 9:34:36 AM

As always, spot on article, Joe.

I enjoied the episode, as I got exactly what I expected -- a "Smallville" version of the JSA.  (Honestly, it might have even been a little better than I expected.)  I wasn't buying all of the hype, but thought it would be pretty good, and it was just that.  It was nice to see all of the easter eggs they had in for all of the fans.  The museum almost reminded me a bit of the Batcave/JLA trophy room.  Wish we could have seen more of that.

I have to admit, we got way more of the real Martian Manhunter than I expected, even though it wasn't a lot.  I really hope we get to see a lot more of this character in the future.

Chloe is kind of annoying.  Maybe they are going to try and fix her character a bit with the a more mellow. home sweet Watchtower environment which might be forthcoming (I hope so).  That said, I still give props to Allison Mack as the writers have pretty much handcuffed what she can do.  I still kind of like her despite hating what her character has become, which is saying something.

I wonder how bad Michael Shanks groaned when the producers told him to do the "Batman voice"?  Did they really think that was a good idea?  Seriously?


SuperDave 2/7/2010 10:02:17 AM

A good story, not too much romantic angst, deserving a B score. I thought Shanks gravel voice was a little much and they could have done a little more work on the special effects.

It's fun to see the hints of Checkmate, Suicide Squad, and Apokolips (really, a Superman story without Darkseid? Too bad Ironside has already played General Lane). But here the problem; should this storyline be in Smallville or should this show spin-off into a full blown Superman and the Justice League series? Perhaps they do a straight to DVD movie.

I think they set up a possibility that JSA could be spun off. Hawkman and Stargirl search the world for ex-members and the next generation.

One more thing; I'm Canadian and the commercials breaks every five minutes broke the story's flow. How much do you guys need to buy? No G4 and Space have put in reviews and mini interviews to cover the time!

DaForce1 2/7/2010 10:36:26 AM

Sorry, have to disagree with this review. It was an A minus at least. We have the introduction of Checkmate, Suicide Squad, and possibly the OMAC (the "phone" Waller gave Lane). Not to mention that Clark finally knows for sure that Lex is still alive.

And could Dr. Fate have stopped Icicle Jr.? Sure, but he sacrificed himself to give John his powers back.

We also start getting the formation of a team going when Stargirl is explaining to Chloe how the Watchtower should be more of a meeting place and less of a war room.

hanso 2/7/2010 10:48:56 AM

Yo I don't know how you cats do this to yourselves week in and weekout.  I bouthgt Season 7 & 8 back in Black Friday and I'm still trying to get through Season 7 Disc 2.  I tuned in on Friday to see what all the fuzz wasn't impressed.  Dr. Fate and seeing some of the heroes pop up was cool but they needed to get a better villain than a guy named Icicle.

redhairs99 2/7/2010 10:54:52 AM

Millean, the Martian Manhunter returns later this season in the episode Checkmate.

I too was wondering if Pam and Icicle were talking about an "Apocalypse" or "Apokolipse."  The both seemed to put emphasis on the  word, which made me think "Apokolipse."  While seeing Darkseid would be cool, no way is Clark ready for him.  Earth would be completely doomed.

I was a little disappointed that all Fate saw was the stock-shot flowing, red CG cape that they first used early on in the series.  I think it was when Clark met the old lady who could see the future and later died when she saw Lex's future (which is a tru highlight of this series).  

Joe, I don't really see the comparsion of Kent Nelson's insanity to Rorshack's personality.  Though the parallels to the Watchmen storyline in this episode are definitely well founded.  And BTW, I'm with you in liking the Watchmen movie.  I recommend the Ultimate Cut of Watchmen if you haven't seen it.

And it did suck that Dr. Fate died, but he did say that his can see the fates of others but his (like Dr. Manhattan's) is hidden from him.  So I could see Icicle getting the drop on him.  At least in his death, we were given the totally awesome glimpse of the Green Martian Manhunter.  Definitely looking forward to more from Mr. Morris.  He has been dead-on as the Manhunter since his first appearance (right down to his ridiculous love of Oreos.  He left the crumbs all over the barn afterall).

redhairs99 2/7/2010 10:58:57 AM

And sorry Hanso, it looks like Avatar has finally fallen out the number one spot the at the weekend box office.  Though, I can't believe that it was a movie like Dear John that finally knocked it off.

PAGE 2/7/2010 11:08:15 AM

I also thought this was a good episode, at least deserving an A- like DaForce, but great review none the less Joe. Like Joe, I also enjoyed the Watchmen movie, and thought it was pretty cool to see a Smallville version to explain why the new generation of heroes had never heard of the old school heroes up to this point.  I definitely hope some of them make another appearance soon. Especially with the revelation at the end that Choloe helped them find Jay Garrick and Alan Scott. If we can't have Hal Jordan, at least give us Alan Scott as the Green Lantern!

I also like how they've introduced another major storyline for the second half of the season. I thought Pam Grier did a good job with what she was given and have no doubt we'll see her again soon. Like everyone else, when she stated Apocalypse, I was wondering if she meant the threat of the Kandorians or Apokolips as in Darkseid. That would be freakin' sweet if it's the latter! Time will tell.

I was SUPER EXCITED to see that they have finally given John Jonz his powers back. I was just like "damn, it's about time!" I thought it was dumb that they even took his powers away from the beginning, but because they took Clark's powers away, AGAIN, that was all they could think of to get them back. Great having him back and I like how he flew into the Watchtower at the end and Chloe just assumed it was Clark. You could tell he loves having his powers back again. I just thought it would have been a better idea for them to have Clark be able to get his powers back since it was his fault they were gone in the first place.

As for Dr. Fate, I loved the speech he gave to Clark, and made us, the audience, and Clark, aware of the fact that Lex Luthor is not dead, and that he will still be Clark's/Superman's greatest enemy. They've used that flying cape shot before but man it's always great to see everytime. They need to get Clark out of this black costume already and into his traditional colors.

And there was just way too much Chloe for my liking in this episode. She was practically in every scene! What's comforting to me, and I think you missed this Joe since I didn't see it in the article, when Clark and Chloe catch Dr. Fate in the hospital room with Icicle Sr. Dr. Fate says to Clark "You're fate is utterly binding. You are of value Clark Kent." Then. he turns to Chloe and says, "But you, you walk the same path I do Chloe Sullivan." Now, I've read some other posts on other site, and some people seem to believe that Choloe will be the next Dr. Fate. However, that was clearly foreshadowing. Dr, Fate dies in this episode. That was his path. Which means that since Chloe walks the same path, at some point in this series, maybe this season, Chloe will die. Now remember, Tom Welling was the ONLY one signed for a 10th season, which means if the 10th season gets the go ahead, they could very well kill off Chloe Sullivan this season as we've seen in Lois's visions earlier this season.  What do you guys think?

Overall, great episode and can't wait to see more of the Checkmate storyline and see how it crosses the Kandorian storyline. I really believe that's why she's taking such action to get the heroes to come out into the public eye.

Great review Joe. Now bring on LOST!!

mysterio 2/7/2010 11:53:57 AM

idk joe i think this episode deserve atleast an A-! All the little easter eggs they had through out the show were awesome! i think were all nitpicking about hawkmans voice, i mean it was kind of annoying but u know an episodes good when we start complaining about a characters voice.I loved how we got to see the green martian manhunter.

I think were also all in agreement the chloe is getting on everyones nerves, but we all know if their is a 10th season her character wont make it there, just as PAGE pointing out chloe n dr fate share the same path, which most likely means that shes going to die.

overall good episode which i think got the result that the producers wanted which was ratings, if there is a 10th season i hope they can manage to get Geoff johns to write another episode.

samson 2/7/2010 12:00:17 PM

I thought this episode was a B - also. But, for different reasons.

I thought the casting was horrible. I love Pam Greir. Been in love with her since I was a kid in the 70's, but she was horrible in the role of Waller. No gravity, or menace to her whatsoever. Micheal Shanks, for me, had the same problem. He just didn't have any depth to him in the role. It really made me question his acting skills. Plus, he was too skinny for the Hawkman custume.

And speaking of costume, Martian Manhunter's outfit was a classic case of what not to do with a live action superhero. I'm not talking about the colors. I've always thought there was too much emphasis on "black leather" as crimefighting gear. My issue was the look of cheapness to it. Outside of the leather jacket, it looked like the kind of belts and what not my neice buys from the dollar store to play dress up with.

The bright spot was Brent Stait's Dr. Fate. I've been a fan of this guy since his old Rev. Bem days on Andromeda. Physically, he didn't quite fit the roll, but his acting abilliy made me forget about that. This guy killed (in a good way) every scene he was in. Too bad they killed him off. I would have loved to see more more of him.

I know I'm in the minority here, but I love what they're doing with Chloe. It seems like she is taking on the ruthless, do whatever it takes, "Batman" kind of role. Think about it. In Chloe's mind, the end justifies the means. As long as no one dies, she'll do whatever it takes to see that justice is served. What I'd like to see is an episode where she has to go against Clark, Green Arrow, and the rest and hand them there collective asses because she knows so much about there strengths and their weeknesses. That would be sweet. Talk about character devlopment.

What made this episode cool was the sentimentality of the whole thing. Seeing the JSA interact, and effect, the Smallville universe was fun. The characters were true, in spirit, to their origins and given the limited CW budget, I think they did a decent job.

Smallville, like Brittany Spears, remains a guilty pleasure for me.


1 2 3 4 >  >>  


You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.