Clark, Oliver and Chloe discover a supergroup that reminded me immediately of the Watchmen. Does this plot seem familiar to you? “A group of retired superheroes starts to get picked off one-by-one by a mysterious villain.” Ah, but the comparisons stop there because Smallville delivered a one-two (hour) punch that would have pleased any comic book fan. There was no doubt tonight in any viewer’s eyes that this is a show about superheroes.

I was a little worried in the beginning because Smallville pulled a Heroes trick. Chloe is getting some intel from the Star-Spangled Kid (who is nowhere near a kid anymore), when he tosses her in a dumpster to protect her from the Icicle. They fight, but we get stuck inside the dumpster with Chloe, just like when Claire was stuck outside a room where Sylar, Nathan, and Peter were superfighting in the season 3 finale of Heroes. Agonizing. But luckily, it was just a tease.

In full research mode, Clark joins Chloe to find more information on this gang of supposed criminals. I don’t know who shot the film of all these people training, beating boxing bags, then getting dragged out into the street and put in prison. Whoever it was, I can say it was well-shot for an old film reel and well-edited to go along with Clark’s well-delivered exposition.

But the team, known as the Justice Society of America, is broken. Hawkman is the gruff leader, but hides away in a rundown museum. He takes care of Dr. Fate, a man who has glimpsed so much of the future that it has finally driven him mad. The Sandman lives in a messy apartment and has definitely seen better days. Unfortunately, because of Icicle (who turns out to be Icicle Jr.), the Sandman is put to sleep forever. The last local member of their faction is the Kid’s protégé, Stargirl.

The future Justice League and the dismembered Justice Society clash at first, when Green Arrow crashes Hawkman and Stargirl’s ambush of Icicle Jr. I must say, this scene is what brought me back to not worrying about being deprived of some superduels. The fight between Stargirl and Icicle Jr. was great. They put on quite a lightshow between her staff and his icicles. But when Green Arrow saves Stargirl, Hawkman grabs him, flies him back to Watchtower, and throws him through a window.

What a great scene. If I had to be picky, I would say Hawkman’s flying is awkward. If he’s using his wings, why aren’t they flapping? Or is it a rocket and the wings are there for show? This Hawkman wears the wings as a backpack, so how exactly do they work anyway? Also, sidenote: Can we get rid of Green Arrow’s voice modulator already? The voice-changing didn’t work for The Dark Knight and it doesn’t work here either.

Chloe nurses Oliver’s wounds in the next scene, and we are shown hints of a romance brewing between them. Sorry, I still have to be sold on that. Clark was stolen away in a previous scene by Dr. Fate and brought to Hawkman’s JSA museum. It is here that we find out that Hawkman lost his Hawkgirl and that’s why he is so bitter. We also see that what Chloe and Clark thought were criminals were actually framed, because they would not reveal their true identities and work for the government. At the JSA table, the two teams finally join forces, so they can bring down Icicle Jr., a villain I swear that Clark could have taken care of himself. But Hawkman had to get his vengeance I suppose.

From here on out, as the plan to get Icicle Jr. is formulated, some really interesting and fun character moments occur. First we get Stargirl giving Chloe some advice about how to really make the Watchtower not just a base of operations, but a second home for its heroes. She talks to Chloe about how her team was family. Chloe seemed to like the idea. Another great Chloe moment, which makes me think we’re starting to pull our lovable technogeek out of the dark realm she has been dwelling in, came when J’onn J’onzz told Chloe that she needs to pull herself back from monitoring the city.

Oliver got some development here, too. In clashing with Hawkman, the Feathered One called him out on being arrogant to hide his feelings. By the end of the episode, he decided to actually drop by the Watchtower for something other than fighting crime – to ask J’onn and Chloe to join him for some dinner. Oh yeah, his stomach was probably empty after all the flying with Hawkman.

Dr. Fate was killed off, but I like how he affected Clark and J’onn. First, he saw the same future for Clark as Jordan did in the season three episode ”Hereafter”, which was a great callback to an episode that aired almost exactly six years ago! He said that Clark will lead this generation and that Lex Luthor will be his great enemy. Clark is a bit alarmed by this, because Lex Luthor is supposed to be dead! If there is a God in Heaven, please allow us Smallville fans one last great Lex Luthor performance by the great Michael Rosenbaum, and not Darth Luthor! Amen.

Dr. Fate also restored the Martian Manhunter’s powers! Now, here I was, geeking out, because J’onn showed up to the JSA party wearing a green shirt with red suspenders, mirroring his actual red-suspenders-over-green-skin look in the comics. Then the writer of this show, Geoff Johns, figured that was not good enough! Dr. Fate blasts him, protecting him from Icicle Jr., and we see the actual Martian Manhunter in his real form for a split second!

Finally, this two-parter set us up for yet another problem just outside of Clark’s radar: Checkmate. Apparently this group is invested in employing super villains. Pam Grier plays new character Amanda Waller, an agent or maybe even the boss of Checkmate. She sends Lois information as well as gets Icicle Jr. to provoke the Justice Society to come out of retirement. She is forming a group called the Suicide Squad, who I am sure we will hear more about in upcoming episodes. But who else does Checkmate employ?

Why none other than “Agent” Tess Mercer! This makes me wonder if she has been a Checkmate plant all this time. Was her history with Lex a hoax? Honestly, I could swallow that better than her just popping up at the beginning of Season Eight, and we are supposed to believe that Lex left his company to her. Were the meteor freaks that she gathered in Season 8’s ”Injustice” an early version of the Suicide Squad? Is getting Toyman to fix Metallo’s kryptonite heart a Checkmate project? Has she told Waller about Clark? Or Zod?

There were so many moments that I would love to talk about, especially with the many different comic book references that were made, but I think I’ve used up all my allotted webspace here on My reaction? I loved it. One of the best times I’ve had watching Smallville. I cannot wait to see what develops with this season’s storyline. Excellent job, Geoff Johns.

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