Sartorial Smallville: A Critique

V. knows way more about Smallville than I do, but I was a fan of this show in its early days. Though poor Tom Welling has yet to don a cape, there have been some notable, full-costume appearances by major DC players. But since it’s a TV show and not a big-screen blockbuster, Smallville has never had the budget to provide truly splendid superhero costumes. The best ones look like top-notch cosplay getups. Others, like the recent Blue Beetle reveal, are a bit sad:

Blue Beetle: Really? As a reader pointed out on our Facebook page, it looks like a Power Rangers getup. Upon closer inspection, it resembles a Happy Meal action figure. From 1996. Grade: D

Green Arrow: This one’s pretty good and captures GA’s general Robin Hood vibe, with a 21st Century edge. Green Arrow’s costume isn’t fancy, and the nice guns count as an accessory. Grade: B+

Hawkman: In Smallville‘s defense, Hawkman’s comics costume is glorious and therefore very hard to pull off without CGI and big bucks. Again, if I saw this at Dragon*Con, I’d be kinda impressed. However, I saw a Hawkgirl at D*C whose wings were bigger, more feathery, and far more striking than this. The helmet looks like it was decorated with gold spray paint, and overall, it’s a letdown. Grade: C-

Booster Gold: Not awful. Booster isn’t the most serious character in the DCU, but he looks like he’s ready to handle some business in this instance. Snazzy shades, and props for the oh-so-accurate product placement patches. Very NASCAR. Grade: B

Wonder Woman: Even though this is Lois Lane in Diana’s costume, I dig it. In fact,  like it so much that I wish David E. Kelley & Co. had gone this route for the TV show. It’s got some warrior flourishes, and it appears classic and youthful. Points off for the cheap-o tiara and star deficit, though. Grade: A-

Zatanna: Fishnets, check. Tuxedo getup, check. Hot boots, check. Matrix-y trench coat, check. This is a fairly simple look, but it’s effective and awfully stylish: Grade: A

Black Canary: I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous. Dinah looks like a cross between in Val Kilmer in Top Gun and a mannequin at Wilsons Leather. The costume screams “cheap,” and the Ziggy Stardust raccoon mask isn’t helping matters. Grade: D-

Stargirl: The mask is effed up, and the costume is only slightly above Halloween quality. I think had those shorts in fourth grade. Anyway, Stargirl is such an underexposed character that I’m happy to see her at all. By the way, that staff looks like a solar light fixture that was ripped out of someone’s front yard. Grade: C

Aquaman: I really, really got a kick out of this. I’m a tad biased because orange and green are my alma mater’s colors, but Aquaman’s costume looks functional for a guy who spends most of his time in the water, and it’s sleek and modern. Groovy footwear, too! With apologies to my Aquaman-loving friends, “cool” is not a word I often associate with King Arthur, so this is well played.  Grade: A+

Clark Ken/Superman: I realize that he has yet to officially become the Man of Steel on Smallville, but at this point, Clark ought to have more than jeans, a blue T-shirt, and a red jacket from Costco. Can’t a Kryptonian get some love on his own show?! Even Welling’s well-documented beauty can’t redeem this. Grade: F

Amanda Waller Will Cut a Bitch

I used to be a huge “Smallville” fan, but over the years, my appreciation of the show has ebbed and flowed. I enjoyed season 8 quite a bit, as the writers finally decided to weave in more DC continuity. Besides, Tom Welling is always easy on the eyes.

Not that I could have ignored all the publicity if I wanted to, but I was quite looking forward to the “Absolute Justice” episode that aired Feb. 5.  The story was solid and plausible, and the costumes were so not corny, as I had feared. The acting was “meh” at times, but that was all forgiven when legendary brick house Pam Grier showed up as the diabolical operative Amanda Waller. My insides leapt with joy as Grier nailed the character. (Spoilers ahead!)

Cut to a scene of the villain, who has freezing powers, all tied up in a large heated room. Waller finishes interrogating him, says he’s served his purpose and puts a bullet in his head. “Welcome to the Suicide Squad,” she says as she exits the room, swagger fully intact. The doors that close behind her bear the Checkmate symbol. Like, whoa. Greg Rucka’s Checkmate series is one of my favorites, so that scene was like “butta.” I’m looking forward to more Grier as Waller on “Smallville,” which will give the show some much-needed edge.

Cover art by Dan LuVisi

This has been a good month for Waller, who has also been center stage in one of G3’s favorite titles, Secret Six. It’s hard to upstage the Sixers, but that’s exactly what she does in issue #18, the final installment of the “Danse Macabre” storyline. In her attempt to extract Deadshot from the Six for her own purposes, Waller wreaks serious havoc. Meanwhile, as Belle Reve prison burns down around them, the Six have to contend with some nasty Black Lanterns during a tense standoff with the Suicide Squad. In the middle of it all is Waller, who is as fearless as she is unethical. (Spoilers ahead!)

Just how gangsta is The Wall? She threatens to detonate Bane’s cranium by clicking a pen that would trigger the chip in his head she previously installed. When Black Alice refuses to give Nightshade back her powers so that she can teleport Waller back to headquarters, she punches Alice, knocking her out cold. Again: She punches Black Alice. In the face! We haven’t even gotten around to how Waller disposes of the Black Lanterns with an ingenious combo of grenades and a very handy Manhunter robot, or how she takes a bullet from Deadshot in stride. In addition to serving up some sharp, funny dialogue, the writing team of John Ostrander and Gail Simone really captured Waller’s essence. The Wall is shady and ruthless, but she always gets the job done.