On January 18, 2007, Smallville finally introduced the Justice League of America (JLA). The audience had, of course, been introduced to various members of the JLA over the course of the last few years, beginning with Bart Allen (the would-be Flash) and eventually culminating with Oliver Queen (The Green Arrow).
With the introduction of a new super hero the audience began to suspect that, at some point, the JLA would be brought together. However, the writers and producers took their time in developing the story so that it would have the kind of impact worthy of the Justice League. It also gave Tom Welling the time to masterfully show every aspect and each nuance of Clark’s multi-faceted personality, which was necessary to explain how he would eventually see the value in a joint effort of these various heroes. It was well worth the wait.
Over the course of this season’s Smallville episodes the audience has had more time to get used to and understand The Green Arrow. Obviously the writers felt that the development of this character and his association with Clark Kent were key to the final pay off. The audience watched them grow from protagonists to eventually form an alliance, albeit a somewhat rocky one. As this new comradeship between Queen and Kent began to take hold, it became obvious that the once strong friendship between Clark Kent and Lex Luthor stood no chance of survival. As Luthor became more determined to uncover Clark’s deep dark secret, he willingly threw himself into dark places from which it was obvious he could never return. The wedge driven between Clark, Lex, and Lana Lang (Clark’s ex-girlfriend; now Lex’s fiancée) became too large, too heavy, and too burdensome.
In the January 18th episode, Chloe Sullivan – – the Daily Planet’s intrepid reporter – – attempts to uncover information on Lex’s 33.1 experiments. Both she and Clark know that Lex is up to something and that it involves other individuals with super powers that they obstensively received from exposure to the meteorite rocks that resulted from the explosion of Krypton. However, unbeknownst to them, Oliver Queen, – – AKA The Green Arrow – -is also aware of the experiments that Luthor is conducting. He enlists the help of Bart Allan to use his superspeed powers to retrieve important computer data. Unfortunately, Bart is caught in a Luthor trap. Queen calls on his other cohorts Arthur Curry – – AKA Aquaman – – and Victor Stone – – AKA Cyborg for assistance.
At the same time, Clark and Chloe discover that Bart is missing and it doesn’t take them long to figure out what Lex has in mind for the young hero. Clark rushes off to save Bart while Chloe meets with Queen to fill him in on Luthor’s plot. However, as she is viewing the blueprints of the Luthor facility she realizes that part of the building is obviously built to contain meteor rock, which is, of course, Kryptonite; deadly to Clark. Queen and his team move in to rescue both Bart and Clark while also managing to destroy the Luthor facility.
Finally, Clark sees the validity of the work that the newly formed team, soon to be named the Justice League, is committed to accomplishing. Queen asks him to join and he lets the team know that he wants to; however, he explains that he must first clean up the mess he made by releasing criminals from the Phantom Zone. Queen encourages him not to wait too long as information retrieved by Cyborg indicates that Luthor is setting up 33.1 facilities all over the world, aimed at dissecting more people with unusual powers.
This episode obviously opens the door for more episodes involving the JLA or even for an eventual spin-off series. At this point that is anyone’s guess. But even it nothing further were to come of the Justice League, the audience was treated to another piece of the Superman saga; an important piece, at that. The episode also drew the final line in the sand between Clark and Lex, setting the stage for the intensity of this well-known rivalry.
Both Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling have grown immeasurably as actors over the course of Smallville’s history. Both of these outstanding actors can speak volumes with a single set of their lips, a look in their eyes, or a clinch of their hands. Gone now is that once wistful expression that they used to get when the audience knew they wished they could return to earlier, happier times as friends. All that is left is steely resolve; both vowing to win over the other.
Many television series peak early, usually within the first three years, and sometimes maintain for another year or so before moving into a steady downhill slide. Smallville, on the other hand, seems only to get stronger with each passing year. Of course, this has a lot to do with the excellent writing and directing of the series. However, it also has much to do with the outstanding cast. Welling was born to play the role of Clark Kent. He is the perfect All-American hero. Alison Mack, as Chloe Sullivan, is exactly the type of best friend one would expect Clark to have. She is strong, steady, trustworthy, loyal, and dedicated to the truth. Both she and Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang) have proven themselves to be excellent actresses in their own right. And Rosenbaum may have well established this generation’s antithesis of an anti-hero; a man with a heart who absolutely refuses to use it. With this kind of range and ability, the cast of Smallville just might keep this little show going much longer than anyone would suspect.