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Ok. If you've followed my ramblings in these reviews or read some of my posts here on the Superman Homepage message board (I go by the screen name "Doright") you've seen that I have somewhat fond feelings towards Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. I admit it. I loved that show. In fact as much as I am enjoying Smallville I still count Lois & Clark as my favorite live action Superman incarnation. Especially seasons 1-3, since I have to admit the show was slipping in season 4. Yes I know there was Chris Reeve whom I enjoyed and respect but I still like the L&C version of the character more. The "Clark is who I am, Superman is just what I can do", take on the character just clicked in my opinion.
That show took what was a great fictional character and made him the best fictional character. The reason I say this is because I attribute a lot of that to the actor that played the roll of Clark Kent on the show. There is no other way I can put it. Dean Cain NAILED the part of Clark Kent. Some say his "Superman" character was a bit lacking but I really don't see it that way. Dean played a Superman that reflected where they wanted the character to be. There was not a "split" personality or dual identity. Superman was just Clark in different clothing. That was a choice in how to approach the character, not a knock on Dean Cain's acting. And you know what? I actually liked it. Clark wasn't a klutz or came across as an idiot. He was Superman. Superman was Clark. He would just seem a bit weird because he was always running off or listening in on something far away. Again... I think they nailed it.
Ok. I know... Enough about a TV show from the 90s. What about the newest version of our boy in blue? Tom Welling is certainly no slouch in Clark Kent's shoes. This week we get the added treat of seeing Dean Cain return to the Superman universe, only this time as a villain so we can see him stretch his acting muscles a bit in a different way. Call me happy.
So how did it work? Well as far as Dean Cain's part? Fantastic! Sure I am somewhat biased but I think he did a great job bringing an interesting villain to the Smallville universe. The idea of an immortal villain is not new but it was well done here. I am not sure if Curtis Knox was meant to be a certain character from the comics using a different name but for now I will just judge him as a new character. The villain was creepy, sadistic but yet, tragic in a way. I thought this was very well done. Both in Dean Cain's acting and in the script. I found his motivations for working on the meteor infected to make sense and I can see how someone like that could develop such a casual disregard for life.
I also loved how he was with Lex. In his face with no care in the world about who he was dealing with. Lex is dangerous and this guy knew it but that did not phase him at all. I admit I was worried I would not be able to accept Dean Cain as a villain but he did extremely well and I had no problem slipping into the story and enjoying the ride.
Outside of the filler plot there was some interesting happenings in the main season plot as well.
The Martian Manhunter returns and we find out he knows Kara and her father and is not too keen on them. Fact is Kara seems to be a bit down on him as well. I liked what happened there. There was some obvious tensions and conflicting ideas and concepts for Clark. What I was really pleased to see was that Clark stayed neutral with it. He listened but never once took sides or said anything to show he doubted either J'onn's or Kara's word. J'onn is someone Clark has learned to trust and Kara is his family. In fact I think if Kara had just stayed and talked it out instead of flying off in a huff things might have been worked out between her and the Manhunter. She is a teenager though and her reaction is understandable. It makes for an interesting twist too. Now Clark has to chase down the head strong teenager and convince her that he is on her side.
I was also extremely amused by Lana's reaction to J'onn being from Mars. I thought that was well played by Kristin Kruek. That sort of mixture between shock, awe, and sort of a "oh, that's no biggie" look was priceless. It might actually be my favorite Lana moment of the series, though last week's comment about Kara's side of the family was pretty good too. All and all I am very pleased with how they are using Lana this season so far. Sure she's doing the happy home maker routine but it actually makes sense here in her situation. Plus I like that there is somewhat of a sinister side we are not sure about yet. I do think Lana makes a good potential villain and I actually like to see her sneaking around and spying on Lex. It gives her more to do than just being the object of everyone's desire and the damsel in distress.
Chloe's story here was sad but I have to admit I felt more sorry for Jimmy. He might have crossed the line a bit with Kara but that was a simple mistake not outright cheating. Not something that deserved Chloe dumping him like that. I know she has her reasons that were not related to Kara and her reasons are understandable but I still found it sad. Jimmy certainly did not know that and is left thinking he lost his love because he helped Kara.
I did like how Chloe caught on that things were not right with the doctor really quick. Shows that while somewhat desperate she is not stupid. I also like how despite being faced with a mad doctor who may have actually been Jack the Ripper having her strapped half naked to a table and sharpening his knife, she still had the presence of mind to try and reason with him. I thought this was a great scene between Allison Mack and Dean Cain. I think Allison did a great job playing scared but in control and Dean was great playing the evil doctor whom she caught "monologing". Plus one cannot help but notice when the you-know-what hit the fan that Chloe stepped up and helped Clark first and worried about her modesty second.
I know I am going on a bit long here but I don't want to give you the idea that this episode was perfect. I liked it... I liked it a lot... but again there was something in there that just made my blood boil for a moment.
Hey Producers... Writers... Directors... anyone who cares. Listen up. I will say this again. For what seems like the 20th time. CLARK KENT DOES NOT KILL. He does NOT even try to!!! Get it? Understand? Can I be any more clear about that? I read the interview posted recently on the Homepage here where one of the "powers that be" talked about villains falling on their own swords and stuff like that. I do think they have done that for the most part in this series but they still keep messing this up from time to time and it's really starting to tick me off. Let me ask this... From the character's point of view; What did Clark Kent THINK was going to happen when he super-slammed Curtis Knox into the high voltage power lines? I am not talking about what did happen but what Clark thought would happen. Yes Clark did not actually kill anyone in this episode but he did try to and that is not ok. Until Lex told him otherwise, he thought he actually did kill someone.
Think about it a bit. This means Clark Kent, the future Superman, went into a situation against someone he thought at the time was just an ordinary bad man and chose to use lethal force to stop him. WHAT? Are you kidding me? BAD BAD BAD!! Lex maybe had a right to use lethal force in that situation and I am certain the not so good doctor had it coming in more than one way but Clark Kent does not operate that way. HE DOES NOT USE LETHAL FORCE!
I am not going to throw a whole episode in the toilet over a 30 second mistake that I am sure was just not thought through very well but this was not good. They really need to start being more careful about these things on this show.
Sorry... Bit of a rant there but I just do not get how Hollywood cannot seem to understand this simple fact about our beloved character. It really is something that goes beyond just Smallville and is an issue with Hollywood and superheroes in general. Batman was machine gunning and blowing up villains in the first Tim Burton movie, Spider-Man basically killed the man who shot Uncle Ben in the first Spider-Man movie, Batman willingly left a villain to die on the train in Batman Begins, Superman let goons get squished in Superman Returns, just to name a couple of big ones. Some heroes do use lethal force. Wolverine's claws are not for pumpkin carving and anti-heroes like the Punisher do not make their living off of helping kittens. Plus I know in each case the villains had it coming but certain heroes save everyone they can, even the bad people. Yet Hollywood has such a casual disregard for life that they don't see a big deal with a villain dieing in the battle with our superheroes. Even worse they seem to be more than willing to have the superhero actually cause the death or just let it happen without at least trying or being unable to save them. NO. This just is not right. GRRRRRRR. It just makes me mad. STOP IT!
So, moving on... I have to deduct some points for that mess up. I just have to. Sadly it's just something I've grown use to so while it makes me mad I've had to learn to quickly get over it.
Lastly I was glad to see Dean Cain take the time to do a promotion at the end of the show for the Chris and Dana Reeve Foundation. It is nice to see them continue to honor that legacy.
Other than that though I really enjoyed the episode. Add in my fanboy glee over seeing Dean Cain return to the universe and I can't give this one a failing score. So I am going to have to get complicated with my grade. Take out that 30 second terrible mistake and we're talking a B+ to A- range for this episode. All in all it was a good episode. But with that all too common mistake I want to give it a flat out D just because it is so irritating. But I also have to add in my fan boy obsession with Dean Cain and now I think we're back into the C+ to B- Range. So for Dean Cain I'll give it a B-. Let's call it 3 out of 5 battle axes. Yes I know. I am totally subjective and lacking any kind of constancy or scientific accuracy but I don't care. When it comes down to it I am just a geeky fan and I grade from the gut. That's what I am here for. :)
Next week looks interesting. A superhero movie in the making in Smallville. I have visions of slight little gags aimed at us obsessed fans coming and I am looking forward to it. See you all then.
I dunno. I don't know. It's another case of "Is this anything?" You've got Dean Cain, and you've got Chloe naked on a table, and there's some fighting, Lex with guns, and even what purports to be mythos, but I just don't know if it's anything.
Add into that some really strange, inconsistent plotlines, and I'm scratching my head. I don't know if I hate it, but it doesn't flat-out agitate me, either.
The story starts out kind of promising. We have a re-emergence of a villain from an earlier season. Of the 135 some-odd villains they've had, they chose to go with Drone's villain. I don't know if you remember (some of you were among the first to send me sniping email about this, and this continues to be a sore point), Drone was one of the first episodes I ever took shots at, back when Smallville could quite literally do no wrong and I was writing shorter, more positive reviews. It got a two back THEN, and was the single worst rated episode of the season, as I recall.
So I take a kind of perverse and sad pleasure at seeing the star of that eviscerated, but that isn't the intent of the scene, I would assume, so instead we have all of those villains, and they chose one of the crappiest. She's pretty, but she controlled bees.
Enter Dr. Curtis Knox, a guy with Clark Kent's initials, just in case you didn't know it was Dean Cain, the guy who once played Superman. So let's show you it's him... by associating Clark Kent with... a villain. Yeah! That's the ticket!
They sure fixed that gas station from last episode fast. HOO dang.
Lana, ah, Lana. This episode is amusing for the fact that it might just have the most Lana secrets and lies of ALL TIME. It's insane how many there are. We'll keep a ticker here, for fun.
But character first. Apparently, she's gone from an artist aristocrat compu-genius espionage fashion knowledgeable socially adept manipulator to...
HOUSEWIFE. All in the space of one episode. Bang! Here she is, cooking, kissie kissie, oh, you're so great, I'm a Stepford Wife from season 3 Lana.
Not that there's anything wrong with being a housewife, if you so choose. My beef is inconsistent character.
As she cooks, she talks with Supergirl, and the subject of SECRETS comes up. Oh, boy, if there's anyone who can tell you about secrets and how awful they are to keep, it's Lana S. L. Lang. The initials stand for Secrets and Lies. Get it. Hee. Sigh.
She says, I kid you not, quote, RE: whether she understands keeping a secret: "I think it's just a Clark thing."
I'm amazed Kara hasn't told Lana how amazing she is yet. Though she kind of does, fawning over her household skizzills.
Clark arrives, sees that Lana has prepared an eight course meal of pancakes without maple syrup. What would you do? YOU MAKE THE CALL!
Me, I'd be like, "Why the hell did you make eighty pounds of pancakes with no syrup. Are you mentally retarded?"
Clark, instead, disappears, steals some syrup from some poor farmer who can likely only afford red and blue shirts, and brings it back to please his Lana.
Manhunter appears. EX MACHINA! Apparently, Kara has a reason to hate the Manhunter, Zor-El and Jor-El are enemies, and Kara's trying to kill Kal-El, they're not ripping off Jeph Loeb, the crystal will make Kara kill Clark, listen to me, no, listen to me, blah blah blah. And it ain't Smallville if it ain't edgy, so now not only are Zor-El and Jor-El enemies, Manhunter is Jor-El's evil manservant and Zor-El tried to KILL Jor-El, who wants Clark to rule them justly, but is actually a, ah, hell with it.
Lana meets Manhunter, and then she leaves him with Clark. I'm amazed Manhunter's next line wasn't, "Man! She's great! Does she come in green?"
Lex has teamed up with Knox, and they're unleashing cured freaks on the world, removing their memories. In a fitting piece of irony, Knox spends a scene berating Lex for being evil, because he removes the memories of the people he's working on. This from the guy who WAS JACK THE RIPPER. Lex's explanation is more plausible, the idea of giving these people a fresh start. Again with Lex as the good guy.
I suppose they could get mad at him for putting them in prison for trying to kill people. But that's insane. Maybe he experimented on them, and he wanted to hide that. Still a weird scene.
I never really got the Knox motivation, actually. He's got the Mr. Freeze wife, she's going to die without organs. So what, he crafts this insanely complicated plot to get organs from meteor freaks, and meteor freaks only? Huh? Why not just rob body parts from bums randomly in strange places? Instead, meteor freaks? Well, okay. Say you need meteor freaks. Why work through Lex if you're just gonna chloroform 'em and kill 'em? Why not find them on your own?
And if you're a sexually perverted sadist who likes to cut people's guts out while they're awake, what the heck is all this about having a one true love and never being alone? The hell? I mean, he has this girl he's gonna cut up, and he takes off her shirt, but not her bra, because you know, he wants to give her dignity as he cuts her to death while awake, but still give the viewers enough skin to be titillated. TV. Sigh.
It's like Vandal Savage meets The Fountain meets Batman and Robin. And that's scary indeed.
Okay okay okay. Back to sanity.
Begin Chloe insanity. For the whole episode, Chloe was a maladroit, out of character, badly written mess. They already did this version of Chloe a while back, well, okay, less than ten episodes back, where a seemingly benign and stupid dilemma made Jimmy and Chloe break up and then get back together in one episode. My guess is that this time it's to justify a relationship between Jimmy and Kara. Worse still. Not that Jimmy belongs, but building a story for a year and then sidetracking it randomly is ridiculous.
Chloe is seeking a hot lead (a hot lead that is never elaborated on, used, and ultimately doesn't exist, as she isn't pursuing it when she stops back to "CATCH" Jimmy and Kara), so she blows Jimmy off randomly.
She gets mad at him for using the "meteor freak" term, something she says she's not using any more, and indicates that she finds offensive.
Next scene, she introduces herself to Dr. Knox, saying, "I'm a meteor freak."
So she blows off Jimmy so she can... chase meteor freaks, even though she's sensitive about being one and what they're called?
DING! LANA SECRET NUMBER ONE: When Clark walks into the barn, she's off in a corner, typing about something that she conceals from Clark. SECRET!
Clark asks her what's going on. She indicates that she's been doing research on the meteor infected, something that Clark acts like is news to him.
DING! LANA SECRET NUMBER TWO: Meteor freak research.
DING! LANA SECRET NUMBER THREE: Clark smiles, telling her that she has a secret plan to save the world. Lana smiles, and accedes. Meteor freak research is not saving the world, so that's a lie. It's also a SECRET, by the dialogue's own admission. Since it's irrelevant to the meteor freak research by semantics, I'm gonna count it. And why not? If they can make leaps of logic without reason, I can make a conclusion of logic with a crappy one.
DING! LANA SECRET NUMBER FOUR: She's still not telling Clark about the ten million.
Kara starts horning in on Jimmy, and tries to find out about the spaceship. Okay, I'll bite. She tells him if he finds anything out to call her on her cell, because
HEY! What? Gough just gave an interview saying that Clark can't afford new outfits, and you're telling me he just started paying for ANOTHER cell phone besides his own?
Folks, I've never had a cell phone. Not only because I don't need one, but because they're an INSANELY EXPENSIVE CONVENIENCE.
So now Chloe wants to lose her powers, because she doesn't want to start murdering people when her powers manifest. Except they already manifested, and she didn't go psycho and start killing people. Well, okay. So she doesn't want to die because she's tried to save someone. Except that's a choice she can make or not make, right? Well, okay. So she wants to be normal, and not "strange." Except her biggest role model is "strange."
I give up. Incoherent mess.
Okay, so Lex is on to Knox. He goes to where Knox is dropping off the bodies, despite having no real way of knowing where the heck he was dumping the bodies in any sensible way. He finds him, doesn't call the police, doesn't bring bodyguards, heck, he just has a gun and a dark alley to get his butt kicked in.
Which he promptly does. Sigh.
Lex's bullet grouping is nice and tight, I'll give him that. It's just in an odd placing. I think they were going for HEART in that kindergartener, this-is-where-we-put-our-hands-over-our-hearts-to-salute-the-flag kind of way.
Clark appears, from nowhere, literally nowhere. There's no way he would have any idea where they were or why. Total ridiculous Ex Machina.
Clark KILLS Knox. Not knocks out. Not apprehends. Kills. Now, granted, Knox survives. But later, at the hospital, Clark indicates that he is well aware that he killed Knox to save Lex.
Quote, from an interview with Al Gough run today in reference on the Superman Homepage:
But beyond that, how about the other end of the dilemma? CLARK LEAVES KNOX FREE. He doesn't pursue him. He sits, staring at Lex, brooding. Granted, he could think Knox is dead. But then, what about making sure? It'd sure be hard without x-ray vision, granted, but... hey, wait!
Chloe appears, berates Jimmy for eating with another girl despite practically hanging off Clark eternally, and decides to go wipe her brain forever. When she's the one that called off hanging out that night. Oh yeah, that makes character sense.
AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES!
Lex apparently has no questions as to how Clark saved his life from the man who bullets can't kill.
Chloe goes to the doctor in a dark lab with no other doctors around. She doesn't bring a friend, she doesn't pull a mace when the doc attacks. It's just lame. The doc comments that she's got a large concentration of meteor rocks around her heart. This is why operating on her brain will heal he-
He also takes off Chloe's shirt but leaves her bra on, and even proceeds to begin to operate on her heart with her bra still on. Y'all know me, I usually complain when they do breastises for the point of nothing, but this one time, I would have forgiven them. I mean, it's Chloe. But NOOOOOO.
Clark arrives after Chloe's been cut into just a bit. He beats Knox around. There's a VERY awkward cut just after Savage Knox says, "Women you love..." I think it was a mistake shot they tried to patch. At least, that's what it seemed like, it was so bad.
Clark's apparently able to fight with Knox and Knox can have an effect because there's Kryptonite in a jar around him. This is incomprehensible as well. If Clark is around K, he drops to the ground and begins to die. If he's not around K, an axe is like tissue paper. One or the other, no middle ground for the sake of action. Enough of this.
Knox sees his gal die because of the fight, and then he just...
Well, they cut to Clark in the barn, and everything is resolved without showing it. Manhunter shows up and says, "Don't ask, Don't tell!"
Wait, what? So Knox was gay and in the military?
That one's a joke, but the sad part is that Clark is essentially letting a guy he hardly knows "take care" of people.
Best of all, Clark's fixing up barn machinery with his tools despite the fact that Lana has 10 million dollars. New KO Count category: Lana has ten million dollars and is with Clark, but Clark has to still (while Lana bought dresses in Paris when Lex was her sugar daddy)... FIX TRACTORS! AKA Lana's A Miser.
Kara appears, and she hates Martian Manhunter, so she calls him what appears to be a racial slur: "RED EYE!"
It has to be a slur of some kind, because she knows he's a Martian. It's not like Littlefoot from Land Before Time, where you call them by their characteristics. She knows he's a Martian. Kara's just called him the Mars equivalent of N _ _ _ _ _, if I read the scene right. I lose much sympathy for her character.
So Kara, because Clark wants to hear both sides of the story, ditches off into the night and leaves Clark. That's another entry for "Girls mature faster than boys."
Clark confronts Lana with the fact that she has ten million dollars and hid it from Clark. Lana's defense? Lex is trying to tear them apart by manipulation! Of course. She hid ten million dollars, and it's Lex's fault her lie was exposed!
She even says, in dialogue, quote: "Don't let Lex's lies come between us!"
WHAT? HE DIDN'T LIE!
DING! LANA LIE NUMBER FIVE: Indicates Lex lied when he didn't. A lie about lies!
DING! LANA LIE NUMBER SIX: Lana says to Clark, quote: "I would never hide anything from you." As she's just revealed hiding something from Clark. Cripes.
DING! LANA LIE NUMBER SEVEN: She has a secret lab where she watches Lex. This secret is particularly damning and tasty, because it shows her looking at a cam in his bedroom, which is what she went ape about last year for HIM doing.
Lana has suddenly gone from housewife to compu-genius without equal again.
Chloe yammers at Jimmy, what can you do, but her chest has no knife mark from the scene previous, to continuity.
Jimmy and Chloe have their debate about their relationship that ends in them breaking up because Chloe can't guarantee normalcy (ah, yeah). She's seen Clark, Lana, Pete, and Lex all destroyed by keeping secrets and not trying to forge ahead. She's seen Clark in particular suffer for six years for keeping a secret to protect others, and sees that they're now together and happy because he stopped lying.
So she keeps lying, takes the bullet for Jimmy, and they break up. Logical, coherent, and it sure advances the character.
Jimmy also refers to their second meeting as a "weird earthquake" despite the news reporting, on the show, that the event was called "Black Thursday" and it's hard to mistake global chaos for a weird earthquake.
At least this show had one great thing going for it: The Christopher Reeve Foundation.
Next week, Smallville as a movie. Holds some promise, but looks like another hot chick fest. We'll see.
All in all, this episode was rife with total craziness. It was good to see Dean Cain, but he was basically a nyah villain with no substance. The actors struggled to do a crappy idea pretty well, but in the end, it fell almost totally flat. I have no idea what Manhunter is supposed to do or be, I don't dig Jor-El and Zor-El as enemies, Jimmy and Chloe are odd, Lana as a homemaker rings about as true as anything she could do now, her character is so destroyed. Only Lex rang true and had a decent bit of a dilemma, but ultimately, that wasn't enough to save this episode.
1 of 5.
SUPER SHORT REVIEW:
JACK THE RIPPER! Chloe's cut, but she's not bleeding. Lana's a homemaker, but she's never baked. Lex is lying about something he told the truth about. Clark's a killer who isn't a killer. Jor-El and Zor-El hate each other. Chloe doesn't want people calling other people meteor freaks, even though she is one and calls herself one. People who strap others half naked to tables and carve them without anesthetic can teach you about love! 1 of 5.
El Bold Del Mio. That's Amore.
Scotty V wrote:
Hi there Neal!
I just finished reading your review of "Promise" and must say that I too thouroughly enjoyed it. Just a few things I wanted to mention.
Now THAT is old skool now.
I simply accept that Lionel found out about the death in the crypt because he's always hanging out and tailing people, especially Lex and that Lex could be bugged or Lionel simply could have been there. He's been seen accomplishing that sort of thing before so why the heck not here. Not that it's ever realistic but hey, sometimes people in a room that isn't even closed off by a wall can't be heard by people a few feet away but then very often on shows people who haven't even yet entered the same place of residence hear what was being said and ask for an explanation as soon as they walk in so...
In so far as Lionel suddenly being evil again and not on Clark's side anymore. First off, it never really made any sense his character arc anyway. Okay, so when he's infused with Clark's body he somehow retains some of the goodness. Alright, I can sort of buy that. But what about all this back and forth stuff and all this ambiguity? And now, even though at this point we now know that Lionel WAS protecting Clark in that just for drama way instead of simply telling Lana that he feared what Lex might do if lana went back to Clark, it's not AS bad but still, he's been back and forth so much it's really hard to reconcile.
Now he's gained the power of invisibility.
By the way, did you notice or did someone point out yet that many of the lines, emotions and facial expressions were changed in the second take of the wine cellar scene? Someone probably mentioned it by now but I noticed it right away and thought it was sloppy and silly. To me it seemed like something that they should have been clamped down on more than the usual stuff but somehow they still let it slide.
I didn't see it, alas.
Clark and Chloe's dialogue changes and Clark, who smiles at Chloe dismissingly through most of the scene the first time appears sad and chagrined the second time. There are pauses between words that weren't there before and it's just really weird. Check it again and you'll see what I mean. I try to forgive it by saying that it's different because we're seeing in from Lana's point of view, you know like the whole "Two Sides of an Argument" thing we've seen on many many shows and I do still suppose that's possible but it didn't really play that way. In so much as, on first viewing, I too like Douglas thought that the missing effect when Clark supersped away was just sloppiness. But I did figure that out on a second look.
I really dug that usage, actually. I think I was the only one. I'm now the apologist!
I was defintely glad to see this episode. It brought back much of the emotion that's been missing as well as the deeper character work. Talk soon!
Jim Smith wrote:
First off you wrote...
"Not, you know, Olive Garden good, but don't be cheap, mack daddy."
Olive Garden is not good. It is all a magic show to fool you into thinking you are getting your money's worth. You ever end up in the Detroit area I will hook you up for half the money. Really, that is all I have to say. The episode wasn't that good, your review was right on. Also if you want to see Joss do funny watch the short lived Firefly...gold.
Hah! Thanks. Actually, I know that Olive Garden isn't really that great. I was being sarcastic. The sad thing is, growing up, and even know, I call Olive Garden fancy eating because it's more than I can currently afford. But thanks for caring either way. :)
Until next time.
Hey Neal, great review as always.
Embarrassingly, I quite liked "Fierce", though I think that's because the standards by which I gauge whether or not a liked an episode have sunk to uncharted depths.
Either way, I'd much rather you had a good time and adjusted your standards than feel obligated to say it sucked because of me. It's just my opinion, that's all. I'd rather you guys have fun.
Here's what I do: I pretend everything is standalone and that there isn't any continuity at all.
You know, like the writers.
Hmmm, was that too harsh?
That was the facts, jack. My motto is that truth without discretion can save the world. Most women I know hate it.
Anyway, the reason I've finally decided to respond to one of your reviews after years of enjoying the fruits of your labour and keeping my mouth firmly shut (or rather, my fingers well away from the keyboard) is because something you wrote struck me as rather odd:
"Lex says he "doesn't believe in coincidences." The definition of a rational, analytical person is someone who knows that coincidences occur constantly. The alternative is determinism, which anyone who is somewhat sane or has a rudimentary knowledge of logic, generally speaking, doesn't buy."
I don't understand how it's illogical or even somewhat insane to believe that everything is determined by the cause that precedes it. I'd argue that anyone who is somewhat sane and has a rudimentary knowledge of logic WOULD buy determinism. It's the people who are somewhat sane and have a rudimentary knowledge of quantum mechanics that tend not to, damn them. :P
I think we mean a different Determinism, and I'm damned glad you pointed it out, because I didn't think anyone would catch it, and you keep me sharp. I mean the hokey determinism, the religious Determinism that says when a piano falls on a baby, it's part of God's plan.
But even so, I don't know that Determinism is the belief that everything is determined by the cause that precedes it, though I could be wrong (it's been ten years since college). As I recall, isn't determinism the idea that all causes are pre-determined? AH CRAP. I mixed up Fatalism and Determinism. But it's okay. You know why?
It was meant to be.
Anyway, I've taken up enough of your time.
Please, take up more. :) Hope I gave you a giggle.
Keep doing what you're doing,
I will. Thanks!
Stephen Carty wrote:
Stephen here. Wrote to you before,love your stuff and usually agree with your reviews / musings - not always 100% but then the world would be a boring place if that was the case. In case you remember (which is unlikely given the amount of readers and respondents you have), I am the Scottish dude that studied Film and Media as well as doing my dissertation on comic book movies. I currently work a sucky job and right movie reviews / edit a film page in my spare time. You asked before so I will tell you I got a 2:1 (a B) and a B for my diss.
Actually, that's pretty familiar. I'm strangely adept at remembering letters, because they impact me pretty profoundly. I'm amazed people care enough to respond.
B is better than I typically got in English. They'd usually want to flunk me for my attitude, and then realize that my words had merit, if not obsequious manner, and meet me in the middle at C. If I ever make it writing I'm gonna be one of those, "He sucked in school." kind of guys. Well, not entirely. I did 3.2, but I bombed a lot of English classes because I don't find much merit in lame-o, dispassionate comparison contrast or apathetic essays. Or crappy writers, which they often use in college classes. Or talking about poems for an hour and a half.
Just watched 'Fierce' and the optimism I was enjoying for the first 2 episodes has pretty much evaporated. Better judgement told me that this season would be a continuation of the last 2 years but blind faith made me hope for better. I should have known better. I have outlined before what I think is totally wrong with the show (as you did - effectively I may add) so I think I would be repetitive if I also did. What I am going to focus on is how wrong the characters are and what I think should have been done and what needs to be done. I'm sure Gough and Millar are eagerly sitting with a pad and pencil as I type. "Not only does he have a snappy, punchy prose style, not only does he know how to treat his editor in chief with respect, but he is in, in all my years in the business, the fastest typist I've ever seen." Sorry, Perry overdose.
Welling is still great and always looks the part, but for me his character lost it after his Dad died. And not in the way he should have. He has not written since high school, he is LAST to leave the farm and seems to have no direction. He has not been travelling, the Justice League is already formed, Supergirl is flying and he has been seen up close a zillion times by Jimmy, Lois and Lex. When Gough and Millar were interviewed at Comic Con I'm sure they said something along the lines of "well its not really our problem" and, for me, that is not a great answer. As a fan, things like that (thinking of how it will affect the future of the characters) bothers me and takes me out of the show. So far away from Reeve momentarily taking off his specs "Lois, I'm really... (about to tell, puts them back on and adopts disguise)...I mean I was really nervous...blah blah".
Personally, I would have him doing some sort of education / writing. I realise he will travel for a few years (by by which point the JLA will be about a decade old) but he cannot just walk into a job at the world's greatest newspaper. Although Lois did. From army-brat to college drop-out to muffin peddler. Which I still hate. More on that later. I would love some mythology, Clark learning about his family, talking with his biological father (the way Reeve did in the original 78 movie) and occassionally showing that he misses his father. Even just a glance at the watch. Personally I hated the 100th episode where Jonathan Kent died as it made it Clark's fault. However, I watched it again the other night and the bit at the end where Martha is watching the tape of Jonathan on the tractor with Clark brought a tear to my eye. Sniff, sob. Moving on.
It was a sad death. It really was. It was just kind of unnecessary. I think Clark is still strong, they just push him into dumb too often, and as you said, don't wrap his character in a logical progression.
Moaping, letting people get the better of him, never engaging in any sort of business, still a decent yet misguided person. Did he not used to fench for fun? Take bites out of apples that were not his? That was in a galaxy far far away me thinks. Cue "a Bad Hat Harry Production" soaring over some planets.
I think if he does not get eeeevil or near to it soon then I may even stop enjoying Rosenbaum. Great actor and in the early years was a joy to watch but this is - and has not been for a while - Lex Luthor. He should be taking over corporations for fun, ruling his business with an iron fist, swaying more and more to the dark side. I spoke about it before but in the 'Aqua' episode the bit at the end where Clark said he stood up for him in class and then Lex said "you didn't tell them about my pitch fork did you?" and then smirked, was perfect. It was one of the only times when I actually felt that Clark gave Lex too many chances. Also, in the episode 'Lexmas' (which I loved), the way Lex dreamt of doing all the right moral things and subsequently ended up lonely due to a lack of power was the perfect turning point. The end when he said he wanted it all, power etc etc... great stuff. I would have forgiven all the too-ing and fro-ing if that had turned him evil. Not even just evil overnight but in increments. I am still sympathetic towards him and I should not be... this is Lex Luthor! We should be able to look back at series' 1-3 and think "wow, it was nice when he was a semi-decent guy compared to the meenie he is now" but there has been little change.
I would argue no change save random killings and accusations that are out of character.
And furthermore, he still lives in Smallville? What the huh? I even thought that was too far in series 3 him being there. 7? Fagettaboutit. Finally on Lex, there has to be some sort of scene / episode where Lex reviews all the things that prove Clark is normal. Like the scene in 'Mortal' where Clark cuts his arm on the laser. Like the scene in 'Leech' where he hits his hand with a hammer. Like at the end of 'Mortal' where Lex punches him and sees him bleed. There are more I'm Sure. Either a review of these type of things or a scene which would be enough for LuthOR - not LuthER - to write off Clark as a normal guy forever and have his ego blind him when he eventually runs into the man of steel. But what do I know?
And why would a mogul want to live in Smallville, I wonder? It's odd.
Working in the planet basement (where by the way the editor visits and knows everybody by name and details - eh? Sidenote - I strangely like the editor guy despite his annoyingness) and no longer seems to engage in college life. She is also ANOTHER meteor freak (there have been far too many there now, even in Sunnydale the cops would have gotten an idea that the town needed quarantined)with the power of tears that bring others back to life. Sigh. I miss the days when she and Pete used to bet on the school bus if Clark would be late or not. You know, when Smallville was a "leafy little hamlet".
Apart from being Clark's side-kick I cannot see much need for her. I reckon it could be quite good if her death is a catalyst for Clark to FINALLY leave to become a hero. Just a thought.
And a good one.
Suddenly a reporter, suddenly works for the Daily Planet, has now went out with 2 of Clark's future Justice League partners and has seen Clark far too many times doing suspicious stuff. Don't get me started on him not having glasses on in front of her (Ie her seeing his face to later see Supes' face). Additionally, she has had more head knocks than Kate Bosworth did in the plane scene from 'Superman Returns'. "how much will an - quotation fingers - average person - quotation fingers - be expected to pay?"
For me, Lois should not be there at all, end of. Move her upstairs at the planet and have some scene of near undisputable evidence that Clark is a nomral guy like the list mentioned above for Lex. Her being on the show, hotness aside, is a distraction and bugs me full-stop. Sorry Erica.
And the weird thing is, her character is pretty much the closest to the comic incarnation in all respects.
Seems to be a stud with the ridiculously hot Kara eyeing him up. Hmmm, we must be in the Bizarro universe. THIS IS JIMMY OLSEN.
Like Lois, no need for him at all. For me, I would not miss him on the show. Was the bit in the car when he gets frozen a kind of hat-tip towards his twin playing Iceman? Care factor? Zero.
Plainly and simply the worst written character on the show. Annoying, irritating and less sympathetic than "greatest criminal mind of our time" Lex Luthor. Think about that. Terri Hatcher was annoying on occassion (yes I know she played Lois but I am pursuing the 'love interest' angle) but also very charming and likeable. Lana? not so much. If at all.
I am actually stuck here due to the total hole she is in. I suppose the best thing for her is to just be a nice, likeable, sweet girl and, if they can do that consistently, I will forgive that it is a total change from all that has gone before. Can't change the bad parts of what has gone before but the show can go in a good direction and stay the course. Maybe not this show. Basically, she needs to be the sort of girl we can understand why Clark would love and probably come back to see in later years in times of need.
I say she needs to die.
I am going to be objective and give her a chance as I have only seen her in 3 shows. I could say I am worried, that I think they are going to head in a sucky direction but I am going to hold until I have more viewing evidence.
I can't help myself. I have to note, how can she just use her powers without a time period of "what are these?", "how can I do this?" or "I am scared that I can actually fly!" Even Stamp et al had a scene learning of their powers in Superman 2. "We all have them my dear." On a tangent note, I read Stamp may be in contention for Zod in 'The Man of Steel'... not really a fan of them going for Zod but if so, I would love Stamp. Even though he sounds like Jor-El. Oh yeah, he is Jor-El. Seriously, I would love it. For me, he is Zod.
I can see him as both, as versatile an actor as he is. I'll give Kara another episode or so before I begin to crack the consistency whip. They get a few for free to find footing, then it's on.
I miss old evil Lionel who appeared at door-ways and had his finger in every evil pie going. For me the scene where he watches the laptop with Clark superspeeding and says "your secret is safe with me...Kal-El" was a great moment and him having dinner with the Kents was my personal worst moment in the show's history. It pains me to write about it.
And me to think of it.
So, sorry for rambling on. It may sound like I hate the show but I really do love the character and mythos so much that it is hard to see it messed up at times. This brings me to another point.
Actually, I can relate to people misunderstanding critical reception for hate.
I am obviously a comic geek but I find it rare to find good Superman stuff as I think he is really hard to write for. The only stuff I have loved is
1. Superman Birthright (Waid)
2. Superman For All Season (Loeb)
3. Superman and Batman: Supergirl (Loeb)
4. Up, Up and Away (Johns and Busiek)
I'm with you on all of those save Supergirl, which I felt lacked character. Birthright's only problem is that as continuity it's incoherent. Well, and the one issue with the giant spider.
I kinda like
1. Man of Steel (Byrne)
2. Godfall (Turner)
3. All-Star Superman - only the 1 issue in Luthor's prison (Morrison)
All of those are great for me. My favorite so far is likely "Death" and "Ruin." Up Up is also way up there for me.
For me, everything else has not been enjoyable. I have probably read them but can you recommend something character based which is not silver-agey with 30 Kryptonians and page-to-page fighting? I am however, looking forward to reading 'Superman Kryptonite' and 'Superman: Last Son' as I have pre-ordered the hard copies.
I would recommend Secret Identity by Busiek, much as I am not liking his current run. Metropolis, by Austen, despite his later run sucking. I would also recommend reading the beginnings of the Berganza era. You MUST read Action Comics #775, or you will cry. It's awesome. I also very much like the Loeb run on Superman.
In general, for me, Loeb rocks. He has written so many of my favourite comics. These include:'Batman: Long Halloween', 'Batman: Dark Victory', 'Hush', 'Catwoman: When in Rome', 'Spider-man: Blue' and 'Hulk: Grey'.
Right now I have some issues with Loeb, but it's hard to describe without sounding like an elitist d_ck. Mostly it has to do with the fact that I believe he has an INCREDIBLE ability to tell a story that's very, very cool on the surface, but has trouble translating it (of late) into a strong character story.
I am currently writing my own Superman graphic novel and any advice / help you could offer would be greatly appreciated. I may even name a street or a lab after you.
My advice would be not to write a Superman graphic novel until you've written thirty to forty comics, and I would also start publishing those before I began writing Superman. I say this because I've written some twenty Superman scripts before I found out DC will never look at them until I'm already published. But if your motivation is just to have fun, my advice about writing Superman would be not to try and define Superman. His character is already set in stone. Revolve him around what his villains are asking of him.
Thus my love of Lex, who I feel is half-defined but begging for an opus. And it ain't teaming with Grodd in a giant Superfriends Legion hat.
Finally, I thought I would throw in the dedication that I wrote to Christoper Reeve in my dissertation. Some may find it stupid, cheesy or sad but I genuinely wrote it from the heart as the guy had such an impact on my life. I would really be honoured if it could find a place somewhere on this website. Here it is:
"I would like to dedicate this dissertation to the late Christopher Reeve who sadly passed away in 2004. As a child I watched him as the man of steel and he made me believe in a world where heroes are possible. As a young man I watched him make a heroic effort to walk again after his tragic accident and he made me believe that anything is possible. As a young adult I saw his tireless charity work help countless individuals and he made me believe that a good person can make the world a better place. So, I would like to thank him for helping my imagination to soar (up, up and away), for showing me the value of hope and for making a difference. Thank you Chris, you were a Super Man.
1952 - 2004"
Ok, well I'm sure you have better things to do than listen to a Scottish guy ramble on! Keep up the good work Neal and thanks for listening.
Nah, I love it! Write again.
I am amazed at how you read/react/respond to every mail you get. I read your reviews faithfully and then start to read "letters". I read them and your bold type responses....and they go on and on and on. And each of these letters have major points and observations to be listened to. You do that, you listen and respond to each and every person who mails you. I just think that is commendable. That you care for Superman, the legend, the mythos, and the future of this beloved character and spend a major part of you time/life defending it is....one of a kind.
Thank you very much. I have a very strict policy of answering every piece of mail that's sent to me. And I do, eventually. That's about seven thousand since the year 2000. My fingers hurt. ;)
But the reason is very simple. I find letter writing not only a cathartic exercise, but it's also something that builds character, allows you to reason why you think things, and it's a GREAT prep for writing as well as a relaxation. On days when I'm caked with mud from construction work and tired and dead, I can still write five letters, and my writing thusly doesn't get rusty.
It leads to some detriments, like buttheads who try and tear my down, but it's overwhelmingly rewarding in letters like yours. So I don't know that it's commendable, I find it a luxury and a privilege, but I'll accept your commendation gratefully and say that your letters mean more to me than I hope my responses mean to you? Is that a crazy thing to say?
Thanks for all your hard work Neal.
Oh and please don't stop the videos, I actually have come to expect them and get a little disappointed if they're not there.
I decided, based on response, that I'm gonna keep doing them. By the by, they're always there, for the last year, anyway, (save 702), they just sometimes get put on late, so you might want to check back if you missed a few. I'll organize a page with all of them, actually, for this week.
Speaking of letters trying to tear one down:
Confused (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
Why do I keep reading your reviews every week? *sigh* I have no idea anymore. Listen, Neal, I'm going to give you one little, very valuable peice of advice: Quit wanting fantasy to be reality. It's just a show. Believe me, you'll be a much happier individual if you just quit taking the damn thing so seriously. The sooner you realize that, the better. For your own sake.
Why do I keep reading letters from anonymous readers every week? *sigh* I have no idea anymore. Listen, Confused, I'm going to give you one little, very valuable piece of advice: Quit wanting other people's beliefs and actions to conform to your own. It's just a review. Believe me, you'll be a much happier individual if you just quit taking the damn thing so seriously. The sooner you realize that, the better.
For my sake.
Irwin Santos wrote:
Keep making the youtube clips...
Simple, sweet, and DONE. You da man, Irwin!
Bruce Kanin wrote:
Long time, no write, except for my Smallville reviews. You are Da Guy - publishing my three reviews to date! Thank you thank you, Sam I am.
Earth-S was Shazam!'s. You're right. So Smallville's Earth will be Earth-SM. Heck, if they made it Earth-S&M it might make the show more interesting.
I think they already did that.
You're right - "Fierce" sucked. Really no redeeming aspects. But on Earth-SM, it only mostly sucked.
So ... did you ever finish watching "Heroes", Season One? Did you make it to the finale? I'm dying to know what you thought.
I didn't make it to the finale...I got to 17. But I likely will when my house I'm working on is done.
I'm watching Season Two, but it's nowhere near the same as Season One, except for the finale, which was more like Season Two (does that give you a hint of how I felt about the finale??).
Better, or worse?
Caleb Garcia wrote:
I have a joke for you:
I hope that God isn't a woman, because then not only am I going to hell but I'll never know why. Ohhhhhhh.
That's a good one. I got a new one, but it might get me fired. Ah, what the heck, I'll see if Steve doesn't get mad. If it's still here and bugs you, send hate mail to me:
Tearful patriot: YOU SWORE YOU'D NEVER FORGET!
Anyways, the review you wrote last week was so great that it walked into Mc Donalds and then the building blew up. It couldn't handle the awesomeness. Having said that there is one thing when you said:
"It's like in Scary Movie 4. 'No... no more sex... ever!' 'Sorry, say that louder?!'"
This paraphrase is actually from Scary Movie 3. Anywho I look forward to Dean Cain guest staring and while they're at it John Shea should teach Lex a thing or to about being Lex.
Meh! Three, four, same flick. But yes. :) And thank you.
Being Set Free By the Truth,
P.S. Also keep the you-tube reviews coming dude. They're corny and stylized and hilarious. "Tori Spelling taste good." I'll very stop laughing at that.
I'll keep doing 'em. Thanks.
Ben Bowman wrote:
I'm tired of smallville, I don't want to see the same plots over and over again. These writers have to realize that they haven't done ANYTHING new. So many things don't make any sense at all. I don't even feel like naming them all.
Here's what I want to see
A SUPERMAN SHOW
holy cow imagine that.
Put it in metropolis give him the suit, let Lex be the villain and move the story forward PLEASE!
I want flying
why in the hell is he not flying yet? it makes no sense at all
look at the monkey look at the silly monkey
my head explodes.
Very good enjambment.
hugs and kisses
Shafi S wrote:
THe last EPISODE SUCCKKKKED!!! Sorry but I'm been thinking about the worst episodes lately, and this last one wasn't that bad compared the Halloween one but both sucked.
Oh yeah it did. Worse than
I mean come on again they take away from Clark and showcase Kara and her female goodness. That was the only good thing on the episode the rest Crap.
Neal, Dean Cain is coming and by the time this my response comes out, you'll probably already saw this epsiode. What did you think of him and his acting chops, was he good character on the show, was his character sucky, and did he steal screen time from Welling? Also was he a good Clark/Superman to you?
I think his acting chops have always been decent. I think most of the acting on Smallville is generally very good. I think nine-tenths of likeability is writing to me.
As for "was he a good Superman?" I loved him when I was fourteen. Now I watch episodes and cringe. He doesn't really look or feel the part to me now. Nothing against him, and he was formative as the Byrne Superman on TV, but I see better choices. Maybe it's the costume or the writing on Lois and Clark.
Also, I wanted to ask about the questions that were asked to Al Gough, the last one didn't make sense to me. Like about Lana and Clark getting back together and stuff, he replied that Clark messes it up and he'll sabotage every relationship with women and thats why he ends up with Lois. I didn't get that at all and his interview kinda of sucked, even this recent one that came out Wed. I mean I'm trying to figure it out but I can't. Is the network behind it? Al and Miles both want this crap instead of Clark trying to be a hero. I mean show something like Clark battling smoking or something.
I'd love to have a one-on-one with Al about it.
Neal, I haven't got your email last time, regarding the poem. Thanks for replying back. Your Amazing (just kidding), Thanks again.
I'll re-send. Best!
Virgil Wade wrote:
So I've been thinking about it for a few weeks now... Did Clark really start listening for Chloe when he learned of her death, or was he so overcome with emotion that he momentarily lost control of his powers, his super hearing in this case?
Look! A rabbit! (IE, wish I could tell you how their logic works.)
Tom Roberts wrote:
Neal, I have deduced an answer to two questions at once: why, after all the times Lana has been injured does she have no scars? And why does Lana act like such a "secrets and lies!" psychopath all the time?
The answer is: she is a meteor freak who is a natural source of that regenerative drug that turned Ollie into a psycho.
And amazing, don't forget.
That is why Lex cloned Lana,because he originally wanted her ability to fart perfume, and serendipitously discovered her regenerative ability,too.
Keep on exposing the crappity-crap-crap,and I pray you never get crappal tunnel syndrome.
Me either. I'd never be able to do the ten thousand word days I can do now. I'd literally cry.
In "Fierce" wouldn't you think Kara needed to provide some identification, possibly a photo ID, to enter a beauty pageant? It was never explained how Kara got out of jail and I am sure if she had no ID that made things more complicated. Has Clark helped her get a fake birth certificate and social security number? She would certainly, I hope, have to put a birth date, social security number, previous address, and education on an employment application at The Talon, right? If Lex is so curious about Kara, being the smart man that he is, couldn't he just take the information she put on the application, at the business he owns, and check the "facts" that Kara signed saying they were true?
This is in addition to all the stuff I found, which was enough to make me exasperated. All good questions, none addressed.
Bruce Kanin wrote:
I'm pretty much with you 100 percent this time. It was an amazing pile of leftover spinach that someone tried to form into a structure.
Clark is incredibly dumb. Maybe exposure to meteor rocks has addled his brains? He knows Kara has super hearing but he carries on his loud conversation with Martian Manhunter. What the? There were any number of ways he could have at least checked to see if the coast was clear. That moment just made me shake my head.
Yeah, I missed that one. Good point.
Tying the Martian Manhunter to Krypton's past is dumb. They should just make him like the character in the comics. But it seems they read only surface descriptions of "mythos" characters when they put them in. "Martian, red eyes, got it."
That's about it so far.
I know you dislike Lana and all, but if there's one character who makes me want to throw things at the screen, it's Jimmy. He is at least ten years too old, shouldn't be around at this point, and bears little other resemblance to the character I know other than the fact he's a photographer.
Oh, Jimmy bugs me too. He just hasn't been bugging me for five years.
Why would a guy who's lived millions of years care if someone was on time? As soon as they mentioned Jack the Ripper, I thought to myself, I bet that's his real identity. It was. That seems sort of unoriginal to me. Maybe they could have actually made him Mussolini. That would have been interesting. Even if it didn't make sense.
I would have liked them to make him Rasputin. But that requires people knowing who Rasputin is. That'd make him sinister with a bent towards crazy infatuation with love.
How was Clark able to track Lex and Dean Cain to the exact spot he did?
When Lex told Clark he was the last person he expected to save him, I found it funny. Clark's saved him, what, 70 times? Lex wasn't in the know for all of them, but it just seemed strange, even if they are rivals now.
Lana continues to allude to how much Lex hurt her. I don't see how he hurt her that badly, besides faking the pregnancy, for reasons that still don't make sense to me.
Why don't Kryptonians speak Kryptonese when they come to Earth?
Kripply c-zork ra mokle baddoodle.
I was impressed with the continuity in bringing back a season one character, even if it was a lame freak like Bee Girl.
Did you know that the actor of Grant Gabriel auditioned for Superman Returns? I read it in movie magic. I think he actually went for Superman. Could you imagine?
Heh. Ah heh. Ah HAHAHAHAHAHAH! No.
Still, I think season seven has so far been marginally better than season six. The first five seasons (even season four) made significant mythos contributions and introduced several important characters from the mythos (even if some were poorly handled, like Mxy). Though it had "Justice," the enduring legacy of season six will be the lines "Jor-El is soap," and "I'm like you, only a little more bizarre."
I look forward to the review.
Catch you all next week!