ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 9.13: Warrior
Love it or hate it, the "Smallville" TV show has been one of the most popular mass media adaptations of a comic, reaching millions of viewers each week with stories of what Clark Kent's life was like before he became Superman. Now, we're marking its passing by having ComicsAlliance's Chris Sims and David Uzumeri, two guys who have never actually watched the show, watch and review every single episode of the tenth and final season.
Chris: For this week's selection of Smallvillains Classic, we went back to Season 9 for "Warrior," and something happened that I didn't think was even possible: I was disappointed by an episode of Smallville. I actually expected it to be better than it was, so clearly, I've let my guard down.
David: I agree. It had a nice goofy high concept, Bryan Q. Miller onboard as writer, and the promise of Erica Durance in increasingly more ridiculous outfits, but it was counterbalanced by painful nerd humor, subplots that went on way too long and generally being not that interesting.
Chris: I really think this represents a turning point for us. We have discovered not only that Smallville has standards, but just exactly what it takes for an episode to not meet them.David: I think our expectations were high due to the previous Zatanna/Miller episode, "Hex," being so damn entertaining. This just wasn't that crazy.
Chris: Agreed. Which is weird, considering that it's literally a show about a magic comic book that turns a kid into the devil, a transformation that can only be delayed by playing Kinect with Allison Mack.
David: PRE-CREDITS!: This kid shows up at a comic con and is looking at a super-rare copy of Warrior Angel #1, which is kept in a glass case, and so rare that nobody's ever actually read it, including the entire Internet, which is... slightly unbelievable. The heroic Comic Shop Guy, who looks pretty much like a budget Wayne Knight, finally shows pity on the kid and lets him "look at it," which pretty quickly becomes "steal it."
Chris: There are a number of things about this scene that I want to touch on before we move on, because as a cold open, this is basically the definition of getting off to a bad start.
David: Please, Chris.
Chris: Okay, for one thing, the idea of a comic book that NO ONE HAS EVER OPENED is completely insane. I mean, from what we know from the rest of the episode, it's the only copy in existence, right?
David: Is it? I figured it was one of a few copies or something, but then that wouldn't make any sense. I also love how it's implied that this is actually a popular character, too, just one where apparently even the people writing the book currently aren't aware of what went on in it, especially considering what happens later in the ep.
Chris: Yeah, Warrior Angel is apparently popular enough that there's a huge display at the Metropolis ComiCon promoting the second movie about him, but no one has ever read his first appearance and no one knows his origin.
David: Okay, wait a second, I'm Googling this and this is amazing. Apparently, This is not the first episode with Warrior Angel.
Action - A film for the comics is being filmed on the Kent Farm, but one of the crew members is an obsessed fan and attempts to kill the starring actress because he is unhappy with the plot details of the film that differ from the comics storyline. Note: Beginning with this episode, Warrior Angel is no longer portrayed as having feathered wings, and only wearing a red cape.
Yeah, they introduced Warrior Angel in Season One.
Chris: At some point, you'd think someone would've just made an origin up for him, but this kid is a huge fan and has no idea Who He Is And How He Came To Be, because again, nobody has read this comic, ever. And if nobody's ever read it, how do they even know it's real? Was there any kind of authentication process? I mean, not to get too nerdy about the process of valuing back issues, but it'd be the same thing if they'd based an episode about a lost Da Vinci painting or something. How do you know what it is if no one has ever seen it?
David: The fact that it uses Comic Sans really gives credence to the idea that Zatara just printed up a crappy fan comic and then cast a spell on it.
Chris: Zatara, who was apparently around to curse comics in the Golden Age, but has a daughter who's, what, 25?
David: Magic is a hell of a drug.
Chris: The whole premise is apparently based on the fact that before they did Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster did a story about a character called Super-Man who was a bad guy, but that's translated into something that just makes absolutely no sense if you know virtually anything about comics. Which I imagine Bryan Q. Miller probably does.
David: So this is like a Warrior Angel comic before the actual Warrior Angel #1? I guess I can buy that. It should be some chewed-up pamphlet, then, not like FANTASY COMICS! STARRING WARRIOR ANGEL. That looked like a mass print run.
Chris: There are ads on the back cover. The back cover of the comic that no one, including editors, printers, and anyone who would've actually bought it in off the newsstand, has ever read.
David: Yeah, I find it difficult to believe Miller didn't know all of this stuff.
Chris: Anyway, the second thing I wanted to point out about this scene: The guy who's actually selling the comics? He is basically the creepiest dude I have ever seen. They really went all out here with the perfect storm of the slightly-too-tight hawaiian shirt, child molester moustache and the fact that there's a lingering shot of him licking his lips as he crouches down next to a kid.
David: This guy looks like a child molester, but only Chloe gets the honor of possibly molesting a child this episode. As the kid is running out with the comic he stole -- so he can read it in the bathroom, not scan it for the world like a proper Internet archivist -- he bumps into the least sexy Erica Durance costume ever, as she's "embedded" at a comic convention with Chloe and dressed like a Stormtrooper.
Chris: There's pandering, there's shameless pandering, and far, far beneath that, there's Let's Put Lois Lane In A Stormtrooper Outfit pandering.
Chris: I never thought I'd say this, but come on, Smallville. You're better than that.
David: In any case, Chloe and Lois have some boring character moments for a bit, then the kid reads the comic and transforms into yet another actual super-hero in Smallville before Superman, once again forcing me to ask why anyone is going to find Superman at all interesting when he finally shows up.
Chris: Seriously. This dude has an actual cosume. With a cape.
David: And he flies!
Chris: At this point, it's basically the Smallville version of Captain Marvel, which made me wonder why they didn't just go ahead and do an episode about Captain Marvel. I mean, I think this episode aired after the one about Hawkman and Dr. Fate, so really, why not?
David: I don't know if Smallville is ready for the metacommentary of doing an episode where Captain Marvel exists before Superman, but Superman ends up better remembered.
Chris: Being unprepared for metacommentary has never stopped them before.
David: Anyway, for like no reason whatsoever there's this accident and a gigantic globe starts falling in the middle of the con, but Chloe is saved by Warrior Angel himself, kicking off an insanely creepy first date.
Chris: And agian: Chloe is seriously dumb here. Admittedly, the dude did save her life, but afterwards she just walks up to him while he's changing and goes "Hey, I know a bunch of super-heroes and help them out all the time."
David: You'd think she wouldn't be trying SO hard to look like a groupie.
Chris: There's a huge amount of subtext here that Chloe wants to bang this guy -- which I have to wonder has something to do with the fact that he looks kinda like Clark and has all of Clark's powers -- and it's even funnier once you realize that Allison Mack actually directed this episode.
David: Hahaha, I did not catch that! Well, at least she certainly has a sense of humor. Chloe basically walks up to "Stephen Swift" (the kid brilliantly uses the name of the character in the comic) and offers him her help. And you'd think, if there have been two movies about this guy already, that she'd find the sudden appearance of a world-famous comic book character to set off a red flag or two. But nope. I almost have to wonder if they changed this from Kid Eternity or Captain Marvel at some point, since the way this is, the script makes no sense. Even by Smallville standards.
Chris: Especially since "Hex" flowed so well with the goofy plots. It seriously makes me wonder if there was a huge amount of editing or rewriting to Miller's original script.
David: I can honestly only assume so, especially since this episode's fairly recent. He was writing cracking issues of Batgirl at the same time as this. I can't believe this episode was written by the only guy other than Grant Morrison who knows how to write Damian Wayne.
Chris: Swap out "Damian Wayne" with "a comic with 24 3D Draculas" and you've got my exact thoughts watching this episode.
David: Anyway, Lois tells Clark to go grab her a new outfit so nerds will talk to her. He goes to her apartment, and we're treated to the true Lois Lane Trunk of Disguises.
David: One of them was a fetish superhero outfit apparently from an earlier episode, and the other one was a french maid outfit she refused to explain to Clark. There was also the star-spangled bikini from (I think) her first appearance. So Clark returns to the con with a new costume, a generic "amazon" costume where, well, she dresses up like Wonder Woman.
Chris: I love that she manages to tease her hair to an almost alarming degree in the men's room at ComiCon. I will say, though, the fact that Lois is even willing to go into the bathroom at a convention center during MetCon is a testament to how fearless she is as a reporter. Initially, I was upset that Miller violated Chekov's Gun by showing us Lois's French Maid outfit without actually putting her into it, but I found out that these are all costumes she's worn in previous episodes.
David: Yeah, I kind of figured as much when I saw it, honestly. In any case, it turns out nerds just didn't want to talk to yet another generic stormtrooper, but a certified hottie in a Greek warrior costume expectedly gets different results.
Chris: It's Erica Durance as Lois Lane as Wonder Woman as Xena: Warrior Princess. This thing has layers like a fanservice version of Heart of Darkness.
David: When Clark arrives at the show, he ends up gabbing with Lois for a while before Zatanna shows up and basically begins her 44-minute crusade to bang the living s--t out of Clark Kent.
David: They tried to build a big thematic undertone to this episode of "sometimes people need fantasy," and that Clark's being too boring and staid and "real" for his eventual role.
Chris: I can definitely sympathize with the sentiment of thinking Smallville Clark is dumb and boring, and I can definitely get behind Zatanna as a wanton, befishnetted temptress, but I don't quite get how they tried to tie these two plot elements together.
David: Yeah, I don't understand what's remotely "fantastic" about ... well, I mean, I DO, just not in the way this show presents it.
Chris: Especially considering that Serinda Swann as Zatanna is set up as a "fantasy" in contrast to Erica Durance as Lois Lane. When the only difference is that one beautiful brunette is wearing fishnet stockings and the other beautiful brunette has a closet full of French Maid outfits, you're not exactly setting up a real difference here.
David: Yes, this is a very good point. The show's been going out of its way to present Lois as the temptress basically since her introduction, in comparison to Lana especially.
Chris: Zatanna also reveals, as we've mentioned before, that the copy of Warrior Angel #1 was cursed by her father, who apparently just got super drunk and cursed stuff all the time without ever bothering to think of how it could possibly go horribly wrong. "Whoever reads this comic will turn into a super-hero, and then the devil! That will certainly get my revenge on the guy who wrote it!"
David: John Zatara here seems like he was just an astonishing dick. Seriously, all he left his daughter was a legacy of cleaning up his 40,000 messes.
Chris: If Zatara wanted to really get some revenge on a comic writer in the Golden Age, he should've just had him create a character with Bob Kane.
David: Over in the Chloe Plotline, she's still off having a first date with a superhero whose idea of street justice is giving eight year olds wedgies and making them apologize, which, I mean, you'd think that once again this would set off some alarm bells in Chloe's head.
Chris: We learn a lot about Chloe in this episode. Specifically, we find out that she has never seen Big.
David: Meanwhile, in the SEARCH FOR THE MISSING COMIC BOOK!, Clark uses his X-RAY VISION! to find it. He goes with Zatanna to get it, and is subsequently date raped with magic.
Chris: Uzi, just off the top of your head, what percentage of the episodes that we've seen have had Clark sort of passively held down and straight up mounted by a lady character?
David: ...100% of the historical ones, I think.
Chris: Yeah, and it's like you said. Zatanna hits him with some magic to take away his ability to resist, and before you can say "esrever lrigwoc," she's in his lap working like a part-time job.
David: Man of Steel, Woman of Nylon.
Chris: I will say, I like Smallville's version of Identity Crisis way better than the original. We got a million of 'em, folks!
David: In any case, Clark's willpower to not get laid ever is too strong, so he kicks Zatanna off of him. Since apparently it's still daytime, Clark heads back to work, where Ollie is talking to Lois and warning Clark that she's pissed about the whole Zatanna thing. She pretends not to be pissed, and is instead passive aggressive as all hell about it. Meanwhile, over at Chloe and Lois's in Smallville, Chloe has invited Warrior Angel up for the basically explicitly stated reason of banging his brains out, except he's eight years old and just wants to play Xbox Kinect all night.
David: That's right: this dude can fly and has super-strength, but he's totally invested in bowling on a TV.
Chris: To be fair, he's playing the Rallyball game, and that is seriously fun as all hell. I mean, I'm not saying that it's definitely more fun than making out with Allison Mack, but I just don't think you should discount it is all.
David: I more meant that he could fly around the city and play rallyball with the Daily Planet globe, but then again, this scene establishes he didn't know he could fly until right then. Of course, this is exactly what happens, as Stephen basically guilts Chloe into having some fun and joining him on a late-night flight, which she's basically completely insane for doing since he just established this is his first time actually flying.
Chris: Not only did they just establish that it's his first time flying, but that he totally acts like a spaz. You'd think she would've at least carded him for a driver's license before going ahead with the whole "Can you read my mind? Do you know what it is that you do to me?" thing.
David: Well, Chris... I guess she's just holding onto a fantasy. This takes us to the third act, as we cut to the Watchtower where they finally sit down and actually read the comic and discover that, in a plot twist, Warrior Angel is CRUELLY BETRAYED! and becomes the super-villain DEVILICUS. Chloe's reaction to this news is to go ahead and confront the kid about being a kid, therefore betraying him and basically ensuring he turns into Devilicus, because Chloe is dumb as hell.
Chris: Seriously. I have to say though, I actually think the name "Devilicus" is pretty great.
David: Oh, it totally works, I'm not denying that. In any case, Devilicus then proceeds to try to kill Chloe by throwing her off of a skyscraper, and the best line of the episode occurs: Chloe tells him that heroes don't kill so he probably shouldn't kill her, and he counters by mentioning the popularity of "lethal enforcers in the '90s."
Chris: Oddly enough, that made me immediately think about Lethal Enforcers, the light gun arcade game that I spent way too much time playing when I was a kid. Never made it past Patrolman.
David: In any case, Zatanna uses some magic powers to de-magic the magic and magic the magic magic magic magicbabble, restoring Stephen Swift to the kid Alec Abrams, who's crying alone on a rooftop. Clark then has the best idea ever: he's going to carelessly reveal his identity to a kid who's just been established as borderline mentally ill.
Chris: A kid who stole something worth thousands of dollars, lied about it, then tried to kill Clark's best friend.
David: But the kid likes the Red-Blue Blur, so that's okay. He even drew a picture of the Red-Blue Blur, which he shows Clark, which is Superman in an outfit with "RBB" in the shield instead of "S." It's astonishingly dumb.
Chris: It is, but I'm not sure if it's dumb on its own, or dumb because there was a time when this show had to refer to Superman as "the Red-Blue Blur."
David: I guess he's just "the Blur" now due to his dumb Matrix outfit, since this is pre-Thriller-Jacket.
Chris: Since this episode just happened last year, and we know that Clark has the actual Superman uniform stashed in his Shed of Solitude, is this the actual Smallville origin of that costume?
David: Perhaps? I was never clear on where the costume came from, it just showed up in a package. Did his mom send it?
Chris: Did he take that drawing to whatever leather worker made his Thriller jacket and Ollie's hoodie and go "hey, can you make this thing this kid drew, but have it be slightly less awful?"
David: One can only hope. The kid goes back to his aunt, oh, and also Chloe realizes she wants to bang Ollie. FIN. Oh, and Clark and Lois make up for Clark's "cheating," even though A) they aren't dating and B) Zatanna magic-raped him. Or attempted to - it didn't get past kissing, but she clearly intended it to.
Chris: Maybe the "fantasy" part was getting it on with a sexually aggressive Zatanna cosplayer in the back room at a con. Or... maybe I just revealed a little too much.
David: Man, I hate to do this again, but "almost everything." I guess whoever played Warrior Angel did a good job of acting like a kid.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, there was just so much wrong with this one, but Zatanna and her Magic Roofies were a new low.
David: Yeah, I'll go along with that. What were they thinking? Seriously, what were they thinking? It's difficult to see Zatanna in any light other than "kind of a bitch" from here on out. And I'm being kind.
Chris: Yeah, it's really... Just really awful. One of the reasons I was so let down was that I really enjoyed the last Zatanna episode, but this, as mild as it might be for her to twitch her nose and make Clark sit down while she puts on "Pour Some Sugar On Me," is just a terrible use of her as a character. The same thing could've been accomplished in a much less creepy way just by having her be flirt really aggressively with him. It's not like we're not going to buy the possibility that Clark could be tempted by Serinda Swann.
David: Overall, this entire episode was a series of disconnected concepts that nobody really thought about how badly they fit together, at least in my estimation. Chloe nearly commits statutory rape and Clark gets date raped, all in one 44-minute chunk! Like, come on, guys. Just... come on.
Chris: We've got one more week before Smallville returns with new episodes, so help us out here, readers: Give us an episode that'll wash the taste of this chunk of awful right out of our mouths.
David: Tell us the most actually straight-up GOOD episode of the show.
Chris: That might be asking the impossible, but we have faith in you guys.