Last night saw the return of Smallville with the show's most anticipated episode this season for comic geeks. But how did the Legion of Super-Heroes (and writer Geoff Johns) hold up in their series debut?
The honest answer would be an uncertain "Pretty well, maybe?" While Johns' script was perfectly fine, it was also more of a regular Smallville effort than what comic fans have come to expect from Johns. Yes, there were the geek-friendly shout outs (A Legion of Substitute Heroes reference? Really?). But the scale was smaller and the formula much more generic than fans of his Green Lantern or even his Action Comics runs would've expected.
A lot of that comes from necessity, of course. Not only does the budget of an eight-year-old series on the CW tend to limit the amount of super-powered derring-do, but because the episode was as much about the resolution of a long-running subplot (Chloe's become possessed by Brainiac!) than it was about the Legion themselves.
What we did see of the Legionnaires was... uneven. While the Ron Weasley-izing of Lightning Lad was a bit of a surprise, at least it gave him a personality. The futuristic serenity of Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl was less convincing, mostly because it was hard to tell what was serenity, and what was bad acting. (When it came to Alexz Johnson's Saturn Girl in particular, I think it may have been the latter). That said, all three were still more interesting to watch than Tom Welling's still-dull Clark or the visiting-yet-entirely-unnecessary Kristin Kreuk's Lana Lang, arguably two of the least-compelling series leads in television history.
The saving grace of the episode, then, was Evil Chloe. Yes, the plot's been done to death on this series alone, but Allison Mack's scenery chewing as she explained why this time Brainiac was going to take over the world (Apparently by sticking her hand into a server and using the internet to read everyone's minds in the world or something; welcome to Smallville logic) was wonderfully fun to watch, and the right match of hammy campness and respect for the story. Of course, everything was solved - and Chloe returned to her much blander self - by the end of the episode, but we all expected that, right?
And so, "Legion" wasn't the OMG GREATEST SMALLVILLE EVER that many - including myself, I admit - were hoping for, but it still managed to be strong enough within one of the strongest seasons of the show for years. Now, if Johns wants to return to the show to follow through on his hint of bringing Clark into the 31st Century, that could be exactly what I was hoping for all along...