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Posts Tagged ‘Superman’

Man Of Sears

June 20th, 2013 No comments

It’s odd to find myself being outflanked in defending Superman. While Man of Steel was not my vision of Superman, I did appreciate it as a well-made film. I was certain that the comics community would embrace its grimmer aspects, just as they’ve taken to their bosom Christopher Nolan’s movie trilogy, Batman: The Dark, Dark Knight Darkens. To my surprise, the prevailing attitude appears to be one which cherishes the ideal of Superman and finds it lacking here. If so, good; perhaps the next film will be advertised “You will believe that a Man of Steel can be fun.”

Some stray observations that didn’t make it into my initial review:

I enjoyed many of the scenes set on Krypton, which suggested more of a John Carter planetary romance than the sterile environment of the Donner films. Loved the moment when Jor-El, Action Scientist! leapt onto the back of a dragon and soared off. For one second, I thought that we might even see a Kryptonian Thought-Beast. Sadly, that proved delusional.

While the business with Zod’s revolt and the theft of the Codex initially struck me as needless complications to Superman’s origin story, I thought that they paid off well enough in terms of theme and character motivation that I was willing to forgive them. That said, I did feel that they robbed the film of one of the iconic images of the Superman mythology: Jor-El and Lara standing hand-in-hand as the rocket carrying their infant son lifts off.

One thing that I didn’t mind at all was the change to the Lois & Clark dynamic. (SPOILER) Having Lois track down the identity of this mysterious hero from the start established her credibility as a major journalist and dispensed with the usual complaints about her alleged inability to realize that Clark Kent is just Superman with glasses.* Lois Lane, Superman’s Confidante is something that the comics eventually got to; Man of Steel simply skipped over the intermediate part. (END SPOILER)

I’m glad to see that the long history of Superman and product placement was honored. I now know that if I want to be thrown through a building by a villainous Kryptonian, Sears, 7-11 and IHOP are the places to go. In recognition of this legacy, please enjoy this .gif that I made of the classic Super-moment when Richard Pryor uncovered an inexplicable Kentucky Fried Chicken bag.

*Which is bullshit anyway. In the comics, Lois constantly suspected that Clark was Superman. It’s just that Superman always managed to trick her with contradictory evidence.

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

June 17th, 2013 No comments

I’d been wary of Man of Steel from the moment production of the film was announced. I was unhappy about the prospect of producer Christopher Nolan’s grimy “superheroes in the real world” aesthetic being applied to my pal Superman.

Early trailers did nothing to allay my concern. I felt a bit better once I saw the clip of Henry Cavill and Amy Adams discussing Superman’s S-logo as a symbol of hope, but then the reviews came out and seemed to be confirming my fears of a dark and dour Kryptonian.

I recently got into an argument on Facebook by writing “If (Superman’s) brooding, you’re doing it wrong.” It was an intentionally flip, reductionist statement, but it got at the point I’ve been trying to make for years, that Superman is an intrinsically optimistic character.

The modern view of fellow crimefighter Batman is that of a grim vigilante inspired by his earliest, pulp avenger adventures and conveniently ignoring the three decades he spent trading quips with Robin and punching aliens. It works because Bats was conceived as a figure of menace who operates at night.

Superman, by contrast, flies overhead in plain view. He wears bright, primary colors. He”s powered by the sun, for Rao’s sake. Possessing the ability to do virtually anything, he chooses to do the right thing.

That’s what I was afraid of losing once I began to see photos of Henry Cavill in the muted colors of the Kryptonian full-body condom he sports for Man of Steel.

So, now that I’ve seen the movie, what do I think?

Let’s be clear, Man of Steel is not the Superman movie that I wanted. However, on the whole I quite liked it. It preserves what I value about Superman…with a couple of major caveats that I’ll get to shortly.

The movie establishes Kal-El/Clark Kent as an outsider among humans, but Cavill’s portrayal was much less emo than that of Tom Welling over on Smallville. His Superman displays the right instincts, and I sensed that he could play the lighter character of the early Richard Donner films if desired.

The script is well-constructed, and carries through its theme of nature-vs.-nurture. Tellingly, Superman has two complimentary fathers in his life, whereas his counterpart General Zod has none.

Zod himself is a more complex character here. He’s by no means a sympathetic figure, but by the end you do understand that his motivations run deeper than wanting people to kneel before him.

My primary criticism of the film–at least in its IMAX version–is that it’s an assault on the senses. It’s achingly loud. Every punch is another jolt to the inner ear. It literally took hours for my hearing to fully return to normal.

It’s also very, very violent and destructive. When brawling Faora and Nam-Ek in downtown Smallville, Superman tells people to take shelter, but what good is duck-and-cover when airplanes are crashing in fiery explosions on Main Street?

In Superman II, the villainous Kryptonian Non–the counterpart of Man of Steel‘s Nam-Ek–was punched through a building, trailing a vaguely Non-shaped wake of destruction but leaving the skyscraper more or less intact. In the new film, buildings tumble into plumes of debris. And while I wasn’t quite as bothered by the imagery as was Bully over on Comics Oughta Be Fun, there’s no doubt that thousands of people were NOT saved by Superman. I do wonder just how much humanity could ever truly trust him–despite his many good deeds–in the aftermath of 9/11 a dozen times over.

And there is one moment which is so completely at odds with the traditional character of Superman that it must be discussed. This is huge spoiler territory, so stop now if you don’t want to know how the movie ends.

Superman KILLS Zod. He snaps the villain’s neck.

It’s an entirely justifiable action, and clearly it is meant to be a moment of failure and anguish.

As Bully suggests, the script doesn’t give Superman the chance to do otherwise. Having already exhausted the plot device that exiled the other super-criminals to the Phantom Zone, Kal is left to fight alone against a Zod who–devoid of any future purpose in life–states his intention to murder every last human. With no strength-sapping Kryptonite or convenient “molecule chambers” around, there’s no way out. Zod has to die.

Again, it’s not presented as a punch-the-air moment, but rather one that is emotionally wrecking for Superman. Unfortunately, the movie is pretty much over at this point, so there’s no room for reflection, no suggestion that this is the beginning of his long-standing moral code against killing.

Now, none of this is truly an indictment of Man of Steel. I thought that it was a well-written, well-acted movie. I could see “my” Superman within it, and I hope that next time they let him come out and play.

 

 

The Underwear Goes OVER The Tights

September 1st, 2011 No comments

This is turning into a nerd rage sort of day, but I couldn’t let this go. Here’s Henry Cavill in the Superman costume from the forthcoming Man of Steel movie.

Suddenly, that Wonder Woman costume is looking pretty good.

I know that Superman’s traditional red panties-on-the-outside simply don’t work for today’s cultured superhero fashionistas, but there’s a better way.

This is George Perez’s redesign for next week’s relaunch of the entire DC Comics line. I’m not that thrilled with it; I take issue with giving a suit of armor to a hero whose second most-notable characteristic is his invulnerability. But at least the red belt that replaces the super-Speedos breaks up that big expanse of blue.

Back to the movie costume. What the hell is going on around the mid-torso? Is Superman ribbed for our pleasure? It’s not enough that the new suit has a scaly texture, but it’s got this weird musculature thing happening.

The biggest beef that I have with it is that it’s all muted tones. Superman isn’t dark. He’s a bright and colorful Boy Scout, a symbol of inspiration and hope. This here isn’t even grim ‘n gritty, it’s dour and sullen.

Oh, my gosh! I just realized what it reminds me of!

It’s evil, bar-hopping Superman from Superman III!

Is it too much to ask for Christopher Reeve to punch out Henry Cavill in a junkyard?

Categories: Movies Tags: ,

Somebody Saaaaaaaaaave Me!

May 12th, 2011 No comments

Back when Smallville premiered on the WB network in October 2001, if you would’ve told me that it would still be on the air ten full seasons later, I would have chortled. Guffawed, even. The notion that a TV series that transplanted the Silver Age adventures of Superboy into a blatant photocopy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Sunnydale would one day become the longest-running science-fiction/fantasy series in U.S. television history was ridiculous.

And I don’t think anyone would’ve been more surprised by its longevity than Smallville‘s creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. They certainly didn’t appear to have planned for that contingency, adopting a strict “no flights, no tights” rule that kept Clark Kent literally grounded, pointedly not becoming Superman even as the actor who portrayed him, Tom Welling, aged into his thirties. Welling, now 34, is nearly ten years older than was Christopher Reeve when he first played Superman for the feature films.

Yet, with only one episode left–the series finale airs tomorrow–Clark has never flown* and the familiar Superman costume is still in Kryptonian mothballs. The unintended effect has been to show the Man of Steel as a weak and indecisive super-waffle.

Smallville has rarely been good, but it almost always has been watchable. In the early years, that was due mostly to actor Michael Rosenbaum as perennial foe Lex Luthor, here a tragic anti-hero pushed slowly into evil by his manipulative father and the lies told by his best friend Clark as the latter attempted to protect the secret of his powers. In an early episode, Lex told Clark, “Our friendship is going to be the stuff of legends.” It was a heartbreaking moment.

Also holding my interest was Allison Mack as intrepid school newspaper reporter and loyal friend Chloe Sullivan. The show clearly wanted me to be into Kristin Kreuk as Clark’s longtime crush Lana Lang, but–true to my preference for Mary Ann over Ginger–it was Mack for whom I carried the torch.

To say that characterization was inconsistent on Smallville was a mockery of  the concept of  inconsistency. The computerized ghost of Clark’s Kryptonian father Jor-El (voiced by Terence Stamp, who was the venomous General Zod in Superman II) bounced between being a strict dad shaping his son’s heroic destiny to a sinister presence intent on turning him into a God among men. (Though he was always a dick.)

Similarly, Lex’s dad Lionel Luthor started out as a thoroughly corrupting influence who became Clark’s good-hearted mentor even though he was still a murderer but then he was protecting Clark’s secrets from Lex and romancing Mrs. Kent even while he was revealed to be at the heart of a decades-old conspiracy that prophesied the arrival of a superbeing. My head is spinning even typing that last sentence.

I nearly gave up on Smallville during its fourth season, around the time of a protracted storyline that saw Lana possessed by the spirit of a kung-fu witch. (A kung. Fu. Witch.) But then a couple of things happened.

One was the arrival of the delectable Erica Durance as Lois Lane. Durance was eye candy to be sure, but she also played an appropriately gutsy, feisty character true to the legacy of the Loises that preceded her.

The other was that Smallville began to embrace the larger DC Comics mythology. Other superheroes began to crop up, and while the “no tights” rule largely kept them in hoodies, it was still fun to see Smallville-ized versions of the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg.

Season six saw the introduction of Justin Hartley as Green Arrow. The hero proved so popular that he became a series regular through the end of the show’s run, despite the relative insignificance of Green Arrow in Superman’s comic-book backstory.

Watching Smallville has been like looking at Superman through a fun-house mirror. This is a show that brought us longtime supporting character Jimmy Olsen, married him to Chloe Sullivan, killed him off, then revealed that he was never the “real” Jimmy to begin with. It had evil Kryptonian supercomputer Brainiac pretend to be Clark’s college professor, and murderous monster Doomsday moonlight as a paramedic.

In its final years, the show has become a live-action DC Universe, with superheroes such as Zatanna, Stargirl, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle appearing in more-or-less accurate versions of their comic-book outfits. (Though, for some reason, Green Arrow still has that damned hoodie.)

Tomorrow night will see the end of a long, strange road. There are many burning questions to be answered. Will Lex Luthor return?** Will he still remember that Clark has superpowers? Will Clark remember that he has superpowers? And will he ever put on that fucking cape?

Keep watching. You will believe that a man can walk.

*Except when he’s turned evil. Evil Clark always flies.

**Spoiler: yes.

Supersaturation

March 4th, 2011 No comments

This morning I received an excited e-mail from Comixology, a distribution platform for digital comic books. It seems that they’re having one of their occasional 99-cent sales, this time for a run of Superman (and related) comics collectively known as the “New Krypton Saga.” What a deal! Only 99 cents an issue!

Did I mention that there are 86 issues? Collect ’em all!

Seriously, here’s the list.

I don’t intend to get into another logorrheic rant about how comics aren’t as good as they used to be, except to point out that one of my favorite four-color epics, 1976’s “Who Took the Super Out of Superman?,” ran a mere four issues. And Alan Moore’s elegaic “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” arguably the most moving Superman tale ever told, was a two-parter. So, yeah, I think 86 issues devoted to a single story arc is excessive.

I will now name a few things that I can buy for $85.14 or less.

  • The Lego Star Wars AT-AT Walker ($83.99; Toys R Us)
  • The board game Galaxy Trucker and its expansion ($84.44; Thoughthammer)
  • The complete Rocky & Bullwinkle on DVD ($66.99; Amazon) plus the complete George of the Jungle ($9.99; Amazon)
  • One large soda–with refills–each weekday during the months of April, May, June and July ($.99 each; McDonald’s)

In hindsight, I don’t know that I have much of a point here, except to say that a 99-cent discount price doesn’t seem much of an incentive when what you’re buying is 1/86th of a story.

Categories: Comics Tags:

Why, Hello There!

March 23rd, 2009 No comments

I don’t usually have much cause to write about Smallville. While I’ve followed this Superman-in-training series for the past eight (eight?!) seasons, it’s more of a guilty pleasure than something I actually love. And to be honest, I mostly watch it for Allison Mack as Clark Kent’s girl-next-door Chloe, and Erica Durance as a smokin’ hot Lois Lane.

Smallville has been frustrating at times. While it’s clear that the producers love Superman–and the Christopher Reeve films in particular–they play extremely loose with the character’s mythology, adding Indian caves, ancient prophecies and all manner of hoodoo to the familiar backstory of a boy from another planet. And, thanks to the series’ dogged persistence and the need to avoid stepping on any future feature films, Clark has remained in a perpetual holiding pattern in terms of embracing his future costumed identity. Eight years, and the dude still doesn’t fly.* 

While “young” Clark Kent (for cryin’ out loud, actor Tom Welling will be 32 next month) is still wearing his training cape, the show has at least embraced the wider world of DC Comics with both hands. Over the past few years, they’ve introduced Smallville versions of Green Arrow, the Flash, Aquaman, Black Canary, Cyborg, the Martian Manhunter, and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Even then, they’ve typically made a lot of conceptual and cosmetic changes to the characters.

And THEN THEY DID THIS:

Woo hoo! Hubba hubba!

Thank you, producers of Smallville. Thank you, the CW. Thank you very much.

Zatanna makes her first live-action appearance–fishnets, top hat and all–this Thursday at 7:00 pm.

*Oh, Clark can fly, but only when he’s evil, possessed or duplicated.

31 Things I Love About Comics

February 23rd, 2005 No comments

I’m late to the party, but wanted to post in response to a recent piece that appeared on Hembeck.com. Artist Fred Hembeck highlighted a cartoon listing the one hundred things he liked about comic books and related ephemera. A number of people took up the inferred challenge to create their own lists, and many posted them on Valentine’s Day.

I tried to come up with my own hundred items, only to run into a couple of obstacles: 1) I don’t read many new comics these days, aside from the occasional Dark Horse trade paperback, and 2) an awful lot of them would relate to Superman, which would make for repetitive reading.

Fact is that I really don’t love modern comics. My tastes run mostly to Silver Age (and older) DC books. For some years, I kept up with the post-Crisis Superman, but complained that it wasn’t giving me what I wanted. Then I realized that if I wanted to read a Silver Age-style story, there are literally thousands I’ve never seen, and many of them are being reprinted in trade paperbacks. Trade paperbacks are cool because they can contain an entire multi-issue storyline, plus they’re easier to store.

I rifled through my four long boxes of comics to get some ideas for a list, but had a hard time coming up with more than a couple dozen. However, since I did the “research,” I might as well post the results.

31 Things I Love About Comics

  • 1] The Marvel Family. Captain Marvel trumps even the mighty Superman as my favorite hero, but even he didn’t come into his own until he regularly teamed with Captain Marvel, Jr. and Mary Marvel.
  • 2] Villains whose names end in “o”: Amazo, Starro, Despero, Titano, Sinestro, Metallo, and oh, so many more.
  • 3] Star Wars Tales issues #1-20. This anthology book from Dark Horse played fast and loose with “official” continuity, and included a lot of humorous takes on beloved characters. Therefore, it could not be suffered to live. (It’s now a much less interesting collection of canonical stories about the third-stringers of the galaxy.)
  • 4] Lois Lane #59, which tells of Lois’ trip to the planet Krypton, pre-cataclysm. Naturally, the matrimony-mad Lois battles Superman’s future mom Lara for Jor-El’s affections, future be damned. And in the back-up story, Batman takes time from his obsessive quest for justice to help Superman play a mean practical joke on his girlfriend. Ah, old comics at their improbable, backwardly misogynistic best.

  • 5] 100 Page Super-Spectaculars. These ’70s books featured one new story and numerous reprints from throughout DC’s vast history. Much of my knowledge of Golden and Silver Age characters was originally gleaned from them.
  • 6] Adam Strange, the starfaring Man of Two Worlds. Struck by the Zeta Beam, this daring archaeologist was teleported to the planet Rann, where his Earth smarts helped Rannian super-science overcome an endless supply of would-be conquerers.
  • 7] The Legion of Doom, from the Superfriends cartoon. For years, the Justice League spent many a dull Saturday morning adventure battling environmental do-badders. What a thrill to see them challenged by a baker’s dozen of their greatest villains!
  • 8] An immortal line of dialogue from the first Christopher Reeve Superman film: “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?” A close second (from Superman II) is “General, would you care to step outside?”
  • 9] The Micronauts. This late ’70s/early ’80s toy tie-in by Marvel painted a vast canvas of intergalactic conflict which was surprisingly adult.
  • 10] Turok, Son of Stone. Not the modernized warrior from the ’90s, but the Indian brave who found himself in a lost valley full of “honking” dinosaurs. Most of the Gold Key comics heroes (including Mighty Samson, Tragg; and Magnus, Robot Fighter) were highly entertaining.
  • 11] Lois Lane (Erica Durance) from the Smallville TV show. Enjoyably written and performed…and smokin’ hot.
  • 12] Egg Fu, the evil, Cold War computer inexplicably constructed to resemble a giant egg with a face, sporting a prehensile, Fu Manchu mustache. Arguably, Wonder Woman’s most devilish (or should that be “devilled?”) foe.
  • 13] Justice League of America #118-119, “Takeover of the Earth Masters.” While perhaps not that notable in retrospect, this tale of a massive assault by alien Adaptoids was the first JLA book I ever read, when every plot contrivance was fresh and every danger real.
  • 14] The Green Lantern Corps, policemen of the cosmos. At least before they were dismantled, resurrected, killed, reborn, etc.
  • 15] Truer Than True Romance, a trade paperback collecting old DC romance comics, rewritten with hilarious, post-modern dialogue.
  • 16] “Who Took the Super Out of Superman?” This four-part tale from Superman #296-299 was a rarity in its day, a truly epic story in which the Man of Steel’s life was split in two, and he explored whether to remain a hero or live an earthly life as Clark Kent. The final fight between Supes and nine of his arch-foes was a real page-turner.
  • 17] The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. While I buck comic fan trends by not despising the movie adaptation of Alan Moore’s Victorian-era superhero team-up, the original books are far superior. Plus, one could spend a lifetime trying to identify all of his obscure, literary references.
  • 18] Hellboy learning to love pancakes.
  • 19] Villains who are half-man, half-dinosaur: Spider-Man’s spiked opponent Stegron, and Sauron, the mutant pterodactyl who fought the X-Men.
  • 20] Star Wars Infinities. “What if?” versions of the classic movies. If you’ve ever wanted to see Yoda pilot the Death Star, here’s your chance.
  • 21] Superheroines in fishnets. Okay, so fishnets are impractical in a fight. Still, I don’t think one has to look far to see the appeal of Zatanna and the Black Canary.
  • 22] Mr. Mind, the World’s Wickedest Worm. This astronomical annelid was one of Captain Marvel’s trickiest opponents.
  • 23] World’s Finest #206. This was perhaps my favorite single comic book growing up, and I’ve read it countless times. A collection of Superman and Batman’s intergalactic, interdimensional adventures. Who says that Batman is out of place in outer space?

  • 24] Writer Alan Moore’s work for DC, notably Watchmen and “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” Moore understands the core of the superhero myth better than anyone else I’ve ever read.
  • 25] The Metal Men. This team of self-aware robots whose bodies could duplicate the properties of particular metals was highly enjoyable and occasionally educational, especially if you really needed to know the boiling point of mercury.
  • 26] Lego Spider-Man.
  • 27] Wonder Woman in “Villainy, Incorporated.” This lengthy adventure was the apotheosis of the Golden Age superheroine in all her lesbian/BDSM glory. Some folks may be in denial about the overt sexuality of those ’40s stories, but William Moulton knew what he was doing. The Amazing Amazon defended the Amazons of Paradise Island from an army of female criminals. Bondage fun–on a massive scale–ensued.
  • 28] The Silver Age Flash’s Rogues’ Gallery: Heat Wave, Captain Cold, the Top, Mirror Master, the Trickster and Gorilla Grodd. I loved the adversarial, love/hate relationship that Flash shared with his recurring foes. (You may notice a certain theme in my list; that’s because the villains tend to be the more interesting characters.)
  • 29] Krypto, the Super-Dog and the Legion of Super-Pets.
  • 30] Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker. While Warner Bros. Animation produced many well-written, stylish adaptations of Batman and Superman, this is their greatest, albeit most disturbing work. The Batman of the future squares off a resurrected Joker, and we find out just why Robin retired. (Shudder.)
  • 31] Those freaky ’60s Spider-Man TV cartoons in which the webslinger battled giant vines in alternate dimensions. They were best when the animators forgot to use the correct backgrounds, and it appeared that Spidey had just landed on thin air!

I may think of a few more, and I’ll add them at another time.

Categories: Comics Tags: , ,

This Post Brought To You By Mennen Speed Stick

November 4th, 2004 No comments

Last night, I was watching Smallville, a WB TV show about the adventures of Superman when he was a whiner. Among the commercials was one for a new Old Spice deodorant named “Red Zone.” I presume that it’s intended to be extreme deodorant, perhaps one to be used when the terrorist threat level is raised to “puree.”

I wouldn’t have paid much attention to it, if it wasn’t for a scene in which young Clark Kent goes to his high school’s locker room. See, in the current season of Smallville, Clark is the star quarterback on the football team. This is despite protests by Pa Kent, who felt that Clark would use his superpowers to unfair advantage. However, Clark convinced him (whined enough) and now Pa cheers from the sidelines, even though it’s absolutely clear that his boy is using his superpowers to unfair advantage.

Anyhow, back to the locker room. Clark retrieves his clothes, but what’s that in Superboy’s locker? Why, it’s Old Spice Red Zone! Right there in front of the camera! The Teen of Steel uses Old Spice! Wow!

It may be hard to imagine now, but there was a time when product logos weren’t plastered all over TV shows and movies. And honestly, it used to bug me when characters would drink a generic “Beer” or wash with “Soap.” It took me out of the drama for a moment, because we all know that real life comes with a thick overlay of corporate identification. People drink Coca-Cola, not “Soda Pop.”

That changed as “product placement” was discovered by movie studios and TV producers who realized that companies would pay big money to have Billy Crystal wipe his ass with Charmin on screen. And again, a limited amount of this didn’t bother me, because it added to the realism of the setting. Of course James Bond would drive a BMW!

But there have been outrageously obvious examples that I’ve found even more distracting than old-fashioned “Beer.” For me, the poster child of inappropriate product placement was in Superman III (hmmm, Superman again?), a 1983 movie in which the Man of Tomorrow battled Richard Pryor.

Midway through the film, computer genius Pryor was pretending to be a janitor for reasons which currently escape me. The janitor’s closet door swung wide open, and…a large Kentucky Fried Chicken* bag came into view. Hanging on the back of the door. Right in the dead center of the screen. At that moment, I could no longer care about Richard Pryor’s hijinks or whether Superman could possibly defeat such a fiendishly clever hacker. All I could think was, “What the hell is that bag doing there?”

This sort of thing has become more prevalent on television in recent years as station breaks become ever more cluttered, and viewers use a wide array of devices to avoid watching the commercials which are the primary reason for the existence of their favorite shows. Advertising agencies want their messages to be unavoidable, and even better, associated with characters that people love. A 30 second spot about a douche is one thing, but if that selfsame douche appears in Lorelai Gilmore’s medicine cabinet…

So, we return to Smallville, and an exceedingly lame episode in which the Kryptonian Kid is pitted against a villain named for one of the comic book Superman’s arch-nemeses, the all-powerful, 5th-dimensional imp Mr. Mxyzptlk. Except that here, “Mikhail” Mxyzptlk is a quasi-European with a bad accent who uses his limited mind-control abilities to bet on high school football games. Wha?

As Clark heads off to play the big game, we can hear the field announcer over the loudspeakers: “Today’s game is brought to you by Luthorcorp, S.T.A.R. Labs, Boy Scout Troop 762, and…”

“Don’t say it,” I thought. “Please don’t say it.”

“…Old Spice Red Zone!

Aaaagh. Okay, we fucking get it. The citizens of Smallville use Red Zone to ward off the body odors caused by extensive exposure to Kryptonite. For the love of all that’s holy, why not just name the show The Old Spice Adventures of Superboy and be done with it?!?

Next week on Smallville, Lois Lane returns…with a mysterious candy bar! Wednesday at 8:00 pm on the WB!

*There was a time when KFC advertised that it fried its food.