Thursday, May 14, 2009

Superman, Guns N' Roses, and Florence King


Tonight is the Smallville eighth-season finale, essentially the TV adaptation of the 1992 story in which the monster called Doomsday killed Clark Kent (who was later resurrected — forgive me if I’m sort of giving away the likely season-ending cliffhanger, but the word was out seventeen years ago).

Although circa-1980s comics are the ones I know best, I sort of liked how much one Smallville episode this season (though I rarely watch the show) evoked the quirky, caper-like plots of the circa-1960s “Silver Age” of comics: In the episode, magician Zatanna grants multiple characters one wish (while trying to resurrect her father, magician Zatara), with effects such as a jealous Chloe transforming into Lois Lane.

The magic spells in the episode also caused Clark to temporarily forget that he’s a superhuman with vast responsibilities, leading to dorky Silver Age-like moments like Chloe-as-played-by-Lois-actress trying to bean Clark with a metal pole to remind him who he really is.

The actress playing Lois did a surprisingly good job of subtly acting like Chloe, if I can speak for students of vocal inflection and body language.  Any good acting on Smallville is a pleasant surprise, since they seem to cast solely based on looks and have recently even run an online open casting call on comics sites noting that no prior acting experience is necessary.

The guy who played Lex Luthor on Smallville may literally be better than all the other actors on the show combined, which isn’t saying much, but here are three sentences from his Wiki. entry hinting at the true extent of his good taste:

His favorite band is Guns N’ Roses.  His favorite animal is a wolf.  In an episode of MTV Cribs, Rosenbaum shows his love of singing, karaoke, exercising, and Captain Crunch.

Also fond of G N’ R: several of my friends, including Chris Nugent and Christine Caldwell Ames, who, like me, wrote to conservative writer Florence King back around the time of Use Your Illusion (about a year before Superman’s death) and mentioned G N’ R, since King had just been photographed with a gun and roses.  According to somewhat younger conservative writer Helen Rittelmeyer, King mentions in a more recent essay being surprised to hear from readers about G N’ R back in the day.  Is she referring to us?  Perhaps thousands of people mentioned the band to her — or perhaps we’ve made another small mark on history.

P.S. On another apocalyptic Superman note, Jacob Levy points out that a recent interview reveals that the writers of the popular comic book miniseries Kingdom Come, a vision of a dark DC Comics future that ends with only Superman and a handful of heroes surviving, had a climax that was somewhat muddled by the fact that its writers disagreed on whether all the superheroes should die — making Superman a failure — or whether all the superheroes should live, since Superman always saves the day.  The result was a compromise, perhaps detracting from the story’s impact.  Sort of like killing Clark Kent but then resurrecting him — but we’ll let them get away with that stunt once, since it’s Superman, who’s sort of like Jesus.


Meredith said...

Rosenbaum also appears as Charlie Brown in a rather disturbing episode of James Gunn’s PG Porn – wherein any fond childhood memory of the Snoopy characters you may have will be forever yuckified (now playing over at the spike website).

Todd Seavey said...


Jacob T. Levy said...

See also the Christmas special sequel: Or don’t. It’s very disturbing.

It’s even more disturbing than DC editor Dan Didio’s widely-reviled (though I thought it was funny) Peanuts riff, “The Pumpkin Sinister,” in the DC “Infinite Halloween Special,” just to bring things back to Superman & co.