One of the biggest joys in superhero and comic book related media is when television shows and movies can introduce other famous characters into the mix, ones that aren’t just a part of a lead character’s corner of the world/universe. Yes, Smallville has had a lot of fun over three seasons in getting a kick out of introducing iconic Superman characters (such as Lois Lane this season or Perry White last year), but as has been evidenced by the never ending sea of shared comic book universes in live action media, there’s a bigger buzz to be had in emulating comic books and having multiple characters that share that world being in the same space.
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There was a palpable buzz upon the premiere of The Avengers in 2012 at seeing tangentially linked films produced by Marvel come together in gloriously epic fashion, not long after being followed on the small screen by Smallville successor Arrow bringing in Barry Allen for an episode, which subsequently led to a Flash TV series, and then multiple spin-offs following not long after. They played the epic crossover card and got a lot epic mileage in putting multiple shows/movies and their characters in the one space.
Interestingly, The Flash also ended up being utilised early by Smallville when it came to introducing Clark Kent to a future colleague from the Justice League. In a season that has so far found its best moments in paving out future elements of Clark Kent’s future as opposed to the ones in his present, it doesn’t come as a massive surprise that this is one of the best episodes of Smallville‘s fourth season. There is a novelty in having Clark spending time with a character that will play a bigger part in his more expansive future, one that at this stage the audience is assuming is beyond the periphery of the town limits of Smallville itself.
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The best thing about Steven S. DeKnight’s script is how the character of Bart Allen initially looks as if he is going to be the antagonist of this week’s instalment. Kyle Gallner, who would go on to deliver a devastating performance in Veronica Mars, brings a cheeky charm to his portrayal as Allen that is a million miles away from his work on Rob Thomas’ noir teen drama, but for anyone only familiar with his work there, it comes as a lovely change of pace to see him trading witty dialogue back and forth with Welling and to be underneath those sunnier Smallville skies.
Away from the season’s other story arc concerns, little detours such as this and Clark’s chemistry with Lois are amongst the better parts of this season. It’s almost as if Clark and the series as a whole is at its very best when it’s aware that it needs to move on.