I love DC Comics animated movies and shows. I own all of Batman, Superman, Justice League and Batman Beyond, as well as owing the majority of the Animated Features that have been direct-to-dvd releases as well. But for some reason, it’s taken me awhile to sit down and watch Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam. Probably because two of the four shorts I’ve already seen, and a third will also be on another DVD I plan to get. So why spend so much for essentially a 25 minute Superman/Shazam short?
If you’re like me, you’ll get it anyway. The Return of Black Adam features the return of George Newbern as Superman and Jerry O’Connell as Captain Marvel, both played the same roles in the Justice League cartoon. It also features Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy) as Black Adam, Kevin Michael Richardson (The Joker on The Batman) as Tawky Tawny, James Garner (The Rockford Files) as Shazam and Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) as Sally. Black Adam has spent thousands of years crossing the cosmos to the return from his Banishment at the hands of Shazam, and now that he’s returned he will stop at nothing till he destroys his successor, Captain Marvel, and rules the Earth. But not if the Captain and Superman have anything to say about it! The Return of Black Adam has a lot of great action, easily comparable to Superman: Doomsday. Also with showcasing a side of Billy Batson not often shown in animation that evokes both a sadness and a humor that I really didn’t expect. All the voice casting and animation was extremely well done, and at 25 minutes or so in length, it’s about the same length as an episode of a TV show. The story was strong enough to the point that it could’ve held a full length animated movie.
Also featured in the DC Showcase DVD are the shorts The Spectre, Green Arrow and Jonah Hex. All 3 are previously available as special features with other DC animated movies. Out of the 3, I’d never seen Jonah Hex previously and must admit it lacked the most. Other than Tom Jane turning in a stunning performance as the scarred cowboy vigilante, the story was rushed and pushed to fill the 12 minutes it was alotted. It was a short, true enough, but even when compared to The Spectre and Green Arrow it was lacking in the story department.
The Spectre is presented as an older style film, with heavy film grain across the screen, cheesy 70’s style music, and with Gary Cole as Jim Corrigan/The Spectre the whole piece works extremely well. It’s different from anything else DC animation has attempted before, which may be why it works so well. If it had been done like any of their other shorts, it’d probably just be OK. But they lucked out on what could have been a gamble, and they wound up with a surprise winner.
Green Arrow however stands out to me as being the best among the 3 previously released shorts. The voice acting features names like Neal McDonough (Desperate Housewives, Tin Man) as Green Arrow, Malcom McDowell (Clockwork Orange, Heroes) as Merlyn, Steve Blum (Wolverine & The Xmen) as Count Vertigo and Grey Delisle (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) as Black Canary. The writing and performance capture the sarcasm and humor of Green Arrow, while still keeping him as a serious and formidable hero. While it’s run time is around the same as the other two shorts, it seems must longer and you’ll swear you’ve just sat through a half hour TV show.
PETER loves the characters of Captain Marvel and Black Adam. He wishes they’d get more attention in comics in an ongoing series that isn’t aimed at children. Unfortunately, they’re background in the past few years has become muddled and he thinks he’s the guy to fix it. SO HIRE ME DC!