DC Showcase Superman/Shazam! the Return Of Black Adam
by Brian Tudor
Coming on November 9th is the next DVD release from DC Comics, rather than a feature length film we get a compilation of the DC Showcase short films: Jonah Hex, The Spectre, Green Arrow and the all new Superman/Shazam! the Return of Black Adam. In the past I have written about my thoughts on Jonah Hex and Green Arrow (The Spectre was included on Green Lantern First Flight, before I came on board to Think Hero). I liked one (Green Arrow) and the other not so much (Jonah Hex). The Spectre was the first short under the DC Showcase banner, and was an excellent first foray into the short films. OK, enough about the other shorts… they are on the disks, if you’ve bought any of the other Direct to DVD DC Comics release over the past couple of years you’ve seen them.
In Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent’s latest interview subject is street kid Billy Batson. What Clark doesn’t know is that Billy is more than a feisty kid with a lot of heart – he has been chosen by an ancient wizard to represent the good of man as the World’s Mightiest Mortal just by invoking the name of the wizard, “Shazam!” Billy’s powers come none-too-soon, as he also discovers he’s being pursued by a centuries’ old, murderous villain, Black Adam – a foe so powerful, even Superman can’t stop him alone. The all-star cast of Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam is led by Jerry O’Connell (Crossing Jordan) as Captain Marvel, George Newbern reprising his Justice League role as Superman, Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy) as Black Adam and two-time Emmy Award® winner James Garner (8 Simple Rules) as The Wizard.
Superman/Shazam! the Return of Black Adam, first and foremost is visually stunning. The characters all look great, they are not over muscled like in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies or flat and angry like in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Instead we end up with sleek true to form animations that have amazing fight sequences and ah-mazing vocal casting.
Fans of Tim Daly as the voice of the animated Superman can keep him… I’d pick George Newbern 100 out of 100 times if I were casting an animated Superman adventure. He does not disappoint in this short, his voice just matches up so well to the Man of Steel.
Next up in this start-studded cast; Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy) is the voice of Black Adam and while he does not have a ton of lines he is perfect for this corrupted ancient Egyptian predecessor to Captain Marvel. Black Adam in this story has returned to Earth after 5,000 years of traveling back from the far side of the universe after being exiled by the wizard Shazam for abusing his powers as the Earth’s guardian.
Speaking of Shazam… come on who isn’t excited to have James Garner finally lends his voice to one of these characters? Honestly I thought he died a while ago, so I was really surprised to see him listed as a cast member. What little part he has in this short he makes the most of it is pretty memorable.
The last name actor to lend his voice is Jerry O’Connell as Captain Marvel, and while he like James Garner has very few lines he does a serviceable job as Earth’s Mightiest Mortal. Not much else can be said about the fat kid from ‘Stand by Me’ and his contribution.
OK, so I assume you get that I enjoyed the Superman/Shazam short film, while it would have been nice to see something with Captain Marvel a little longer the short did not disappoint. The fight scenes between Superman and Black Adam are spectacular and the final battle between Superman/Shazam and Black Adam makes up for the lack of runtime.
Grade: A- (only because of the length, or lack there of)
– Brian Tudor (Follow me on Twitter: @briantudor)