Look up in the sky, its a bird, its a plane, its…Superman!!! Oh and its also Shazam who teams up with him for this animated feature……
Right off the bat I was not sure how long the main feature of Superman/Shazam was going to be because these videos are usually best served up as half hour programs as we have seen being successful with Batman The Animated Series and even the Superman one that followed it. Upon beginning the film I learned that there was not an entire DVD’s worth of Superman cinema but instead four lengthy shorts and considering who they featured I was okay with it. Here is a little bit of detail about the four shorts.
Superman & Shazam: The first story on the DVD focused on a young Billy Batson who is just a simple poverty stricken kid who ends up being pursued by the villainous Black Adam. Batson is not sure why this is happening because he is not yet in possession of the power of his alter ego the mighty Captain Marvel. Superman’s involvement is based on his being in the proper place at the same time and when he attempts to stop Black Adam we see just how insignificant his tremendous powers are against magic. Eventually Batson becomes Captain Marvel but the transformation has a severe learning curve which I liked seeing be the case. No one gets such abilities and is immediately the master of them. The obvious battle between the good and evil students of the wizard Shazam does happen and I will leave the rest to your own discovery. It’s a quick viewing at only 18 minutes. The main characters are voiced by George Newbern as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, Jerry O’Connell as Captain Marvel, Arnold Vosloo as Black Adam and Zach Callison as Billy Batson.
The Spectre: This was an incredible treat as the short that featured The Spectre was a call back to the characters classic stories as were done by Jim Aparo and Michael Fleisher back in “Adventure Comics”. These fantastic tales found The Spectre to be one of the coldest heroes of them all and one who would mete out justice by turning the criminals into glass, or running water and worse. In this story we meet Detective Jim Corrigan who is investigating a murder and when the case gets a little too hot to handle, Jim lets The Spectre take over. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and wished it had been a little longer. Please DC Comics, give us more animated shorts or a full length for The Spectre.
The Green Arrow: The Green Arrow was a fun inclusion and finds the emerald archer charged with protecting someone from Count Vertigo. There is a lot of action in this one and the use of many different kinds of specialty arrows. Perhaps the popularity of this short might find them doing a Green Lantern/Green Arrow one like the comic from the seventies. I’d check that out.
Jonah Hex: The recently released Jonah Hex movie was almost universally panned by critics and comics fans alike so it was interesting to find the character being included in these shorts. While I had not yet seen the movie, I had to say that I enjoyed his use in this fashion as he is a fascinating character. There is your typical gunslinger back and forth during the story as well as learning how much of a badass he is in comparison to those around him. A good way to close up the release.
In summary while these are superhero shorts there is a sense of being adult oriented in a couple of the scenarios. The Spectre is an incredibly violent short while Jonah Hex deals with prostitution in some sense. Not necessarily for the wee kiddies if you get my drift. I rented this on Netflix and while the hard core comic’s videos fans might want to own it, you would not hate yourself if you only ended up doing a rental of it. If I had to rank my favorites from beginning to end I am starting with Spectre, then Superman/Shazam, Green Arrow and Hex.
Official Website: http://www.dccomics.com
Official Film Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman/Shazam!:_The_Return_of_Black_Adam
I linked you readers to the Blu-ray edition since the vibrancy of the art just comes through a little better in that format. That and so many people are buying higher definition video and gaming equipment and those play Blu-rays easily.