Review: ‘Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam’
One the most pleasant developments with Warner Premiere’s line of animated movies featuring DC Comics’ heroes has been the addition of [[[Showcase]]], shorts based on the lesser known characters from the countless characters lingering in the library. To date, we’ve been treated to [[[The Spectre]]],[[[ Jonah Hex]]], and[[[Green Arrow]]] with two of them proving more satisfying than the main features. Now, the three have been collected, along with a fourth, all-new feature in the just released [[[Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam]]].
Michael Jelenic, the mastermind behind [[[Batman: The Brave and the Bold]]], writes the screenplay and since this is based on now source material, it only vaguely resembles any of the origins for the World’s Mightiest Mortal. Yes, orphan Billy Batson is summoned by magical subway to stand before the wizard Shazam and be given the power of six gods to be a champion of justice. However, this is adjusted as a reaction to the return of Black Adam, the first such champion who was corrupted by absolute power and was banished from Earth to travel through the stars. His return brings him to Earth and directly to Billy, who he somehow sees as Shazam’s designee. And it just so happens this all happens when Metropolis reporter Clark Kent is interviewing Billy about being a child of the streets. The remainder of the 20 minute short is a slug fest and is way too short on characterization or rationale for why the story was told this way.
The character designs, other than Black Adam, seem slight and a little too Asian in influence. The vocal casting choices are adequate although James Garner’s Shazam is almost unrecognizable. Overall, it was entertaining but wastes its length and leaves me wishing for more.
On the other hand, more is not always better. The three previous shorts are here in “extended” form and you’re hard-pressed to find what’s been added. The good ones remain good and the weak offering, Green Arrow, remains wretched.
The disc is complemented with four episodes of various series featuring the spotlighted characters which show other approaches to interpreting the comic books. As a result, this is a solid collection but only if you do not have any of these in other form. The lead feature just isn’t strong enough to make it worth buying.