Its 9:53 am
With the live action film “Shazam”finishing filming a few weeks ago and headed to to post production,it won’t be very much longer until the buzz starts building as it gets closer to its release. I’m sure it will be hyped huge at San Diego Comic Con.
On one of my many jaunts to Family Video,I picked up “Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam”. When I picked this up,I thought it was a full length DCAU film but this is actually a collection of 4 short stories which also feature Green Arrow,Jonah Hex and one of my favorite DC Comics chararcters,the mighty Spectre.
These four shorts are pretty wicked and the ones with Jonah Hex and The Spectre definitely push this collection in the PG-13 realm as they are quite violent in their nature.
This is a strength that DC Comics has taken advantage of and that is not every superhero story or character is 1966 Batman. Hex and The Spectre are far different then the norm in that respect.
The first story is yet another retcon origin story of Shazam but its been shoehorned into a 20 minute story and twisted so that it fits the time allotted. It features young Billy Batson,a orphan living in Fawcett City, trying to live a tough live while being a good person. This includes helping a older disabled man fend off some thugs and taking a punch for his troubles. Billy then meets a adult friend for breakfast where he is suddenly attacked by powerful stranger.
Things look bad for Billy until he unexpectedly saved by none other then Superman. But because the stranger uses magic,a weakness that even the Man of Steel is powerless against,its going to be up to Billy Batson to save the day…..if he can figure out how to do it!
While the origin story plot is as old as dinosaur dust,the action more then makes up for it as all three main characters are given equal time onscreen. Black Adam is portrayed as a villain here but many fanboys know that Black Adam,just as Hex and The Spectre is a lot more complicated then shown here. The voice acting is very strong as James Garner,Jerry O’Connell,Arnold Vosloo and the voice of Superman,George Newbern all do stellar work here.
The next story finds Green Arrow going to pick up Black Canary at the airport and carrying a little surprise for her. He then finds himself saving a young princess who is the target of an assassination plot. Green Arrow finds himself facing not only numerous bad guys but also Merlyn,a archer who is almost Green Arrow’s equal. Add in Count Vertigo and things don’t look so good for Oliver Queen…..
What made this episode so different was that Neal McDonough,who could be playing leading man roles due to his looks and skills,prefers character parts because he won’t do any romantic scenes due to the fact he is married. But in this short,Oliver is shown kissing Black Canary…..The voice cast is strong again with not only McDonough lending his voice but also Malcolm McDowell as Merlyn,Ariel Winter as Princess Perdita along with voice acting stalwarts Steve Blum and Grey Griffin adding their talents as well.
The third story features Thomas Jane as Jonah Hex as he is tracking Red Doc for a 5,000 bounty. What he doesn’t know as he slowly rides into town is that Madame Lorraine and her henchmen are bushwhacking any strangers that seem to have money on their person. She entices them upstairs where she kills them and her thugs get rid of the bodies. Its a honeypot trap that has never failed and Hex is walking straight into it…
Excellent story with a unexpected gruesome and scary ending. Once again,the voice cast is spot on as Jane is a perfect Hex…..soul tired,dark and no one’s fool. It was a nice to “see” Linda Hamilton back onscreen even if she played the deadly Madame Lorraine. She seemed right at home doing a voice part.
And the last story has Gary Cole play Jim Corrigan ,a police detective investigating the murder of a movie mogul. It turns out that an old flame of Corrigan’s also happens to be the daughter of the murdered man. The murder looks foolproof but Corrigan has a secret of his own….he is The Spectre and vengeance is his…..no matter who the killer is.
This was my favorite of the four stories presented and while it is the most violent of the four,the Spectre has to be shown that way to give any story credibility,he is God’s Wrath and he metes out justice to whom deserves it. Alyssa Milano plays Aimee Brenner who Corrigan was once involved with. Cole has a great voice as he showed in a series he once did called “Midnight Caller”. He has become quite busy doing voices for various animated shows.
These films were directed with flair and skill by Joaquim Dos Santos and the voice casting was done by Jamie Thomason who should be commended for getting such a great A-List of talent together.
“Superman/Shazam” is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 63 minutes. Special features include Bruce Timm introducing the four different stories.
This collection is a must have for any fan of comics and especially DC Comics,the animation is top drawer and the action never stops. This showcase is a keeper!
The cheetah and I gave this a big thumbs/paws straight up!