Review: Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam

Published on November 8th, 2010

It was just over a month ago that Warner Brothers Animation released Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, and now they’re putting out their next direct-to-DVD release Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam. Well that’s pretty awesome, right? Well hold your horses because this movie is only about twenty-five minutes, so it’s more of a pilot for a series rather than a movie. On the plus size the producers decided to include the other three shorts that have been made and released for the special editions of their other animated films.

superman_shazamThe movie starts with a teenage couple at the typical make-out point about to enjoy themselves when they get interrupted by a shooting star crashing into their car, but it’s no ordinary shooting star, it’s actually the super powerful Black Adam who has come to Earth to seek out the wizard Shazam and kill his latest protege. We are then brought to the home of Billy Batson, a poor kid (approx ten years old) who lives alone in a run down apartment, with his only friends being some rats, and a homeless man. Billy then goes to a nearby diner where he meets Clark Kent who has been interviewing Billy for a story he’s been writing. The interview is cut short when Black Adam attacks the diner because little Billy is his target. Clark changes to Superman and attacks Black Adam so Billy can get away. Billy then ends up in a magical cave where he meets the wizard, Shazam. Shazam then grants Billy powers so he can become the new protector of Earth and defeat Black Adam who was supposed to be the protector, but was banished for 5,000 years for being a jerk. Billy then returns to the battle and finds out that when he says “Shazam!” he turns into the superhero, Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel then teams up with Superman to stop Black Adam.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this release is, “why?” I know Superman is the biggest property of DC Comics, but with their last move being Superman/Batman and their next movie being  All Star Superman did we really need another Superman movie? And do we really need a Shazam movie at all? I could think of a ton of other DC characters that should have a movie before Shazam. How about The Flash? Hell, I’d rather see an Aquaman movie before a Shazam movie. I’m also confused as to why it’s only twenty-five minutes, I think a lot of people are going to be confused. I know the box says it’s a collection of shorts, but I talked to several people who were under the impression that this was a feature-length movie. I think they needed to do something with the artwork on the cover to express this is a collection of short films.

Now that all the negativity is out of the way, let’s focus on the positive. For starters I thought the animation was really good, I think the character designs turned out a lot better in this one, than they did in Superman/Batman Apocalypse. The action sequences are well done, and overall it’s an entertaining movie. The voice acting is really good as well. George Newbern did an excellent job as Superman, and it was pretty surprising to see James Garner as the wizard, Shazam. Over all it’s a nice collection, it also has extended versions of the shorts for Green Arrow, Jonah Hex, and The Spectre. I’ve only seen the Green Arrow short (they should really make a feature length for Green Arrow) so it was cool to finally see the ones for Jonah Hex (This kicks the shit out of the actual Jonah Hex movie) and The Spectre. If you don’t have these shorts, you might want to pick up this collection because they’re all really good.

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Personally I wish they would have kept doing a few more feature length movies with shorts attached before they released a collection of all of them, but if you happen to be a fan of Shazam and the DC animated Universe you should pick this up. If you already have the short movies you better be a die-hard Captain Marvel fan if you plan on buying this.

Ken Zeider
Ken@ComicImpact.com