Sunday, January 2, 2011

Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam - Review

Short but Sweet


A collection of DC Universe Animated shorts put together by animation legend Bruce Timm, this set showcases four very different stories about some of DC's most varied characters.

The first story and title of the set, "Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam," tells the story of Billy Batson first becoming Captain Marvel under the dire circumstances of the return of Black Adam, another character with the powers of Shazam. The story revolves around the theme of doing good things because you should, not because it's rewarding.

The second story is "The Spectre," which follows the story of Jim Corrigan/The Spectre, who is an undead avenger of the underworld. This story is setup like a 70's crime film with grainy picture and dull colors. The plot is a classic murder/revenge story, with the Spectre actually doing most of the killing.

The third tale is "Green Arrow," taking place at an airport where Oliver Queen/Green Arrow is picking up his long time girlfriend Dinah/Black Canary. He stumbles on a plot to murder foreign royalty executed by two of his worst enemies. The story follows Queen's determination to protect someone, all alone, under overwhelming odds, as well as decide how he's going to work up the stones to ask Dinah to marry him.

The final showcased story is "Jonah Hex," taking a walk into a saloon where customers check in and they don't check out. He confronts a gang led by a prostitute who murder men and take their money. The story is a morality tale about the bodies you leave behind keeping you company in the afterlife. It has a very Edgar Allan Poe feel to it, even though it's a Western.

I had already seen some of these shorts on previous DC Universe titles, but was excited to see them presented as a group of shorts. Personally my two favorite were "The Spectre" and "Green Arrow," which has a cool little nod to a Justice League of America identification app for the iPhone. Queen uses it to scan the face of someone in the airport and it gives him a complete dossier on the perpetrator. Little touches like that can make a short story feel really authentic.

As a whole, the collection feels like a stack of DC Showcase comics you'd pick up on a Saturday after your morning cartoons. Which is always a good thing.

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