The idea behind these shorts is to spotlight characters who probably could’t carry their own movie. The animation style on all of them matches up but not much else does, although I like thinking that they all take place in the same continuity. Let’s take them one by one, shall we?
Superman/Shazaam: The Return of Black Adam
I’m just going to come out say that I’d probably watch twenty minutes of Captain Marvel petting Hoppy The Marvel Bunny, I love the character so much. Of course, I’m not deluded enough to think that that would be as good as “The Return of Black Adam,” which pairs the Captain up with Superman to fight his greatest foe. Quick summary, Clark Kent comes to Fawcett city to write an article about orphan Billy Batson and other street kids like him. Billy’s a good hearted kid who’s had some tough breaks. So when Black Adam shows up and attacks Billy and Clark, obviously, he tries to fight alongside Superman. This act of courage along with his many acts of kindness lead him to an encounter with the wizard Shazaam. After getting and quickly learning how to use his powers, Captain Marvel and Superman take down Black Adam, and a homeless guy Billy helped out a few times turns out to be Mr. Tawky Tawny.
Look, I fell in love with Captain Marvel as a character because of Young Justice, (If you don’t want to invest in the whole show, just watch the episode “Misplaced,” where Captain Marvel and Billy both are necessary to save the day, it’s incredible.) but this short went a long way towards completely converting me as a fan. Captain Marvel is a relic of The Golden Age, but his concept, the actual wish fulfillment of a young kid becoming a superhero is what makes him stand out. Because Billy Batson is a kid, he’s allowed to stay innocent and optimistic, no matter how gritty the world around him gets.
He’s a character worth fighting for.
“The Spectre” isn’t my cup of tea. I love supernatural twists, and I love LA tinged Noir, but for some reason, when combined in this character I can’t get into it. This short introduces us to Jim Corrigan, and LA Detective. He’s called by the daughter of a murdered film director to solve the case. He tracks down the daughter’s boyfriend, who it turns out was working with her. It is revealed that he’s actually a cursed spirit who has to punish the guilty. “The Spectre” short is cool and stylish and really does look like a film noir, and I definitely enjoyed it more this time around than the last time I watched it. Probably because I was less confused, since Netflix bills these all under the Superman/Shazaam heading and I was waiting for Billy show up…
It probably isn’t a surprise that “Green Arrow” is my favorite in this collection. Well, no surprise to anyone who’s read this blog and watched this short. It centers around Oliver Queen going to the airport to pick up Dinah Lance and being waylaid by a plan to assassinate Queen Perdita, the ten year old girl queen of some fictional DC country. Green Arrow saves the queen, fights Merlyn, and her evil uncle Count Vertigo. He beats Merlyn and is about to lose to Vertigo when of course Black Canary shows up and knocks the count out with a Canary Call. Then he proposes and she says yes and everything is great.
Obviously, I love this one, because it’s about Ollie and Dinah and I love them. But it’s also full of cute word play and fun action and an adorable ten year old queen. (Another character that Young Justice does awesome stuff with, btw. Just saying…)
Ugh, “Jonah Hex.” I hate Jonah Hex. Can’t stand him, stories about him, or whatever. But he’s DC’s big Western hero, so we’re stuck with hearing from him every year or so. So yeah, plot. A Madame is killing visitors to her saloon and taking their money. Hex is looking for one of her victims and winds up solving the case, getting into a shoot out and leaving the Madame to die in a mine shaft.
The DVD also included a bunch of episodes of shows that featured these characters, so I also watched the JLU eps. Because I love JLU.
So, there you have it. Those are the DC Showcase Shorts. I like them, they’re a fun little diversion. Up next is All Star Superman, which is definitely in my top ten graphic novels, so I’m interested in seeing how it got translated.