Review: Shazam! #1

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

Colors: Mike Atiyeh

Letters: Rob Leigh

 

Summary

Teenager turned super-hero Billy Batson struggles to balance school and superheroics! (Guess which one is more fun?) But when Shazam unlocks a shocking secret deep within the Rock of Eternity, it challenges everything he knows about the worlds of magic and his family’s future as its champions! Also, witness the bizarre team-up of Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind as they set off to build a society all their own! Don’t miss the start of an epic run in the making as “Shazam and the Seven Realms” begins!

 

Positives

The best thing about this title is that Geoff Johns has perfectly captured the fun, light-hearted tone of the original Captain Marvel comics. This may change as the title progresses through future storylines, but this issue just showed the Shazam Family as a bunch of kids having fun, both as superheroes and in their civilian identities.

Also, I am glad that with the number of changed to the characters, that DC has kept the idea that Billy Batson and Shazam are a single persona. The classic version had them as two distinct characters that would change places when the magic word was spoken. I much prefer Shazam being portrayed as a boy thrust into an adult role and body.

Although I miss the classic costume, the New 52 redesign is starting to grow on me. It does capture the essence o the classic, with a modern sensibility – and it is beautifully drawn. But the hood on the cape has to go!

I loved the backup story, which shows how Mary ended up being taken in by the Vasquez family and met Freddy Freeman. Plus, as a nod to the classic Captain Marvel books, we are also introduced to Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny (or is that Hoppy, the Shazam Bunny?).

Also, this story makes me wonder if Billy and Mary will turn out to still be actual brother and sister in the new canon.

 

Negatives

I had to think long and hard on how I’d approach this review, as I am in the camp of those who dislike a lot of the changes introduced to the character in the New 52, especially the name change. And to make it clear, DC changed the name by choice. There is no legal issue preventing them from calling him Captain Marvel, they just can’t use it as the title of a comic or movie.

However, I have decided that I have to judge this interpretation on its own merits rather than judge it for not being the version I would have preferred. These changes, like it or not, are the official version now, and will likely remain so for a long time – especially if the movie does well.

However, the Shazam Family makes the book a bit too crowded. I would like to see Billy get some solo action, considering it’s his title. The classic trio of Billy, Mary, and Freddy seem like enough for most adventures, but six members of the family seems somewhat unwieldy.

Also, this issue establishes the team as the Shazam Family, but we have to get some individual names. “Mary Shazam” would be awkward, and I can’t imagine Freddy calling himself Shazam Jr.

And once again, the hood has to go!

Verdict

Despite my reservations, I very much enjoyed this issue. Shazam! is off to a great start and  I eagerly look forward to seeing what Johns has in store for Shazam and the Shazam family.

 

 

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.