Review: Shazam #5
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Geoff Johns
Colours: Mike Atiyeh
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Shazam #5: In the latest chapter of “Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands,” the kids visit the Gamelands, a colorful world of races and games where all that matters are your high scores! But as good as Pedro and Eugene are with their arcade cred, can they score high enough to survive it?
Often the Wisdom of Solomon is the one power of Billy’s that gets overlooked. Sometimes to move the plot forward requires Billy to make an unwise choice. So, I especially like stories where we actually see Billy making use of this ability.
It is evident in Billy’s attempt to reason with Kid King. Shazam sagely points out to the ruler of the Funlands why enslaving adults is just as evil as other adults had treated him in the past. Kid King’s angry reaction shows that on a deep level, he can see the truth in Billy’s words. However, he uses his anger to avoid facing this truth.
Shazam #5 uses an interesting artistic device, with no less than four artists tackling different sections of the book. Each of the Magiclands and the Rock of Eternity are drawn by a different artist in their own style, giving each realm its own distinct look. This subtly gives the feeling that the lands are separated by more than mere physical distance. They seem to be on separate planes of existence altogether.
And while discussing the art, I have to acknowledge that Dale Eaglesham’s full page image of Mary (page 10) was indeed “breathtaking” as Mary states on that page.
One thing that has been lacking in this iteration of the Shazam Family is that Billy is the only one with a superhero name. The others need some sort of codename rather than just using their first names. I may be wrong, but we may have been introduced the first of these in Shazam #5.
In the Gamelands, Eugene and Pedro are asked to provide “Gamer Tags” for themselves to use on I.D. cards. While Eugene’s “Kickurbuttt” makes for a terrible superhero name, Pedro’s “Thunderstruck” actually could serve as a decent nom de guerre.
Also, I think it might be a nice nod to the past if Mary actually took on the name “Mary Marvel”. There shouldn’t be any legal problems for DC to use that name, and “Mary Shazam” doesn’t really roll off the tongue.
Also, we see Doctor Sivana attempting to forcibly draft Black Adam into Mister Mind’s Monster Society of Evil. If you want hints at what the next Shazam movie is going to be about, I would pay attention to this. The first movie was clearly based on the current version of Shazam/Captain Marvel and the end-credits scenes hinted that the sequel would feature Mister Mind. So, I expect that much of what we see in the coming months will stand a good chance of making it into the movies.
Over the years, Shazam/Captain Marvel comics have been very whimsical at times, especially in the original Golden Age books. This title has definitely played into that, but I think they might be overdoing it a bit. This series is similar in tone to the movie, which was much lighter than the preceding DC movies.
Now, this was exactly what the DCEU needed, but what works in the movies isn’t necessarily what works best in the comics. Now, I’m suggesting a dark and gritty reboot. I’m just a bit worried that the current Magiclands story has a few things that go past whimsical and into the realm of just plain goofy.
For example, I’m not convinced that Talky Tawny needed to be brought back into continuity. However, I am willing to give Geoff Johns to convince me otherwise.
What I would like to see is some serious storylines and threats after the current adventure in the Magiclands has concluded. And it appears from this issue’s encounter between Black Adam and Sivana, that this may just be what Johns has planned.
This isn’t your father’s (or grandfather’s) Captain Marvel, but it still is a fun book, which has a unique feel that sets it in a different class from other superhero books. While Shazam has a number of modern touches, I feel that this version still maintains the spirit of the character readers have loved for decades.