Review: SHAZAM #10
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Geoff Johns
Colours: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Shazam #10: The magical superhero adventure continues as the seventh member of the Shazam Family is finally chosen-and it will change Billy Batson and his brothers and sisters forever! But can this new family come together to stop the deadly all-new Monster Society?
Something seems very wrong with the Wizard Shazam. This is something that has been hinted at since his recent return, but becomes quite clear in Shazam #10. First off, he has yet to explain how he has returned from the dead. You would think that this would be one of the first things Billy and the others would want to know. But given how much has been going on, it’s somewhat understandable that they may not have thought to question the Wizard yet.
Then there is the choice that the Wizard tried to force on Billy last issue. He told Billy that he had to choose between sharing his biological family, represented by his father, or his foster family. Billy, the bearer of the Wisdom of Solomon, realized this was a false choice and refused to choose between them, choosing to except all of them as family. But the Wizard also has the wisdom of Solomon. He should have known that Billy didn’t have to decide between them. So then why did he try to make Billy make that choice?
This issue, Billy starts to be suspicious after asking the Wizard about how he punished the defeated Kid King. The Wizard’s reaction seems out of character to Billy. As he tells Freddy afterwards, “I asked him about King Kid and it was like I was annoying him. I just thought… he’d be a little nicer. I mean, he chose me to b his champion”.
But then the Wizard attacks C.C. Batson, telling himt hat he “cannot have you interfere like this. You will ruin my plans”. He then strikes C.C. down, possibly killing him. I get the feeling that this is not the actual Wizard, but an imposter posing as the Wizard. But, whether it is the real Wizard or not, it seems that he has his own agenda and will ruthlessly stop anyone who gets in his way.
Another interesting addition to the Shazam mythos is the mention of a seventh god or hero that grants Billy and the others there powers. It does seem to make some sense. The number seven is a recurring one in the current iteration of the story of Shazam. The Wizard was part of a council of seven wizards. The family has been looking for, and recently found, their seventh member. So why would there be only six god-like beings who granted their powers to the Wizard’s champion?
And who is this seventh deity? What power has he granted to Billy and the others? He is referred to, here in the pages of Shazam #10, as “the unpronounceable seventh”. When you consider that each of the other six gave the first letter of their name to the acronym “SHAZAM”, I suspect the the seventh’s name begins with an exclamation point. This would explain his name being unpronounceable, and it would make the acronym actually “SHAZAM!”, which is how it appears in the books title and in the word balloons when Billy and the others say it to call down the magic lightning.
But who would actually have a name like that? Maybe a sixth-dimensional imp? They have been associated with lightning, like Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt. And they do tend to have an affinity for unpronounceable names like “Mxyzptlk”.
And there are more revelations.As they enter into the Monsterlands, Mister Mind explains to Sivana that the realm was is where the Council has imprisoned the “monsters” that have “defied the Council of Wizards over the millennia.
But the truly surprising revelation is the prisoner kept in one small cell marked with a simple ‘S’ on the door. Mr. Mind says of the cell’s occupant, “Someone we will not be asking to join us. They don’t want what we want. And they have nothing to do with magic”. We then see that the occupant is a man with glowing red eyes and a crude Superman symbol burnt onto his chest. The prisoner is Superboy-Prime.
While it is reasonable that he would be incarcerated in a realm that is serving as a prison for the worst and most powerful monsters, it raises a lot of questions. The last time he was seen, he was imprisoned in the Source Wall. Did the destruction of the Wall free him? And how did he end up imprisoned in the Monsterlands? I hope that Geoff Johns won’t keep us waiting for the explanation.
And it seems that Superboy-Prime will be clashing with the Shazam family at some point. He threatens, “Wait until you see what I do to Billy Bratson”. It is clear that he has some grudge against Billy specifically. And Superboy-Prime’s return promises a Crisis-level event. Could the DCU be headed towards another reality-shaking Crisis, with Billy at the centre of it?
One of the problems this book has had so far is that too much is going on. We have seven heroes, multiple villains, and multiple storylines all crammed into one book. At least Black Adam has dropped out of the story, for this issue at least. But the Monster Society of evil appears to be entering the story soon.
I really think that this title is a bit too convoluted and Johns needs to streamline things a bit. Fewer characters, and tackle one or two villains at a time. I hope that Superboy-Prime is hinting a future storyline that happens after the current crises are settled. The last thing this story needs is another villain added into an already overly complex story.
Even though there seems to be way too much going on to easily follow, it is worth the effort to do so. Shazam is one of DC’s more interesting characters, and Johns’ interpretation is compelling, if a little overpowering. And it does help now that the title seems to back on a regular schedule.