Review: SHAZAM #11
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Scott Kolins
Colours: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Shazam #11: Billy and his family have seen so many marvelous things in their journey through the Magiclands, while facing tough opponents and even tougher questions about family, loyalty, and integrity. Now they’re about to face an onslaught of all their greatest foes! Will they have the wherewithal to triumph? Find out in the penultimate chapter of “Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands”!
In the previous issue, it seemed that something wrong with the Wizard Shazam. First, his return from the dead remains unexplained, which is rather suspicious. Then, the Wizard insists that Billy has to decide between his foster siblings or his father, C.C. Batson, which Billy realizes is a false dilemma. And when he attacked C.C. at the end of last issue, it seemed to confirm the Wizard was no longer on the side of good.
However, in Shazam #11, we discover that this was a brilliant fakeout by Johns. Yes, there is an enemy among the heroes, but it wasn’t the Wizard. It was Mr. Mind, who has been controlling C.C. Batson. The Wizard had been able to sense that something was wrong with C.C., which led to his distrust and eventual attack on Billy’s father.
This raises a number of questions. Did C.C. actually want to reconnect with Billy, or did Mr. Mind compel him to re-enter Billy’s life? And once he’s regained control of his own actions, will he want to stick around? It may well be that C.C. isn’t destined to be the Shazam Family’s seventh member after all.
We also see Superboy-Prime escape his imprisonment in the Monsterlands. He then immediately announces, “Look out, Billy Bratson. You’re first”. I’m not sure what Superboy-Prime’s beef with Billy is. As far as I know, they have had little interaction. On the other hand, he hasn’t been seen since before the Flashpoint. Who knows how his personal history has changed in the New 52/Rebirth continuity?
Shazam #11 introduces the Monster Society of Evil, consisting of nine villains, some classic Captain Marvel foes, other newly created threats. Nine villains? Are you kidding me? This book already has too much going on and too many characters, and now Geoff Johns is throwing nine more villains into the mix. We know have the Shazam Family (now at seven members), Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind, Black Adam, the Wizard, and now nine more villains. That’s an even 20 characters squeezed into a single storyline. And that’s not even counting Superboy-Prime.
I have been saying that Johns needs to simplify the story and bring it back down to a manageable level, and he has gone and done the exact opposite. It’s like this is a maxi-series and Johns is trying to fit in an appearance of every single character and concept from Shazam/Captain Marvel history before reaching the twelfth issue. At this point, I think the best we can hope for is that once this story arc is resolved, that Geoff Johns will start a simpler one with a more manageable number of characters. Maybe Billy could have a solo story. That would be nice.
Although the story’s complexity is getting out of hand, it still is a fun story and I have been enjoying it. I will be relieved to see this first storyline reach it’s resolution. The impending confrontation with Superboy-Prime has piqued my interest and I can hardly wait to see what that story holds.