Review: Shazam #4
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Shazam #4: Once inside the Rock of Eternity, Shazam comes face to face with an old acquaintance…who is also a complete stranger. Confused? So is Billy! The questions keep piling up as the stakes mount, leaving him with an impossible life-and-death decision on which the futures of his best friend, the Teen Titans Academy, and the entirety of existence now hinges!
In Shazam #4, Billy has made his way through Hell where he meets Black Adam. However, Adam appears much younger than Billy has seen him before. Adam gives an explanation to Billy by giving a brief recap of Future State: Black Adam, which sent a rejuvenated future Adam back to in time, and led to the Rock of Eternity falling into Hell.
That fall had released a number of the evil forces being held prisoner by the wizard Shazam in the Rock of Eternity. And Adam has been working to recapture them. One of these is the Deadly Sin, Pride, which Billy and Adam face off against.
The relationship between Billy and this version of Black Adam is very much different than Billy and the present day Adam. Black Adam expresses an appreciation of Billy’s “unreserved optimism”, which he calls “Billy Batson’s superpower”. Adam treats Billy like a long lost friend and Billy quickly warms up to Adam. This bodes well for the redemption arc that Adam has been on in recent years. It implies that Adam truly will become a hero rather than backsliding into villainy.
In Shazam #4, Sheridan is planting a number of seeds for future events involving Shazam and the Teen Titans. Adam tells Billy of the looming threat of the Four Riders of the Apocalypse. Also, he warns that Dane’s coming to Hell has likely awakened his demonic nature, which appears to be borne out in the story’s epilogue. Billy even sums up the tasks that he and Adam have before them: “In the meantime, we have a lot of work to do. The sooner we re-cage the last of the prisoners, the sooner we can restore Eternity, intercept Dan, and imprison the Four Riders”.
But most importantly, Adam fixes the problems with Billy’s powers by giving all his power to him. This stabilizes Billy’s powers and makes him even more powerful than before. With the power of Shazam fixed, Billy is able to return the favour by sharing the power with Adam.
I think a more powerful Billy would make for an interesting dynamic within the Shazam family. In Geoff Johns’ rebooted Shazam story, Billy is more or less equal to the other five, but I think it would be only appropriate for Billy to stand out as more powerful than the rest.
Also, the story shows that, at least for now, the future Adam is going to be fighting alongside Billy. With two Black Adams active in the DCU, I wonder if this future Adam will cross paths with his present-day self. And would seeing his future self encourage the present Adam to continue seeking redemption? That would definitely make for an intriguing story.
I also enjoyed Clayton Henry’s art. I still have some reservations about the modern Shazam outfit, but Henry makes it look fantastic. I wish they would ditch the hood on the cape, though. But I am quite impressed with his depictions of Hell and its infernal denizens, as well as the various heroes present in this issue.
Sheridan’s Shazam has been a pretty solid series. While I’ve been happy to see the character of Shazam/Captain Marvel come back into prominence, I had a number of issues with the way Geoff Johns was handling the character. Sheridan’s story has addressed many of those concerns. So, I have no issues at all with Sheridan’s story.
Shazam #4 is a satisfying conclusion to Tim Sheridan’s story that sets up some fascinating story possibilities for upcoming stories for Billy and the Teen Titans. I am confident that the Shazam mythos is in good hands with Sheridan.