They are the greatest superheroes in the DC universe: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg. Joined together after Darkseid attacked Earth five years ago, the Justice League is Earth’s premier super team and DC Comics’ flagship title.
Previously in Justice League: David Graves, former author of a book on the Justice League, becomes a super villain after losing his wife and kids. Blaming the League for their deaths, he traps our heroes in a temple, haunted by their dead loved ones. After some timely help from their government liaison Steve Trevor, the Justice League defeats Graves. However, the damage is done; video of the fight between fellow Leaguers is broadcast around the world. With the general public against the Justice League, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) decides to be the scapegoat and quits the League. Also, Superman and Wonder Woman kiss, but I think that is old news.
BIRTH OF CAPTA….I MEAN, SHAZAM!
At the end of the last couple of Justice League issues (the last issue excluded), readers were treated to the origin of Shazam, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, a.k.a. Billy Batson. Unlike other Issue #0s that recount past events in the lives of our heroes, this issue is a continuation of Billy Batson’s journey from ordinary orphan teenager to superhero. So, if you have not been following Justice League, this story may seem out of place. Although I was expecting some background about the Justice League during their five year gap between their formation and now, I enjoyed this modern retelling of Shazam. Geoff Johns’s narrative is wonderfully crafted, but can be heavy-handed at times. For example, Billy’s interpretation of a “pure good person” when he confronts the Wizard seems odd coming from a teenager. Still, the conflict between them is prevalent towards the future narrative. Billy Batson, unlike his previous incarnations, is flawed. He’s angry, reckless, smart-mouthed; Geoff Johns gives the character something he has been lacking over the years, a personality. In fact, rather than being chosen, Billy Batson is given powers because the Wizard does not have any choice. Unfortunately, because of this character development, one main aspect of the Captain Marvel mythos is cut out: wish fulfillment. Billy Batson represents every boy’s dream of one day having superpowers and taking up the good fight as a superhero. By making him flawed, he becomes a better character, but not a better hero.
MAGIC AND DIVERSITY
Jim Lee takes a break from artist duties in this issue as Gary Frank fills in to continue his Shazam work. Like other Justice Leaguers, Shazam’s costume follows the pattern of detailed, armor design of the new 52 instead of the usual one toned spandex we are used to in superhero comic books. The lightning power cell on his chest is a nice touch. The promotion of ethnicity is also seen through the revamp of the Wizard. Instead of the white bearded old man similar to Merlin or Gandalf, Gary Frank chose to portray him as an old African Shaman with a six-pack. I am all for diversity in comics, but I prefer character creation over forced transformation.
BOTTOM LINE: BREATHING LIFE BACK TO A CLASSIC
Justice League #0 is a solid, enjoyable read. After following the story in Justice League, I feel the Shazam origin could have been its own mini series. There are hints at the end of a tie-in to the Trinity of Sin storyline, so it will be interesting how Shazam/Billy Batson will fit into the DC Universe as well as his future entry into the Justice League.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!