A classic hero and a new adventure – Billy Batson and the Shazam Family have to balance school with adventure, but at the Rock of Eternity, they find something new to explore!

Review #1 ReviewSHAZAM! #1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: December 5, 2018

Previously in Shazam!: Billy Batson is a young man in the foster care system. Even though this life has made him tough, his heart has remained generous. When the world needed a champion again, the door to the Rock of Eternity opened, and it was Billy who found his way in, where he was chosen to become the new champion of magic.

REFRESHINGLY OPTIMISTIC

Shazam! #1 opens with Billy Batson’s origin story, concisely told in four pages. Additionally, not only does he have these magical powers, he has also learned to share them, and we open at a time when he has finally found a foster family he can truly call family. And family is at the heart of this story, which is just a great thing to see sometimes. We’re so used to superheroes with tragedies in their personal histories that it is honestly refreshing to see a more uplifting take like this.

The actual story opens on a school field trip to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. Billy is interested in history, but his brother Freddy, not so much. Their visit is interrupted by a gang of crooks demanding money and museum artifacts. (In a great visual gag, they’re all wearing superhero masks – Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, etc.) Billy disappears; we hear a “SHAZAM!” and there he is, confronting the villains. There’s a bit of a fight, he even catches a bullet in his teeth, and then suddenly five more heroes all show up. The students recognize them as the Lightning League, Philadelphia’s own superhero team.

The writing here is just charming. These are adult superheroes, but on the inside they are teens, and this comes shining through in their dialogue. There’s some wisecracking, and there’s a bit of character information that’s dropped here, but I love that they sound younger than adults, even a bit innocent. For me it captures some of the charm of wanting to be a superhero when you’re a kid, before you’ve had a chance to become all cynical about the world. They take out the gang, and when the police ask for their information and who’s in charge, it starts of some bickering between Billy and Mary, with all their friends pitching in. Amusingly, the police decide to just let them go and say Superman saved the day.

We cut to the foster home where the young people are young people again, but still excited by their experience – and lasagna for dinner. Talk at the table turns around what happened that day, and we get a sense of everyone being animated and almost talking over each other (and all coming up with their own different names for their team). Then they all race back upstairs to do “homework.”

Of course, it isn’t homework; they have a doorway to the Rock of Eternity. They have a little trophy collection (the gang’s masks), and Darla came up with a sign they hang up, which says, “Shazam Family Headquarters.” Then Eugene runs in. They’ve been mapping out the Rock of Eternity, which has lots of strange rooms and hallways to nowhere, but a new area has opened up – a subway station with old style trains, and a map on the wall of The Magiclands.

GREAT CHARACTERIZATION AND A STRONG SENSE OF FUN

I think that the art in Shazam! #1 is solid. Young people are different from adults, and much of that is in facial expression and body language. On the school trip, we see young people in varying degrees of interested, bored, etc. But when Billy disappears and Shazam shows up, his body language also picks up on that attitude. It’s really fun to see this superimposed on an adult body. There’s a little bit of showboating, but it comes across as natural, not obnoxious. And when the rest of the team shows up, their fighting is almost funny. They’re all very capable, but there’s a strong sense of almost what it’s like when you see a kid playing that he (or she) is a superhero – the exaggeration of movement, and the very flexible body line. I also adore that this group of heroes is diverse, and that their social interactions are very much that of a family.

We don’t see a lot of the museum as a setting – it’s not all that important to the story, but we do see the Rock of Eternity, and I do love the depiction of that. In Billy’s origin, he does arrive there by subway. Later on, it seems the kids have (or can generate) a door that gets them there. It’s the perfect kind of place to explore – abandoned, certainly, but not dank, not falling apart, not even more than mildly creepy, which also fits the flavor of the story. The discovery of the station is dramatic, and the train that we see is fascinating – early diesel style lines, but painted more like a circus train.

BOTTOM LINE: I LOVE THIS TEAM ALREADY

I think Shazam! #1 is a strong start for an issue. We get a small adventure, a full origin story, and a great hook for the future (as well as a big reveal which I did not disclose here). If I have any quibble with it, it is a $4.99 book. The main story is 21 pages, and there’s a nice backup story about Mary’s history which is another 8. It is a first issue, the art is great, the story and characters are engaging, but it’s not a lot of pages.

Shazam! #1

80%
80%
Strong Start

I think Shazam! #1 is a strong start for an issue. We get a small adventure, a full origin story, and a great hook for the future (as well as a big reveal which I did not disclose here). If I have any quibble with it, it is a $4.99 book. The main story is 21 pages, and there’s a nice backup story about Mary’s history which is another 8. It is a first issue, the art is great, the story and characters are engaging, but it’s not a lot of pages.

  • Writing
    8
  • Art
    8
  • Coloring
    8
  • User Ratings (0 Votes)
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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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