The doors to magic have been opened… and it’s all Billy Batson’s fault! Your Major Spoilers review of Shazam! #5 awaits!
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Marco Santucci/Dale Eaglesham/Scott Kolins/Max Raynor
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Molly Mahan
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 8, 2019
Previously in Shazam!: The kids visit the Gamelands, a colorful world of races and games where all that matters are your high scores! But as good as Pedro and Eugene are with their arcade cred, can they score high enough to survive it?
THE REALM OF LOST AND FOOLISH CHILDREN
We open at the Rock of Eternity, now abandoned, as Black Adam scams the magical maps for a hint of where Billy Batson has gone. A little blood divination later, he rockets away towards The Funlands, where Billy is currently trapped by the magics of King Kid. Worse still, his twin sister Mary is already trapped in the gears of this world, where any child who feels unloved or unwanted can live, with the price being that they become a permanent slave once the reach the age of 18. The King is absolutely enraged that Shazam, a “false child” has entered his realm, demanding that Billy release the magic lightning to him in return for his and Mary’s freedom. Elsewhere in the strange realm, Eugene and Pedro, still empowered by the lightning, are stuck in a world of video games, where Eugene makes some poor decisions. Still elsewhere, Freddy and Darla are sentenced to be eaten by tigers. So, everyone’s pretty much doomed, yeah? Even Black Adam isn’t immune, as his quest for Billy is interrupted by a lightning-imbued Sivana, who informs him that he has a simple choice: Join Mister Mind’s new Society… or DIE!
MULTIPLE ARTISTS WORK HERE, MOSTLY
I’m not entirely thrilled with Johns’ fascination with rainbow heroes working in concert, but this issue successfully makes the spectrum of Shazams work, at least within the story being told. It’s never quite clear why Pedro and Eugene can transform and Darla and Freddy can’t, nor does the issue really give a new reader a clue as to how The Funlands work. Still, the momentum of the narrative does tie us into the kids’ exuberance, and Mary’s transformation, followed by a sly smile and “I know. I’m breathtaking.” is really lovely. The multiple art teams actually work well in these pages, successfully illustrating the different realms and their strange natures. Dale Eaglesham’s work on the Billy/Mary chapter is my favorite, but Scott Kolins makes his video game-inspired pages work and none of the comic ever really drops the metaphorical ball in clarity and storytelling.
BOTTOM LINE: RATCHETS UP THE TENSION
This issue builds to a pretty successful cliffhanger ending (or three), but somehow the interlocking story of seven different protagonists ends up feeling a little confusing to me. Shazam! #5 features some pretty impressive art, an okay story that could use a little bit more explanation here and there, but most of all a likable bunch of kids as our heroes, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. I think this, like most Geoff Johns stories, will read much more smoothly in the inevitable collection.
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It's a little bit hard to follow with all the kids split up, but all in all, it gets its point across.