Review – Shazam #2: Welcome to the Funlands

Shazam #2
Shazam #2 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Shazam! #2 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Marco Santucci, Artist; Michael Atiyeh, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Into The Shazam-Verse?

Ray: The second issue of Geoff Johns’ Shazam loses first issue artist Dale Eaglesham, but Marco Santucci is a capable replacement – I almost didn’t notice the difference at first. The good news is, the series maintains the fun, mythic vibe of the first issue. Johns’s biggest influence on this title is clearly 1980s kids’ adventure like The Goonies, and that’s a genre he really hasn’t spent much time in before. The issue immediately picks up on last issue’s two big cliffhangers. As the Marvels’ foster parents grapple with the arrival of a mysterious stranger claiming to be Billy’s father, they discover that their six kids have all mysteriously gone missing. As we know, they’re actually in the Rock of Eternity, where they’ve found several mysterious subway cars promising to take them to any number of mysterious lands – Funlands, Gamelands, Darklands, and Monsterlands. We’ll probably explore them all, but soon the kids vote (despite Mary’s suggestion that they go home) and they’re on their way to the Funlands.

Once there, they find a magical land, which Freddie describes as “Disneyland on Steroids”. Although they all have fun, there’s a lot of creepy touches – a mysterious tiny clown with no name, an obsession with birthdays, and a new character named “King Kid” who claims to be their seventh missing challenger. At the same time, Dr. Sivana gets a subplot at a doctor’s office, where the rapidly aging villain and his partner – Mr. Mind, who is living in his head – kill a man to steal his tongue for a magical ritual. It’s an oddly dark touch in an issue that tries to be fun. While this series is overall a lot of fun, I have two ongoing issues with it. First, it’s been six years since we really saw this character, and it feels like some characters – especially Eugene and Pedro – fade into the background. And second, Mary being aged up has forced her into the “mom” role of the team, which in this book basically seems to make her the responsible wet blanket. I like what Johns is going for here, but it still doesn’t match the pure iconic fun of the Jerry Ordway run from the 1990s.

Shazam #2
Shazam #2 cover, via DC Comics.

Corrina: The decision to focus on the voyage of the kids to each of the “Lands” may echo classic kid’s adventure stories but it also takes the kids away from the real world that was so lovingly set up last week, with the foster parents, and the bond between the siblings.

Here, all except Mary get somewhat lost in the rush to get on the train to Funlands–she gets to be the logical, careful one, while the others simply rush into it. Their reasons for wanting to go are all similar and, thus, is missed a chance to explore who they are a little bit more. And, yes, this seems like such a tropey trap, a Funlands with a dark underbelly, that I hope next issue makes it something less predictable. After all, we’ve seen this kind of “attraction” as far back as Pinocchio.

The mystery in the real world, of Billy’s father, is good, however, and I like that these parents are alive and well, a change from so many superhero stories.

So, a decent second issue, aside from the obviousness of “Funlands.”

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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