Shazam! #3 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Dale Eaglesham, Marco Santucci, Mayo “Sen” Naito, Artists; Mike Atiyeh, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Curse Your Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal!
Ray: All writers have “tells” on their runs, and mythology has become one of Geoff Johns’ biggest. He never saw a major DC property that he didn’t want to take and make much bigger, much more epic. That’s what he’s done with Shazam!, where he’s introduced seven magical lands that the seven members of the Shazam family are supposed to guards. When we last left off, Billy and his five foster siblings had found themselves in the Funlands, a never-ending carnival ruled over by King Kid. This blue-haired magic-wielder claims to be the seventh lost member of the Shazam family, and he welcomed his “siblings” with a never-ending banquet of pizza, cake, and candy. It all seems too good to be true, and, of course, it is. He seems very keen on getting his guests to reveal their magic word so he can join them, and Mary seems to be the only one who’s suspicious. A flashback by the brilliant Sen shows his origins, seemingly dating back to Middle Ages. He was an abused peasant boy who ran from his parents and wound up in the Funlands, creating a personal kingdom for himself and all kids like him.
It sounds great, but he makes clear he doesn’t want anyone to leave – and when he finds out Mary is almost eighteen, he turns on them immediately, trying to capture her and keep her siblings from leaving. He’s a sympathetic villain, but a creepy one. His attack leads to the Shazam family being scattered, with Pedro and Eugene winding up in the high-tech Gamelands and Freddy and Darla winding up in the animal-ruled Wildlands. It all looks great and has a fun chaotic energy to it, but I keep coming back to my one main problem with this series – and that’s Mary. She seems to have nothing to do every issue but frown and be skeptical about their adventures. Aging her up has set her apart from the family, robbing her of her close connection to Billy (Freddy seems to be his closest sibling now) and leaving her little part in the story. This falls into the trope “Closer to Earth” where the girl in the story has to be the responsible one and hold the reckless guys in line. It may have worked with Hermione, but this take on Mary doesn’t have that character depth. It’s a consistent flaw that takes this from a great book to a good one.
Corrina: If I had to guess, King Kid is probably based on a fairy tale. Not Hansel and Gretl but one of them. (Unless Gretl shows up later…) His betrayal was predictable but I’m glad it only took one issue and wasn’t drawn out. But, in the meantime, the panels with the Marvel family feasting were so stuffed with sweets and indulgence that I felt like I’d gained five pounds just by reading them.
I’m less enamored of this “seven lands” part of this plot. I was fascinated by the idea of an entire family of foster children with super-powers. There are so many ways to go with that, especially with how they keep the secret from their parents and friends, and it’s something we haven’t seen much in superhero comics. (I think Power Pack might be the most similar property.)
But, for two issues now, that has all been on the back burner to explore all the “lands.” I worry we might be here for quite a while, and the most interesting stuff from the beginning will be put aside.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.