Shazam! #4 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Marco Santucci, Dale Eaglesham, Scott Kolins, Max Raynor, Artists; Mike Atiyeh, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Plot Is Lost In MagicLands
Ray: With the Shazam family lost in the Magiclands, Shazam! #4 takes on the feel of a jam issue as four different artists cover the seven characters with the wizard’s powers. That’s right, seven – Black Adam is back in the framing segment, as he discovers that Billy has opened the door to the Magiclands and is determined to drag the family back out – and kill his old nemesis if necessary. Johns’ Adam has always been one of his best characters, so it’s great to see him cut loose again, but the Shazam family may have bigger concerns. Of the three storylines featuring the kids, the Funlands one is the least compelling. Billy tries to free Mary from King Kid’s mines, the two fight, and in the chaos, Billy is able to get Mary’s gag off so she can join the fight. It’s good to see Mary Marvel in action again, but any sympathy I may have had for King Kid’s sad backstory has dissipated once it was revealed he was a sadistic slaver.
Much more fun are the other plots, especially Scott Kolins’ Gamelands segment. Eugene and Pedro are the characters who have gotten the least attention since the reboot, so it’s fun to see them play off each other as they try to figure out the weird rules of the Tron-inspired video game world and defeat the mysterious masked ringleader. Pedro is especially likable as the underdog in this segment. Freddie and Darla, meanwhile, have found themselves in the Kamandi-inspired Wildlands, where they’re on trial for being savage humans in a world of talking animals. After being sentenced to death in a kangaroo – or should I say Giraffe – court, their paths connect with fellow outcast Tawny. As for Adam, he soon winds up in a collision course with another famous villain as this series gets ready to tie into Year of the Villain. There’s a lot of expected movie tie-ins in this issue, but overall this series remains strong thanks to its likable kid leads.
Corrina: This is one where Ray connects with the material and I don’t. The first issue was fine but with every issue that stays stuck in the Magiclands, my interest in Shazam! decreases.
Take Black Adam. He shows up because the kids–as kids are wont to do–have done something dangerous and should be stopped from that. But Black Adam concludes that to stop him, he has to kill Billy rather than, say, grab innocent kids out of there and teach them not to do it again. Yes, I know Adam is a villain but he’s a nuanced villain and usually not completely murderous on the first appearance.
Eugene and Pedro don’t understand the rules of the Gamelands. Neither do I because they’re poorly laid out and the panels are a bit crowded for me. As for Freddie and Darla in the Wildlands, it seems blatantly obvious that they’ll somehow make friends with the new version of Talky Tawny.
I’m not exactly bored but I’m not exactly entertained either.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.