Shazam #6 – Geoff Johns, Writer; Marco Santucci, Dale Eaglesham, Scott Kolins, Artists; Mike Atiyeh, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Escape Plan?
Ray: It’s another chaotic issue in Shazam #6 as the heroes of the Shazamily are split across dimensions and trying to survive. Billy and Mary are the first to escape, outrunning King Kid’s forces and racing back through the portal home. But before they can get it, they get caught up in the battle between Sivana and Black Adam, both of whom are trying to drain the Magiclands of their power – Adam to neutralize it, Sivana to keep it for himself. Mister Mind egging them on amused me, and it’s impossible to miss just how heavily it borrows from the movie themes in this issue. They eventually make it home, with Billy and Mary wanting to clue Victor and Rosa in on the truth – but they’re interrupted by the arrival of Billy’s biological father. This issue reinvents him as an ex-con supposedly trying to make up for his past, but Billy is naturally a little suspicious of the man who abandoned him. Billy having living parents is a new wrinkle from the movie, and one I’m not particularly a fan of.
Billy’s father wants him to come back to Minnesota with him, to search for his mother, but Billy’s thoughts are on his current family. The issue continues splitting the art duties between a team, with Scott Kolins covering Eugene and Pedro’s adventures in the Gamelands. This is probably my favorite of the segments, with the dynamic of gamer Eugene being forced to coach the athlete Pedro through the games being a lot of fun. These two are so undercharacterized both here and in the movie that I’m glad they’re finally getting this spotlight. The random return of the Wizard Shazam, though, comes out of nowhere. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s a little odd that Freddy, Darla, and Tawny are completely absent this issue. The ending has King Kid getting ready to match on Earth, while Mary makes a game-changing decision that could upend the whole Vasquez family. There’s a lot to like in this series, but the first arc is overall a bit too overstuffed.
Corrina: After my complaints about the story shifting so far into the Magiclands, there’s movement this issue, with Billy and Mary coming home. But we’re not done with the Magiclands, not with two-thirds of the family still stuck in there. (Whose idea was it to ride the train, people? I know, they’re kids with super-powers, they’re going to make impulsive decisions.)
But I’d hoped the Magiclands arc would provide insight into all the team members. Until this issue, it’s felt more plot-based, with only Mary coming through as the responsible one. So it’s helpful that Pedro and Eugene have some time together, though some of the fun of their segment may be lost on non-gamers. (But fans of Ready Player One will doubtless have a great time with it.)
Back in the real world, Mary again is the responsible one and reveals to their parents that the whole family are superheroes. That’s great movement forward and I applaud this development because keeping secrets from adults in stories often requires those adults to be oblivious and, well, these adults are more perceptive than usual. I don’t know what to think of Billy’s dad. Maybe he’s not his dad? Maybe it’s something else? I suppose it’s natural that Billy will have to choose between a found family and his long-lost father but it’s not a storyline that interests me nearly as much as the found family he has right now.
As for Sivana and Black Adam, they feel shoehorned in right now, especially given Mister Mind’s involvement, as their segment is intense and gritty, whereas the rest feels more like kid/teen adventures, even with the gruesome aspects of the Magiclands.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.