The New Champion of Shazam! #1 – Josie Campbell, Writer; Evan “Doc” Shaner, Artist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: I was always going to be a hard sell for this series, simply because I’ve never vibed with this version of Mary Marvel. The reboot changed her from Billy’s twin sister and his closest confidant to the oldest of a group of five adopted kids, who spent most of her time trying to wrangle them and be the responsible one. The overall changes to the franchise had their plus, but Mary was the one whose character struggled the most because of them. But this series is sort of a second chance on that front, both in and out of the story. Mary’s headed for college, only a few months after Billy locked himself away in the Rock of Eternity and the power of Shazam went away, and she’s determined to make the most of this new start.
So she says goodbye to her foster parents and heads to Vassar, where she gives herself a new name of Marina, meets up with two roommates—one of whom has a bunny named Hoppy—and tries to settle into normal life and not give away her connections to anything strange. A flashback at the start of the issue pulls the reason she’s so determined about this into heartbreaking focus. And it seems to be going well—until Hoppy sneaks into her bag and starts speaking to her in the middle of freshman orientation. It’s weird and embarrassing—and making it worse, he was sent by Billy and wants her to take on the mantle of Shazam once more. She’s not enthusiastic about this… so Hoppy takes matters into his own hands.
Mary’s trial by fire—or bunny—pits her against a new villain named Disaster Master, who seems to be nothing more than a destructive and cruel idiot and makes a good starter villain as she’s thrown back into the hero game against her will. The action is good, but this series wouldn’t work nearly as well without the creative team. Shaner, as always, is a legend. The art seems a little more painted, a little less old-school than usually but no less beautiful. Josie Campbell is new to comics, I think, but the former She-Ra writer shows an incredible handle on dialogue and fits in seamlessly with the new format. This four-issue miniseries has been a long time in coming, but it might be the best new Shazam content in ages.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.