Review – The New Champion of Shazam! #4: A New Generation

Comic Books DC This Week
The New Champion of Shazam! #4 variant cover, via DC Comics.

The New Champion of Shazam! #4 – Josie Campbell, Writer; Evan “Doc” Shaner, Artist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: It’s been a long time since we got the third issue of this miniseries—long enough that it’s since been announced that Billy will be headlining the next Shazam series this May. That makes the conclusion of this short run a little awkward, but no less fun to read. Josie Campbell and Evan Shaner have created a version of Mary that in some ways gives her a voice for the first time since the reboot. She’s spent too much time in past runs being the solid, responsible one to the army of kids, which I feel like takes away from her character. In this run, she gets to show what a toll that takes on her as she tries to find her family and unravel the mysterious conspiracy of kidnappings that has plagued the town—and seems to involve her new school. A showdown against a mad professor controlling an army of mutated alligators is exactly the kind of wacky Silver Age story Shazam is best in.

The truth. Via DC Comics.

The short length of this series is its main drawback, as while Mary’s characterization is top-notch, the story is a little rushed. The villains have often been effective at making a point about toxic online behavior, but the main villain has her identity revealed in a way that makes a major change to the Shazam mythos. I may object to this a little just because it contains a massive error about how college tenure works! A college can’t simply vote to revoke a Professor’s tenure because of a horrible family connection! But that detail aside, this final issue allows Mary to truly shine in a way she’s rarely gotten the chance to, and the final pages firmly establish her as a hero to be reckoned with—which makes the ending, setting up an event that might reset the table again, a little disappointment. Campbell will get to tell one more Shazam story in an upcoming Lazarus Planet tie-in, and I hope she has far more to come.

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

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