Shazam! #3 – Mark Waid, Writer; Dan Mora, Artist; Alejandro Sanchez, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: After a two-month delay for a Knight Terrors story focusing on Mary Marvel, this title is back with Billy in the lead role—and not having a great time. He’s still able to transform, something Freddy, Darla, Pedro, and Eugene can’t do, but every time he does he seems to lose control of himself and act out in ways that are designed to undermine his status as a hero and turn the public against him. The culprit? The six Gods who gave Billy his powers—and they’re tired of relying on a kid to represent them. They’re using their hold on him to take control and bring some ancient Greek justice to the world—and they’ve forced Freddy to serve as their spy and thrall by brainwashing him. Billy is very aware of what’s happening, and has come up with an imperfect solution for it—he’ll just never transform again. But as stresses wear down on him, that becomes an impossible promise to keep.
This all sounds like pretty heavy material for a Shazam comic—which has been an ongoing problem for the franchise—and in some ways it is, but Waid balances it nicely with some of the most joyfully ridiculous stuff I’ve seen in a DC Comic in a while. Did I mention there’s still a dinosaur attorney hanging around in the Vasquez family living room, waiting for Billy to show up to certify some paperwork about his recent rescue? Well, Billy’s too busy dealing with a Gorilla City diplomatic delegation that is about to get into a war with the emperor of the Moon. That’s a new development, and one that leads into a suitably over-the-top cliffhanger. But hiding in the background, the story of six powerful Gods casually manipulating a young man’s life and turning his own powers against him has some compelling repercussions—both for the Captain and for Billy in more personal ways.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.