Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review: Shazam! ( vol. 1) by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank (Illustrator)

Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: DC
Source: Edelweiss
Author links: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Young orphan Billy Batson has bounced from foster home to foster home, but he's far from the ideal child. Brash and rude, Billy is a troubled teen that just can't seem to find a calling. But after a fateful night on a subway car, that all will change.

Brought to the feet of the magical wizard Shazam at the Rock of Eternity, Billy is imbued with powers beyond any mortal man. By shouting the wizard's name--Shazam!--the young teen is mystically transformed into the powerhouse known as Captain Marvel! Now given abilities that make him Earth's Mightiest Mortal at the utterance of a simple phrase, will Billy make the right choices and do what it takes to become a hero? Or will he succumb to the poor choices of youth--and the villainous Black Adam!
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the team behind the New York Times #1 best-selling graphic novel BATMAN: EARTH ONE, unite to re-invent Captain Marvel as a part of DC Comics--The New 52. Collected here for the first time ever is the series of back-ups that ran in the pages of Johns' critically acclaimed JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Collects the Shazam! stories that originally appeared in Justice League #7-11, #0 and #14-17.

Billions of screaming fans go wild with anticipation for the revamped version of Billy Batson!
Fine. It's just me and five other geeks having a nerdgasm. 
It counts!

If you don't know much about this title, let me give you a couple of important tidbits of information.

First, the buff character on the cover is not named Shazam. Shazam is the wizard who gave Billy Batson the power to transform into Captain Marvel. 
Not much of an improvement in the name department, but still...
Shazam is also the magic word Batson uses to make the transformation.

Second, Billy Batson is a kid. Worse, he was originally an annoyingly perfect kid. See, Batson was picked by the wizard because he was so pure of heart. He was nice and sweet, and always did the right thing. He made Superman look morally deficient.
So, yeah. He was too boring to bother with.

But when I heard Geoff Jonhs was taking on this title for the re-boot, my inner dork did a little dance! 
Could the great and mighty Johns make this title readable!?
Answer: Yes!
Batson is no longer a sweet orphan who tries to always do the right thing. Now he's an angry kid in the foster care system.
But he still has a Pure Heart underneath it all, right?
Eh. Not so much.
In fact, he only ends up with the powers of Shazam, because the wizard was out of time. He'd been looking for someone worthy to take the mantle, but surprisingly kept coming up empty handed. Billy accidentally found his way to the magic subway car...seriously, don't ask...and ended up in the right place at the right time. Black Adam had been freed from his prison dimension, and he was currently en route to kick some ancient wizard ass. Poor old Shazam literally has no choice but to fork over the power and hope for the best.

Of course, Batson realized the importance of being given access to such great powers, and immediately set out on an epic quest
Oh, come on. What would you have done if you were a teenage boy who found himself suddenly able to turn into an adult?
That's what I thought.

And that's just the beginning.
Now I know that there are a few of you hardcore fans of the original Shazam out there, and seeing your beloved character portrayed in a different light will likely upset you. 
Fun Fact: Nobody else cares what you think.
This title needed a kick in the ass to make it more relevant, and that's exactly what happened.


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