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‘Shazam #1’ (review)

Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Dale Eaglesham
& Mayo “SEN” Naito

Published by DC Comics

 

Geoff Johns’ Shazam backup story graced the pages of Justice League #7 during the early days of DC Comics’ New 52 initiative. More times than not, the appetizer was better than the main course. Many might say Johns’ creator helmed return to the character is six years too late. Others will say a good story is a good story, regardless of the circumstances. The maiden voyage of Shazam’s new ongoing series falls somewhere in the middle.

It’s a good introduction that briefly revisits the origin story, established the key players, and sets up the first story arc. There is nothing wrong with by the numbers storytelling.

Still, it was a little underwhelming considering how well Johns’ last run was received.

The main difference between 2012 and now is the heavy involvement of Billy Batson’s foster siblings. Some moments will make the reader smile. Others will make the reader roll their eyes. A recurring gag of the kids arguing over their team name never got old.

Dale Eaglesham’s artwork hits all of the right notes but fails to play much music.

Character work is ok and some of the action panels are fun to look at. However, like the narrative, there was nothing visually that stood out.

Plus, facial reactions were muted and didn’t convey emotion, which was surprising. Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez came off as the kind of parents you’d wish every foster kid could have. Their love for each other and the children was potent enough without taking away from the primary story.

The backup story, Mary, also penned by Johns and drawn by Mayo Naito is exceptionally fashioned.

Naito’s adorable anime-style coupled with a heartwarming narrative reveals how Mary Marvel was taken in by the Vasquez Family. It also ties into the main story where Shazam calls for assistance to stop a museum robbery.

It’s ironic that history is repeating itself with Geoff Johns. Once again, his secondary offering outpaces the main event. Only this time, it’s Shazam that takes a backseat to Mary Marvel. While Johns is excellent at utilizing a lot of characters and plot points at once, his work shines just as often when he takes the less is more approach.

Ultimately, Shazam is off to a decent start. Despite the five dollar price tag, it checks all of the boxes and has an exciting conclusion that will all but guarantee a second purchase with the next installment.

Rating: B-

 

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