Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Shazam #1 review


So here's Mary and Billy Batson, forlorn after the events of the past few years. When Freddy Freeman - the only member of the Marvel Family to still wield the old wizard's powers - comes to call, Mary's full of self-pity. Twin Billy is more sanguine, and shocked when Mary betrays Freddy to the demon Blaze, Shazam's prodigal daughter ...

Hmm, does Mary still have some of that wacky Black Mary in her, the girl who couldn't get enough of Darkseid? Apparently so, but before we see the consequences of her actions, we flash back a week to watch Blaze make Mary an offer she really should refuse.

Along the way we get a quick recap of things Shazam, including the existence of Osiris (Cousin Oliver Marvel), currently hanging with Deathstroke's all-new, all-rubbish Titans. It seems that Blaze is feeling a bit entitled, believing she should have the Shazam power set. But how much chance does she have of stealing the magical abilities from Freddy?

Zero - Blaze has always been a two-bit player and by the conclusion of this issue she's back in hell, and watching Osiris in Titans (which is more than I am). And Freddy swears to help Mary and Billy - who show that you don't need powers to be a hero - regain their former potency. 

After not being keen on last year's Blackest Night: The Power of Shazam one-off, I'm surprised that I enjoyed Eric Wallace's script so much. He shows respect for the characters, and by reviving Blaze, nods elegantly to Jerry Ordway's excellent Power of Shazam series. I'd love it had this issue somehow restored Billy, Mary and Freddy to their former roles as Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr, but that'll likely take a 12-issue limited series, four annuals and the sacrifice of a nattily dressed talking tiger. But this is a definite step in the right direction, and an entertaining one at that. It's undeniable that Blaze has some excruciating lines, but hey, she's a demon - she learned our language from watching TV (and I suspect they only get Fox in Hell).

Maybe Cliff Richards will pencil the next Marvel Family adventure, as he does this one. I'd be happy with that as, a lank-haired Freddy aside, he draws the kids well. He doesn't actually get to illustrate Billy and Mary in their adult forms here, but I'm sure he'd do a good job. His fight scenes are top-notch too, and the destruction rained on poor Fawcett City is suitably unpleasant. Add in a DC Icons cover of Freddy as (the non-wizard, decidedly superheroic) Shazam and you get a package worth $2.99 of anybody's money. Now, has anyone seen where DC left the whimsy?

4 comments:

  1. They need to get Billy back in his proper role, sacrifice Freddy to the gods and move on. Hate what they've done to the Marvel family at this point but if this is the first step to redemption and a new on-going, count me in.

    Shazam forever!

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  2. I'm almost with you - I don't want Freddie sacrificed, I just want him to get some product for his hair. Freddie's blue Marvel union suit is a favourite, and I want to see it again.

    Plus, if Freddie dies that means another long period of turmoil until he's resurrected.

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  3. I wouldn't say that I want Freddie to die but I think the way that they punked out Billy was just wrong. I've been reading the DC universe since I was a lad (on and off but I'm in a period of 10 straight years right now) and I just feel that Capt. has never had a fair shake.

    When I started reading comics, I collected three books: Kyle Rayner's GL run, Superboy and Power of Shazam. So, that said, those are the three real superhero types that I have a true affinity for but Capt. was always my fav. I love the whole family (even Freddie, although I claim otherwise) and the complete backseat they've taken to Osiris and his clan has made me wish they would somehow either,

    A - Restore Capt. Marvel to before the death of magic from so many years back (which is where it all came off the rails for me) OR

    B - Complete overhaul of the Marvel family with Billy becoming Capt. Marvel again but changing up everything else, including the possibility of turning Osiris into the next Black Adam and NOT bringing Adam back in any shape or form.

    And yes... some styling product would go a long way for Fred.

    By the way - awesome reviews. Bookmarked the site and I look forward to reading it every week in the future!

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  4. Thanks for the elucidation, J-Man. I'd like to see a complete overhaul, with the Marvels either back on their own Earth, or kept away from the rest of the DCU ... I've had enough of Cap being laughed at for his supposed naivete, or Mary being corrupted.

    And no more Black Adam and co for about 5 years!

    Did you read Batman: The All-New Brave and the Bold #2 recently? Fun Shazam! story. If you missed it, the odd panel is in my review:

    http://dangermart.blogspot.com/2011/01/all-new-batman-brave-and-bold-2-review.html

    And many thanks for the kind words!

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