Sometimes a comic comes along that perfectly captures the spirit of a character and concept. In SHAZAM #1, Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham does exactly that in a debut that clicks for the lead character for the first time in a long time.
Johns, Eaglesham, Mike Atiyeh and Rob Leigh jump into the new adventures of the Shazam family, with a back-up story by Johns, Mayo “Sen” Naito and Leigh. The issue is fun and well-constructed, but not without its flaws.
After Billy Batson and his family stop a museum robbery, the kids return to the Rock of Eternity to explore. They discover a mysterious train station and map. Meanwhile, Billy’s foster parents are in for a shocking visitor! And in the back-up story, we learn more about Billy’s sister Mary, and get hints at the return of a classic golden age supporting character!
This is simply a very fun story. Johns jumps right in with the next chapter for the kids, with a brief action scene, then diving deeper into the mythology of Shazam. Billy and each of his foster siblings are fully formed on the page, and the story is full of wonder and humor. It’s a pitch perfect take on the wish-fulfillment filled concept behind Billy Batson’s heroic identity.
However, this isn’t a perfect debut. One of the biggest problems is that it’s not treated as a debut. Yes, this is a follow-up to Johns’ Shazam stories from a few years ago, but that’s also the problem- its written assuming that you’ve read that story. The newer siblings are barely named, and the differences between them as heroes are hinted at but are assumed and implied more than depicted.
That said, it’s still good enough, fun enough, to hook me. If the story continues on the path it’s started on, it’s going to be a story on par with Johns’ past long-form DC universe stories.
The issue’s greatest strength though is in the art. Eaglesham’s able to capture the family’s energy and personalities instantly, both as human kids and lightning-powered superheroes, while Atiyeh’s color work deepens that and brings it to life. They also fill each page with detail that makes every setting lived in and real. Sen’s more manga-style art is a great match for Mary’s story, and is full of charm.
In all, it’s not perfect, but it shows enough promise that I’m willing to return, and hopefully stick with this great magical world a while.
SHAZAM #1 is available now from DC Comics.