Shazam! #3 Rewrites Magical History

by Tony Thornley

The core concept of SHAZAM! is actually pretty simple. A child is given the powers of six of the mightiest beings in mythology. However, the magical world of Billy Batson and his family is much deeper and much more interesting thanks to this issue.

This issue comes to us from Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham, Marco Santucci, Mayo “Sen” Naito, Mike Atiyeh, and Rob Leigh.

The SHAZAM family find themselves learning the history of the Magiclands from King Kid. Mary isn’t buying it though, and sure enough King Kid orders his minions to attack the kids. This leads to the kids getting split up across the Magiclands…

As you might have seen in past reviews I’ve written, I love when writers craft mythology, and there’s no better writer in comics for that than Geoff Johns. Here, he creates a great new antagonist for the family, as well as a fascinating new realm. It’s sprawing and exciting, and will definitely lead to lots of exciting stories down the road.

Beyond that, there’s some great characterization here. Mary gets the most, establishing her as the reasonable and most grown up of the kids. However, we get a lot more of the entire family as individuals, much more so than the last couple issues.

I really like how the art duties were split up this issue. Eaglesham did the opening and the main action scene of the story, filling it with personality and adding a lot of exciting designs to Funworld. Sen illustrates King Kid’s origin, using a dreamy storybook style. And Santucci steps in at the end of the issue as the family gets split up, introducing the new Magiclands they have found themselves in.

It’s a smart choice, turning a jam issue into a story where the art changes highlight what’s happening in the story. It gets better when Atiyeh’s colors enter the picture. He colors the Funlands in bright and pastel colors, but avoids garish lights, but the Wildlands are full of natural light and Gamelands full of harsh artificial light. The real highlight though is King Kid’s origin which is light and pale in a way that evokes watercolors without actually painting it.

This series keeps getting better, after a bit of a rough start. It’s the first time I’ve read a SHAZAM book regularly, and I’m on board for the long haul.

SHAZAM! #3 is available now from DC Comics.

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