Meet Billy Batson. It's been years since SHAZAM! has been been the focal point of a series, so much of this issue is a reintroduction to the lore and mythos surround the Marvel Family with a few updates here and there. We get a brief recap of Billy's first meeting the with the Wizard where he assumes the mantle of SHAZAM! and then flash-forward to present day, where Billy and Freddie stop a museum heist, along with the rest of the family, while on a school field trip.
Following the attempted heist, the children return home to their foster parents for a family dinner, accentuating the family-forward concept being celebrated in this series.
The children then sneak off to their subway station headquarters and continue to explore, eventually stumbling across a previously undiscovered "Station" that promises to blow open the entire mythos surrounding the characters.
The final pages of the main story throw a wrinkle into our favorite patchwork family with the arrival of a man claiming to be Billy's father, continuing the notion of expanding the world as we know it for The Marvel Family. This issue also contains a back-up story that focuses on Mary and her background story, a series that I anticipate will continue for several months as we get to know all of the kids and seemingly a few new additions to the family!
What Geoff Johns and company have accomplished with this first issue is actually quite remarkable. It feels like it has been decades since the last time we saw a SHAZAM! series as focused on family as this one. By placing the family first and decentralizing Billy, Johns delivers what is potentially the feel-good book of the year. The dialogue throughout the issue is expertly crafted, although I expect nothing less at this point from one of the industry’s top writers, and Eaglesham’s artwork manages to both capture a sense of nostalgia while simultaneously being updated enough to resonate with a modern audience.
It is sometimes difficult to review the first issue of a series, particularly one with no recent precedent (I believe the last time we saw Billy was in Johns and Gary Frank’s run on Justice League, post-Flashpoint) because often-times the direction of the series is unclear. Here, there is no mystery, no guess work. The direction is crystal clear and I’m in love already.
Johns, Eaglesham and company capture "lightning in a bottle" with the first issue of SHAZAM!-- a must read book for old fans and new ones alike!
SHAZAM! #1: Family Matters
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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