Three threads are woven throughout this rather slow-moving second issue:
Billy's "father" has come to town to see him, distressing the Marvel Family's foster parents.
Mr. Mind and Doctor Sivana put their plans into motion.
The children vote to explore the magic lands, making Funland their first stop. Whilst in the Funlands, they meet King Kid, who claims to be "the missing seventh champion of the family."
Concurrently, there is very little and yet a lot happening in this issue. Starting with the art, we see a shift from comic book icon Dale Eaglesham to Marco Santucci. I’m not sure the details behind the switch but it is worth mentioning that this title is behind schedule at this point (notice the Christmas cover and the clever caption to offset that clearly it was intended to be released last month?). At any rate, I quite enjoy Santucci’s style (my first encounter with him was during Peter David’s revisit to X-Factor) with its thick outlines and fine detail, although there is something to be said about the lost nostalgia-factor caused by Dale’s exit. At any rate, this issue didn’t suffer much from the artist replacement and hopefully the change will help to facilitate a more timely release schedule.
Of greater note, however, Johns seems to be moving into relatively uncharted territory for his writing– horror. While on the surface, the book has a light and breezy approach filled with childlike wonder, there seems to be a more insidious undercurrent of terror at play. The fear of losing a foster child is punctuated by the fact that they have misplaced all six of their children. Then Funland itself seems to be playing on the classic horror tropes of terror at the carnivale. The child seen fleeing from his birthday cake, which bears an “18 years old” candle produces a sense of dread in the sense of an uncanny association with birthdays.
And on a final note, Johns once again, as he has done throughout his entire career, has proven that he can handle a cacophony of voices in an ensemble cast, ensuring that each of the children is distinct, even given the limited space with which he has had to work. I do wish they had continued with backup features with this issue, however.
Shazam continues to impress as Johns builds upon the mythos of the Marvel Family.
SHAZAM #2: Journey into the Unknown
Writing - 10/10
Storyline - 9/10
Art - 9/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 8/10
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