After their terrifying adventure through the Darklands, Billy and the rest of the Shazam family find themselves going over the rainbow and through the looking glass into the upside-down, topsy-turvy world of the Wozenderlands! It’s a magical, multicolored metropolis where it’s always time for a cup of tea, a game of croquet or even a stroll down the Blue Brick Road—but it’s also ruled by the mysterious Wizard of Wozenderland, desperate for the power of the six champions!
I have been approaching this series all wrong. It only took me the better part of a year to realize it. Coming into this series, I promptly saw Geoff Johns’ name attached and made a number of assumptions based on his more recent canon. The man who brought us Blackest Night, Infinite Crisis, and Doomsday Clock was surely intent on making SHAZAM a vastly impactful book for the DC Universe at large. Now, nine issues in, and it has become abundantly clear that SHAZAM is more of a return to turn-of-the-century Johns– a passion project for a neglected/misused character. Johns is a kid in a toybox, his imagination unfettered, just as he was when he rose to stardom with books like Hawkman, Teen Titans, and JSA.
His reinvention of the SHAZAM mythos seems to be coming to a head as Billy has now completed the Seven Champions by making the assertion that he controls the magic and thus he controls the terms of the spell that allows him to share his power. I’m not sure that logic would hold up in court but it made for a lovely moment as Billy’s chosen family and his biological family joined forces. Also of note in this issue is the “crisis” that collapsed the Wonderlands and the Ozlands into the singular Wozenderlands. With the recent introduction of the Metaverse in Doomsday Clock there is a sense of a metafictional element that Johns is toying with here, perhaps using these pages as an experiment for how to proceed with such a lofty concept.
After a full Kolins art issue, we return to the rotating cast of artists, as each artist is responsible for certain segments of the story. Kolin’s Wozenderlands is of particular note as his style finds solid footing in this fantasy amalgation. Santucci and Eaglesham are more technically sound in their art styles but Kolins certainly brings an appropriate whimsy to the Magiclands that helps to maintain the sense of wonder they seem intent to evoke.
SHAZAM #9 (Johns, Kolins, Santucci, Eaglesham) continues the "Magiclands" epic. This series may not be what many fans were expecting but it is undeniably fun regardless.
SHAZAM #9: All in the Family
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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