Comic Book Review: Shazam #1
A book like this has been a long time coming for Shazam. I remember many asking for a solo book around the time of New 52 when you had all the fun of him and Cyborg gracing the same pages of Justice League. For others it may have been a longer wait. Either way, here we are and you couldn’t appreciate DC more for making this opportunity happen. Who knows, maybe if this book does well we might see more of this misfit again in bigger stories.
For a new #1, I would say that this creative team nailed the introduction to this hero. It was quick and to the point for both new readers and those who may not have read into the story of Shazam in a good while. All around it was a good refresher that created a welcoming atmosphere. Not too many pages given to the introduction, and not too much dialogue that might overwhelm you too early. Just enough to set a foundation to take off from. What I did notice was that at the same time they threw in some extra bits that would steer this story in the direction of the plot for this first story arc.
There’s one thing that caught me off guard about this story, and that was the way that Shazam wasn’t the only hero with this power. It does go without saying that I am not the biggest Shazam reader out there. I only go so far as the basics in his character history. The rest of his family sharing his powers was a bit of a shocker since this is not something that I’ve ever seen before. It definitely made me feel like I missed something which I wasn’t sure was a good thing or a bad thing. This is not to say that I didn’t love how endearing and fun that made this story, but its hard to ignore that feeling in the back of your head that there may be a story you needed to read before this first issue. Some things you simply can’t be prepared for when it comes to characters you aren’t familiar with. Someone out there may see this as a spoiler to jump into, but it is important to address this matter from a new reader point of view. Regardless, let me take this chance to jump into the other kids adding appeal to this cast. The sense of wonder for these characters was refreshing. They each stood out for something different that they brought to the table and the way that they use their powers.
The tone of this story is rich with the kind of values that should stand out in most superhero books. From start to finish of this first issue there was no overlooking how charming these kids are for the way that they give importance to each other and the concept of family. There are plenty of books in the DC Universe that could use some of these themes to better engage readers. So far I would say that Shazam has a headstart on other books just from what has been offered here.
One of the better elements of this issue was without a doubt the artwork. The art team of Dale Eaglesham and Michael Atiyeh knocked it out of the park. A book like this is always bold because of the effort that goes into drawing that line in the sand between kid and adult. Some artist can pull it off while others may struggle. Fortunately that was not the case for this art team. They had a good handle on being able to draw the kids convincingly, and then also be able to draw them as adults carrying over familiar features. It was cool how some of them had things about their costumes that made them stand out as individuals. It was either the varying colors, or the sleeves, or the skirt. Some of them also took on different hairstyles that made them look more heroic in general. With that said, I also liked the pencil work overall for the fact that Eaglesham is detailed and expressive in the way that he draws his characters. There’s nothing flat about them that would run the risk of being dull. As for Atiyeh, this was definitely some of the best color work I have seen from him. There was range, boldness, and he does the lightning effect very well for the way it organically flows through the kids
What took so long indeed was the thought running through my head at the end of Shazam #1. This was one of the best debuts for a young hero this year. Obviously Shazam has it easier being an already established big hero, but that doesn’t change the approach that should always be the same when you are dealing with kids who take on the responsibilities of a superhero.