There are a lot of comics out there, but some stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we look at an ongoing from acclaimed DC creators Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham as they return to the bright, animal-packed world of “Shazam.”
Who’s This By?
Readers have been waiting for an ongoing “Shazam!” series since the new incarnation of the character was first introduced in Justice League. When The New 52 wrapped up and DC Rebirth began in 2016, the prospect of a new “Shazam!” series seemed futile. Thankfully, author Geoff Johns sprung back into action and revealed the new ongoing series. Readers had to wait five years before the publication of the brand new series. The initial title cemented the origin of Billy Batson and laid the groundwork in the recent film adaptation of the franchise. Geoff Johns is a widely acclaimed DC writer and architect behind DC characters like “Green Lantern,” “Justice League” and “The Flash.” Johns has written acclaimed runs for lots of the most popular characters at the publisher.
“Shazam!” is a great showcase for Eaglesham’s pencils. Eaglesham has always been an imaginative penciler known for an acclaimed run on “Fantastic Four.” As of late, the penciler has been taking a lot of chances with titles like “Secret Six.” Each creator has a long history of working with DC Comics. The duo has even worked together on their acclaimed take on “Justice Society of America.” “Shazam” isn’t a book by a rookie creative team, serving as an outlet for two of the publisher’s strongest talents coming together. The book has carried a roster of a couple of separate artists evoking a completely separate vibe from the main writer. Mayo “Sen” Naito’s contributions to the issue cannot be understated. Naito’s art in the debut issue is featured in a back-up story that captures the raw emotion from Mary beautifully.
What’s This All About?
“Shazam!” follows Billy Batson and his new adopted family. The story is a take on an old DC hero initially bearing the Captain Marvel name. Even though Batson carries a different codename of Shazam, the title still does a great job bringing out the best in Billy and the extended Marvel family. After the first story established an opening for the Marvel family, the core series debuting in 2018 has been devoted to expanding the “Shazam!” world by introducing The Magiclands. The lands each have different content within and have proved to be fairly unique up to this point. Johns has done a great job showing off different characters and keep the incredibly unique tone of the book intact. So far, “Shazam!” has been focused on broadening the scope of the book and showing off the full scope and width of the premise of the series. Johns has done an excellent job showing just how large the “Shazam!” property can be. The title doesn’t feel limited to just an origin story any longer.
So, Why Should I Read This?
If anyone saw “Shazam!” in theaters, the new comic reads like a direct sequel to the film. The story carries a great amount of quality and that slick production quality of the film in comic book form. The characterization for the family takes a great amount of influence from this title. Those familiar with only the cinematic version of the character can pick the book up directly at issue one without reading the first entry.
Johns and Eaglesham do a great job making the comic accessible and focusing on the elements that make the property strong in the first place. The Magiclands are an excellent place for the book to naturally go next. Johns makes sure to keep grounded elements of the series intact by introducing a fascinating figure from Billy’s life in issue one. The Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez scenes also lend some depth and scope to the title that doesn’t feel invasive. The scenes with the villains also add a humorous element to the comic with a sinister outlook. With so much plot developing in the title by the time the second issue came around, “Shazam!” has started to tell stories at a truly breakneck speed. The following issues have started to flip between several different storylines in one comic. The fourth issue even opens an additional plotline from the past series.Continued below
Johns has also done an excellent job calling back past incarnations of the property. He has finally started to introduce the extended DC Universe into the book as well. “Shazam!” is starting to weave a lot of plot threads together and I would love to see the comic book start wrapping up a few and getting to the big Mr. Mind story initially teased during The New 52. In order to remain a title worthy of the great praise and enthusiasm, Johns is going to have to work tirelessly to ensure the tone and direction of the series feels just right.
Eaglesham’s pencils are wild and out-of-control. He draws figures that are pronounced and capitalizes on some of their most terrifying features with a level of impressive focus. Eaglesham has been striking figures with really creative poses and body language. His creative layouts capture incredibly dynamic expressions and framed panels. Issue #4’s debut of a beloved Captain Marvel hero is a perfectly sequenced portion of the comic. Eaglesham builds tension until he reveals what is actually going in the scene coupled with an action to release the tension.
Eaglesham is constantly flipping locales in the newer issues but keeps the focus of the title all the way through to the end. Johns scripts capture an absurdly playful and sometimes sinister nature that Eaglesham has a done a great job delivering over the last few installments.
How Can You Read It?
Readers who are looking to understand and truly start from the beginning can pick-up the “Shazam!” Volume #1 focusing on the origin of the character. Those who have already seen the movie and want to jump right into the property can start with issue #1. “Shazam!” is available on Comixology and wherever fine comics are sold.