Shazam #1 is a new series published by DC Comics. Written by Mark Waid, art by Dan Mora, colors by Alejandro Sanchez, and letters by Troy Peteri. As Billy Batson seems to have the balance between being a kid and being a superhero nailed down, someone he trusts seeks to knock him down a peg.
The plot of this issue begins with a headstrong pace and a lot of energy. The start is a weird but wonderful cold open that sets up the positivity of the book. Things seem to be going great for young Billy. There is a lot of comedic value to the writing, with funny references that are close to breaking the fourth wall and just lovely silliness at times. There is exposition and an awareness of history, but it’s selective. Events that happened relatively recently are being shed or ignored. But as this is one of the Dawn of DC books, that is to be expected to streamline the storytelling. Shazam doesn’t fight many people in this comic, but there is enough action to be exhilarating. One is a chaotic adventure, the other is more classic as a superhero tale. But the routine of it is a brilliant lead-in to the surprise of the comic, shaking up the tone of the book and changing the status quo dramatically.
The dialogue and the characters in this comic are introduced gently, but in a matter-of-fact manner. Shazam #1 spends a lot of the issue with just Billy on his own. One of the most interesting changes Waid seems to be broaching is changing Batson’s superhero name to The Captain. Whilst I understand paying some homage to his classic name is nice, I think it robs Batson of a huge amount of individuality and the unique part of his identity. They can’t go back to Captain Marvel, but Shazam at least is intrinsically linked to the lore of the character. The Captain is generic. But other than that, the personality of the protagonist carries that immature but respectful attitude that Billy possesses. For the rest of the family, it is only Freddy that makes an appearance in this first issue, and the tiger that does the cleaning. Doing it slowly helps new readers take in the information without overwhelming them.
The art is perfectly suited for the youthful exuberance of Shazam #1. That sometimes overbearing but gravitating presence of the grown-up version of The Captain is beautifully illustrated by Mora. And on his face is that childlike glee, like he is loving every moment of his adventures. The locations are stunning, with some fantastical settings being introduced early in the book, one after another. There are some odd and unconventional movements and poses that Billy finds himself in, but they all just remind us that he is so different from other heroes. The pieces of action move at speed, with the energy of these moments captured tremendously by the artist. The hero poses are magnificent when you have a figure that fits them as well as The Captain does.
The colors are awesome. The blending of the shades is remarkable at points. The colors can be understated and gentle. apart from when you want to put The Captain on the page. He is as vibrant as you can get, the red and gold looking resplendent. The style looks like watercolour, which makes the shades look lovely and evocative. The lettering features some fonts in the custom word balloons and caption boxes that may be difficult to read.
Shazam #1 is an exciting, fresh start with some surprising changes. Whilst I may not like the new name change, especially coming off the back of a movie where the character’s name is Shazam, I respect the desire the shake things up. The comic is a huge amount of fun, with energy and a love of the character radiating throughout the book. It’s terrifically funny at times and it is difficult not to smile whilst a really delightful tone is spread from beginning to end. It definitely feels like this is a creative team that actively understands Billy Batson and wants to let him stand out on his own within the DC Universe.
Shazam! #1 is available where comics are sold.
Shazam #1 is an exciting, fresh start with some surprising changes. Whilst I may not like the new name change, especially coming off the back of a movie where the character’s name is Shazam, I respect the desire the shake things up.
William is a screenwriter with a love of comics and movies. Once referred to Wuthering Heights as “the one with the Rabbits.”