Shazam #5 is published by DC Comics, written by Mark Waid, with art by Dan Mora, colors by Alejandro Sánchez, and letters by Troy Peteri. Mary Marvel comes to The Captain’s aid, and the adopted brother and sister must join together to shake off the influence of the gods and an intergalactic war.
This issue winds up much of this arc, bringing the alien and gorilla conflict to a close. The parallel lines are beginning to merge and infect each other even further. As Billy and Mary are fighting, the gods are still toying with their subject. But their secretive plan is being exposed, especially by those who know Billy the best.
The pace is fast from the beginning, even though there is a stuttering start to build up to the battle. Billy is down and out, and it takes intervention on both fronts to bring him back. The humor and the drama of the comic play together brilliantly. There’s a positive tone, but the seriousness of the situation is also recognised. Those moments are chosen wisely, with none of them landing within the fight on the Moon. That maintains the energy in a chaotic and hysterical situation.
It ends with an enormous set-piece that really raises the spectacle of the issue. The ending is extremely satisfying, leaning from the Moon to the wide plot with the Gods. It is here where all of the surprises are kept, with a totally unexpected final page.
The characters and the dialogue are fantastic. What has aided Billy is the inclusion of the rest of his family. Billy is a great protagonist, one of the best that DC has, but it is the other personalities in the book that generate more heart. The five issues of Waid’s run have provided terrific personalities to the gods that grant Shazam his abilities. They aren’t necessarily there to be a force for good. They are arrogant, selfish, and bitter, too busy with games and demanding worship to actually let The Captain take control.
Those that are good and pure of heart are the other members of the Batson family. The younger group is in the Rock of Eternity, but the star of Shazam #5 is Mary Marvel. Mary brings experience, power, and humor all in one. Not only that, but she is the only sibling with the authority to challenge the Captain when he acts out due to celestial manipulation. She now operates underneath a different set of gods, but her devotion to their family remains. It is the first time in this series that someone can take control of the situation.
The art is sensational. The confidence of Mary in the opening pages leads to a remarkable display of strength, which then leads to a resurgence from The Captain. This issue then launches into chaos. The aliens, gorillas, and everything in between make it a ridiculous but memorable action sequence, with zero gravity leading to bodies flying everywhere.
The villains are wonderfully unpredictable, with some terrifically revolting moments and inventive occurrences. The facial expressions are cartoonish but precise, carrying weight no matter what the species of the character. The last big set piece of the comic is on a much larger scale and is a formidable challenge for the hero. Throughout the book, motion lines denote the intense speed at which everything is moving, so it becomes much more noticeable when things suddenly become still.
The colors are fantastic. One of the best decisions that Sanchez makes for this issue is ensuring that the only red that appears is on the costumes of the heroes. This makes both of them easily identifiable amid the madness. That ease is important for the rest of the book as well. With so much happening, it is vital that the characters are vibrant enough to be followed through all of the action. The lettering also follows the rule of clarity and is never difficult to read.
Shazam #5 brilliantly controls the chaos. This intergalactic story has been energetic and exhilarating from the start, so it is fitting that it ends that way too. Waid and Mora have kept the characters consistent and the plot stays tethered to the concept of the gods and their machinations. But beyond that, the rest of the issue is utter insanity. The situations are crazy and the pace is intoxicating. The war quickly became an investing and hysterical storyline that was filled with twists and surprises. But even when that finishes, there is so much in this series to keep the momentum going.
Shazam #5 brilliantly controls the chaos.