Shazam! Review

A spoiler free review here for you, folks, so fear not.

Young Billy Batson is an orphan with a persistent habit of running away from foster homes before he ends up in his last chance home with loving and understanding foster parents and five other foster kids. Chief among them is Freddy, a wise-cracking, self-professed superhero expert and, while Billy tries not to get attached, he can’t help himself defending Freddy when the local bullies torment him. Billy runs and ends up being transported to the Rock of Eternity where the wizard Shazam grants him his powers to save the world from the Seven Deadly Sins that have been released by Dr Sivana.

Billy gets back to the real world and confides in Freddy that he has powers; Freddy’s response is to film Shazam testing those powers, uploading the clips to the net and basking in the views. Eventually, though, Sivana comes calling, wanting Shazam’s powers for himself. Cue various fights before the big finale where Shazam gets some help from some others and – no real surprise – defeats the bad guy.

Story-wise it’s not a great deal more than that, but that’s not saying it’s bad by any means. Most of the main characters have enough screen time; Rosa and Victor (the foster parents) seem to genuinely like their rag-tag family of kids; and the leads of Billy, Freddy and the adult Shazam are clearly having a blast – the last two particularly.

And it’s funny, too – not belly achingly hilarious, but enough to make me smile and chuckle plenty of times throughout; the big villain speech scene towards the end was great, for example. It’s clear that with this, Zack Snyder’s grimdark version of the DCU has finally been laid to rest, and not a moment too soon.

A little slow in some places, and a little too long in others, it’s still a fun film so gets three lightning bolts out of five.

Sunday Reviews

BLACK HAMMER #9

Talky Walky tries to convince Lucy Weber of the existence of superheroes and fails; Barbalien’s lover is killed and he enacts bloody revenge on Mars; Abrahamn Slam gets a harsh dose of reality; and just as Talky’s about to end it all . . .

This series is so good; in the DC world, this whole alternate reality/superheroes never existed storyline would probably take six issues so it could be neatly packaged as a trade paperback. Here it’s already half way over in two issues.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #4

The team strike a massive propaganda blow against the Reich and, unknown to them, that’s enough to get Uncle Sam back on his feet in the Heartland, the idea space where he’s been resting for decades. As the Fuhrer begins to suffer doubt and anxiety, that’s enough to get Sam back into the real world and delivering his first blow against the Nazis.

Another good, solid issue that brings more info about the Fighters’ dynamic as well as moving the story along nicely.

JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY #7

Confronted by Blackfire and her troops, Starfire loses control and almost kills the lot of them before the rest of her team manage to calm her down. While they end up leaving Tamaran, they at least have a lead on Darkseid’s location and head off to find him, unaware that Blackfire is setting Rapture – the ex-follower of Azrael – on their trail. Finding Darkseid, the League save him from the Eskaton and he promises to tell them the truth of his plans.

As much as I like Joshua Williamson’s other stuff – BIRTHRIGHT in particular – the early issues of this series seemed a little all over the place. Dan Abnett seems to be tightening up the story and it’s working better.

SHAZAM! #4

Talky Tawny makes his first appearance in the series, being arrested for “not being a proper tiger” before we see the various Shazam family kids in the other magic lands where King Kid has sent them. The King reveals to Billy that every time a child turns 18, they’re sent to the Below where they work to keep Funland fun – and that’s where Mary’s ended up. And back at the Rock of Eternity, Black Adam turns up to find to find the place deserted.

Remember when Geoff Johns seemed to be writing everything in the DCU? Sure there were mis-steps along the way (FOREVER EVIL instantly springs to mind) but when he was good (JSATEEN TITANSINFINITE CRISIS) he was good. So far, this is a return to form.

TERRIFICS #14

The Terrifics face off against Java’s Dr Dread and the Dreadfuls, overcoming the multiversal bad guys and finally bonding as a team through choice rather than circumstance.

This is the end of Jeff Lemire’s run on the series and it’s been great fun; this has consistently been one of my favourite titles as it doesn’t take itself too seriously, has some great dialogue, and remembers (almost alone amongst the DC titles) that they’re part of a multiverse. Sad to see Lemire go, but I hope the new team continue the same feel.

Sunday Reviews

No reviews last week as Mrs Earth-Prime and I were away. This week, though . . .

BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM #8

Lucy Weber starts to unravel the mystery of what’s happened t Spiral City’s heroes . . . again. This time she has the help of Talky-Walky who seems aware of the reality shift, unlike Lucy.

A little bit of a placeholder issue in an otherwise excellent series.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS #3

The Freedom Fighters strike back against the Nazi regime, hijacking their electronic systems and broadcasting God Bless America by Irving Berlin across the country in an attempt to raise the dormant Uncle Sam. Meanwhile the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler II, assigns his son – the imaginatively named Adolf Hitler III – to bring down the Fighters.

Another cracking issue with a ton of action plus hints into the pasts/origins of the heroes without disrupting the story.

JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY #6

Darkseid continues his quest to build something called Sepulkore that will stem the tide of darkness released by the collapse of the Source Wall, but something seems to have stopped him with some finality. Elsewhere, the League arrive on Tamaran only to find Starfire’s sister Blackfire waiting and holding her to account for their planet’s devastation.

New writer Dan Abnett picks up the threads of the original story and brings in his own stuff; it’s a little better that previous issues and, having enjoyed his work on AQUAMAN, I’m curious as to where Abnett’s going.

SHAZAM! #3

In the Funlands, Billy and the family are hosted by King Kid who tells them his origin and wants to join the family, though Mary is rightly suspicious. When it’s revealed she’s nearly 18, King Kid flips and captures her – only kids are allowed in the Funlands, apparently – and this triggers the rest of the family into becoming their adult, heroic forms which means they all get either captured or thrown out into the various other Magic Lands.

Another fun issue that moves the story along. I’m guessing, based on his origin, King Kid will be revealed to be an adult after all this time and so defeated by his own rules.

THE TERRIFICS #13

Mr Terrific is rescued from the Dreadfuls by Mrs Terrific of Earth-23 who looks just like his late wife and he, of course, looks just like her late husband. The other Terrifics – joined by Offspring and Tesla Strong – track them down in time to stop the Dreadfuls’ final attack.

I’m still liking this series so much, partly because it seems to be the only one in the DCU that remembers there’s a multiverse out there – we get glimpses of six other Earths in the last few pages alone. Pick up the collections if you haven’t already.