Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Dale Eaglesham
Colors by: Mike Atiyeh
Letters by: Rob LeighRelease
Date: March 27th, 2019
I’m writing this review after seeing the new Shazam movie, so I’ll try to keep my feelings and focus on this particular issue. It is hard though! This book could not have come at a better time. It’s obvious that it was timed with the release of the upcoming Shazam! movie. Shazam has always been a character that resonated with me growing up. He was never my outright favorite, but I had a connection with him nonetheless. A young boy who would say a magic word and gain incredible superpowers. And not just superpowers, but the body and mental maturity of an adult while still having that mind of a child. Then he goes to share that power with his family and close friends! What kid can’t relate to that?! Even as an adult, I still connect with the character because I am a kid at heart. I still want to whisper the magic word, have the lightning bolt hit me, and give me the Wizard’s powers.
So this current story continues the new direction of the Shazam Family.
The group has been scattered throughout the Magiclands and Billy has been taken captive by King Kid. Issue 3 opens with a recognizable furry face – Mr. Tawky Tawny! For those that are not familiar with him, Tawky Tawny is a long time friend of the Shazam Family from their days on Earth-S before the Crisis. While he abhors violence, he is not averse to getting his paws dirty when he needs to. We clearly see that when the issue opens and Tawny is getting ready for his day. As he walks through the city, readers will learn that these Wildlands have not seen a human in quite some time. To the extent that they consider humans to be extinct. All that is about to change as Freddy and Darla have been transported from the Funlands to the Wildlands and are soon captured by the police. Plus, to make matters worse, the magic word doesn’t work!
Back in the Funlands, King Kid’s Lord of the Flies schtick continues as he has captured Billy and as we learn Mary as well. Since the magic word ages children who use it, Kid believes that the Shazam Family are adults that are trying to disguise themselves as children to infiltrate his kingdom. He decides to put both Billy and Mary to work in the machine catacombs of the Funlands – where every child goes when they turn 18. While those two face a future of enslavement, Eugene and Pedro find themselves stuck in the Gamelands and facing interrogation. They quickly escape the land’s authorities before learning that in order to leave the Gamelands, they’ll have a face an opponent ominously called…the Gamesmaster.
I’d have to say the last two pages of this issue are my favorite. This character has been seen sporadically since Forever Evil. The Wizard’s former champion returns – Teth-Adam. Khem-Adam. Black Adam. His appearance now raises so many questions. Why did the Wizard close the separate realms of the Magiclands from each other? What are the Monsterlands? Is this the realm where Mr. Mind is from? Why has Black Adam returned now? Is he the seventh member of the Shazam Family?
Now…the art. Oh, the art. What can I say about Eaglesham’s work? It is absolutely stupendous! I was introduced to him with the Justice Society of America and have followed him since then. There is no other artist save for Jerry Ordway who fits perfectly with the world of Shazam. Eaglesham’s skill to go from area to area in the Magiclands and bring unique elements to life can’t be understated. I could look at the minute details in the Funlands’ panels and still see something new each time. The pages in the Gamelands seem like they are pulled directly from Tron. The facial expressions of every character – from animal to human – convey vivid amounts of emotion: fear, wonder, joy, anger. Look at the detail of Tawky Tawny with his teeth, fur, and nose! Additionally, I love the work that both Eaglesham and Atiyeh do on the little things, such as each members’ lightning bolt and how they look to be always moving and resonating with power. It’s so different and fresh from what I grew up with during Ordway’s run.
Johns and Eaglesham pay homage to the stories that have come before them while taking the characters in a new direction. If you’re not reading Shazam…you need to. NOW! This book is fabulous and gives me that same sense of joy and wonder that I had when I saw the recent movie. The combination of this series with the new movie takes the characters to new heights. Join me…and say the magic word.