REVIEW: ‘Shazam’, Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Shazam #1 - But Why Tho

Shazam #1 is published by DC Comics. The writer is Tim Sheridan and the art is by Clayton Henry. Marcelo Maiolo is the colourist and the letters are by Rob Leigh. This book springs out of the pages of Teen Titans Academy. Billy Batson is one of the most experienced and powerful people at the academy. But he is not the most reliable. His powers are shaky, unable to transform into Shazam on command like he used to. This leads to a crisis in confidence as he struggles to discover who he is. With tragic circumstances impacting his life, Billy is torn between his place in the academy and those he loves. And when Doctor Fate visits it seems like the course for his faulty powers may present a danger to the whole cosmos.

The setup of this series is fantastic. The first issue is packed with story. The comic sets up the primary problem within a few pages; Billy’s powers aren’t working properly. This appears to be the main conflict that Batson will face over the course of this series. But there are multiple plot threads that are efficiently created that shows how much content will be provided. These threads are structured superbly, laid out one after another without over encumbering the reader. There is a pleasant balance between action and world-building, with this comic linking to not just Teen Titans Academy, but to some much bigger as well. 

Sheridan’s exploration of Batson is fantastic as it feels like the protagonist is trying to explore himself. With his ability not working properly, the kid is struggling to figure out who he is. A common theme within both young adult comics and Shazam comics are growing up. Grappling with that in regards to not only his superhuman powers, but his normal life too, makes him very relatable to younger readers.

One thing that is made clear inside the first page of Shazam #1 is just how large the cast will be. There is an abundance of awesome guest appearances. This issue flourishes from Teen Titans Academy but features many of the team and students too. The dialogue and relationships between Billy and the older Titans are beautiful to read. Nightwing is an older male presence in his life, there to talk to him about his powers and growing up in general. Raven is a mystical guide, able to tap into the magical core of Billy’s power source. And Starfire is a compassionate but firm headteacher who reminds Billy of his real age. Not just Titans show their faces in this issue, as both young Superman and Doctor Fate have cameos as well. It will be very interesting to see if this large cast as the series progresses, or if they were merely used as a launchpad for this premier issue.

The art is the perfect choice for this book and is magnificent as well. Henry depicts Billy as a teenager; so he looks much older than the other heroes. The difference in their ages is evident, making the pep talks by the likes of Starfire and Nightwing feel realistic. As Shazam, his proportions are exaggerated and his power is vast, which is displayed awesomely in the cold open. There are many other heroes present in this issue, as previously mentioned, but all of their costumes are superb and rife with intricate details. The facial expressions are captured with humour, often drawing a smile from the reader.

The colours, like the art, match the tone of the book. There is often a light nature to Shazam comics, and the bright and beautiful tones are stunning to see. The red of Shazam’s costume is incredibly rich and powerful. Maiolo’s understanding of lighting comes across on every page, but especially in scenes where the characters are outside. All of the light has a natural look to it, but this means that the different shades and shadows have to be flawless to maintain that style, which Maiolo succeeds in achieves that.

The lettering is very good at giving characters a voice. There is a scene in which all of the Titans are discussing something. Leigh gives a different colour to the word balloons to identify who is talking. But instead of making the word balloons a particular colour, a ring with that characters particular shade frames the bubble. This helps denote who is saying what without filling a panel with balloons that may have been difficult to read.

Shazam #1 is a brilliant start. The tempo and tone of the book are revealed very quickly, with an exciting story presenting itself with multiple plot threads. But this isn’t just a book full of superheroes and cosmos-threatening crises, as it possesses a heart as well. With this art team creating amazing pages and the unpredictability at which heroes will appear next, this series is sure to be a universe of fun.

Shazam #1 is available where comics are sold.

 


Shazam #1
5

TL;DR

Shazam #1 is a brilliant start. The tempo and tone of the book are revealed very quickly, with an exciting story presenting itself with multiple plot threads. But this isn’t just a book full of superheroes and cosmos-threatening crises, as it possesses a heart as well. With this art team creating amazing pages and the unpredictability at which heroes will appear next, this series is sure to be a universe of fun.