REVIEW: ‘Shazam,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Shazam #2 - But Why Tho

Shazam #2 is published by DC Comics. Written by Tim Sheridan and the artist is Clayton Henry. The colours are by Marcel Maiolo and Rob Leigh is the letterer.

Billy Batson is in a confusing time of his life. He’s one of the most powerful and experienced students at the Titans Academy, but his connection to Shazam is faltering. His magic word only works half the time and not for as long. Overhearing a meeting between Doctor Fate and the Titans, he discovers that the Rock of Eternity is missing. Dane, a magic-user that also attends the academy, informs Billy that he knows where the Rock is, leading both of the teenagers traveling to the Underrealm.

In this issue, the boys find themselves in Hell. Surrounded by burning pits and demons, they are surprised to see a casino full of temptation. Dane loses himself in the games whilst Billy continues his search for information about the Rock. He meets Amoreena, a pretty and friendly demon. She gives him a name; Sulibak.

The plot comes as a surprise as it is may not be what fans were expecting of the Shazam series. That is not to say it’s a negative, just unpredicted. Once the reader settles in then the story begins to excite. The quest is clear and the narrative is linear and easy to follow. If you are looking for fights from the word go then that isn’t present here. Instead, there is important world-building and exploring, crucial in this unfamiliar landscape. There is a real sense of adventure in this comic and the action is still there. It builds up to an exhilarating fight scene and ends with a powerful cliffhanger. Again, this is an issue that feels full of content.

Billy was well-written by Sheridan in the first issue of this series, but Shazam #2 allows for much more focus on him. The vast amount of guest stars and cameos in the opening chapter was fun but may have overshadowed Billy if it had continued. And it is him specifically, as his transformation is still broken. This unreliability in his access to his powers sets up constant jeopardy and leads to superb surprises. 

Elsewhere, Dane works wonders as a co-star. He and the protagonist are a great double-act, saving each other and getting one another into trouble in equal amounts. Amoreena is a brilliant feature and her interactions with Billy are amazing. The dialogue is free-flowing and always funny, leading to frequent smiles from the reader.

The art is phenomenal. The design of the Underrealm is fantastic as a world of temptation and sin is revealed. All of the suits and dresses are terrific, Henry giving deep consideration to each item of clothing. This individuality goes to the residents of this realm too. Every demon is unique in its size and design. Some have horns, some have wings, some have extra eyes. Henry provides some incredibly expressive facial expressions, in particular for Billy. His awe at exploring this new world is heartwarming, as is his nervousness when encountering Amoreena for the first time. There are thick line weights on the outlines of objects, leading to things looking much bigger and more muscular. 

The colours are magnificent and well-managed. It may have been very difficult in a landscaped filled with yellow and orange to make Billy stand out in his typical red costume. But Maiolo grants him a purple suit that is both snazzy and eye-catching. Another thing the colourist achieves is a realistic neon effect inside the casino that gives the building its own atmosphere.

The lettering is effective and easy to read. It should be mentioned that all of the demons have a custom word balloon, speaking with a red text on a yellow background. The font used for these balloons is dynamic without legibility being sacrificed.

Shazam #2 is a brilliant second issue. One of the hardest chapters of a comic series to write the adventure that we are taken on keeps the engagement high. The characters all shine in this issue, perhaps even more so than they did in Shazam #1. The change of location implies that these superb characters and dialogue will keep the series exciting no matter what the setting is. Even figures that seem to only exist for one story are full of life and energy. 

Shazam #2 is available where comics are sold.

Shazam #2
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TL;DR

Shazam #2 is a brilliant second issue. One of the hardest chapters of a comic series to write the adventure that we are taken on keeps the engagement high. The characters all shine in this issue, perhaps even more so than they did in Shazam #1. The change of location implies that these superb characters and dialogue will keep the series exciting no matter what the setting is. Even figures that seem to only exist for one story are full of life and energy.