REVIEW: ‘Shazam!,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Shazam! #3

Shazam #3 is published by DC Comics. Written by Tim Sheridan with art by Clayton Henry. The color artist is Marcelo Maiolo, and the letters are from Rob Leigh. This is the penultimate issue.

Shazam’s connection to the Rock of Eternity and his powers is faulty. Spinning out of the pages of Teen Titans Academy, Billy Batson found himself unsure of himself and his abilities. The Rock of Eternity’s disappearance has also led to Freddy being left with days to live. Billy and his friend Dane travel to the Underrealm, finding themselves in the Hellish version of Las Vegas. The Rock of Eternity is down here, but first, they angered the father of a friendly demoness. By the last page, Dane had revealed his true power and true self as the son of the Devil himself.

In this issue, Dane and Billy make a retreat from the attacking demons. They find themselves in a calmer area, with no further idea of where they are, or the rock is.  Billy’s connection to Shazam is still broken, though he is stuck in his elder form. But an old enemy, Neron, appears with a proposition to help lead the young boys out of the Labyrinth they are in. But he is not trusted, and some of Billy’s friends are not happy that he disappeared.

The plot of the series continues to be superb. The pace of Shazam #3 is much slower than the first two, which may be needed for the reader to catch up with all of the revelations. But that doesn’t mean that the comic lacks content, as there is a huge amount of development. The action is understated and powerful within small bursts. There is an important mystery regarding the Rock of Eternity that may have ramifications for Shazam and a large area of the DC Universe. 

The characters and the dialogue within this comic are excellent. Each issue has had a different selection of characters for Billy to interact with. There is less in Shazam #3, but Neron provides a different atmosphere. Sheridan’s villainous dialogue is rife with sarcasm and delightful wit. Neron pontificates with the classic arrogance that comes from a demonic character. Shazam may be the most powerful being in any realm he is in, and he is stuck in his older body. The exploration of the theme of growing up is poignant and beautifully written. Inside this issue, Billy shows excellent maturity, which he has developed even within the three issues of the series. He has always had to grow up fast, which may have led to skipped steps, but the responsibility on his shoulders echoes that of the larger hero. 

As for Dane, it falls to him to be the powerhouse of the duo. With Billy’s powers being unreliable, it is the wizardry of the Devil’s child that is crucial to keeping them alive. It is important to note that there is as much development from Dane as there is from Shazam. Both have a conversation that details this growth at the same time. The discussion they have is expertly crafted, with their anxieties unveiled within the same scene. The relationship and banter between the two young heroes are brilliant. It is equally heartfelt as it is humorous.

The art is incredible. Henry’s designs of the characters are fantastic, matching the genre. For the older heroes, there are exaggerated proportions. Shazam and Neron are huge, hulking beings, the pinnacle of how a human might be able to reach and more. This portrays their size and power well. For the young characters like Dane, Henry draws them smaller, though still athletic. Dane has a visually dynamic ability set, able to cast spells and shapeshift, resulting in countless possibilities.

If there is a negative to the art, this new location is lacking in interest. Whether it be a grassy meadow or a rocky region, there are no landmarks that make it stand out. The same could be attributed to the enemies they face, which are mere skeletons.

The colors are excellent. The use of texture within the tones that Maiolo uses is brilliant. The metallic parts of Neron’s armor gleam in the light, as does the gold on Shazam’s costume. But where the colors truly shine is regarding Dane. He glows a vibrant mix of red and yellow that spreads onto everything around him. The palette used is so bright and powerful that it may lead the reader to squint.

The letters have moments where they struggle. Neron’s word balloons have fluctuating line weights and are both bold and italicized. Similarly, the red background in Dane’s speeches makes both difficult to read on occasion.

Shazam #3 is a powerful, youthful adventure. It may not be brimming with action, but the journey that the characters go through is extraordinary. Billy stands up for himself against villains and heroes in this issue, and it is excellent to see his power even when his magic lightning isn’t working. But as a partner in this mission, Dane has been just as excellent. He isn’t as well known as the red and gold hero, but the capabilities of his powers and heritage make him a fascinating inclusion.

Shazam #3 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Shazam! #3
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TL;DR

Shazam! #3 is a powerful, youthful adventure. It may not be brimming with action, but the journey that the characters go through is extraordinary. Billy stands up for himself against villains and heroes in this issue, and it is excellent to see his power even when his magic lightning isn’t working. But as a partner in this mission, Dane has been just as excellent. He isn’t as well known as the red and gold hero, but the capabilities of his powers and heritage make him a fascinating inclusion.