REVIEW: ‘Shazam!,’ Issue #4

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Shazam! #4

Shazam #4 is published by DC Comics, written by Tim Sheridan, with art by Clayton Henry. The colourist is Marcelo Maiolo and the letters are by Rob Leigh.

Shazam has been searching for the Rock of Eternity, looking for answers as to why his powers have not been working correctly. He and his friend Dane leave the Teen Titans Academy and enter the Underrealm. They had an adventure in the casinos in hell, getting themselves in trouble. Neron approached them and tried to trick the boys into taking him into the rock. Raven arrives just in time to rescue her students. Billy confronts Raven before Dane collapses, leaving Shazam to enter the Rock of Eternity alone. Inside he finds Black Adam, but not the one he knows.

In this issue, Billy gets to know this youthful-looking version of Teth-Adam. Adam shows him the end of a universe and the fate of the great Wizard who used to be the custodian of the Rock. There are also revelations about Dane and several others that Shazam calls friends. History is remembered, and the future is prophesied. Shazam may have to say goodbye to those he holds dear. And the Rock may still hold something dangerous within it.

The plot of this final chapter contains a lot of information. The exposition is heavy within Shazam #4, detailing events that are yet to come. Many of the resounding questions are answered within these pages, for example, Shazam’s powers fluctuating. But there are a lot of details given that seem to be essential for future stories. Whether they will be in Teen Titans Academy, which this series spun out of, or for the DC Universe as a whole, remains to be seen. There is grandiosity and excitement to the mission briefing, but the sheer scale of the exposition may turn some readers away. There are also some plot lines and characters that have appeared in this four-part series that would have benefited from revisiting, perhaps even in an epilogue.

The second half of the issue presents much more of the current story. There is a thrilling chase inside the Rock of Eternity, with a huge and terrifying monster. There is beautiful dialogue and a moment that combines horror, drama, and a moment of poignant sadness. The events in this series will have ramifications throughout the DC Universe.

There are many brilliant characters inside this series, but it would be lying to say any of them have been as engaging as the protagonist himself. Sheridan places Billy as an integral part of the very foundations of this universe, giving him importance alongside the pantheon of other heroes. His power is regained within parts of this issue, and that feeling of him brimming with power brings a grin to both his face and those of the readers. But there is also a stunning exploration into the Billy Batson part of his life. The human story is gorgeous as a young, prideful teenager is forced to let go of some of that pride. Something that the writer has achieved well in this series is telling a plot at a large and small scale. A universe is at stake, but so is a young boy’s life.

The other interesting addition to this comic is this young Black Adam. What his future holds in this world, considering it has an Adam of its own, will be fascinating to see.

The art is superb. The difference in scale also equates to the physicality of the characters. Henry is mindful that Shazam and Black Adam are superhuman, and their stature reflects that. But the size is changed when Billy is the focal part of the panel. This is a great decision as it leads to Shazam’s presence being even more awe-inspiring. The comic’s villain is incredible, designed as a monstrous being who dwarves those it wants as its victims. The infinite possibilities of the Rock of Eternity leads to some interesting locations, although it may have been nice to see even more diversity and details. There has been a lot of build-up to this place, so the majesty of it should match it.

The colours are vibrant and bright in Shazam #4, which doesn’t necessarily match the tone at all points. This type of palette is synonymous with the character, but some locations feature intense white light. When the situation switches and the darkness pours into the page, the contrast is rattling for the reader.

For much of the issue, the lettering is easy to follow, and the layout is efficient. However, there is a double-page spread full of exposition early in the comic. Due to the way the art is presented, unveiled in columns, the word balloons follow it. There is an abundance of dialogue in one place, and with custom font for one of the characters, it can be a daunting sight. 

Shazam#4 is a powerful finale. The most notable feeling regarding this issue is that it does not seem like the end of a series. Instead, it seems to bridge missing gaps in the story before starting another one. With the way that the last scene leaves the characters, a whole new adventure seems underway. Perhaps this was a great way of expanding Billy’s storyline within Teen Titans Academy before returning him to the main series. 

Shazam #4 is available where comics are sold.


Shazam! #4
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TL;DR

Shazam#4 is a powerful finale. The most notable feeling regarding this issue is that it does not seem like the end of a series. Instead, it seems to bridge missing gaps in the story before starting another one. With the way that the last scene leaves the characters, a whole new adventure seems underway. Perhaps this was a great way of expanding Billy’s storyline within Teen Titans Academy before returning him to the main series.