When DC Comics did their massive overhaul with the New 52 all their characters got a facelift, but not all got their own series. While the Justice League relaunch received a lot of praise it wasn’t the only DC characters getting the update. Throughout issues #7-11, 0, 14-16 and 18-21 everyone’s favorite Mighty Mortal Shazam was getting the update treatment through series of back up stories. Now this story arc is being collected for the first time in Shazam! Volume 1 taking the character back to his beginnings.
Shazam! Volume 1 follows Billy Batson, a young orphan drawn to the Rock of Eternity, where he is imbued with powers beyond those of any mortal man! But can he learn how to handle those powers in time to defeat the villainous Black Adam? While Shazam was always a popular character, this new version takes the character in a darker direction. Make no mistake it’s the same ideals of the character, but Geoff Johns and Gary Frank give it the overhaul it needed. What makes this story work so great is they take the character on a more realistic journey having Shazam act like a kid when he first changes and the consequences that come with it. The story spends a good amount of time with Billy and his trials as an orphan which gives him more depth than just being a superhero. On the flip side they take time to tell the origins of both Black Adam and Dr. Sivana making a triple threat origin story without ever feeling like they are shoving too much in at once. Johns has crafted an excellent story for all of these characters and brings them all to a head brilliantly even working in some of the other Marvel family that fans have come to love. Frank’s art gives it both a dark and detailed look that brings it all together with the realism it needed while still delivering a bad ass superhero tale. The new character designs of both Shazam and Black Adam are excellent and manage to keep the look and feel of the original while creating some different and cool.
Shazam has finally stepped out of that classic old school vibe and become a current bad ass character again. This series sets the tone of what could be a great new series that fans are sure to love. Old school fans will be a bit harder sells, but give it a shot and embrace the new. In addition to the collected stories this beautiful hardcover also includes a variant cover gallery and numerous character designs by Gary Frank.
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