Justice League is undoubtedly the flagship comic book title for DC Comics.
Sure, there’s the big guns of the monthly Batman and Action Comics – and, I suppose, the publishing company’s namesake title, Detective Comics, but in the post New 52 world (two years on and still ticking away), Justice League is where all the company-spanning, world-shattering storylines originate from.
The long awaited “Trinity War” tale just wrapped up last month, which directly lead into the current Forever Evil storyline, mini-series, and September’s plethora of under-allocated 3-D covers. Did you get yours, by the way?
Still, amongst all the large headlines and senses-shattering cover page verbiage, simply running as a back-up feature in the pages of the monthly Justice League, it was the story of Shazam! that was the real draw for the flagship title.
Written by: Geoff Johns
Illustrated by: Gary Frank
Published by: DC Comics
Once upon a time, the character was better known as Captain Marvel. Yep. The same name given to a character owned by Marvel Comics. No, I don’t really know where the rights to those two words lie right now, but Marvel actually is publishing a monthly title called Captain Marvel.
Created in 1939, the character was also affectionately (or not so affectionately, depending upon your point of view), called “The Big Red Cheese” – a name given to him by his arch villain, Dr. Sivana. Why? Well, kinda for obvious reasons: Captain Marvel, Shazam!, was, at his essence, a boy-man. Literally. He was a boy, Billy Batson, with the powers of various mythological characters bestowed upon him including: the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury. Put the first letter of those names together and you get “Shazam!” the magic word that Billy yells to transform his teenage self into the magical superhero akin to Superman.
As a back-up feature in the monthly Justice League series, acclaimed writer Geoff Johns and fan-favourite artist Gary Frank, retold the Shazam! origin story, updating it for a new era. Here, Billy Batson is an unsettled fifteen year old, bouncing from foster home to foster home. In a mix of Mesopotamian and Greek history and mythology, and merged with modern family dynamics and superhero storytelling, Billy is granted the powers that turn him into Captain Marvel. Of course, the ancient enemy, Black Adam is also unleashed and the storylines that could easily continue within a full monthly series are regularly sown. (Look for that series in the coming months.)
Now, Shazam! Volume 1 is a 192-page hardcover collection of the various Justice League back-up stories/chapters. It was a lot of fun to read the first time around and should prove to be even more so now that it’s all compiled in one full take.
Make lightning strike while you run to your local comic book shop and pick up Shazam! Volume 1. Whether you’re a teenager or an adult reader of superheroics in comic book form, it’ll be sure to take you on a wild, magical ride!
Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!