Shazam #1

Written by, Geoff Johns
Art by, Dale Eaglesham
Colors by, Mike Atiyeh
Letters by, Rob Leigh

The issue begins with a quick recap of the Shazam and Billy Batson origin story. The Rock of Eternity was overseen by seven wizards called The Council of Eternity. However, The Seven Sins broke free and killed all but one of the wizards who then sealed off The Rock of Eternity thus cutting off contact to magic. However, before he died the last remaining wizard passed his magic to a young foster child, Billy Batson, who he found worthy. But, Billy did not have a mentor to show him the true purpose of The Rock of Eternity and The Seven Thrones. The opening monologue reframes the story: “Family is the true power of Shazam and its true weakness”.

The main story begins, Billy and Freddy witness an attempted robbery at a local museum. They are foster siblings in the home of Rosa and Victor, their foster parents. Billy transforms into Shazam, and he quickly disposes of two of the criminals before he is joined by 5 more Shazam-powered characters who make quick work of the rest. Later, at their foster home, the siblings sit around the table as Rosa and Victor prepare a special meal for Billy celebrating his one-year anniversary in their home. Afterward, the siblings go upstairs and then together walk through a secret closet-way entrance into the Shazam headquarters which is connected to lots of other rooms. While they talk, Pedro, one of the younger siblings, locates a passageway to a train station and then he flips a lever igniting the power before Billy can tell him to stop.

While there are several interesting plot points, the most interesting for me is the wizard’s statement that Billy, a foster child who bounced from home to home, putting up emotional walls and feeling abandoned, is worthy. Within these life experiences, Billy is given access to magic. Billy isn’t alone in his use of magic. I was not aware that his foster siblings all had Shazam powers along with him. How did they get these powers? How will the team work together as a team? The author introduces a budding competition for leadership at the top of the Shazam-team between Billy and his oldest foster sister, which could be explored in future issues. I am very interested in how these foster children, with histories of abandonment, will work together to form a unified team. There are lots of wonderful stories within this plot point.

Rosa and Victor are re-introduced as Billy’s foster parents, and we are informed that he has lived in their home for one year. This is a magical time for foster children and their foster parents. In many states, adoption can be pursued after a child is both legally free and has lived in the home for a set period of time – long enough to start building significant attachment. Also, around this time the family and child will start to come into contact with bigger emotional issues that are triggered by anniversaries of previous significant events, holidays, and a growing question around “do I belong”. Never mind the final panel picturing a man claiming to be Billy’s father arriving at the home! There are a number of wonderful stories to be told around this plot point, as well.

Finally, Pedro pulls a power switch while the Shazam-family is in a train-station connected to their headquarters. The assumption I’m making is that they will travel in this train to different places and experience countless adventures along the way. I am very interested to see how Johns utilizes this plot point to expand on the Shazam mythos and flush out these wonderful characters.

Overall = 10/10

Final Impressions

This is a powerful and incredibly interesting start to this wonderful character. The power comes through the intimate portrayal of Billy Batson, how he obtained his powers, and how he gained a family. Johns is in his element as he lays the groundwork for numerous story-threads to be expanded on in upcoming issues. I highly recommend purchasing this book and getting onboard before the train gets too far down the track.

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Tom Zimm
I am a licensed clinical social worker and trauma therapist that works with children. I've been interested in comic book heroes since I was a young child. However, it's been in the last 3-4 years that I've been making the weekly trip to the local comic book store to redeem my pull list. DC's Rebirth really won me over, especially Geoff Johns' 80-page book. My favorite properties include The Flash and The Incredible Hulk. My criteria for a good comic book include taking stupid and fun seriously while remaining self-aware.