uncas007's Shazam! #1 - Volume 1 review

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Handle with care lest the dullness rub off on you

I don't have much experience with the earlier versions of Shazam, but I don't imagine his story was quite so tedious as this. Billy Batson's story is so mind-numbing, we can't help but agree with him when he says he never wants to go back to being a kid again. I can't imagine how painful it must have been to read this in small doses as supporting stories to JLA issues. Like many New 52 revisions, clever ideas are squandered in mediocre writing, painfully obvious plotting, super-duper eye-rolling "twists," and other sorts of bewildering tidbits. As juvenile as the writing generally is, it becomes even more wretched when Johns tries to use contemporary teenage slang. I don't spend too much time with worldly teenagers, but surely neither they nor their compeers speak like that in their spare time.

The story is better than the writing, but the great victory of Shazam over Black Adam hits all the typical Geoff Johns notes we have come to expect, and while I don't mean that as antagonistically as it undoubtedly sounds, it's hard to find any praise for such a resolution. Populating the world with a kowtowing "special" school with teachers and administrators who bend over backward for abusive rich bully families is rather a weak and tired device. At least the police aren't so unctuous. With "Shazam" being the only word necessary for all the spells, it seems strange why some spells would work and some wouldn't, or why that's the magic word for the spells, since he has to say it to be and not to be Shazam as well. Perhaps it's the right inflection. Turning the rest of the ragtag group of misfits into demi-gods had great potential, but it, too, becomes a temporary plot band-aid that goes nowhere much faster than the pseudo-plot. If I was pressed to find something interesting in this series, the continuity with the 7 Deadly Sins at least provides a bit of "realism" to the New 52 Universe, but considering how poorly that ended up with the Trinity War, it's hard to be too enthusiastic about it now. This could have been so much more.

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