With the new “Shazam” movie with Zachary Levi in post production, this story (or retelling as it were) comes at a very specific time. Now The Rock has always been floated as the idea of Black Adam as well. Those stories blend into the fabric of “Shazam Vol. 1 (The New 52)” [Geoff Johns/DC/192pgs] with the texture of Billy Brayson who inherits the mantle of Shazam. Granted this might just be another iteration of the story but with Johns having been the head of DC’s film division up until recently and the fact that the convenience store scene looking pretty close in the trailer to some of the art here, there might be some comparisons. Returning to brass tacks, the essence of the story is about lost family and finding those that connect. Billy is a foster child who never wants to depend on anyone but doesn’t want to trust in anyone because he knows that he will be let down. However, despite his immaturity there is a texture of wanting to be a protector. So when a wizard summons him (perhaps by mistake) but also when Black Adam is set loose, a domino effect of actions goes into motion. Billy reacts as most kids would but it is the interaction of his new foster family (specifically the kids) that makes it work. The conclusion when it all comes together has the feeling of a “Goonies” or “Explorers” visually and tonally if it was done right. But these transformations as well as the essence of the Seven Sins have a big build up but not the payoff they should have. The resolution is clean but slightly muddled in what it could have been. Black Adam’s perceptions are what does him in but there are those looking for magic who are still rising against Shazam. The fun of the art is reflected in the kids and especially Billy/Shazam’s disbelief at the fact that he is strong, adult and a superhero. Sometimes it only takes that confidence to find the balance.
By Tim Wassberg