Justice League: Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson, Nick J. Napolitano, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Rod Reis
Questions: Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Hi-Fi, Nick J. Napolitano
This is the continuation of Billy Batson’s story. We last left off with him being transported on the subway, much like the others did in the very first backup story of Shazam! way back when, to the place with the Council of Eternity (which I have been calling the Council of Wizards).
Billy meets the old wizard, who’s never actually named in this origin (whereas, preboot, he was called Shazam), and is tested with magic to see if he’s pure good. Well…if the wizard had just been reading this comic book, he would’ve seen that Billy’s not. At all. Sure, he has his moments, but he’s kind of a nasty person.
Oh, but wait, these “moments” he has will be good enough, Mr. Wizard? You’re calling them “embers” of good? That’s cool. So, yes, because Billy has the embers of good in his heart, he is worthy to carry the amazing power of Shazam!
I actually really liked that moment where Billy was explaining why there are no pure good people to the wizard. We finally saw Billy exposed, the scared little boy who grew up shuffled around in the system. The kid who had to adopt his mannerisms in order to keep from being eaten alive by the people of the world. Very well done.
True to character, even after he gains his magical powers (spear and magic helmet?), Billy’s a douche and uses them for somewhat personal gain. Yes, he tries to do right, but he’s so extremely new at this that it’s pretty pathetic. I think Freddie’s a bad influence, keeping Billy from understanding his true role. I have to admit, right now, that I’m not sure how on-board I am with a Shazam who has a steep learning curve when it comes to being a good guy, and not a self-serving kid.
Perhaps that’s the romantic in me, though. It’s improbable to think that, just because Billy’s “older” and has powers, he would suddenly become the most morally upright citizen the world’s ever seen. So I like the realism in that Shazam is VERY much just a larger, empowered version of the Billy we saw so far. It’s definitely a far cry from the Billy and Captain Marvel we knew from “World Without Grown-Ups!”
Gary Frank’s art makes a triumphant return this ish, and it’s nice to see his work completely fill an issue, instead of taking the backup story only. Though, honestly, seeing the full Shazam costume revealed, I don’t like it. This was the costume those weird “armor lines” was most unkind to. And the honking belt makes him look fat. Not that that’s bad, hell, I’m not the skinniest person in the world, but it’s just a weird look on that reveal page, is all.
The backup story here features Pandora, as she hopes to reopen the box and stuff all the evil she unleashed back inside. Gosh, wouldn’t that be great if we could undo our mistakes like that? Poor, naive Pandora. Turns out, though, the wizard comes to her and apologizes for their brash judging decision way back with the others of the Trinity of Sin. He gives her a cryptic explanation of what else the box can do for the world (how very Geoff Johns of him), and then we get another peek into the Trinity of Sin….
…So that’s Pandora and Phantom Stranger re-introduced. Remember the third guy? The one who had his face all melted together like he were being interrogated by the Agents in The Matrix? Well he’s popped back up, and is helping people…while leaving notes behind bearing a single question mark. Your very first thought might be “zomg, the Riddler?!” Pfft, no children. The kidnapper is hung on a streetlight to look like a question mark, and the steam rising around the cloaked figure in the alley looks oddly like a question mark. It’s as if questions surround this mystery person. Could it be…The Question?
Justice League #0, the verdict: Yes. Yes, it can be the Question. This issue has me all excited for things to come, and that makes me happy. I’m glad we finally get to move forward with Billy’s story as Shazam, and we get to see that side of him grow. The other stuff was starting to get monotonous. Pandora’s back, too, and I’m curious as to what’s going on there, but…honestly…it’s always the same whenever she shows up. No real answers provided at all. But it’s the surprise appearance by Question that has my brows raised most high. I can’t wait to see this character reintroduced into the mainstream DCnU, just like I’m excited for the upcoming Phantom Stranger title. Great art, by the way, by Van Sciver in that backup story. Loved it.
(Photo Source: DC Comics)