Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Review: Shazam! #13

With this issue, we are back to our regularly scheduled (?) arc, after last issue's fill-in. It begins with the Family looking over Black Adam's unconscious body, as Daddy Shazam, who is under the control of Mr. Mind, leads the Monster Society to take over the Magiclands. Capt. Shazam starts fighting Daddy Shazam, ordering Mr. Mind to leave his body, while the rest of the Family take on the Monster Society.  Capt. Shazam tries to reason with Daddy Shazam, but Mr. Mind tells him how he took control of C.C. Batson's body, revealing that C.C. has never given Billy a second thought in his life. Mr Mind then gives his demands: he wants to be the most most powerful magical being in all the realms.  Capt. Shazam unsuccessfully tries to take the power away from Daddy Shazam.  Mr. Tawny attempts to capture Sivana, but Daddy Shazam turns him into a kitten.  With the foster parents in Daddy Shazam's grip, Sivana conjures up the Book of Champions, and Daddy Shazam/Mr. Mind orders Capt. Shazam to read one of the spells, or else the foster parents will die.  Capt. Shazam does and the realms are merged together into a single earth.  Capt. Shazam then reads a spell that shrinks him, and he enters Daddy Shazam's ear to fight Mr. Mind one-on-one. To be continued.

Geoff Johns' script is basic.  One long fight scene with lots of introspective monologues between punches. Dale Eaglesham handles the art solo, and it's a bit better than his previous efforts. This issue earns a C+.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Benjamin Keough, R.I.P

The Presley family has confirmed that Elvis' grandson, Benjamin Keough, died on July 12, 2020 at the age of 27.  Long time readers of this blog may know in the early years of the Shazam movie development, Ben was my pick to play Freddy Freeman/Captain Marvel Jr.

Condolences to the Presley family.

Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord,
Let perpetual light shine upon him,
May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Michael Keaton's Batman Returns for Real

It sounds too amazing to be true, but apparently reports are that Michael Keaton will return as The Batman in the DC movie multiverse. The role will be in the upcoming Ezra Miller movie The Flash which will incorporate a variation on the "Flashpoint" story line that has historical and multi-universe consequences that will result in Keaton's Batman becoming the official version of the DCEU, displacing Ben Affleck.  Reports are Keaton will not be taking over the Snyder/Affleck Batman, but will be playing his own Batman from the 1989 movie and it's 1992 sequel, just 30 years later.

The two Joel Schumacher movies will not be part of the continuity.  Mr Schumacher died on June 22, 2020 at age 80 from cancer, R.I.P. 

Further more, Keaton's deal will have his Bruce Wayne/Batman appear in several DCEU movies, similar to how Nick Fury appears in most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. His second role could very well be in the proposed Batgirl movie which could be a re-imagined live action Batman Beyond but with Barbara Gordon in place of Terry McGuinnis.  I'm also speculating this version of Barbara will be Jim Gordon's grand daughter or great-grand daughter (depending on what age they want her) since Pat Hingle, who played Commissioner Gordon in the Keaton movies, passed away in 2009. 

This also brings up the upcoming Matt Reeves Batman movie starring Robert Pattinson.  Signs point to that being an out-of-continuity Black Label one-off like Todd Phillips-Joaquin Phoenix's Joker, albeit with the potential for two sequelsBut it is Michael Keaton who will be the "real" Batman of the DCEU.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Review: Shazam! #12

Issue 12 turns out to be a fill-in issue set in between the events of Curse of Shazam and the current story arc. You know there is a problem when, even with multiple issue postponements, and a pandemic that halts publication for two months, there still needs to be a fill in issue by a different creative team. Jeff Loveness is brought in to bail out Geoff Johns, and he writes a script that is wholly influenced by the David Sandberg movie. The characters, the tone, the dialogue, and the presentation of the story are all beat for beat based on the movie rather than Johns' work.  Plus they bring in Batman as a guest star just to insure the sales improve.

The issue opens with Billy and "Freddie" (that's how they misspell it) encountering Herkimer. Billy changes to Captain Shazam and quickly defeats him. During this whole sequence, Billy/Capt Shazam and Freddy bicker about Billy having "lame villains" as the dialogue is in full Asher Angel-Zack Levi-Jack Dylan Grazer mode. Concerned that Billy needs to up his game as a superhero, he goes to Gotham City in a meta-moment looking for a team up. He encounters the Scarecrow, and there is a lot of CW-like exposition dialogue.  Scarecrow zaps Capt Shazam with the fear gas, but it's Batman to the rescue. He attempts to talk Capt Shazam down from his inner fright, but Scarecrow injects Batman with fear serum. We go inside Billy's mind as there is a merging of memories as he witnesses young Bruce Wayne's life-changing moment. At that point both he and Batman are able to take down Scarecrow.  Batman and Billy then have a roof top heart to heart talk, and we have another meta-moment about team ups as the issue ends.

The artwork for this issue is supplied by Brandon Peterson, and it is a step above the usual artwork seen in this series.  I know there are a few fans out there who hate the new52 Shazam, but enjoyed and liked the movie. This issue is for that demographic. It earns a B.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Review: Laurel & Hardy Meet The Three Stooges

From American Mythology comes a crossover of two of the most loved comedy teams of all time. Historically, this is not the first time these two legendary teams have crossed paths. The 1934 MGM movie Hollywood Party featured an all star cast including the Stooges (with their original leader Ted Healy) and Stan and Ollie, although they did not share a scene together.  Healy and the Stooges, early in their film career, have a brief bit in the first half of the movie, while Stan and Ollie, at the peak of their popularity, get significant screen time in the film's third act.  This comic book extravaganza casts the Stooges as handymen and Stan and Ollie as movers, who end up working for the same client. The two teams meet on the job site and hilarity ensues. Writers SA Check and James Kuhoric get both teams characters down pat and put them in funny situations, however there is one scene when the two teams meet and there are several panels of them introducing themselves and shaking hands that just didn't work for me, as it came off as kind of pretentious.  Early in there is a nice Easter Egg referencing Larry Harmon and Ted Healy (although the latter's name was misspelled).  The art by Diego Tapie captures the Larry Harmon cartoon look for Stan and Ollie while also giving the Stooges a design in line with their looks from the cartoons produced by Cambria Studios. This issue earns a solid A.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Review: Shazam! #11

The latest issue opens with Billy giving us a recap of what has gone on via his thoughts.  Interesting here is that it appears like Billy and Captain Shazam are having separate thoughts within Billy's mind.  Billy overhears Wizard Shazam and C.C. talking and he's gets up to look to see his dad struck down by Wizard Shazam.  They argue about it which leads to Captain Shazam vs Wizard Shazam.  The onomonapia wakes up the rest of the house who watch the big fight going on in the backyard.  The rest of the Shazam Family join in to help the Captain. 

Interlude with the Vasquez's helping C.C., now stripped of his power.  He tells them he senses a great evil.  Meanwhile Wizard Shazam is getting ticked at the super-powered children.  Cut to the Monsterlands where Sivana and Mr Mind release the Monster Society of Evil...except for Superboy-Prime.  Back to C.C. who tells the Vasquez's he had a vision of Wizard Shazam as someone who is much more war-like than everyone was led to believe. 

Wizard Shazam attempts to strip all the Shazam Family members of their powers, but Captain Shazam and C.C. jump in to try to tag-team reason with him.  Wizard Shazam gets furious and is about to kill C.C. when Captain Shazam just out of nowhere, gets the ability to banish Wizard Shazam to the Rock of Eternity, and restore C.C.'s Daddy Shazam powers in the process.  But then Black Adam appears and starts choking Daddy Shazam, who casts a spell separating Black Adam's soul from his body.  This makes Captain Shazam suspicious that Daddy Shazam knew such a spell.
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Mr Mind has been using C.C. Batson as a host this whole time. The Monster Society arrives on Earth, and in the Magiclands, Superboy-Prime gets out of his cell and is coming for Billy Batson.

I have to give the devil his due, this was one of Geoff Johns' better scripts in this series.  Of course that isn't saying too much since the bar is set so low. He kept things moving and focused, and threw in quite a few plot swerves. Scott Kollins is the sole credited artist for this issue, and is par for the course- good but generic.  I really would have liked to see Mayo "Sen" Naito do the art for this issue as it really would have elevated it even more.  Even so, I'll be very generous and give this issue a B-.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Johnson Smith Company, RIP

In December 2019, after 105 years in business, the Johnson Smith Company closed its doors.  Johnson Smith ads were there on historic issues like Detective #27, and Action #1, and in the early 70s were starting a renewed comic book campaign. I discovered the company as a child and I remember buying their "Horror Record", which I thought was just as great as any Power Records offering.  I remember buying the Secret Pen Radio, which was a tiny crystal radio housed inside a large pen casing, and in 4th grade, my desk was next to a radiator and I remember bringing it to school and clipping the antenna to the radiator and listening to AM stations. Of course I also got all the typical items, like fake vomit, a joy buzzer, whoopee cushion, and the item simply known as "Oops", with the description "Bad shot... somebody missed" next to a drawing of a toilet with a dark object on the seat. I remember that for at least two birthdays in a row, most if not all my presents were from Johnson Smith.  I loved getting the latest Johnson Smith catalogs in the mail... it even rivaled Heroes World catalogs.  Although I stopped ordering regularly from them as I got into my 20s, I still requested and received catalogs til the end.  Back in the day I bought and still have a couple reproduction catalogs from the 1920s, and kept a few of my own catalogs from my childhood.  I also have the final catalog mailed out late in 2019. Goodbye Johnson Smith Company.  You will be missed.