Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Curse Of Shazam, part 6

Chapter 6 of Curse Of Shazam, from JUSTICE LEAGUE #0 (don't ask about the numbering), is where things start to go south.  We get a recap of Black Adam's return, from the Wizard's point of view, then we cut right to where the last chapter left off, with Billy at the Rock of Eternity.  Various statues and artifacts talk to Billy as he makes his way down the corridor.  He stops to play with the holographic statues of the Seven Deadly Enemies.  The Wizard (who apparently is no longer named "Shazam" himself and is the last of a council of wizards whom Black Adam killed before being banished) finds Billy to be unacceptable to be the champion.  Billy and the Wizard argue with each other, as Billy points out a good person with a pure heart simply doesn't exist.  Shazam is persuaded that what he needs to find is not a truly good person with a pure heart, but one who has the potential to become that (this DCnU Billy obviously has a future as a lawyer).  The wizard tells Billy to say the magic word.  Billy says "shazam"...  and nothing happens.  The Wizard orders Billy to say it with belief and good intentions, and he will be transformed into his greatest potential. Billy says it again and becomes, Shazam.  And he asks, "did you make me old?"  And we are right back to the weakest part of the Jerry Ordway version.  Once Billy becomes Captain Marvel (or in this case Shazam), he suddenly starts acting more juvenile and bratty than before.  That's the "Big in tights" concept still in play, and it still does not work! There's a couple pages of Capt... er, Shazam acting like a goofy kid (I wonder if Geoff Johns is setting this up for Ashton Kutcher to be cast as the Big Red Cheese in the movie?), and the Wizard hints how the rest of the Marv... er, Shazam Family will come into play (his "secret spell... ultimate power").  Capt... er, Shazam returns to where Freddy has been hiding and the two of them start pulling super powered pranks.  He saves a lady from being mugged, and she tips him twenty bucks. Shazam and Freddy get the idea they can become rich performing super deeds (borrowing from the early genesis of Spider-Man).

As I said, the story has taken a turn for the worse.  Anything and everything good Johns has set up in the previous chapters has been flushed down the toilet with Shazam being portrayed, not just with Billy's personality, but an amplified version of that personality that makes him seem even more childish.  It doesn't make sense that Johns would go to the trouble of writing Billy as a semi-realistic troubled teen orphan, just to revert to the same old goofy little kid in an adult superhero body shtick. DC just won't let go of the "Big in tights" concept (Freddy's first suggestion: "let's buy some beer").  At the very least, why can't they go a more subtle route with it? Why does it have to be so over-the-top, and border line lampoonish?

I don't care for Shazam's costume.  He uses the hood as kind of a mask, so people won't recognize him as looking like Billy.  The boots look like he's wearing white gym socks with sandals.  The lightning emblem is lost in an inverted triangle.  Gary Frank has a unique take on the Wizard, making him more ethnic, in both his look and attire.  One of the biggest disappointments is there does not seem to be any more references to the six elders, Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. I give this disappointing origin chapter a D+.


Chris said...

I'll admit that it was exactly what i expected from the issue. I was expecting a little more influence from Black Adam, but it the story seems to still be in the staging/building climax process. They have to address the immediate fantasy and juvenile glee that would be expected when going "zero the hero". Once out of that phase and is shown the gravity of the situation,im sure Johns will portray him as being more genuine. Billy has yet to tap into the greater parts of his powers as he obviously hasnt used the wisdom of solomon to understand whats transpired or even tried to fly. I'll wait till the arch is over before completely knocking Billy. So far, given current character devolpment, hes acting in a beleivable manner.

Unknown said...

Really D+ I thought this was the best chapter !