Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Marco Santucci
Shazam! #1 was a book I had a ton of fun with. Much of my enjoyment was due to it’s potential, as it was brimming with fun ideas. The most you need out of a #1 is for it to make you say, “I can’t wait to see what’s next.” The thing is, once you’re past the first issue it becomes important to show a bit more substance. Shazam! #2 doesn’t entirely succeed in that respect, despite still being a fun read.
A previous concern of mine is beginning to feel justified due to this issue. That being the abundance of characters lending a feeling of claustrophobia. We have six characters in the immediate “Shazam Family”, three parents, and a villain or two. There’s no problem inherently with having a large cast, but it’s not fleshed out very well. When you have six protagonists, it’s usually beneficial to introduce them at a slower rate and give your audience a chance to learn about them. As it stands, it feels as if there are six protagonists only for the sake of symmetry. So far, even Billy himself has very little time in the spotlight, as it’s just spread too thin. The characters have a fun back and forth with some strong dialogue, it’s just unfortunate that three out of the six protagonists don’t stand out at all.
The art makes me scratch my head as well. Not because there’s anything wrong with this artist in particular, but I think it’s a real shame that we’re given a fill-in artist on only the second issue. It’s not bad, but opening this book expecting Dale Eaglesham and instead getting something a bit more standard put me off immediately. Marco Santucci does his job well on his own merits, though. He has a safe style, but he does nail the appropriate facial expressions and body language. Although, there is one panel of Freddie in which he looks almost sinister when I believe it’s going for a more harmlessly mischievous expression. It’s puzzling because it is almost exactly the same expression that you see on the antagonist’s face on the very next page. I’ll give him credit if it is indeed effective foreshadowing and not a misstep in the art.
The plot itself is fairly intriguing so far. We’re introduced to the antagonist(s) and a fun adventure for the Shazam Family. Last issue’s cliffhanger regarding Billy’s father doesn’t really progress at all, which some may find disappointing. In fact, that character doesn’t have a single line of dialogue this time around. There are some interesting ideas and setups that have the potential for some great payoff later on. Unfortunately, we just don’t seem that close to any of said payoff. Regardless, this issue presents plenty of Silver-Age fun, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Shazam! #2 doesn’t quite live up to its potential, but it doesn’t squander it either. It’s all still there, but it asks that you wait a little longer. This book takes you on a fun journey, but it forgets that to truly make that journey special, you first need to know the characters you’re following. Geoff Johns is clearly taking this book down the Green Lantern path, in which he plans to flesh out the mythos in that way he excels at. If he builds the characters as effectively as he builds the mythology, then this book could become something special. As it stands, it’s not all that special, it’s just enjoyable.
Shazam! (2018-) #2
This book takes you on a fun journey, but it forgets that to truly make that journey special, you first need to know the characters you’re following.