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Knight Terrors: Shazam! #2
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Knight Terrors: Shazam!’ #2 explores Mary Marvel’s dread

Mary Marvel comes face to face with what she really fears as the nature of the Nightmare Captain is revealed.

“He finally found it. My worst nightmare. That the Captain will get so big, so important, that no one will even remember Mary Marvel.”

As Knight Terrors begins drawing to a close, the heroes are taking their fights to Insomnia. Mary Bromfield fights back against the Nightmare Captain in one last desperate move to put an end to his torment of her and her family. With her resolve returned, she now faces personal demons scarier than the ones in her dream. In this climactic tie-in issue, Mark Waid poses our heroine a troubling question: with Billy Batson back in action, what does the DCU still need with the New Champion of Shazam?

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Mary proves once more that she is the adult of the Shazamily. Fighting against terrors that she deems cheap scares designed to frighten a child, keen use of her godlike power combined with her protective big sister instinct make her a force to be reckoned with. But what makes her arc engaging is that despite her experience, fear is often boiled down to something primal, even when that fear is invoked by the machinations of a child.

The original thesis of this two-part tale presented in Knight Terrors: Shazam! #1 was that Mary is confident in her abilities as a superhero, but still fears the possibility of failing her loved ones. Here, that notion is flipped on its head as she courageously moves to save her family from their dreams while being forced to acknowledge that she fears fading into irrelevance as a hero. Though it is shown that she is fully capable of being the big sister, her confidence in standing on her own two feet as the sister Shazam is seemingly in limbo, as personified by the twisted image of her younger and more celebrated brother.

Knight Terrors: Shazam! #2
DC Comics

It’s safe to say that despite a somewhat tonally confused first half to this arc, Waid and Cruz find a fitting feel for what a dive into a Shazam family member’s troubled psyche should be: whimsical and weird without being coy about the personal (and familial) stakes. Greatly benefiting this story is the absence of the real Billy in the sense that it allows for a thematically relevant companion story to the main title while also fitting under the less narratively consequential sphere of an event tie-in. This is a balance that is especially hard to strike when an event has so many tie-ins, so the effort is quite commendable in this case.

It is a testament to Mary as a character and her role in the story that she is able to embolden her younger siblings as she does. It makes for a touching answer to her dilemma regarding her relevance within the Shazamily, specifically and especially when Billy isn’t around.

Unfortunately, despite a strong thematic conclusion, Mary’s fate and intent are still left open-ended in favor of her seeming to be a key player in the ramp up to the line-wide event’s finale. As it was said before, it’s difficult to strike fully-contained narrative gold with such a small story in an event of this magnitude, so the fact that we leave off with Mary on such an interesting note is helps to sell the importance of her character both within her own world and the greater story of the DC Universe.

While not delving too much into the conventional horrors shown across in other heroes’ night terrors, Knight Terrors: Shazam! #2 still tells a poignant yet thoughtful tale with a fairly rich thematic narrative, with some small but understandable loose ends for the sake of the greater event. If anything, it raises the intrigue of just how Mary will be affected by Insomnia in the finale and its aftermath.

Knight Terrors: Shazam! #2
‘Knight Terrors: Shazam!’ #2 explores Mary Marvel’s dread
Knight Terrors: Shazam! #2
A thematically fitting and engaging conclusion that properly engages with an underappreciated character in what could've been a completely inconsequential tie-in story.
Reader Rating2 Votes
Presents a very focused approach to telling a contained story that complements multiple larger ongoing narratives.
The added context with the plot direction improves the narrative quality in the comparably slightly weaker previous issue in hindsight.
The narrative momentum is somewhat undercut by its open ending left by what is likely an understandable event mandate.
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