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'Shazam!' #11 pits Billy against…the Captain?

Comic Books

‘Shazam!’ #11 pits Billy against…the Captain?

Talk about internal conflict…and growing pains.

“You want the magic of the rock of eternity? Then you can choke on it!

Last month’s issue of Shazam! ushered in a new era for Billy and his foster siblings, with writing duties given to series newcomer Josie Campbell of My Adventures with Superman who joins forces with artist Emanuela Lupacchino World’s Finest: Teen Titans to bring us more family fantasy hi-jinx. As they moved into their (technically) new house, they were met with a number of uninvited guests of a godly nature—don’t worry, Zeus is chill now—who incidentally brought a strange dark magic down upon the Shazamily home. All this led to the discovery of the Captain burning a mysterious letter addressed to Billy, raising questions about the nature of their new shared powers—and now, it would seem, their shared mind and identity.

Now in Moving Day Part Two, the second installment of this three issue arc, Billy needs to keep his superheroics to a minimum in order to impress the child protective services agent handling his and his siblings’ official adoption case. This proves difficult when the house falls under attack by sinister flying creatures—because of course—who desperately seek the power within the Rock of Eternity. And as Billy is haunted by blackouts, old memories, and mysterious nightmares, he finds himself unable to trust his own alter ego when faced with all the chaos.

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With the history and visual tone of the character getting revamped by Mark Waid and Dan Mora to move away from the edginess that the New 52 saddled the character with, I am happy to say that this new team does an excellent job of feeling consistent with the last nine issues while still bringing something new to the table. If the previous run did lack anything, it was a presence of the powerless siblings in the larger part of the narrative; this is no longer an issue as they’re pushed to the thematic forefront and are once again faced with harsh truths of having to grow up in the system.

 

Shazam! #11

Billy remembers his birth mother, courtesy of DC Comics.

If there’s one thing that Campbell does, it’s inject an air of reality to the fantastical narrative. Opening with a flashback to Billy’s old home life, we are immediately given weight to the adoption narrative that counterbalances the sillier aspects seen throughout. It does not feel quite as Saturday morning cartoony as the previous run, but this works to their advantage as they tackle themes that hit closer to home.

Mary in particular has to deal with officially being an adult and having to take a step back from always being there for her younger foster siblings. That combined with the presence of yet another talking animal in Hoppy the talking rabbit, we see the return of plot elements from Campbell’s New Champion Shazam miniseries that make this feel like a Mary Marvel book as much as it’s a Captain Mar—I mean, a Captain book. And though some other plot elements seem like they’re treading some familiar ground, things still feel fresh enough because they’re used in such a way that complements the brand new direction.

Lupacchino brings Campbell’s family drama to vivid life with a style that moves seamlessly between dream worlds, familial meetings, and magical super heroics without missing a beat. Set primarily in the foster house, the visuals embrace Full House-inspired family sitcom-isms and injects them with the fantasy-flavored deadpan comedy that has made every issue up to now a lighthearted delight. One thing particularly of note is her and colorist Trish Mulvihill’s striking rendition of the Captain himself, which trades in Dan Mora’s and Alejandro Sánchez’s sharper Superman-ish take in favor of a softer youngish adult resemblance that befits Billy’s approach to young adulthood; this sleeker look also enhances the feeling of menace and mystery surrounding the splinter between both personas.

All in all, Shazam! #11 sets the series’ sights on a coming-of-age story that’s rife with family drama and plenty of growing pains. The creative team forges this new path for the Shazamily without losing any of the sensibilities or momentum that has made this iteration of them great—and though some plot beats feel similar to some of Billy’s past developments, that is overshadowed by the very real intertwining family narratives along with the very effective use of dramatic final page plot twists that keep things engaging and refreshing.

'Shazam!' #11 pits Billy against…the Captain?
‘Shazam!’ #11 pits Billy against…the Captain?
Shazam! #11
The new creative forges a new path for the Shazamily rife with family drama and familiar magical weirdness that feels right at home. This series is in more than very capable hands.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Campbell injects an affective air of reality to the fantastical narrative.
The younger siblings are pushed to the thematic forefront and are once again faced with harsh truths of having to grow up in the system.
Campbell's work on new Champion of Shazam is channeled and makes this feel more like a Captain and Mary Marvel book.
Lupacchino embraces family sitcom-isms in the visuals and changes the Captain's vibe just enough to be uniquely striking.
The ending plot twist does feel slightly reminiscent of some past developments, though not enough to be detrimental to everything else going on.
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