The various members of the Shazam family are scattered throughout the magic lands. Billy and Mary are captives of King Kid. Eugene and Pedro are about to challenge the Gamemaster and Freddie and Darla are sentenced in a literal Kangaroo court in the Wildlands. If that’s not bad enough, Black Adam is heading straight to the gang like a freight train.
Geoff Johns is the type of writer whose best is brilliant and whose worst is still pretty damn good. Able to identify what really works at the core of a character and then build new stories around that, his Green Lantern color spectrum treatment of the Shazam character really connects and fuels a different kind of storytelling for the big red cheese.
This arc, and specifically this issue, wisely breaks up the teams into pairs and because of this, we don’t just get hero posturing and an easy victory over the threat.
We get a chance to see what makes the kids behind the power tick. How they function without all being together and faced different threats.
It does get a little convoluted at first glance. But this is because Johns clearly has ideas and lays groundwork for future story lines in other arcs.
You get the feeling that the Wildlands threads will really come in to play in future issues as it seems the most written out of all the segments in the issue.
This jam-packing mentality isn’t a negative either. I’m all for loading it in. There are writers out there who work with thinner plans than this and pad them out to multi-part arcs, so why shouldn’t a writer who is the caliber of Johns be permitted to overload his stories with ideas?
I will continue to berate any ongoing regular sized issue that rests on multiple artists. Especially within the first ten issues (at least) and especially when there are as many credited artists in this book.
In fairness, none of the art is bad in this issue. It’s quite good. Eaglesham, even though he’s a recognizable name, is constantly underrated as an artist and should be a bigger name. The other artists aren’t too much of a visual departure either. Well, Scot Kolins aside. But he works so well with Johns and is a perfect fit for this multi-colored Shazam family.
It’s just not necessary. If this is for the sake of getting a book out on time, I’ll never agree that multiple artists are a means to that end. I realize comic books have a shorter turnaround time from creation to print now, but it’s a professional industry where that should be accounted for when signing on to a book.
Otherwise, is a late book really that big a deal? With all content out there I’m sure fewer fans are reading comics issue by issue anymore. Binge reading digitally or waiting for collections seems to be more and more common. Stick to one, two if absolutely necessary, artists on an arc and let the book be late a little.