Reviews: Shazam

(Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil miniseries review) A great start, but too bad it was just that - a start

In 2007, Jeff Smith, the creator of Bone, tried his hand at retelling Captain Marvel's origin story and modernizing it. I admit to knowing little about this franchise, so I did a bit of research, and this story basically hits all the major notes of the franchise, while making changes to fit the times.

Unlike in some continuities, Billy and Mary are little kids in this miniseries. This results in quiet a contrast when Billy says his magic word and transforms into Captain Marvel, a grown man. Not only that, but he's also his own separate person, meaning Billy essentially switches not only bodies, but to an extent, personalities with Captain Marvel. I like the idea of Billy/Captain Marvel being separate yet united, as it brings up some interesting questions regarding how much Billy or Captain knows, and what they think, since they are technically not the same person.

As for Mary, she gets her powers entirely by accident, via Billy transforming right in front of her and accidentally transferring some power to her, allowing her to change into Mary Marvel. But interestingly, Mary remains a young girl when she transforms, and keeps her same mischievous, playful personality, causing a bit of headache for Captain Marvel.

Old characters from the original series are repurposed. Dr. Sivana is now a corrupt military leader in the US government, and a truly hateable character. The other main villain is Mister Mind, who shows up and attacks Earth in a very strange plot that I'm not going to try to describe here.

The comic - both in its story and its cartoony, expressive art style - has a balanced mood that makes it generally all-ages appropriate without being either sappy or childish, or all dark and moody. However, I feel it could have done without the mild profanity that's used at times.

My only other complaint is that, good as it is, The Monster Society of Evil is only a four-part miniseries that feels like it was setting up more. We get introduced to the characters, see Billy and Mary get acquainted with their newly-found superpowers, see them fight off a threat... and that's it. Jeff Smith didn't make any more Shazam comics, sadly. This could have been the start of something great.