Thursday, February 20, 2014

You've Been Warned: Shazam - A New Beginning

Let me begin by saying that I am a big fan of the Big Red Cheese. I think he's a wonderful character and that Fawcett City and its denizens represent an important little corner of my comic book universe. That said, this mini-series is pure dreck. Roy Thomas fell into some bad habits at DC in the 1980s. The worst one was his need to cram an incredible amount of backstory and historical context into each story. These four issues contain twelve issues worth of material and it just kills any sense of pacing. On the art side, I'm actually a pretty big fan of Tom Mandrake, but he's a bad fit here. His loose, organic style is much better suited to something like Swamp Thing or The Spectre. Don't get me wrong. I don't think that every Marvel Family artist needs to ape C.C. Beck and Bud Thompson. In fact, I liked Don Newton's take on these characters. The combination of Thomas and Mandrake results in a product that runs counter to what makes a good Shazam! story work. Your money is much better spent Captain Marvel stories engineered by the likes of Jerry Ordway or Jeff Smith. Avoid this one.


Erik said...

I am a huge Captain Marvel fan and I hate this series too. Bad bad bad. I picked mine up in quarter bins and still felt ripped off.

Anonymous said...

Don Newton's artwork on the Shazam strip in World's Finest was the best possible compromise between Beck's cartoons and the more realistic style that most modern fans would prefer. As for Roy Thomas, IMHO, his bad habits included a near-obsession with nit-picking details. Whole issues of All-Star Squadron would be devoted to explaining why Sandman and Tarantula had similar costumes, or why Hourman left the Justice Society. In fact, Thomas practically invented the concept of "retroactive continuity" as we know it today.

BenoƮt Leblanc said...

Was it a good idea to make Captain Marvel so serious? As the hero whose series included characters like the Marvel Bunny, he was unique... but making him darker and more violent just made him a different version of Superman. The Justice League version that appeared at about the same time had a lighter interpretation, but there Cap acted like a child in an adult world; not as an adult in a story meant for children. I'm not sure the character gained anything.