Geoff Johns, writer
Dale Eaglesham, Scott Kolins, & Marco Santucci, art
Mike Atiyah, colors
Rob Leigh, letters
In the previous issue, King Kid makes Mary and Billy prisoners in The Below, where they are put to work to provide the energy needed to run The Funlands. Billy pleads with King Kid to stop his maniacal plan. Meanwhile, Pedro and Eugene are in the Gamelands and engage in a game to win enough points to travel back home. Meanwhile, Black Adam locates evidence in the Rock of Eternity which leads him toward The Funlands and a confrontation with Shazam.
In this issue, Black Adam, Savana (a.k.a. Thaddeus), and Mr. Mind are locked in a battle. Meanwhile, Mary and Billy escape The Funlands but are transported to earth instead of saving their siblings in The Wildlands due to a malfunction caused by the conflict between Black Adam and Sivana. While home on earth, Billy reunites with his father. Danger is afoot, however, as Sivana and Mr. Mind have overwhelmed Black Adam and wait in The Rock of Eternity for the Shazam family to return from the 7 Magiclands.
This was the best Shazam book yet in this current run due to all the action building to a larger conflict. Geoff Johns does a great job of re-introducing Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind to the mix. It intrigues me that he has the villains all fighting each other and thinking that the Shazam family will not be much of a challenge. It fits with how adults think about children and often overlook a child’s capacity. In addition, Black Adam and Dr. Sivana are interesting villains. They both have connections to magic but with darker motivations than the Shazam family. The difference between these villains and the heroes provides a nice contrast for this story moving forward.
Another highlight was Billy’s introduction to his father when he returned from the Funlands. Johns does a masterful job of making this situation feel earned and normal. Billy returns to find his family speaking to the police about the disappearance of the children. Billy’s dad arrives to find the police and then to meet Billy. Emotional moments between characters can be tricky in comics. Writers want to make the stories relevant to the readers but often fail on the execution of the idea. In this case, Johns nails it as Billy is more emotional to see his dad but also has a lot of questions about where he went and why he abandoned him and his mother.
The art in this issue is the highlight of the issue. Eaglesham, Santucci, and Kolins knock it out of the park. There is a perfect combination of realism and comic book magic in every panel. There is such nice detail provided for each panel that each feels like a respectable work of art. The highlights come in the way each panel depicts the setting of the Magiclands along with the characters set perfectly in each world. The funlands have lots of games, food, and young people. The Gamelands, of course, has a bright video car-chase game. But it’s the execution that makes this fun. Everything is so colorful and bright which supports the aesthetic of the book as fun and childlike.
This is a fun issues with deeper emotional threads. It will be interesting to see how Billy balances his wish to find out more about his physical family on earth while taking care of his Shazam family who are trapped in The Magiclands.