A Crash of Thunder


Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #1

Huzzah, a new all-ages book! Sometimes it seems like all-ages books are the best comics Marvel and DC are producing. In this case, it’s a spinoff from last year’s “Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil” by Jeff Smith, this time written and drawn by Mike Kunkel, best known for his impossibly adorable “Herobear and the Kid” series.

We get a great introduction to our characters — orphaned kid Billy Batson, who can turn into the World’s Mightiest Mortal, Captain Marvel; his sister Mary, who can turn into the World’s Fastest and Most Hyperactive Sister, Mary Marvel; the wizard Shazam, who gives the kids their powers; moody pre-teen Theo Adam, who can’t remember the magic word that will turn him into the World’s Mightiest Villain, Black Adam.

Hijinx galore ensue. Cap and Mary save a circus train, but just barely. Billy changes into Captain Marvel so he can masquerade as his own father so the two orphans can stay in school, and Cap gets a sabotaged wrecking ball under control.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is really a big winner. The art is just awesome, and the writing is lots of fun, too. The high point is probably Captain Marvel dressed in a suit, sweet-talking his own principal, and trying to get Mary in trouble by claiming she’s a troublemaker. The circus train is also fun. I don’t care if you’re a kid or an adult — you should go read this.


Blue Beetle #28

El Paso is being terrorized by a giant green dog-monster, and no one knows where it came from. Well, except for Peacemaker and Dani Garrett, who’ve figured out that Dr. Mephistopheles, a one-time foe of the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, is responsible. When Jaime finally runs into the monster, the battle doesn’t really go the way anyone expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I gotta admit that I’m glad that, even with John Rogers no longer writing the book, the foundation he laid down is still letting writers create great stories with these characters.


The War that Time Forgot #3

More time-lost soldiers vs. dinosaurs. That’s really about it.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This is a case study on why you shouldn’t pad your miniseries out too much — there’s obviously not enough story here to fill 12 issues, so everything is dragging down so they can stretch out the plot. The only interesting characters left are Enemy Ace and G.I. Robot, and they don’t get much face-time at all…

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