Greased Lightning

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #19

Captain Marvel has had a run-in with a villain called the Vampire Burglar, who doesn’t look much like either a vampire or a burglar, but he’s managed to steal away most of Cap’s life energy, leaving him looking like an old man and not too far away from actually dying. In desperation, Mary and Tawny turn to Freddy Freeman to help them get to the Rock of Eternity — he’s no big fan of the Marvels, but he’s moved to help out. They decide to summon the wizard, even though they don’t know whether Black Adam will return. And as it turns out, Black Adam is exactly who comes back, with extra powers he gained while running around the wizard’s pocket dimension. He’s more than powerful enough to take care of Mary, Tawny, and Black Adam Jr., and even the return of the wizard doesn’t leave them on much better ground. The only hope for Cap is for Freddy to make a very big sacrifice.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very good story. Lots of action, lots of emotional resonance, very fun art. I loved it from beginning to end, quite honestly.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #20

Big Barda comes to request Batman’s aid to find her kidnapped husband, Mister Miracle — and when they go to their suburban home to investigate, they’re immediately attacked by forces from Apokolips, including the Female Furies, who are trying to kill off Mister Miracle so Barda will return to lead them. The heroes are able to rescue Miracle from the rocketship deathtrap he’s been tied to, but he’s in no shape to fight, and Batman and Barda are badly outnumbered by the Furies. Can they figure out a way to get rid of the Furies before a tragedy occurs?

The followup story is a reprint of the Martian Manhunter story from… two issues ago? Holy baloney, that’s weak.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story with Big Barda was alright — not the strongest story, but not particularly bad. But reprinting a story that’s just two months old? That’s either a wildly inept screwup or the most blatant expression of “We’ve been canceled, we don’t care anymore” contempt I’ve seen in a long, long time. Whichever it is, it’s enough to kill any enjoyment the first story may have left behind.

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