Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Shazam! #15 Review

Holey Moley, It's Really Over

Written By: Jeff Loveness
Art By: Brandon Peterson, Mike Atiyeh, Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 22, 2020

This is it folks, the end of the Mightiest Mortal's series and while I am sad to see it go, it did do a lot to keep people interested in the character, even if the book came out so sporadically that most people forgot it was a thing. Billy's done it though, beyond the Justice League backups in the New 52, we now have a clear-ish idea about who Captain Marvel "Shazam" is in this brave new world of comics after his reimagining to not only have we had new characters brought in, we've had old characters reestablished and also taken a decent look at Billy Batson's rogues' gallery of magical big bads. With this final issue let's see if we can send this Big Red Cheese out in style and maybe get people interested in this amazing character. Let's check it out.

So remember a few sentences ago when I said that we have a clear-ish idea about Shazam? Well, there's been a nagging problem with the character since he had to drop the Captain Marvel name and that's what do you call him when he can't tell you his name without turning into our hero or reverting to a foster kid from Philadelphia? During the initial backups in the New 52 Justice League series, I just went with the idea that "Shazam!" was his catch-all magical word that did anything he needed to do as long as he had the intent behind it, but we kind of moved away from that idea as we've progressed slowly with the character over the better part of a decade and in this issue we see Billy Batson and Shazam throw that magic word out there pretty liberally, where our hero still doesn't quite know whether or not he's going to activate or deactivate himself and it kind of feels funny here that he would take that chance or still not know how his powers work. Not letting the strangeness go, the rest of the Shazam Family seem to be absent from super-heroics here, where Billy's just flying solo even to the point where Freddy being with him when he goes off never says anything about joining him or anything about his own powers.

Weirdness aside though, the story in this issue is pretty damn good in that it kind of gives Billy an existential crisis in what being a hero really means and whether or not he's actually doing any good in being Shazam, since this book opens to the cliched idea of him just punching an evil random robot. There's a great bit of personality to this book that shows you how genuine Billy Batson is and how he wants to be the best superhero he can be. Even with me enjoying the overall story though, I would have loved the rest of the Shazam Family in this finale because establishing them as being just as important as Billy seemed to be what this reimagining has been all about.

All in all, I enjoyed the art in this issue and thought that the overall story was really good and gave us an interesting look at how Billy Batson sees superheroes and his role in the idea of "doing good" and what that idea means to different people. With that though there's a lot of this issue that feels weird with how it uses the "Shazam" magic word, the way that the characters act at times, and even the exclusion of the majority of the characters of this book. Obviously, with me loving this character and the knowledge that this is the final issue, I'm going to leave this wanting more, but I think that this did a good job with leaving us with a decent impression about who our hero is here and even more important, who he wants to be.

Bits and Pieces:

Is this a perfect finale to this series?....... No, but if you're a fan of something I don't think an ending ever really feels perfect because you don't want to see the characters you love leave, but what we get here is a great looking issue that gives us an interesting look at what Billy perceives of super-heroics and how he'd like to be better as a hero. The biggest problem with this book overall is that the rest of the Shazam Family are absent and some of the concepts of the series feel weird when presented here.


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