Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Trials & Errors of SHAZAM’s Warriors While No Lantern Escapes The Alpha Lanterns

FanBoyWonder is a bit pressed for time as we write this because our day job is sending us (under EXTREME duress) to attend a conference in Orlando, Florida (NOT our favorite place in the multiverse) but not just in Orlando—we get to spend two days and two nights in Walt Disney Hell!

Resigned as we are to our fate to “have a magical day” we’re taking a break from packing our carry-on bag to share with you the loyal reader our reviews for the books of for the week of January 30.

Have a Magical Day everyone!

Trials of Shazam #11

The Upshot From DC Comics: The trials continue with Freddy losing ground in his quest for the ultimate abilities and power of the now equally powered Sabina! To find Mercury he may need the help of Shadowpact and the Justice League!

As even the most casual of our readership knows, FanBoyWonder is not at all an admirer of most Judd Winick's body of work. As we said we’re pressed for time and don’t have the required number of hours to list all of the charges so suffice to say that—in this humble reader’s opinion—that 9 times out of 10, Judd Winick’s “talent” writes checks that his ass can’t cash.

However as much we would like to continue to poke at him with our poison pen, we have to admit that to date, Winick’s Trials of Shazam has represented “number 10” which is to say the exception to his usual over-rated, under-delivered preachy and pointless storytelling.

There are (other) Captain Marvel purists that are NOT happy with either the premise of Trials of Shazam or with the radical changes to the Shazam-verse that Winick has implemented—including the “promotion” of Captain Marvel/Billy Batson to an adult, white-haired “Wizard Marvel” with Freddy Freeman trading in the blue suit of Captain Marvel Jr. to step up to “Big Red” status, assuming he can win the Trials.

We sympathize as we are not crazy about an aged before his time Billy Wizard but if there ever was a super-hero franchise that was as in desperate need of a shake up and out of the box thinking, was the Captain Marvel/Shazam family.

To our everlasting surprise, Winick has been not only clever in his implantation but respectful to the characters even as he breaks the many eggs to make his magic omelet.

Sabina has turned out to be the perfect adversary for Freddy—his own Black Adam. We like how Winick gave us a little bit of insight into her character a couple issues back—how an innocent girl thrown to the wolves becomes the fiercest wolf of all to survive.

In this issue, Sabina quickly and cleverly dispatches the magic god Mercury—gaining his power of speed and setting up the confrontation with Zeus for his power as the lynch-pin to all of the Power of Shazam.

Yet even with a genuine sense of suspense growing, we see Freddy has a plan—no doubt the Wisdom of Solomon working overtime for him.

Next issue concludes the mini-series and perhaps establishes the new Shazam status quo. We cant’ help but think DC has a chance to have their cake and eat it too by embracing both radical change and sticking with the traditional Captain Marvel.

How? Return Billy Batson to his young self who utters the magic word “Shazam” to become the World’s Mightiest Mortal we’ve all known and loved through the years. That would be sticking with tradition.

For radical change, make Freddy—the former Captain Marvel Jr. and pretty much redundant member of the Marvel Family—into Winick’s new “Shazam” with powers and abilities similar but different from Captain Marvel.

We’re looking for the magic lighting to strike us as we say this but we are actually eagerly awaiting the next issue of a Judd Winick comic book.

Frankly we’re tempted to wonder if Winick’s Trials is being ghost written or co-plotted or working from a strict editorial-mandated blueprint because Winick has managed to avoid a good many of his trademark annoying storytelling ploys and despite himself has crafted a consistently solid story. (THIS is the same guy who produced that turd sandwich know as the Titans East Special?????)

If this is a true representation of Judd Winick’s work—then why in the name of the gods does he fell compelled to so play the no-talent ass clown the other 90 percent of the time?

Black Adam: The Dark Age #6

The Upshot From DC Comics: The stunning conclusion of the most important chapter of Black Adam's life! All will be revealed as the magic word that has eluded him for so long comes to light, and the final fate of Isis is revealed.

We were disappointed on a couple of levels following the end of this is issue but that is by no means the fault of writer Peter Tomasi nor the fault of the top shelf art team of Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy.

First, we were disappointed and surprised to find that the end of this issue was indeed the end of this mini-series. Here when the entire time we believed this was an eight not a six-issue mini-series. Hell, it’ says issue 6 (of 8) on DC Comics’ own infernal Website.

Second, we were disappointed that the end of Tomasi’s story and the end of Black Adam’s journey took us to the beginning of where we found Adam in the early issues of Countdown when he encountered and bestowed his Power of Shazam to a de-powered Mary Batson—starting Countdown’s “Seduction of the Innocent” character assassination of Mary Marvel.

Teth-Adam’s discovery of his magic word—the secret word that Captain Marvel changed on him to prevent Adam from accessing his Power of SHAZAM—was a laugh out loud moment. “Chocolate Egg Crème” is almost as funny as the totally accidental way Adam discovered it.

Less funny was the way in which Felix Faust deceived Adam into thinking he failed in bringing his lost love Isis back to life, when in fact he reanimated the skeleton of Ralph Dibny.

A distraught Adam flys away and we find a fresh back from the dead Isis in a trance like state helping Faust escape his imprisonment within Dr. Fate’s tower. Isis lives but it remains to be seen if she is indeed alive.

Poor Adam. Even if the reader hadn’t known about his role at the start of Countdown, it seems obvious now that he is never destined to find the happiness he desires.

A credit to Tomasi for making us root for the bad guy, as well as for making us feel the disappointment in an ending that was inevitable.

Green Lantern #27

The Upshot From DC Comics: The build-up to FINAL CRISIS continues in Part 2 of "The Alpha Lanterns"! In the aftermath of the Sinestro Corps War, a select few have been chosen to undergo a transformation that will leave them forever altered and forever committed to the Green Lantern Corps. But what other laws are the Guardians unleashing, and why do Hal Jordan and John Stewart want to stop them? Plus, a visit to Oa's Death Row!

Well for the Green Lantern Corps, the Sinestro Corps War is over but the fallout from how it was fought has only just begun.

The entire issue centers around the actions of last issue when Green Lantern Laira—one of the “Lost Lanterns” that were presumed dead during Hal Jordan’s rampage as Parallax—killed a prisoner in custody.

Said prisoner was Sinestro Corpsman Amon Sur who himself had just murdered the entire family of a fallen Lantern and in a moment of emotion and vengeance, Laira killed Sur.

During the Sinestro Corps war, the Guardians of the Universe re-wrote the Book of Oa to permit the Lantern power rings to dispense lethal force at each Lantern’s discursion against Sinestro—so no problem right?

Well actually big problem. Laira’s action has caused a huge split among the officers of the GLC as not all ring slingers are at all comfortable with one of the most powerful weapons of the universe being hammered from a shield into a sword.

Geez…next thing you know Captain America will start packing a gun.

Just in time to “help” the situation, the Guardians of the Universe have come down from on high to slam HARD on the use of force by their Lanterns—they strip Laira of her ring and prepare to put her on trial.

As part of the new rules, the little blue guys unveil their plans for a new elite within the elite to police the Green Lantern Corps—The Alpha Corps.

As a number of GL’s are “recruited” as having “the ability to enforce justice”—including our favorite Corpsman John Stewart—John wisely declines to commit to a whole host new duties sight unseen. The Guardians don’t take too kindly to his refusal noting they are “VERY disappointed.”

In short order the Alpha recruits are subjected to “cosmic surgery” and emerge borg-like as half-Manhunter and half-Lantern with a snappy new oath—“In nights of war, Obey the laws forever more, Misconduct must be answered for, swear us the chosen, The Alpha Corps

Looks like our guy John made the right call and good call to Johns, Geoff Johns that is for FINALLY paying attention to a character who—in our humble opinion—is a LOT cooler than Hal Jordan.

Alpha Corps is precisely the story that we should be seeing after a War where the good guys have to do bad things to save the day.

After coasting for the first dozen and a half issues of this book, Geoff Johns really found his stride with Green Lantern during the Sinestro Corps War and he is seeing that momentum and raising the stakes. This is quite simply the most compelling Green Lantern we have ever read. Keep it up Geoff and we may just officially forgive you for Infinite Crisis.

JSA Classified #34

The Upshot from DC Comics: A mysterious villain has captured Liberty Belle, and Hourman has just 60 minutes to traverse the dark underworld of the DCU to find his wife!

What can we say about this title that we haven’t already said? Why bother publishing a book if—even on its best day—it only amounts to an amusing waste of time? The answer: To pick the pockets of JSA fans like ourselves.

This issue featuring a one-off Hourman adventure was a waste of time all right but it was far from amusing. Worse, it outright pales in comparison to the Hourman two-part story from last year when Hourman took on Batman bad guy Bane.

What we have this issue is a paint by numbers villain holds hero’s loved one hostage story that could have featured ANY character.

Why couldn’t this have been a Liberty Belle adventure with her husband Hourman as hostage? At least then we could have gotten to see a character who has received precious little spotlight during her time with the JSA.

As much as we love the JSA, Classified is testing our patience and the limits of our devotion.


Blogger Jay said...

Great write up!!

Are you interested in being a guest blogger on

10:24 PM, March 26, 2008  

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