Justice League: Darkseid War – Shazam #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
That super-title is defined by Urban Dictionary as “the sound made when someone makes an awesome slam dunk”. I also equate it to the sound I might make when someone lands a really awesome punch in a fight. A haymaker. Or maybe just as a reference to a good old fashioned ass whuppin’. And that is exactly what this issue is, in both story (like, it’s what Captain Marvel actually lays down) and in artistic content. PS – I may also have just discovered my favorite artist.
Brought to us by the creative team of Steve Orlando and Scott Kolins, this issue sets out to detail the impact on Captain Marvel of Darkseid’s death. As is the case with all of the titles in this event, Darkseid died, and some of the members of the Justice League became gods unto themselves. New gods. Successors to the mythologies of the Greeks and Romans, the Norse, and other superior beings of old. While Bats has become the god of Knowledge, Supes is now the god of Strength, and The Flash has become the god of Death, Captain Marvel has become something else entirely. He is the mightiest of the new gods. But he needs to put someone in their place before he can wear that mantle like his hoodie.
The main reason I hold this issue in such high regard is because I really take this whole comic book reading and reviewing thing very seriously. Admittedly, sometimes too seriously. This book is just flat out fun. The whole time I was reading it, I was buying into the bad assery of Billy Batson. And then if the kid is already a lil’ buttkicker, he becomes that on steroids when he becomes Captain Marvel. One of the major problems I’ve had with this character since the New 52 is that he has been portrayed as an idiotic oaf. His tone was too far de-aged and Billy, whom I normally think of as a teenager, was turned into a 10-year old. His dialogue clashed way too much with the rest of the League, and I felt his presence was just unnecessary. Orlando corrects that just a tilt enough to make it feel right, without turning him into a full-on adult. If we can get him up to a Ronnie Raymond level, then I think that would feel about right.
Usually I do not mind spoiling too much in my reviews with the appropriate warning or two, but this ride is so much fun, I’m going to skip those details. I’ll just say that there are two major reveals in this issue’s plot that caused me to gasp or clap or stomp a foot. Orlando beautifully weaves a script that has tones of ancient respect, middle age pretension, and present entitlement, having each layer of characters that aligns to those ages interact appropriately with the others. And Kolins’ art…this book is simply amazing. I have not read anything of his before, but he just ranked up to sit alongside Alex Ross and JH Williams in my book. There is an amazing amount of detail in every single panel in this book. And while some will complain about the new, additional lines in the interior of Captain Marvel’s costume, you have to respect that that same level of detail is present in the backgrounds and scenery. It almost makes your brain scream to keep up. And yet it is still all tight and clean, and does not overwhelm you with useless distracting bits. Opening up to any one of the panels in this book is a simply breathtaking experience. And power, raw, coursing, punishing is rendered here more exquisitely than I have ever seen. More. Please.