Review by: The Mike

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Avg Rating: 4.0
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Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jim Lee & Scott Williams
Backup Art by Gary Frank
Cover by Jim Lee & Scott Williams
Variant Cover by Bryan Hitch & Jim Lee

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

This comic represents the strangest main issue/backup combination I’ve ever seen. Justice League is this big splash-page heavy superhero book that’s nearly non-stop action, and the backup story “Shazam!” is a glacially paced character drama where on the fifth chapter we’re just now on the brink of seeing the title character suit up (maybe). They both do a great job picking up each other’s slack; “Justice League” provides the action “Shazam” never gets to, and “Shazam” piles on the character moments JL doesn’t have time for. That said, I can’t help but wish these two books would combine their stronger qualities into something more balanced.

One thing both books have going for them is terrific art. Jim Lee makes splash pages (typically of people getting punched really REALLY hard) that never cease to be eyeball popping in their sheer detail and impact. When Green Lantern started running his mouth at Wonder Woman I thought to myself “Oh Hal…you are SO going to get splash-paged”. I wasn’t disappointed. Meanwhile, Gary Frank continues to kick ass in the backup; his ultra-realistic style makes for panels that almost look like postcards of real places. A character that was promised last issue makes a great showing here, and it’s mostly because of Frank’s beautifully creepy and imposing way of illustrating him.

Storyline-wise, Justice League is currently doing better than usual. At least Geoff Johns is trying to give the villain some layers other than just making him a typical take-over-the-world type. Unfortunately, the character’s design is of the boring “just throw in everything that looks evil” variety (dracula cape, skull mask, red eyes, claws…I’m surprised he doesn’t have a curly mustache and monocle, honestly). Also, the Justice League members need to be fleshed out more as real people. They’re all pretty one note:Batman is smart, Wonder Woman is impulsive, Hal is sarcastic, flash is funny, Aqua Man is angry, Superman is the boy scout, and Cyborg is the tech guy. There were some big opportunities for great character moments here that I feel were either glanced over too fast or not as thought-provoking as they could have been (and I’m sorry, at this point, having Batman flash back to his parents’ murder doesn’t count as a character study). And poor Aquaman…any one of his three-or-so lines from this issue could have been said by any of the other characters and it would have fit just as well.

“Shazam” on the other hand continues to tell a believable human story that also happens to be a superhero origin tale. Somewhere along the line, I started enjoying this backup more than the main book, and that feeling is only amplified here. This chapter is probably the best one yet! This story has had a tortoise-like pace up until now, but we’re finally reaching “payoff” territory, and it’s a sight to behold. If nothing from those first two pages makes it into the “panels of the week” article, it will truly shock me.

The rating was a little hard. Obviously, the art is a 5 all around. The story however would be a 3 for “Justice League” and a 5 for “Shazam”. I don’t know much about that ther’ math, but I think that means we call this one at a 4. This isn’t the most elegantly written superhero book out there, but you can’t argue with what’s entertaining.

Story: 4 - Very Good
Art: 5 - Excellent


  1. Shazam needs it’s own book.

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