Billy Batson And The Magic Of Shazam #1
by Mike Kunkel
This was picked up on a whim last time I was in Nostalgia & Comics. I’ve always loved Mike Kunkel since I first picked up a copy of Herobear (another one I really should get to reviewing soon actually) and wanted to give his take on Shazam a go.
Of course the really big problem that Mike Kunkel has is that he’s coming onto Captain Marvel just as Jeff Smith is leaving. And following on from that was always going to be a big ask. He’s done well enough, making it funky and fun, with a perhaps overly busy page and a few good visual gags thrown in for good measure. But it’s just not as good as Jeff’s Monster Society Of Evil. And we’d have all been very surprised if it would have been to be honest.
As usual with these things I’m very much not the target audience. So I gave it to Molly (aged 9) who got halfway through it and just said she wasn’t enjoying it that much. She said it was okay, but nowhere near as good as the other stuff she likes, certainly not a patch on Owly or The Little Endless or the Gaiman/McKean books or the Simpsons (like she reviewed a while back).
She thought the artwork was nice and although she thought bits of the early story were fun and funny, she just lost interest in it halfway through. Which is absolutely not a good sign for what’s meant to be one of DC’s new line of kids comics. Very interestingly one thing she really picked up on was the amount on ads in the book and how it made everything choppy. (I counted afterwards – 8 ads and 23 story pages. 1 in every 4 pages was an ad – that’s terrible and genuinely does affect the flow of the story).
So Billy Batson And The Magic Of Shazam is a funky, fun little comic. But it’s very likely that this is just the opinion of the grown ups who really want to think our children read nothing but a literary equivalent of sald and low calorie ice cream, awfully nice and healthy, but terribly bland. It’s nice enough but it’s no more than that.