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Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #5 [Review]

Mr. WHo? Mr. Atom!

Written By: Art Baltazar & Franco
Drawn By: Byron Vaughns
Inks: Ken Branch
Colors: David Tanguay
Letters: [no credit given]
Asst. Editor: Simona Martore
Editor: Dan Didio
Cover: Mike Kunkel
Publisher: Johnny DC (DC Comics)

This issue, just by not being by Kunkel seems to lose some of its magic. It’s still a solid, fun issue…but for one thing, it felt like I just sped right throughout in about half the time it’s taken on previous issues. While I don’t have the prior issues onhand for immediate comparison, I think a large difference is in panel size and action–the panels seem larger than I remembered for this series, and far more open with less action…almost as if the previous issues were super-compressed compared to this issue’s “standard” sort of appearance.

Billy and Mary battle a giant robot. That’s really the main plot here. Familiar elements are present–the kids’ living situation, Billy’s job, etc. The story’s fairly simple without being overly simplistic. The visual tone remains kid-friendly (as it should, given it’s part of the kids’ line). The art is also quite reminiscent of Kunkel’s…while the interior is not Kunkel’s, it does not seem all that far off from Kunkel’s cover image.

If you’ve enjoyed this book thus far, this issue is a bit of a step down from what it was…but it’s still a good book, and much more enjoyable than a lot of fare out there. With Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade done with, I daresay this is my favorite of the Johnny-DC line. We do have a “To Be Continued” on this issue…but it seems more one of those ominous “Not the End” types, not so much a “the-hero’s-in-danger” cliffhanger. As such…this makes for a fine one-off issue….from introducing the main characters and their status quo, introducing the threat, dealing with the threat, and winding down on the action, you needn’t have read prior issues to enjoy this, nor does it make one anxious for the next issue.

Recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #4 [Review]

Words, Pics, Heart: Mike Kunkel
Letters: Steve Wands
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Jann Jones
Cover: Mike Kunkel
Publisher: Johnny DC (DC Comics)

This issue sees the culmination of elements from the first several issues come to a head as Billy and Mary confront Theo Adam with the help of the Wizard. Of course, it’s no easy task since the 7 Deadly Evils are along as part of Black Adam’s gang, and Captain Marvel is seemingly outnumbered.

The art is at once an annoyance and a delight. It’s annoying because I’m not a fan of the exaggerations it embraces visually. At the same time, it’s a delight–it’s far from my usual preference, but this issue (and those before it) make me feel like I’m parked in front of a tv watching a fun cartoon.

The story itself is fairly simplistic on the surface, but carries a lot of deeper stuff if one cares to look deeper. Like a well-crafted cartoon, there’s plenty to be enjoyed here even by adult readers, while holding what presumably would be attractive to the younger crowd. SUre, there’s violence, and sure, there’s fighting…but there’s no cussing, the violence is “cartoon violence” rather than “realistic,” and I daresay one would find much more enjoyment sharing this comic with them than a half hour on the couch with any of a number of contemporary cartoons.

Most comics that I really enjoy migrate to the top of the stack when I sit down with new books. This one makes its way to the bottom–it’s a great “happy book” or “palate-cleanser,” and with all the little panels and dialogue and such takes awhile to read–a great ending to a stack of new comics that otherwise flash by far too quickly. What gets this issue its rating is the overall enjoyment that transcends simply looking at the art or the story/writing.

Highly recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 9/10

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