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The Trials of Shazam vol. 2 TPB [Review]

trialsofshazamtpb002Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Howard Porter, Mauro Cascioli
Letterers: Rob Leigh, Travis Lanham
Original Series Covers: Howard Porter, Mauro Cascioli
Reprints: The Trials of Shazam #s 7-12
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $14.99

This volume took me a bit longer to “get into” than the first…partially less excitement to get into the volume (now having a good idea of the story and such after reading the first). Of course, plenty of distraction, too with a “new comics day” and a local comic convention since reading the last volume.

We pick up here with Freddy’s journey…he’s got part of the powers of Shazam, and Sabina has the others so far…with a couple of the gods’ powers as yet unspoken for. He winds up recruiting “help” from the Shadowpact, on the idea that his attaining the powers is less important than Sabina NOT getting them. As she steals more power and the balance of magic is close to being toppled, the “war” actually breaks out with Sabina launching a spell that needs one million souls and will push Dark Magic far beyond Light magic. Freddy meanwhile recruits the Justice League and leads the counter-assault. Things finally come to a head, and the legend of Shazam moves forward.

Story-wise, this volume is consistent with the first; this felt like the back half of the same story, with obvious progression and development from what came before. I definitely liked seeing the other characters involved…while I expected this to be Shazam-centric, seeing that this takes place in the shared, main DC Universe of the time makes it so much better than just being off in its own little corner. It’s also cool to see Freddy being responsible and involving others as the situation needs it rather than egotistically insisting on going it alone (suggesting there’s plenty of strength simply in recognizing when one needs to turn to others, perhaps).

Visually, the first couple chapters match the entire previous volume while the final four are a shift as we move to Cascioli on art rather than Porter. While this is in itself a bit jarring and quite noticeable, it works pretty well…and I definitely prefer a complete such shift than stuff being interspersed. It may not be entirely consistent with the first 8 chapters, but the parts are consistent with themselves, and everyone is still quite recognizable. I actually think I’d’ve preferred this latter visual take for the entire thing if that’d been possible.

As a whole, a good volume, though I maintain that I’d’ve by far preferred this be one large volume to its existing two skinnier volumes. This is a singular overall story that seems near-arbitrarily split in half just for the sake of being halved, or of keeping its collected volumes as the “standard” 6-issue things.

I’d think it obvious, but as the second of two volumes, if you’ve not read the first, I don’t see any real reason to seek this out unless you’re specifically looking for the ending of the story rather than the beginning or ‘full’ story. But if you’ve read the first half, this is definitely well worth getting to finish, to have the complete story. Overall, I’d recommend trying to get both volumes at once if possible to read as close together as possible.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this series and already knew the “core” ending going in. But I definitely  enjoyed reading this, and find myself very disappointed to realize for the moment that other than the New 52 Shazam volume I read weeks ago, I don’t know if there are any collections with NEW Shazam stuff after this story out there or what issues to get for any appearances of Shazam.

The fact that that bothers me and that I’m interested in more of this take on the characters is a definite positive to me and credit to the story.

If you want to see the Shazam/Captain Marvel stuff actually progressed and status quo changed/updated (or at least don’t mind it happening), this is definitely well worth reading!

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Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The Man who Murdered Prometheus

The true Prometheus finds himself free, and seeks revenge on the man who has used his name during his imprisonment.

facesofevilprometheus001Writer: Sterling Gates
Art & Color: Federico Dallocchio
Letterer: Swands
Editors: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza
Cover: Mauro Cascioli
Publisher: DC Comics

Opening with a fairly "classic" "one punch takeout" by Batman, we see the original Prometheus dealt with by Batman and Martian Manhunter in a flashback. Moving to the present, we find that Prometheus has been imprisoned for a couple years (comic time), and isn’t seen as much of a threat by the guards assigned him. Prometheus recalls his own origin (a simple story device/excuse to fill readers in on it). When he finds himself let loose of the Martian Manhunter’s control (J’onn’s death in Final Crisis #1 / Final Crisis: Requiem), he sets out to continue his mission of revenge against agents of justice as well as against the imposter using his name of late.

I was interested in this issue by its title alone: I vaguely recalled Prometheus from a couple of issues fairly early in the Morrison JLA run over a decade back, and thought it’d be interesting to see where the character is–or would be brought–in the present. Story wise, I was not disappointed. The plot is a bit cliched, but works for me as a one-shot though I doubt it’d work for me as a longer story. We have a reconciliation of sorts of the character (I never knew that someone other than one character has used the name "Prometheus" in DC’s continuity) that sets him up to be a big player in future issues.

Offhand I am not at all familiar with the artist’s name, but with art like that in this issue, I certainly hope to become familiar. There’s a gritty realism to the art that fits quite well with the story. I’m not a huge fan of the Prometheus costume–can’t quite put my finger on it, except it just looks…weird. I don’t have any old issues to reference to see how similar or different it is to the original, but hey…whatever.

I haven’t found the Faces of Evil bit all that engaging in most of the other DC titles (particularly Booster Gold, Green Lantern Corps, and Action Comics) so far. However, this issue seems to be exactly what Faces of Evil is all about, giving a solid, full story about a villain with insight into the villain him/herself. With quality like this, I’d even be somewhat interested in a regular series of spotlights on various villains if it kept to this price point.

This is a good one-shot–though it’s not an entirely new character, one can certainly see how this’ll be a launching point for a dangerous DC villain that hasn’t had much play time the last few years. If you can find it for cover price, this is well worth a look-see.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Green Arrow #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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