So here’s Mary and Billy Batson, forlorn after the events of the past few years. When Freddy Freeman – the only member of the Marvel Family to still wield the old wizard’s powers – comes to call, Mary’s full of self-pity. Twin Billy is more sanguine, and shocked when Mary betrays Freddy to the demon Blaze, Shazam’s prodigal daughter …
Hmm, does Mary still have some of that wacky Black Mary in her, the girl who couldn’t get enough of Darkseid? Apparently so, but before we see the consequences of her actions, we flash back a week to watch Blaze make Mary an offer she really should refuse.
Along the way we get a quick recap of things Shazam, including the existence of Osiris (Cousin Oliver Marvel), currently hanging with Deathstroke’s all-new, all-rubbish Titans. It seems that Blaze is feeling a bit entitled, believing she should have the Shazam power set. But how much chance does she have of stealing the magical abilities from Freddy?
Zero – Blaze has always been a two-bit player and by the conclusion of this issue she’s back in hell, and watching Osiris in Titans (which is more than I am). And Freddy swears to help Mary and Billy – who show that you don’t need powers to be a hero – regain their former potency.
After not being keen on last year’s Blackest Night: The Power of Shazam one-off, I’m surprised that I enjoyed Eric Wallace’s script so much. He shows respect for the characters, and by reviving Blaze, nods elegantly to Jerry Ordway’s excellent Power of Shazam series. I’d love it had this issue somehow restored Billy, Mary and Freddy to their former roles as Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr, but that’ll likely take a 12-issue limited series, four annuals and the sacrifice of a nattily dressed talking tiger. But this is a definite step in the right direction, and an entertaining one at that. It’s undeniable that Blaze has some excruciating lines, but hey, she’s a demon – she learned our language from watching TV (and I suspect they only get Fox in Hell).
Maybe Cliff Richards will pencil the next Marvel Family adventure, as he does this one. I’d be happy with that as, a lank-haired Freddy aside, he draws the kids well. He doesn’t actually get to illustrate Billy and Mary in their adult forms here, but I’m sure he’d do a good job. His fight scenes are top-notch too, and the destruction rained on poor Fawcett City is suitably unpleasant. Add in a DC Icons cover of Freddy as (the non-wizard, decidedly superheroic) Shazam and you get a package worth $2.99 of anybody’s money. Now, has anyone seen where DC left the whimsy?