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Shazam And The Seven Magic Lands Paperback – December 8, 2020
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About the Author
- Publisher : DC Comics (December 8, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 344 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1779504594
- ISBN-13 : 978-1779504593
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.62 x 0.64 x 10.17 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #246,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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All in all, I really enjoyed most of this collection, and the first half in particular is extremely well-paced and cinematic, in my opinion. As Billy and his family are drawn into the mystery of the seven lands, things go predictably awry in various ways. Where things are a little less smooth is in the last third or so of the book, where I think there are too many twists on twists, and the plot gets a little overstuffed with different villains who you mostly glimpse for moments. There's also kind of a questionable stuffing in of Black Adam, who had more of a role to play in the first series, and this time only seems present as an obligatory can-you-trust-him-or-not frenemy with shallow motivations.
But, those weaknesses aside, this was still a fun story. If you liked the first Shazam arc by Johns, this is pretty much that, with more magic, more bad guys, and more everything Shazam, with a kind of golden age fun feel that you don't often see in a lot of comics lately.
Shazam! is basically exhibit A in how difficult it is to create synergy between a superhero film and comic. Although the series is a continuation of the 2012 story, it is so similar to the film that most people will assume it’s a sequel. The first issue shipped a fairly decent 67k issues but dropped by 25k just one issue later and continued to fall with the last issue shipping less than 23k. There was no bump from the release of the film, and I assume that DC released the comic prior to the movie because they cared more about the comic bringing interest to the film than the film bringing interest to the comic. Suffice it to say, after a successful reboot and well regarded film, this series has to be considered a huge failure.
In a mid-credit sequence in the 2019 film, Sivana is shown to be in prison when Mr. Mind comes to him and tells them that the two will make the Seven Realms their own. This is very similar to the ending of the 2012 run although Sivana isn’t in prison and there is no mention of Seven Realms. In the film, we see dozens of portals from the Rock of Eternity and maybe the mention of Seven Realms was a late edition to tie into the comic. Either way, Geoff Johns took this idea of Seven Realms and made it the basis of his new series. Given the fact that his 2012 run essentially became the template for a successful film I suspect he was writing this new series as if it could be the plot for a sequel. Given how badly this series was received, I highly doubt this will be the path WB takes with regards to a possible sequel.
The big problem with the new series is what do you do with five foster kids with the power of Shazam. Since Captain Marvel is a Superman level character, did that mean that there were six Superman level characters or were their powers more specialized as it was implied. It was also implied that Captain Marvel was literally bestowing part of his power on others so did that mean he was now significantly weakened by dividing up his power?
I’d say that the main problem was taking Captain Marvel and the other kids out of the real world (called Earthlands) and putting them in the other Magic Lands. Essentially nothing mattered anymore. There powers would blink on and off. Since the realms are magical, the powers of the Shazam family are basically irrelevant since there are no rules for magic. If Johns decides their powers would stop working than they stop working. This series has probably the most plot convenience I’ve ever seen from a DC series. The Shazam family is trying to save the Magiclands but considering that they seem to be populated by unpleasant beings, I just can’t bring myself to care. Johns doesn’t even do any character building, so I don’t care about the Shazam kids. There seem to be no stakes in the story. Just things happening.
Shazam! lasted just 15 issues, never sold well and had mediocre scores with an average aggregate score of 8.1 on ComicBookRoundup from professional reviewers and the same score from Users. I think the problem is that Geoff Johns fundamentally misunderstood what people liked about the film. It was the idea of a child essentially gaining the power of a God and how he deals with it. The trailers focused on Captain Marvel and Freddy exploring his powers because that was the best part of the movie. It was as if Johns had painted himself into a corner and was never able to extract himself. The title of the movie sequel has been announced as ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’, so that doesn’t sound like something related to Magiclands which makes me hopeful because I’ve had enough of the Seven Realms.
Geoff Johns is famous for distilling characters down to one word. Superman is hope, Batman is justice, Wonder Woman is love. Based on what I've read, I assume Shazam is family. And it really pulls at the heartstrings with every page turn. Family is what you make it.
Another thing that Geoff Johns is famous for is his world-building. He's the writer that added all of the colored lanterns to the Green Lantern. Similarly, he adds seven magical realms to the world of Shazam in this story.
The art seems like the DC house style. Stylistically, it doesn't really stand out. But, make no mistake, the art in this graphic novel is unbelievable. Eaglesham uses a variety of techniques to tell the story. Pages are framed creatively and he uses full page and double page spreads effectively. He had to make A LOT of characters and worlds for this story, and every character is unique and recognizable. One of the worlds is full of animals, and Eagleshem clearly did his research to draw the tigers, lions, elephants, etc. effectively. Not only does each world have new characters, they each also employ a different style. The video game world is sort of art deco, the dark world uses black and white sort of like a Tim Burton movie, etc.
This story was a mastercraft. I read dozens of graphic novels every year and this may have been the best one I read in 2020.
By the way, there are 13 issues in this graphic novel come up plus a short story about Mary. Not 12 issues like the description says. According to comixology, Johns also did issue 14 before handing it over to a different writer. Time will tell what happens with the story.