Written by Mark Waid
Drawn by Dan Mora
Published by DC Comics
Here’s a book I’ve been waiting for the past few months, and it’s finally here! I’ve written before that Captain Marvel is my all-time favorite superhero, but I have not been happy with how DC has been utilizing the character in recent years, starting when they changed his name to Shazam (which is stupid on multiple levels) and when they then added of a bunch of foster siblings who also share his powers (and it’s this version and supporting cast that was showcased in the two live-action movies, which I also didn’t like). Billy Batson was also writing as a bit of a brat. Well, good ol’ Mark Waid has given us a version of Captain Marvel that’s as close to the original version that I grew up on as it could get while still keeping him within the bounds of modern continuity.
First, Billy’s superhero form is now called The Captain, which is not perfect but it’s better than Shazam. I get the obvious reason why DC doesn’t want to use the name Captain Marvel anymore, which I still think is a shame but The Captain is a name I can live with. For some reason, he and Mary (who is mentioned but doesn’t appear in this issue) are back to being the only ones who share the powers of Shazam. Freddy Freeman’s here, now powerless, but hopefully he regain his powers in a future issue. It’s that classic trinity that I love.
We see that to make money Billy runs a podcast dedicated to recounting The Captain’s adventures, which is a nice modern take on Billy’s traditional occupation as a radio reporter. And he’s back to being more of his good-natured and fun-loving self. Waid showcases both Billy’s private life as a teenager and The Captain’s public life as a superhero, as we see Billy struggling to make it through school and The Captain helping a family of alien dinosaurs repair their crashed flying saucer so they can return to their home planet. Waid even manages to address the question of why a teenage boy who can turn into an adult superhero would ever want to change back to his non-powered self, and the explanation is both simple and realistic.
The Rock of Eternity has now become The Captain’s own version of The Fortress of Solitude/Batcave, & Mr. Tawny is back, working for Billy’s foster parents. And Fawcett City is now a suburb in Philadelphia. All of these elements are welcome additions to the status quo. There’s also a little “easter egg” of an obscure Marvel Family character that only really hardcore fans will catch. But there’s a hint of trouble brewing for our hero, and that includes a dramatic cliffhanger.
This is a clever, creative, fun, and suspenseful story, beautifully illustrated by Dan Mora whose style here somehow manages to look both classic and modern. The Captain is in good hands with this team.