Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam: The World's Mightiest Moral is Back!I was ecstatic to review this series because I have always enjoyed this character and, believe it or not, at one time Captain Marvel stories outsold those of any other hero, including Superman. Captain Marvel (or Shazam, as he has officially become known) is the alter ego of 11-year-old Billy Batson. With one word, SHAZAM!, he is transformed into an adult hero with the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules, the Stamina of Atlas, the Power of Zeus, the Courage of Achilles, and the Speed of Mercury. 

Even though they are written for kids, these books will draw fans of Captain Marvel back to the story as it has been re-imagined for everyone. I love the references back to the Golden Age of Comics, especially in the first book when Billy’s job is with Whiz Studios and Black Adam appears in Fawcett City Park. For those who may not know, Captain Marvel’s first appearance was in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics #2. These little details really made this adaptation special to me because it was done for fans of the character. There are only a few little changes that were made to the classic character, such as making Billy and his sister Mary orphans, to replace their original backstories.

Each of the volumes in this review is written and drawn by Mike Kunkel, author of Herobear and The Archie Babies. In volume one, we are introduced to the story of Billy Batson in a very child-like, crayon-styled set of panels with text written in the superhero code (decryption key available at the front of the book). In a battle between Captain Marvel and the monstrous horde of Mr. Mind, a rift opened allowing Theo Adam to return to earth. This fourteen year old villain, banished to another realm, has forgotten the magic word he needs to transform him into Black Adam, nemesis of Captain Marvel. Theo has but one option: find Billy Batson and extract the word from him by any means necessary. This book is a great introduction to the world of Captain Marvel and the addition of things like the code make it a book that hold a reader’s interest, if for no other reason than to decode the messages throughout.

In volume two, Theo Adam has joined Billy at school and will stop at nothing to get the magic word from him. When Theo confronts Billy and his sister in the same subway that took them to the wizard in the first place, Mary and Billy nearly have to use the word out loud to escape. When they return to the Rock of Eternity where the wizard Shazam watches over them, Billy learns that Theo was the wizard’s first champion. He also learns of Theo’s turning to evil as Black Adam, the evil embodiment of all of Captain Marvel’s virtue. They also find that all seven of the evils of mankind have escaped their stone prisons, taken a corporeal form, and are ready to do the bidding of Theo Adam himself.

Volume three finds Billy in Theo’s clutches and he has brought some of his horde of evils along. Mary thinks she has arrived just in time to save Billy by saying the magic word. Unfortunately, she is within earshot of Theo. Now armed with the word, Theo once again becomes Black Adam. Thinking he has the upper hand, Adam leaves Billy behind at the mercy of evil. Using the magic word, however, Billy becomes Captain Marvel and, with the help of Mary Marvel, defeats the evils and sets out on the trail of Black Adam.

Volume four brings us the final showdown between Adam and Captain Marvel. As Captain Marvel discovers he can no more do harm to Adam nor can Adam harm him, Mary has traveled to the rock of eternity to ask the wizard Shazam what they can do to stop Adam. Armed with the information necessary to help Captain Marvel, she races back to where he and Adam have been fighting and shares the information. After tracking Adam down, he and Captain Marvel return to the Rock of Eternity for their final showdown.

These books are perfect for kids in upper elementary and middle school (ages 9-12) and may have appeal to a younger audience with a little help from a grownup. It is great that this character has been adapted for a new audience. This series gives new life to the story of the world’s mightiest mortal.

 

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam:The World’s Mightiest Mortal is Back!
by Mike Kunkel
ISBN: 9781434292261
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam: Magic Words
ISBN: 9781434292094
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam: Perilous Peril
ISBN: 9781434292278
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam: Brother vs. Brother
ISBN: 9781434292285
Capstone, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: Ages 9-12

  • Wayne Cherry

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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