Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Shazam! The New Beginning #2 (1987)

Shazam! The New Beginning #2 (May, 1987)
""S" is for Wisdom... "H" is for Strength..."
Writers - Rey & Dann Thomas
Penciller - Tom Mandrake
Inker - Jan Duursema
Letterer - Agustin Mas
Colorist - Carl Gafford
Cover Price: $0.75

During my semi-recent endeavor to actually learn a thing or two about the Big Red Cheese, I just so happened to luck across the remaining three parts I needed of Shazam! The New Beginning during a fortuitous jaunt through the local cheap-o bins.

After a good, if not somewhat befuddling opening chapter let's see how this series' sophomore issue fares.

*Note: If you need to be brought up to (the) speed (of Mercury), check out my coverage of Shazam! The New Beginning #1.


Continuing directly from the previous issue's cliffhanger, Black Adam has emerged from Dr. Sivana's lab-portal.  He is speaking in an odd tongue that Thad can't quite grasp.  Frustrated, Adam destroys everything in the basement laboratory, before setting his sights on the puny little doctor.

Adjusting himself to be able to speak in a contemporary tongue, Black Adam threatens to kill Sivana so that he can never be sent back from where he came.  He ultimately thinks better of it, realizing that perhaps the Doc can be of more use to him alive... as his own personal slave.

Curious to his current whereabouts, Adam grabs Sivana and flies them both through the roof of the decrepit mansion.  They arrive at the nearby Golden Gate Bridge... oh yeah, we're in San Francisco... not Fawcett City, grumble grumble...

Atop the bridge, Sivana comes to the realization that his presumably extra-dimensional guest doesn't hail from another dimension at all... but from the distant past.  Adam discusses places which tie his origins to ancient Egypt including the Nile and Memphis (probably not our Memphis).  Black Adam decides he will not destroy the world, as he feels he is instead destined to rule it.  Sivana accepts his role as a servant, though has designs on a slave uprising.

We now rejoin young Billy Batson, who is writing the word SHAZAM in the sands of Stimson Beach... and watching the tide come in to wash it away.  He decides to go to the nearby bus depot with hopes that he may be able to afford a fare to Albuquerque where he can reconnect with his kind Uncle Dudley.

With only twenty bucks to his name, the Greyhound employee tells him he'll only go as far as Sacramento.  A disappointed Billy suddenly feels a hand on his shoulder, he swings around to find his supposed-sister Beautia.  She apologizes for orchestrating the ruse back at the family court, and offers to give him $200 so that he can go be with Dudley.  She also lets it slip that there may be more than meets the eye in regard to his parent's fatal car accident... with Dr. Sivana mixed up in it somehow.

After an uncomfortable and uneventful bus ride, Billy arrives at the theater where his Uncle is performing his magic act.  The ticket-taker refuses to let the boy in, as the theater is also showing movies that are Rated R.  Billy excuses himself to a nearby alley, and says him a magic word... and emerges as Captain Marvel.  The shocked and befuddled ticket-taker grants him entry.

Inside, ol' Dudley's act ain't going all that great.  He's getting heckled by a couple of jerks in the crowd... Captain Marvel "suggest" they cool their jets and keep their mouths shut, before joining his unaware Uncle on stage as his special volunteer.

Cap enters a large box on the stage, and lets out a SHAZAM just as his Uncle says his own magic words.  The box flops to the stage, revealing a young boy standing where a full-grown man once was.  The pair have a touching reunion, and Billy promises he'll explain everything that's gone on.

Billy and Dudley spend the night at Dud's hotel, and Billy tells him everything that has gone on over the past few days, including the theory that Sivana was somehow behind the death of his parents.  Billy wants to head back to San Francisco to get to the bottom of it all, and Dudley agrees to join him.

Without enough money for the bus fare home, Billy SHAZAM's up and sets about flying the two back to the Bay.  On the way, Dudley gets a grumbly tummy, and asks if they can stop for some eats.  As they belly up to the bar, and Billy downs his second... or third triple-cheeseburger, an Air Force officer runs in and informs a General, who was in the middle of a cup of coffee that there's a UFO getting a little too close to a top-secret high priority aircraft that was transporting some VIPs.

Billy sees this as an opportunity to help out, so he SHAZAM's once more and takes to the skies.  As he zeroes in on the target aircraft, he can make out a small black figure making its own approach.  Before he realizes it, Black Adam socks him right in the mush, nearly knocking him out of the sky.

After regaining his bearings, Captain Marvel recognizes Black Adam from his meeting with the Wizard Shazam.  He serves up a knuckle sandwich of his own, and the now it's on!

Rather than fight fair, Adam heads straight for the aircraft and threatens to tear it in two unless Cap backs off.  Billy considers his options, and ultimately retreats.  He'd rather the inhabitants of the vessel remain alive, even if they are Black Adam's captives.

Billy hangs back as Black Adam makes off with the ship... but promises that he will one day take his pointy-eared foe down!


Now, this is more like it.  While I did like the first issue, this one is so much better.  Perhaps it's due to the increased action, or maybe it's just because the "origin" story is out of the way.  This issue really illustrated that no matter which body Billy inhabits, he's still a young boy.  Not the petulant New-52 Billy, nor the saccharine Fawcett version, but just a normal, perhaps impetuous, boy.

I enjoyed seeing Billy reunite with his Uncle Dudley... and really dug him coercing the hecklers.  What I didn't like was his Norman Osborne hairdo when he's in his Captain Marvel form... yikes.

My Black Adam experience is more the turn of the century version... the one that worked with the Justice Society of America... sometimes even on the same team as Captain Marvel.  Seeing him as a full-fledged villain is certainly a novelty... at least to me.  I've seen him as a bad dude before, but for all his badness (think Fifty-Two post-Infinite Crisis), his actions were justified.  Here, his motivations aren't entirely clear... though, I will say that I'm intrigued.

Overall, I really enjoyed this issue.  I thought all of the characters were well done.  Really digging this version of Billy, and even Dudley... who I initially thought I'd hate.  I'm also quite interested in what the second half of this miniseries has in store for the Sivanas, Beautia especially.  If you're a newcomer to (or just a fan of) Captain Marvel/SHAZAM! you really ought to give this one a shot.


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  1. Awesome write-up!

    Earlier Captain Marvel stories are always a treat, and this looks like a particularly good issue. I love that Billy transforms into Captain Marvel so he can enter a theater showing an R-rated movie. Even though seeing that film may not be his ultimate goal, there are plenty of kids who would probably relish the chance to use this power to sneak into that movie.

    I really like Uncle Dudley, and wish he popped up more often. He's basically the adult version of Billy, kind and sweet and well-meaning, but without the super powers. At first glance he seems like he wouldn't add much to the story, but I actually think he's a perfect side character. He wouldn't work in a bunch of stories, but for Shazam he's great.


    1. Uncle Dudley sure snuck up on me. From first blush I figured he'd be a character I didn't dig all that much. Come to find I really enjoy him, and the dynamic between he and Billy.

      Billy attempting to "sneak in" to the theater is a bit that I really liked. It's almost wish-fulfillment for kids... no restrictions on where they can go!


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