Shazam! The New Beginning #3 (1987)

Shazam! The New Beginning #3 (June, 1987)
“”A” is for Stamina… “Z” is for Power…”
Writers – Roy & Dann Thomas
Artist – Tom Mandrake
Letterer – Agustin Mas
Colorist – Carl Gafford
Cover Price: $0.75

Today I’m going to continue pursuing my degree in Shazamology by working my way further through the Big Red Cheese’s post-Crisis origin tale.  Only one issue to go after this one.  Let’s get to it!

Of course, if you need to catch up check out my earlier discussions:
Shazam! The New Beginning #1
Shazam! The New Beginning #2

Following the events of the previous chapter, a dejected Captain Marvel (along with Uncle Dudley) returns to the roof of Unc’s apartment building.  Cap is lamenting his inability to stop Black Adam from escaping with the aircraft, and fears that the powers he’s been granted are only good for breaking things.

After changing back to Billy, they head downstairs.  Following a brief run-in with banana bread brandishing nosy neighborette, Mrs. Peebles, the Batson men retire to the comfort of Dud’s living room.  After turning on the television, the pair watches a piece from K-WHIZ Station Manager Emily Thickert which is discussing the events that occurred over the desert last issue.

The News update ends with a request for any citizens who have any information to come forward.  Billy feels this is his opportunity to make things right, however, Dudley prevents him from making that call.  He reminds Billy that while he did witness the event, he really has no other information.  This is a wonderful illustration of Billy’s boyish naivete.  Still a child, he was more willing to act on impulse rather than think things through.

Dudley makes up the couch for Billy (couldn’t give the poor boy your bed, Dud?  C’mon…) and reties for the evening.  Once Billy is sure his Unc’ is asleep, he slips away and SHAZAMs over to the K-WHIZ Building to chat up Ms. Thickert.

Before entering, he changes back to Billy.  He finds it easy to make his way through the building as he feels that adults don’t notice kids… and as it turns out, even at this late hour he is absolutely right in this instance.

Billy enters Thickert’s office and approaches her with his recounting of the occurrence over the desert, leaving out all the “Big Red” parts of the tale.  Thickert is amazed that Billy seems to know things about the story that hadn’t yet been released to the public, and may even sort of believe him.  She excuses herself and invites Billy to make himself comfortable while she attends to some paperwork.

Billy winds up falling asleep on her couch only to be awakened by the familiar voices of Beautia and Magnificus Sivana.  While he was out, Thickert snapped his ID out of his pocket, found out where he lived, and made a call.  The Sivana Siblings claim that Billy’s just a confused runaway who doesn’t really know what he’s saying.

Before they can “claim” him, he SHAZAMs up and hops out the office window.  He decides to search out the old wizard Shazam… by bashing his way through the abandoned subway tunnel in which they’d first met.  As it turns out, the brick wall he’d found in the first chapter was just a bit of wizard’s magic made to keep people out of the holy chamber.

Billy approaches the empty stone throne, and notices an unlit brazier in the vicinity.  Bashing a couple of rocks together makes enough of a spark to ignite a flame.  This causes the ethereal form of Shazam to materialize atop the throne.

The two discuss the recent appearance of Black Adam, leading to Shazam sharing Adam’s origin story.  As it turns out Black Adam (then Teth-Adam) was given his God-like powers by the wizard Shazam himself.  After using his great gift in constructive ways, Adam comes to the realization that with the power he wields he can not only rule over men and kingdoms… but the world as well!  Shazam was unable to strip Adam of his powers or even harm him.  Instead, he banishes Adam to another realm… as far as the farthest star.  The realm from which Sivana has apparently freed him.

Captain Marvel takes off to the Sivana home straightaway.  He breaks in through the roof to find the three Sivanas having a contentious chat.  As Cap approaches the Doc, Magnificus bashes him in the back with a piece of heavy machinery… to absolutely no effect.

Black Adam suddenly breaks into the scene… putting another hole in the Sivana roof.  Billy launches him back through the roof (hole #4 at this point!) with a well-placed uppercut.  The two battle in the sky above Sivana’s neighborhood before they both careen back through the Sivana roof (there’s five!).

When they land, the Doc blasts Captain Marvel in the back with his “Secret Weapon”, which actually does prove to be effective.  This displeases Black Adam greatly, as he assumes that Sivana only crafted the device to eventually use on him.  Adam demands that Captain Marvel is sent to the dimension from which he was summoned… to be immediately proceeded by the destruction of Sivana’s machinery which would spell eternal banishment for our Big Red Cheese.

Loving this series more with each subsequent issue.  This chapter really played with the duality of the Captain Marvel/Billy Batson dynamic.  While Marvel has the appearance of an adult, he still is very much a boy.  He acts impetuously and follows his inexperienced “gut”.  In this issue, his naivety got him into a few jams.

There was also a bit of duality played with within the Sivana family.  Magnificus is clearly more on the side of the Doc, while Beautia leans more neutral… to the point where just prior to Captain Marvel’s arrival it is plainly stated that the Doc was physically hitting her.  We’ve seen previously that Beautia has a bit of a soft spot for Billy, while Mag is somewhere between indifferent and antagonistic toward the boy.  I really enjoyed witnessing this twisted family’s dynamic.

There really isn’t all that much more to add.  I do have to say, the further I make in this series the more I feel that perhaps Tom Mandrake was a bit of a miscast for Captain Marvel.  I can’t really qualify that statement, it’s really just a feeling I’m getting.

Thus far this series has proven to be both quite entertaining as well as quite informative for a Captain Marvel novice such as myself.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this one plays out, and eventually hunting down the rest of Jerry Ordway’s Power of Shazam! volume as well.

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