Shazam! The New Beginning #4 (1987)

Shazam! The New Beginning #4 (July, 1987)
“”A” is for Courage… “M” is for Speed…!”
Writers – Roy & Dann Thomas
Artist – Tom Mandrake
Letterer – Agustin Mas
Colorist – Joe Orlando
Cover Price: $0.75

Wow, look at that cover… Norman Osborn is pissed off!

Wrapping up my introduction to the post-Crisis Captain Marvel today, if you need to catch up please check out these discussions: #1, #2, #3.

When last we left Cap, he was about to be strapped into Dr. Sivana’s dimension-hopping machine.  As we open, we find that Cap is now in fact strapped in and ready to go!

Sivana and Black Adam bicker over Doc’s use of the laser contraption last issue.  Despite his dramatic denial, Adam knows full well that Sivana created the laser with him in mind.  On the television, then-current President of the United States Ronald Reagan is discussing the recent aircraft hijacking.  Reagan, who plays a rather large role himself during the Legends crossover, states that he refuses to bargain with terrorists.

This is not what Adam wanted to hear.  He thinks that perhaps he and Sivana’s plan wasn’t quite extreme enough.  Maybe if he were to begin slaughtering hostages (and conveniently, he says aloud where they’re being held) the United States government will take him seriously.  He leaves through one of the several holes in poor Thad’s roof, but first tells Sivana he’d best be blasting the Big Red Cheese to limbo with the quickness.

With Adam now gone, squirrely Sivana attempts to broker a deal with Captain Marvel.  He promises to release him from the contraption if he agrees to serve him.  Naturally, Cap tells Doc to pound salt.

Just as the switch is about to be thrown, Uncle Dudley bursts on the scene smashing Sivana in the face with a thick blue tome.

Sivana instinctively goes for his pistol, and blows a hole in poor Dudley’s right shoulder.  In all the confusion Billy Shazams-down to his human form, which allows him to slip out of the interdimensional machine.  He waits until he has Sivana’s full attention before returning to his Captain Marvel form, which blows Thad’s mind six way from Sunday.

Cap briefly plays with Sivana’s machine and heads out to cut Black Adam to the chase while Dudley holds Sivana at gunpoint until the police arrive.

Captain Marvel arrives at Big Sur peninsula, which is the top-secret location Black Adam so carelessly let slip in Sivana’s lab, and after getting a surprise preemptive strike a battle begins to rage.

This is a very entertaining battle… watching these two powerhouses just absolutely lay in to one another.  At one point, Captain Marvel actually throws the top of a mountain at Black Adam… which Adam then swats away.  You get the feeling that several miles away from the fracas there are windows shattering from the impact of their blows!

Using the wisdom of Solomon, Captain Marvel knows there’s gotta be a better way to take care of his foe.  He flees from battle, heading back toward Sivana’s, and Adam immediately gives chase.  Inside the lab, Cap Shazams-down to bite-size Billy, and goads Adam into throwing a punch.

Billy ducks the blow, and Adam winds up punching the switch that controls Sivana’s diabolical dimension hopping device… Black Adam is caught in the blast, and is thrown back into the nether realm from which he’d been summoned.

With the immediate threat neutralized, Cap flies back to Big Sur to rescue the hostages.  He drags the craft from an underground cave to a nearby beach, and changes back to Billy before the hostages know who saved them.

As the adventure comes to a close, we learn that Billy has been offered the position of newscaster for special features at K-WHIZ TV by our old friend, and pick-pocket Mrs. Thickert.  His first guest is a fella by the name of G. Gordon Godfrey, who we will get a better feel for during DC Legends.

Billy’s interview is aired far and wide, including in a tiny run-down cantina, where one patron is especially interested.  Dr. Sivana, who managed to give ol’ Dudley the slip, ran down Mexico way to drown his sorrows in a bottle of tequila.  He thinks how if he only had a partner… he could take Captain Marvel down.  As luck would have it, there’s a particularly sinister worm at the bottom of his bottle…

After a bit of a slow start, this miniseries really hit its stride.  I found myself enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would.  As I’ve said multiple times during this Marvel-ous journey, when it comes right down to it… I don’t know a whole lot about this character.  Like many folks out there, I can honestly say I like him, and think he’s a really cool idea… but cannot for the life of my qualify that statement.  Now, after experiencing his reimagining for the post-Crisis DC Universe I feel as though I have a bit more knowledge on the subject.

The Thomas’ do a great job of shifting our man from Captain Marvel to Billy dependent on the situation.  Very creative uses of this novel concept.  Having Billy become a TV news reporter pays homage to his earlier incarnation’s roots as a radio newscaster, but with a more contemporary 1980’s feel and sensibilities.  The way in which he banished Black Adam was perhaps a bit too convenient, and ultimately anticlimactic.  I suppose it makes sense that Adam would be undone by his hubris, but after all the build up, it was a bit underwhelming to me.

I feel that Tom Mandrake was sorta-kinda miscast here.  While I enjoy his take on the civilians, and Billy in his child-form, his Captain Marvel just looks off.  After really liking his take in the first issue, things changed moving forward.  I’ve joked a time or two that he looked like Norman Osborn… or they at least have the same barber.  I guess I just prefer a squeaky-clean looking Captain Marvel rather than this arguably grittier look.  I’ve bagged on the DC Animated style in the past, but even I gotta admit, that look (to me) is tailor-made for the Marvel Family.

This issue was a great way to wrap this series up.  The resolution was both satisfying and left room for a continuation.  I gotta wonder how this one sold being as though there was no proper follow-up.  It seemed as though it was tailor made for a revisit, what with Dr. Sivana slipping through Dud’s fingers, and hinting toward his inevitable team-up with Mr. Mind.  This series (at least as it pertains to the narrative) leads directly into the DC crossover Legends (even though, in actuality Legends shipped it’s final issue the same month this series shipped its first).  In newsstand time, this series released around the same time as the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, in which Captain Marvel was (all too) briefly a member.

This entire run is recommended to check out, and shouldn’t be too terribly difficult to track down on the cheap.

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0 thoughts on “Shazam! The New Beginning #4 (1987)

  • The artwork reminds me of a comic from the 70's. I'm waiting for a special guest appearance from Shaft but we both know that will never happen. Good review.


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