If you haven’t read the twelve-page Shazam back-up story in Justice League #7, then be warned that spoilers follow. While some characters changed a little in the new DC Universe and other characters changed a lot, Shazam has pretty much changed completely. This is not a Shazam story that is likely to leave fans feeling ambivalent.
In the old DC Universe, a key ingredient of Billy Batson’s character was that he was an innocent soul with a pure heart. In fact, it’s the entire reason that the wizard Shazam chose Billy to fight the forces of evil.
In the new DC Universe, Billy Batson is anything but pure of heart. In fact, the woman in charge of the orphanage that Billy is staying at describes him as “the most unpleasant boy I’ve ever had the unpleasure of knowing.” The new Billy Batson is a spoiled brat, who even refers to his new foster parents as “a couple of idiots.”
It’s not only Billy Batson that has changed, but wait until you get a load of Doctor Sivana. Sure he’s still bald and has a pair of glasses, but he’s now a muscle-bound giant. Even Fawcett City is gone, replaced by Philadelphia as the central location.
Early online feedback seems to be that people either absolutely hate or absolutely love this new take on Shazam. For fans who grew up on classic Shazam and were hoping to see more of the same, then they are going to be disappointed. But fans that go in expecting a new take on the character, then are definitely going to have their expectations met.
Personally, I had mixed feelings about the story. Having been a fan of the old Shazam series, the changes to Billy Batson were a little alarming. But because the changes were so alarming, the story actually has me eagerly waiting to see what happens next. Geoff Johns has added a lot of interesting new twists to the Shazam legend, and I couldn’t help to smile about “mystical abduction.” It was an interesting read and the artwork was great, so I will definitely be checking out future installments.