The first issue of Shazam!, out today from writer Geoff Johns and artist Dale Eaglesham, is an ideal jumping-on point for new readers intrigued by the upcoming movie or just eager to see Johns return to monthly superhero storytelling -- but "jumping-on point" does not mean that Johns has decided to leave the status quo in place.
Rather, a final page cliffhanger in Shazam! #1 could change the lead character in a fundamental way -- and take him away from his foster siblings to boot.
Spoilers ahead for Shazam! #1, in stores today.
The story of Shazam! #1 picks up more or less where Johns and Gary Frank's Shazam! story left off: the Shazam family has been created as Billy shared his powers with his foster siblings, creating a variety of similarly-powered superheroes with variations on his costumes and wildly different looks and attitudes.
It is a good start for Billy, in part because it seems like he belongs. One of the big struggles in Billy Batson's life has always been finding a place he feels at home and people in whom he can find family after the loss of his parents. At the start of the series, he has found that with his foster family, particularly with his siblings, with whom he shares both the secret and the gifts of his powers.
In the final pages of the issue, someone knocks on the door of Billy's foster home. When his foster parents open the door, the man standing there looks a lot like Billy's superhero alter-ego. He introduces himself as Billy's father.
For a character who has been an orphan since his first appearance, that is a huge change in the status quo. For Johns's take on Billy, who never fully gave up on the idea of seeing his parents again and never fully accepted that they were gone, his father's return is potentially a core restructuring of his character.
Equally -- or, arguably, more -- likely, though, is that this new dad is a ruse of some kind, and that Billy will be left heartbroken all over again by the end of the story.
Shazam! #1 is on sale now at comic book stores and online.