Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Ten Favorite Comics of 2007: Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil - "I'm so much faster than you, it's not funny!"

All day, I thought I had four of these left to do. Weird.

Anyhow, I said earlier that these were listed alphabetically, but as it turns out, the last three do in fact turn out to be my personal top three books of the year. I'd put them all on roughly equal footing at how much I enjoyed them, though.

Anyway, getting down to brass tacks, thank you God and Jesus for giving us Jeff Smith. As the hymn goes, our God is an awesome God.

Zeus and Mercury are pretty awesome gods, too, and we thereby finally segue to my actually talking about this comic. There's really not much to say other than "Jeff Smith gets everything right." Billy Batson is a spunky kid, his sister Mary is adorable, Cap is Billy's good-natured imaginary friend who happens to be real, etc., etc., etc. The series recasts the classic MSOE story (which, really DC, would it be that hard to reprint the darn thing?) as Billy going from an orphan to a boy with a family while saving the world from giant monster robots. It's a delightful children's fable for the whole family.

And it's fun. Good heavens, it's fun. It's full of the same childlike excitement you get the first time you see Superman take off with an "Up, up and away!" It's *cool* to be Captain Marvel, or Mary Marvel. Heck, it's even cool to be Sivana for part of the story, since he gets cool gadgets and goons. Not so cool to be him at the end, but serves him right, the jerk.

Smith's skills as a storyteller are evident, as every panel pulses with energy, every page ignites the imagination. Whether it's Captain Marvel buying a hot dog, Mr. Mind's device transforming derelicts into monsters, or Mary spectacularly crash-landing her first flight, the world of Shazam! is bigger, brighter, and bolder than ours, the way you thought adults lived all the time when you were a kid. And that's what the book is about, really: the world of adults seen through the eyes of a child, reframing it and giving us perspective.

And in the end, it's Billy's compassion, his "good electricity," that saves him and the world. How can you not love that?

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