The Shazam franchise is one that I’ve never gotten into. I’ve tried a few Shazam titles in the past, both when Billy Batson was known as Captain Marvel and now as Shazam, but none of them have ever clicked with me. The only character in the Shazam Family that I’ve found interesting is Mary Marvel. Her character has always come across as having the most depth in the Shazam Family with the most untapped potential since DC Comics has never positioned her as a main character. Now that looks to be changing with Mary Broomfield taking over as Shazam after Billy Batson’s disappearance. So with a new start I figured The New Champion of Shazam is a good place to give the Shazam franchise another try. Let’s find out if that is the case with The New Champion of Shazam! #1.
Writer: Josie Campbell
Artist: Evan “Doc” Shaner
After looking back at all her life experience and growing up as the big sister in her adopted family Mary Bromfield says goodbye to her parents before taking off to college.
Later, Mary finally arrives at Vassar College where she meets up with her dorm roommates Cassidy, Bianca and Hoppy the rabbit. While they get to know each other Mary introduces herself as Marina.
They then go to the orientation ceremony. While waiting for the ceremony to start Mary finds Hoppy in her bag.
Hoppy reveals they have been magically powered by the Rock of Eternity and says she is the new Champion of Shazam to protect Earth from the new threats showing up on Earth. Hoppy goes on to say this was Billy Batson giving them magic powers was his final act with what remained of his powers so Mary could become the superhero the world needs.
Hoppy then drags Mary out of the auditorium. Mary says Hoppy and Billy should select someone else to be the new Champion of Shazam. Hoppy says that is not an option and teleports her to a crime scene where someone calling themselves Disaster Master is trying to break into a bank vault.
Mary transforms into Shazam and quickly sets all the hostages free. Shazam then hits Disaster Master with a lightning attack but it turns out to be to powerful for Mary that it sends her flying backwards through a wall. Hoppy reveals that since Mary isn’t sharing the power of Shazam with five other people her she is much more powerful now.
Disaster Master then uses his powers to create a hurricane. Shazam quickly flies through the hurricane and knocks out Disaster Master before he causes serious damage.
As Shazam leaves the scene three shadowy figures are shown with a similar device on their chest that Disaster Master had on.
Back at her dorm Mary is met by two cops who reveal that her parents have gone missing. End of issue.
The New Champion of Shazam! #1 met my expectations of what I expect when reading a brand-new series. Josie Campbell and Evan “Doc” Shaner get us right into catching up with where Mary Bromfield is at by this point in her life. In the process we are given a sense of her world and the supporting cast that will be part of this series.
All of this does certainly make for a strong overall start for The New Champion of Shazam! With Mary being thrusted as not only the lead character of this series but now the one and only Shazam with Billy Batson disappearance it was important that we learn as much about her as possible. The first few pages downloads us with the important thing that we need to know about Mary’s history, which is her family background. This all helped ground the how important family has become for Mary after being someone that had so many negative labels growing up as a child in foster care.
Now while Mary’s personal character history is well established I do wish we got a little bit of information about her as Mary Marvel and part of the Shazam Family. We are just placed in the middle of the whole narrative with the current Shazam status quo without being given details of why she wasn’t Mary Marvel when this series started or what happened to Billy. Especially as someone that has not been reading the recent adventures with Billy as Shazam I did not really get to the point of caring for whatever is going on with the Rock of Eternity.
That said, it is clear that Campbell and Shaner are keeping us in the dark about what is going on with Billy and the Rock of Eternity on purpose. That is a major mystery with Mary now being the Champion of Shazam. We are as much in the dark about what exactly is going on and why Mary is Shazam as she is. This does make it so we as the reader are more informed about what is going on than Mary is, and likely predict what will happen. Keeping that air of mystery around the status quo for the Rock of Eternity helps build up the magical threats that Hoppy tease are coming or already on Earth.
Along with the mystery with Mary now as Shazam it was great seeing Campbell take the time to build out Mary’s supporting cast and new setting. Having Mary start this series with finally going to college is a good way for her to get a fresh start as she is on her own for the first time in her life since being adopted by her foster parents. We see how this how even Mary tries to take advantage of this with how she introduces herself to her roommates as Marina. The awkward way she tries to sound older with her new roommates made her immediately more endearing.
But what does honestly make The New Champion of Shazam! #1 a big success is the artwork. Evan “Doc” Shaner artwork is phenomenal. He captures the college setting and the ages of Mary and her new supporting cast so well. All the little things with character expressions elevates the story, especially with the ending where we see the utter shock come on Mary’s face when given the news about her parents going missing.
That all compliments the excellent superhero action as Mary gets her first real experience with using the full power of Shazam. Showing that Mary will have to learn how to control all the power she now has is a strong narrative that Shaner is already doing a great job building through the artwork.
The New Champion of Shazam! #1 is a very good start to this new series starring Mary Bromfield. Josie Campbell maximizes the page count to introduce and develop the world and supporting cast around Mary. It all made Mary as the lead character more compelling as she has both personal and superhero arcs built around her. Add in the phenomenal, can’t miss artwork by Evan “Doc” Shaner and you have a comic book that is a great jumping on point for anyone looking for a new superhero story to read.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10