“Who can take a Sunrise…? The King Kid can!” (Shazam #3 Comic Review)
Shazam #3 Review
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Dale Eaglesham, Marco Santucci, Mayo “Sen” Naito
Cover Artist: Dale Eaglesham & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover: Michael Cho
Colors: Mike Atiyeh
Letters: Rob Leigh
Previously in Shazam…
After Billy Batson and his foster siblings discovered a strange new rail station within the Rock of Eternity, they boarded one of the trains, and arrived in The Funlands, a huge amusement park/candyland hybrid, where countless kids ride the attractions, eat junk food all day, and are ruled over by the blue-haired King Kid, who recognizes Billy Batson…
Summary with limited spoilers
Picking up shortly after the ending of the previous issue, within his castle King Kid hosts Billy and his family to a large feast in their honour. Formally introducing himself, King Kid reveals that he was chosen by the Council of Wizards to rule The Funlands, and that he’d dedicated himself to taking in lost children from the other six mystical realms, providing fun and entertainment to these forsaken youths. As the rest of the Batson kids enjoy the feast, Mary refuses to eat anything, and questions how King Kid recognized them. The king explains that for years the realms had all been closed off, until recently, when they were re-opened, and kids started to arrive within the Funlands once more. King Kid divined an image of the family arriving via train to the Funlands, and realized that a new Champion of magic had been chosen, and thus a new council alongside said champion. King Kid points that there’s a seven position to fill and that if he was to learn the magic word Billy uses to transform into Shazam, King Kid could join the family.
Darla nearly blurts out the magic word, but Mary stops her, stating that they don’t need a seventh member, before King Kid interjects, saying that the previous council’s death at the hands of the Seven Sins of Man, that the realms of magic have been in dire need of new champions to protect them. Seven realms, seven champions, one to watch over each. King Kid reveals that the seven realms were once attacked and nearly destroyed by Mister Mind, however, the seven wizards were able to repel this attack. It was their job to protect these realms, and now that they’ve fallen, the task falls to Billy’s family as the new champions.
Billy’s hesitant to share the magic with King Kid, revealing that it would only work if Billy truly feels a connection with the person he’s sharing it with. But King Kid continues to push, sharing that he’s longed to be a champion so that he might bring more fun to the Funlands. But Mary is still uncertain. King Kid goes into his backstory in an attempt to earn their trust. That he was a runaway child himself once, the victim of abuse, and ran away to try and escape. As he ran into the nearby woods, he was nearly caught by his parents before he was transported to a peppermint field, a gold-encrusted-candy-cane sceptre laying in front of him, his wishing-stick. Soon discovering that anything he wished for the cane would create, King King got to work creating a merry-go-round for himself. It was fun to ride, but he began to grow lonely. Eventually, other children began to appear, more and more came. Thus King Kid used the cane to build the fields around him until they became the Funlands they are now.
After the feast, King Kid goes into a bit more detail regarding the seven realms, stating that he had never visited any others (besides Earthlands or Earth), but that most were ravaged by the previous Mister Mind attack, and that the Monsterlands, in particular, was closed off. The children seem a bit more open to King Kid’s help, but Mary feels that they should continue the discussion when they return home. King Kid is confused by why they’d ever want to go back to the Earthlands, and is shocked that they live with parents willingly. And King Kid completely loses it when Freddy reveals that Mary’s turning eighteen soon. Attacking the Batson kids with his clown minions, King Kid grabs Mary, tossing her down a hole in the floor…
This cover absolutely GORGEOUS on a technical level, as the maniacal Mister Mind brews a potion to spy on Shazam, who’s wonderfully rendered through the reflection in the bowl’s contents. It’s wonderfully creepy and ominous, with smoke billowing out, and Mind’s eyes drawn wide, glaring with a demented focus upon his foe…
It also has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the comic. However given how beautifully crafted it is, I’m willing to overlook that. Although anyone picking up this issue may be confused by Mister Mind’s on-panel absence (though he is mentioned several times).
Opinions on story and art
This was another wonderful installment! Feeling a bit less fragmented than the previous two issues, this comic focuses solely on Billy and his siblings’ exploits within the Funlands. So while I am eager for more information regarding both the sudden appearance of Billy’s biological father at the Vasquez’s home and the machinations of Mister Mind and Doctor Sivanna, I’m willing to wait a bit longer if it means spending more time with the titular character. And that’s certainly the case here.
Both visually and verbally, this issue contributes a lot of world-building, expounding upon the various realms beyond the Funlands, and delving into both its and King Kid’s origins. Dale Eaglesham returns to pencil most of the issue, and his return is most welcome. The energy and ridiculous architecture of King Kid’s world is wonderfully crated with Eaglesham’s pencils. Also returning to draw the flashback of King Kid’s past is Mayo “Sen” Naito, who does a great job making said flashback feel like the beginnings of a fairy-tale, dark, but clean and simplistic. I was reminded of Jack Frost’s origin in “Rise of the Guardians”. Marco Santucci likewise returns to draw the last few pages of the comic, rendering two very distinct, and intriguing new worlds. All of this is wonderfully complemented by Mike Atiyeh’s coloring, which allows for overall consistency within the story, despite the multiple pencillers.
Geoff Johns continues to flesh out the characters and worlds his crafting with this series and does so very effectively. Mary continues to be the voice of reason within the group, and with the reveal of her age, nearly eighteen, it makes more sense. Mary’s the oldest among them and thus feels responsible for her siblings’ welfare. Add on to that the fact that she’s nearly an adult, and she may feel like indulging in games and junk-food is too childish for her to do any more. I’m very curious to see where Johns takes Mary’s character. Of even greater focus in this issue is King Kid, as we get the sense that he’s a Peter Pan-like figure. He feels like adulthood is terrible, and that children should be rescued from this fate and left to look after themselves. As a result, though, he lacks the emotional maturity to understand what he’s doing is wrong. I admit I saw his actually being an antagonist for the group coming, but I still enjoyed the explanation for why he acts the way he does (though I feel like there’s more to his backstory than has been shared thus far). The ending of the comic I likewise loved, as the set-up allows for some fleshing out of Billy’s siblings, who, apart from Mary and Freddy, have not received that much development.