I recently purchased Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil hardcover. This is a new Captain Marvel story from Jeff Smith the creator of Bone.
The character was created in the 40s, as young Billy Batson was giving a magic word from the Wizard Shazam (his name) which transformed him into Captain Marvel, worlds mightiest mortal. Also over time the Captain got a whole family of Marvels including a teenage sister Marvel Marvel.
Right from the start this book really had me. I’ve been a fan of Captain Marvel since I was a young boy, watching the CBS Saturday morning live action show. From that point on I ate up everything I got my hands on which stared “the big red cheese”.
I have to admit over the years, it all wasn’t very good. You see the problem with the Captain Marvel character is that during the run in the 40s and 50s it was done very tongue in cheek, whimsical and innocent. Lots of fantastic adventures and outrageous characters. But then the book was canceled and during the absence of the Captain Marvel from the 50s to the 70s, comics started to take themselves seriously. So when Captain Marvel returned to comics no one really knew how to handle a magic hero with a talking tiger. Therefore we’ve had many interpretation of the character not many very well done. Also many of the newer creators did not understand Billy relationship with the Captain. Most thought billy transformed into the Captain, that simply was not the case, The Captain, kinda possessed Billy. Well during the late 80s and 90s the creators wrote Captain Marvel as though Billy was stuck in an adults body “Wrong”.
With this new book, Jeff Smith has returned to the roots of Captain Marvel. Sure he has brought him to the 21st Century with many changes and updates, but with a real innocence and charm that fits very well with the mythos. Also in a stroke of genius Jeff Smith came up with the idea of making Mary Marvel a little tiny girl, Therefore making the Captain her big brother.
The new book by Jeff Smith is a retelling of the Monster Society story originally done over multiple issues during the 40s. I won’t go into the particulars of the storyline, but this was one of the funnest books in the last decade. I highly recommend it to all comic fans out there. Also it would be a great book to introduce young kids to the world of comics.