By Andy Frisk
April 1, 2009 - 15:31
Geoff Johns cleans up another mess DC has made of some of its oldest characters. In this issue Mary Marvel/Black Mary forces her brother, Billy Batson, the once and hopefully future, Captain Marvel to take on some of her evil power and go on a rampage with her against the JSA while Jay Garrick/The Original Flash and the spirit of Billy’s father help bring the statue containing the Wizard Shazam’s spirit back to our reality where Black Adam releases it in order to stop his beloved Isis, now corrupted by Adam’s power, from destroying every man woman and child on the face of the Earth starting with the inhabitants of Kahdnaq, the middle eastern country she and Adam recently ruled. In the end the returned Shazam de-powers everyone, takes his magic lightening bolts back, and promises to deal with Freddy, the current “Shazam,” while a new dark character debuts.
The Black Marvel Family: Black Adam, Black Mary, Isis by Alex Ross.
Looks like DC is getting ready to return the old status quo to the Marvel Family. This is not a bad thing, as there really hasn’t been anything resembling a “family” where the Marvels have been concerned over the past few years. Getting rid of Shazam and promoting Billy to the wizard in residence of The Rock of Eternity really didn’t feel right and since we didn’t get much by way of storytelling from this development why not just undo it? Hal Jordan is again the Green Lantern du jour and Barry Allen is back and getting re-birthed in FLASH: REBIRTH, so with the return of Shazam hopefully, the Marvel Family proper, along with Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and…er, ah…Captain Marvel, Jr. (might need to come up with a different name for Freddy, he might have outgrown that one) will be back soon as well. With a newly introduced evil wizard with a “family” of his own starting with Black Adam and Isis, could a CAPTAIN MARVEL: REBIRTH series be around the corner? I wouldn’t hold your breath, but it’s a cool idea.
If Captain Marvel comes back and also returns to the JSA, he would definitely fill the power vacuum left by The Kingdom Come Superman when he returned to his Earth. If Cap’s return isn’t in the cards though, we’re still getting a pretty good story surrounding these old Fawcett characters anyway. Black Adam’s moral ambiguity of character still appears to be part of his characterization and while he comes down on the “evil” side more often than the good he makes some difficult (for a “bad guy”) choices this issue. As for the members of the JSA featured in this issue, Atom Smasher, in particular gains some redemption and a subsequent invite to join the JSA as a full member. It also appears that the wounds and divisions caused by the recent battle and seduction of certain JSA members with and by Gog in the previous storyline have been, for the most part, healed, with even Magog getting a seat at the table.
Ordway’s pencils, like always, are crisp and sharp. His panels are full of detail and pop with action. We get a few well drawn full page spreads of Billy’s fall to the dark side and Shazam’s return in particular that are nicely done. The near full page image of the entire JSA seated at their round table is well done also and loaded with little details.
Overall, with Johns leaving this title soon and Jerry Ordway taking over, the quality of storytelling should remain high, although few, if any, recent comic book writers can measure up to what Johns has done for the medium and DC in particular. Hopefully, if we a return of Captain Marvel to the fold, Ordway will have some more classic characters to play with. JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA has been one of DC’s strongest titles over the past few years in storytelling and art and if it stays this way it will stay at the top of many reading lists.
Rating: 9 /10