Artist: Gary Frank
Since it started almost two years ago this has been an amazing series, and although it's had it's ups, and downs, it's overall been a very fun book. The Shazam! back-ups have also been a key part of this series for well over a year now, and I'm sad to see it end, but excited at the same time.
As Black Adam threatens to kill his friends Billy Batson has to make a huge choice in whether giving up his powers to save his friends, or stopping Black Adam.
This was a great issue, and although it wasn't the best instalment in the Shazam! storyline, it was a brilliant way to end it. Geoff Johns has been doing amazing work on this series, as well as Aquaman, Justice League of America, and Green Lantern (which he left recently) over the last couple of years, and although this hasn't always been the best of those series, it's been one of the most important ones. The Shazam! back-ups however have been brilliant, and one of the best things about this series, and although I'm sad that it's now ended, it was a brilliant ending. Johns' has taken Billy Batson and turned him from a mistrusting young boy into a hero, and I've loved being along for that journey. Johns' has also handled Billy's family perfectly, as well as the villain Black Adam, and overall he seems to really know what he's doing with these character's, although that's no surprise coming form Johns, who's made nearly every character he's touched turn into gold. This issue also had a lot of drama, and suspense, as well as excitement, which was all brilliant, giving a great atmosphere. The action was also amazing, and although it wasn't isolated, with not just one big action sequence, it was still brilliant. The only thing that I hope now is that Johns manages to start a Shazam! series, as I'd love that.
The art in this issue was also fantastic, and Gary Frank has once again produced some phenomenal artwork, and has been doing so throughout this entire story. Frank's best work always seems to come whilst working with Johns, as although he's done great art with other writers, his art with Johns on the likes of Superman: Secret Origin, and Batman: Earth One seem just that little bit better. His style however also suits this story perfectly, as he makes all the character's look amazing. Besides that he also does amazing layouts, making everything look so much more dramatic, and dynamic, which is always a joy. Frank also draws some of the most amazing action sequences, and he seems to have saved the best till last in this story. The action was simply outstanding, being explosive, and exciting, whilst also being dramatic, having lots of depth to it. Frank also has an amazing ability of showing the character's emotions perfectly, and this couldn't be shown any better than on the faces of Billy, and Black Adam, as you can see the hate, and remorse in Black Adam's face, and the hope, and hint of fear in Billy's which makes the story feel that much more alive.
This issue saw the Seven Deadly Sins return, and chose their host. Now I won't go into any more detail as to avoid spoilers, but this was awesome, and although it took away from the Shazam!/Black Adam sequence, it was still brilliant, and allowed the story to have more than just one setting. Although I won't name who the Deadly Sins chose as their host, I will say that it was a very interesting choice, and that what that person turned into was simply amazing, and one of the coolest monsters I've seen for a while.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD!
Now I don't like giving away spoilers, but it's hard to say my feelings about this next topic without doing so, and it's something that I really enjoyed in this issue. That of course was Billy sharing his powers. Now he was originally meant to give them to Black Adam, but instead he landed up sharing them with his foster siblings, turning them into the Marvel Family. Now I haven't read many Shazam! stories prior to this, but I do know about the Marvel Family, and although I kind of hoped that they'd stay out of the Shazam! story, possibly turning into the Marvel Family in a later story, it was still nice that it happened. I loved seeing them use their powers, and I especially loved seeing Tawky Tawny return, as I love that tiger.
Talking of family we got to see a lot of family values in this issue, as with the lives of his family in the balance Billy finally starts to show feelings for them. Now unless you already knew about Shazam!'s pre-Flashpoint you'd be surprised that this was the same character, as he hated them at the start of this story. It is however nice that he has started to show his feelings, as although the broody, loner role works for certain character', it doesn't for Shazam!, who needs to be a friendly person, with people around him for support.
Now finally we get to the big fight in this issue, which was obviously between Shazam!, and Black Adam. Now we've seen the two fight briefly in previous parts of this story, but this was the first time they got into a proper fight. Now I'll start by saying that this was neither the biggest, nor the most explosive fight that I've ever seen, but it was brilliantly written, and had ton's of emotion. The main thing that appealed to me about this fight was that although there was action, and excitement, it was more a fight of morals, with emotion being the key focus, and this made for a much more deep, and dramatic fight. The dialogue during the fight was also outstanding, and overall although it wasn't phenomenal, it was brilliant.
This was a excellent way to end this origin story, and although it wasn't the best, it was still brilliant. It had action, humour, and emotion, also being very dramatic, and I will seriously miss this back-up story. I would highly recommend it to anyone, but if you haven't been following this series it'd probably be best to get the hardback collection that's coming out with just this story in it.