Review: Justice League #0 By Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

Justice League #0

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Gary Frank, Brad Anderson, Ethan Van Sciver, and Hi-Fi



The short of it:


When last we saw Billy Batson he had ducked into a subway train to evade some kids that were coming after him, and after a flash of light he had come out in a strange new place. Obviously, he’s still there, and spends the early pages following the sound of an old man’s voice as he walks through the caves, finding the holographic statues of the seven deadly enemies of man. At the end of the tunnel is the Wizard, part of the council that debuted during the FCBD issue, the one that punished Pandora, Phantom Stranger, and Question. This man is the last of that once mighty council, and he has devoted the past years to finding someone that is pure good. Something it takes a child to explain to him is never going to happen, and that people in today’s world destroy pure goodness.


The Wizard tests Billy, seeing past his flaws to his potential for doing what is right, and relents his power to the boy. A familiar magical word later and we have our now hooded champion, but we don’t have the same old dynamic. The Wizard used the majority of the last of his power to empower the boy, and is only able to leave him with a few cryptic statements before exploding in a burst of energy that sends Billy home. Now, armed with the power of Shazam, it’s time for Billy to go get some payback for earlier, stop a crime, and remind all of us…that he’s just a fifteen year old kid with super powers.


Then, in the Ethan Van Sciver pencilled backup, the Wizard shows up one final time to talk to Pandora about the nature of who can open her box, and how her punishment may have been the wrong call. All the while…the Question is in Hub City.


What I liked:


  • A full issue in the focus is just what the artist once known as Captain Marvel needed. The backups have been nice, but they weren’t long enough to really convey a full on origin story. Having this part be in an issue on it’s own goes a long way towards making Billy’s origin great.
  • I love that the Wizard has spent all of this time trying and failing to find someone that is ‘pure good’, and that Billy is able to accurately explain why. He might be a kid, but he’s been given enough life experience to not necessarily act one.
  • Which leads into how much I enjoy his first actions with the power of the lightning, he’s totally a fifteen year old kid that just got super powers. He goes and tells his best buddy, destroys a car belonging to someone that was a dick to him, and even gets paid to beat someone up. There’s so much power and no responsibility, and that’s what Captain Marvel or SHAZAM should feel like on day one. Like a kid just got the power of the Gods.
  • I love the lightning bolt on his chest and the fact that the art keeps it constantly in motion. Very cool visual effect that makes the outfit feel alive.
  • Man, Gary Frank doesn’t go nearly enough monthly work. Hopefully with Batman: Earth One out of the way we’ll see that change.


What I didn’t like:


  • Not enough BLACK ADAM.
  • This isn’t spinning out into an ongoing SHAZAM series, or at least one hasn’t been announced yet.


Final Thoughts:


Geoff Johns has written the overwhelming majority of Captain Marvel issues that I’ve read. True story. Between JSA and this? It would be hard to think of a longer time I’ve read the character for, random minis or one off appearances…yeah, I’m not the biggest Captain Marvel fan. However, I’ve enjoyed him under the pen of Geoff Johns, and I like this new take quite a bit more. The Archie levels of saccharine sweet goodness always killed me.


I like how vague Johns kept the familiar aspects of the origin. Sure, there was a wizard, but we never had him say his name was Shazam, nor did he indicate much of anything to Billy. Like that he can share the power. That will be fun to see figured out on panel.


So now Billy can say “Shazam” without transforming, and it’s all about the inflection. You know what? I’ll buy it. That’s how they’re going to establish the new name, by having the character actually able to refer to himself by it.


Can Billy date Courtney Whitmore again? I’ve always said that relationship only ended because Geoff was leaving JSA and Billy was getting his status quo turned upside down. Come on, New 52 it!


So which Justice League member is going to have to give Billy the power and responsibility talk? Or, better yet, which one is going to tell him that you don’t charge for saving lives?


Big things happen when EVS draws for Geoff Johns. They showed off The Question here…any chance that Ethan will be drawing him again soon?


Overall: 8.5/10

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