THIS WEEK: We originally planned to do a roundtable, but then SHAZAM #4 was so excellent and ridiculous, we dropped everything. Plus, Peacemaker Tries Hard #6 is a great ending!

Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.


Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Troy Peteri

I haven’t been sleeping much. I mean, how could I? You see, SHAZAM #3, ended with our guy, The Captain, coming face to face with the emperor of the moon. That’s right. The emperor. Of. The. Moon. This is the sort of thing that makes one obsess over what happens next. I had to know. I had to know who this emperor of the moon was, how he took control of the moon, what sort of moon powers his emperorship conferred upon him, and so forth. 

And friends, thankfully, SHAZAM #4 delivers (I can sleep again!). I’m exaggerating, obviously, but I did find the ending of the last issue of this book to be excellent, and sort of typical of everything that is making this one of my favorite DC Comics right now. It’s raucous in a way that doesn’t feel cheap. It’s absurd in a way that speaks to the core of the child-to-super-adult character concept. It’s a modernization of the elements in the best classic Captain Marvel comics. And it’s whip smart with how aware it is of what makes a superhero comic excellent.

The emperor of the moon — a big bulky green fellow in a space robe with a space headband and a jowly scowling mug of a face — is just the beginning too. In the follow-up issue, we get his entire backstory (which involves a surprising amount of romance), in combination with the watering of some plot seeds from another fun element of an earlier issue: we get more of the light unrest in Simian Island (ahem a suburb of Gorilla City, obviously) leading to an ape putting on a space suit, ch-chak-ing a pair of ’90s comics-sized big guns, and taking the fight to the emperor of the moon.

This book reads like the creative team made a list of their favorite things to draw and write into comics, and have just been methodically checking them off, all within a plot structure that doesn’t strain or make you keenly aware that’s what they’re doing. I’ve just written a couple hundred words about over-the-top elements I liked in this comic, and haven’t even really touched on the more prominent elements of the plot (the gods are playing games, Queen Bee is causing (horny-in-a-mostly-chaste way) trouble, etc.). 


And I think that speaks to one of this book’s other major strengths: this is a book that knows the exact right tone with which to depict its lead character. Anyway, I think I’ve laid forth plenty of compelling evidence to make my central case about SHAZAM #4 by now: which is that if you really love DC Comics (and, indeed, self-aware superhero comics that have fun with the genre, generally) you really ought to do yourself a favor and savor every last issue of this run. The artwork by Mora and Sanchez is also all-time great Captain. It’s all just so good.

Plus, hey, there’s a T-rex who wears a tuxedo and a top hat.

Verdict: BUY

The Round-Up

  • Also this week, we got an excellent finale with Peacemaker Tries Hard #6. This book has been hilarious from the start, capturing the excellent sense of humor from the television series, and then elevating it further with the sensibilities of writer Kyle Starks and artist Steve Pugh, two of the funniest creators in comics. With colors by Jordie Bellaire and letters by Becca Carey, this book has just been excellent, making the most of its fun cast and doing with a surprising amount of heart. It’s the type of series that makes you hope the creators re-team on another project soon. At the very least, I’d like to see more of Bruce Wayne, the French Bulldog who’s fur makes it look like he’s forever wearing a tuxedo. This character is cannon now.
  • Last month, the entire team around here raved about Birds of Prey #1, which I personally thought was one of the best new #1s from all the Dawn of DC books that have been launched this year, right up there with the just-about-perfect Superman #1. Well friends, I’m happy to report that Birds of Prey #2 is also very good. I had no reason to suspect it wouldn’t be, but it’s always nice when an excellent #1 loses very little momentum as it transitions into the rest of a first story arc. What I’ve found especially impressive about this book through two issues is that the creators have not only assembled a wonderful cast but also managed to juggle them without any members feeling neglected. That’s not easy. This one is written by Kelly Thompson, with art by Leonardo Romero, colors by Jordie Bellaire, and letters by Clayton Cowles.
  • I have to be honest — I didn’t much care for the most recent Blue Beetle miniseries, Graduation Day. But this new run of Blue Beetle comics has really been great through two issues. Everything feels tighter in this new arc, even as the scope of the story continues to expand, drawing in more DC superheroes, more bits of the Beetle mythos, the Reach, and others who wield scarabs. Not only am I enjoying this title now, I’m actively looking forward to seeing where it all goes. This one was written by Josh Trujillo, illustrated by Adrian Gutierrez, colored by Wil Quintana, and lettered by Lucas Gattoni.

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!