FUTURE STATE: sHAZAM #1 (review)

FUTURE STATE: Shazam #1
DC COMICS

Written by: Tim Sheridan
Pencils by: Eduardo Pansica
Inks by: Julio Ferreira
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo

Shazam’s characterization is often the wish fulfillment of young Billy Batson. Batson’s ability to harness the mystical power of Shazam provides writers the opportunity to focus on learning maturity and responsibility while doing exciting super hero feats. Future State: Shazam twists this traditional presentation of the character and provides writer Tim Sheridan a fresh and thought provoking angle to explore.

Throughout the first issue Shazam continues to tell people to not call him “Billy.” The tone starts mild but escalates to aggression as the issue progresses. The foreshadowing is present enough for readers to assume that Shazam and Billy are no longer one in the same. Sheridan paces the reveals well creating a growing sense of suspicion and dread. Shazam is frequently questioned by The Question, but the identity of who this current Question is remains unanswered. The villain confrontation is more of a side story that ties into Future State: Teen Titans. Knowledge of that plotline is not necessary, because even the battle with traditional villains is a means to move the larger plot of Shazam’s identity forward. The conclusion comes at a frantic pace as Shazam takes a darker turn against a DC Justice Society deep cut, Johnny Thunder.

Writer, Tim Sheridan, has successfully written DC heroes for animated TV and films and his experience in tightly pacing a story shines here. Given that Future State series are all limited series, Sheridan needs to communicate the plot quickly and build tension accordingly. This is difficult to do without creating an issue that feels undeveloped and rushed. Sheridan’s pacing succeeds in creating an opening issue that changes who Shazam is and creates a divide between him and the rest of his Justice League team.

The artistic team pairs well with this darker version of Shazam. Eduardo Pansica’s pencils capture the imposing size and strength of Shazam and visually demonstrate his presence and leadership of this Justice League. Pansica’s imposing stances and body language from Shazam provide readers the foreboding sense that something is not right with this well known character. The colors and shadows that Julio Ferreira and Marcelo Maiolo bring to the page create the appropriate dichotomy between a traditional bright Shazam comic and the darkness of something lingering just under the surface.

Combined together, this writing artistic team creates a comic worth reading twice. Once the reveal is known, the layers of art give additional meaning to the larger story. Sheridan has crafted a tale that retains the bleak vision of the Future State line without sacrificing the bright comic wonder that accompanies Shazam.

SCORE: 8.5