Here was a series with a lot of possibility, but seemed to lack time, and writing skills. Throughout the entire series I felt this sense of urgency that Winnick was trying to convey for Freddy Freeman to accomplish his 12labors basically, but I felt it was rushed in the book as well. The reader never truly feels the magnitude of the events, nor are we forced to be engrossed in the character development.

The first Issue was okay, which really means I enjoyed the art. We all know the world of Magic was turned upside down when the Spectre killed Shazam and this issue deals with the ramifications of that. There still needs to be a Shazam, a protector of what is at least left of the Rock of Eternity and I don’t think there is much surprise that his acolyte is the one to take those reigns. Marvel is fighting some demonic beast that looks like a huge squid and his powers get funky as he is transformed from his traditional yellow and red garb into a white and gold garb. I was actually hoping for a Super-Super-Powered version of Marvel, but alas here we have the new Shazam. Mary Marvel is laid up in a hospital bed and Freddy is off trying to call the powers of Shazam to no avail.

I know Judd Winnick is supposed to be this great writer, but again the series still falls into the realm of okay and it really is only because of Howard Porter’s artwork. This is also when the story starts to develop is frenzied pace. Issues #2 and #3 lets the reader know it is up to Freddy Freeman to basically complete 12 labors and EARN the powers of Shazam. Each god will bestow him with their abilities. We also learn there are those who wish for him to fail, the council of Merlyn and their acolyte, Sabina. This dread head hot-chick wants the power for evil which is just hilarious when the events play out at the Council’s board room meetings over the course of the series. Either way in Issue #3 Freddy is forced to face his emotions about becoming part of the Marvel family and in doing so gains the Wisdom of Solomon. Nothing really great in the issue, Howard Porter must love dreads because Freddy also has someone to guide him through these labors named Zareb whom also has dreads.

So next Freddie needs to get Achilles powers and that is quite the inconvenient mess as he travels to the middle-east to find Achilles is in the form of a US Marine (OOH-Rah!). Sabina actually enters the fray and summons demons to attack Achilles and Freddy. Her plan is to just force the gods to give their powers to her. How that actually works in writing doesn’t really fit, these are gods. Nevertheless she has the Council on her side so I guess it is possible. Issue #4 and #5 spun this web and we finally see Freddy succeed in his labor, kind of.

Issue #6 we move on to Hercules and these encounters with Sabina clearly show that even with power, experience rules all because Sabina lays the mettle to Freddy a couple of times. Hercules looks like he is the part of a prison gang or the Yakuza, I can’t say for sure, but he is jailed and wants Freddy to get him out before he gives him his powers. Apparently Hercules was framed by Medusa and mistakenly killed 4 mortals which is a major no-no, which is why the other Gods have not intervened. Well Freddy gets the powers of Hercules, but only half. Sabina arrived earlier and took a bit. So Freddy is still winning this race 2.5 to .5. Issue #7 was back story for our dreaded villain Sabina and a little showdown between the two and even though Freddy should have the upper hand Sabina shows she can hold her own.

Issue #8 that artwork gets better so does the writing. We see Atlas who looks like Professor X hooked up to Cerebro only with more wires saving the world one nano-second at a time. The writing gets better because Atlas dies and having it lead into the storyline with Apollo is Issue #9 is cool. Apollo decides to give half his powers to both since they are forcing his hand at taking over for Atlas which means leaving behind his family. Nice writing here by Winnick. I guess if you wanted to start reading the series at this point you could.

Issue #10 has Freddy and Sabina chasing down Mercury, hell who doesn’t want that speed. What’s funny is in between all their battles we really never get to see too much of an expression of these powers. In Issue #9 the artist changes over and I find myself missing Howard Porter the artwork throughout doesn’t lend its aide to the story. Or at the very least the prevailing sentiment could be after 9 issues you get used to something. Issue #11 Freddy starts to show some of that Solomon wisdom, but it is a little too late as Sabina steals the powers of Mercury by kidnapping his kids. Freddy goes to the Shadowpact and the JLA for help in getting to Zeus. The last panels with the JLA are really good work. My only question was where was the penmanship before Issue #8?

Then we get to the conclusion of the trial which was oh-so rushed. Sabina on the cusp of releasing a magic spell to take a million souls, her speaking about the JLA getting their butts handed to them when the illustrations convey a total different picture. And Freddy has the plan to kill both of them by going back through the portal her demons came out of which apparently is supposed to be one way. Reminds me of a couple of butt jokes, but no I couldn’t. Either way Freddy has made up his mind he’d rather be dead than allow the powers to fall into her hands and this is what awakens Zeus, who is actually Zareb. Zareb bestows all of his powers upon Freddy. Apparently Shazam knew that Zareb was Zeus. Okay so like I said this went by too damned quick. The whole JLA and Shadowpact involved and it came down to like two pages. Even worse Sabina is sent into the hole which supposedly un-summons all the demons and returns everyone they turned into demons back to normal, way too convenient.

Overall I cant say I am pleased with Winnick’s writing or character development, but if you are a DC fan then you need to check out the series so you are in the know, there is a new Captain Marvel and it’s Freddy Freeman.



Words Expressed | VS System TCG News