Review – Convergence: Shazam #1 (of 2) (DC Comics)

convergence-shazam-01-dc-comics-2015Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Evan “Doc” Shaner
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Release Date: 29th April, 2015

I’ll be honest, when it was initially announced, I wasn’t all that excited about DC’s Convergence event. Like a lot of people, I guess I saw the whole thing as being overly ‘gimmicky’, and took personal offense at some of my favourite ongoing titles falling by the wayside in favour of these seemingly pointless mash-ups.  However, with my recently trimmed-down pull list freeing up some extra cash in my pocket, I made a vow to myself to pick up at least one ‘random’ title every time I pop into my LCS to collect my weekly books. 

Well, this week – based on the cover alone – there was never really going to be any other choice.

Following on from their impressive run on Dynamite’s Flash Gordon series, the creative trinity of Parker, Shaner and Bellaire turn their attention to the exploits of Billy Batson as the Golden Age era of Captain Marvel gets pitted up against the gothic world of Gotham by Gaslight. This first issue focuses heavily on (re)introducing us to the now-powerless Marvels as the people of Fawcett City prepare for their impending convergence with the inhabitants of the dark, gothic Gotham.

Parker’s chameleonesque writing ability is on full display here, managing to perfectly capture the dialogue of the era without it ever seeming like parody. Plus, any writer who can use “onions!” as an expression of frustration when a character realises they should have brought a flashlight is a-ok in my book. The story running throughout this first issue reads like a classic Captain Marvel comic, albeit one with a looming threat of a ‘dome’ coming down and another world rushing in to wage war on our colourful cast of characters.   Parker has spoken about how he actively sought out this property when the DC front office were doling out their Convergence writing assignments, and his clear passion for the project shines through in every page.

Doc Shaner’s artwork is typically superb throughout, providing a suitably Golden Age style while still managing to stamp his own uniquely modern mark on the visuals of the book. Eisner Award-winner Bellaire offers up her trademark complex, multi-layered colour work, giving the pages depth and expression without them ever feeling overwhelming. The cheeseball members of the Captain Marvel rogues gallery are each brilliantly recreated, and the pair throw in several truly impressive splash pages along the way. It’ll be interesting to see how their distinctive style will mesh with the grimy, Victorian-esque Gotham by Gaslight aesthetic, but if there’s a pair who can pull it off with style, it’s definitely Doc and Jordie.

So, consider this review the equivalent of me eating my words about this whole Convergence event. An apology, of sorts. Gimmicky it may undeniably be, but some of the creative teams and situations offered up by DC’s bold editorial decision are definitely worth a look – this one in particular. A gloriously upbeat callback to a forgotten era, lovingly recreated with a distinctly modern twist.

Rating: 5/5.

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576682_510764502303144_947146289_nThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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