Why the Trials of Shazam (#1) is a bad comic…Posted: September 1, 2006
It seems I did forget to review one comic that came out this week because I’d read it when it was part of the extra special retailer preview comics for last week. Since I forgot to review the Trials of Shazam (FIRST ISSUE!), I thought I’d give it a special longer, more in-depth review.
Before I really start in on this book, I’d like to point out what I LIKED about this comic book. I find Howard Porter’s new style to be pretty interesting. It certainly not as clean or a clear as it could be but after a few more issue I’m sure it’ll be superior to his old style, which I enjoyed a great deal. I’ve like Porter’s art since the Rock of the Ages story in his run with Grant Morrison on JLA, so it’s nice to see him keep getting work and experimenting with a new, more painterly style.
Sadly though, Porter’s art is the only thing I liked in this book, at all.
Trials of Shazam is one of the worst written books I have read in (at least) a few weeks. I used to like Judd Winick’s writing a great deal. His Barry Ween: Boy Genius was brilliant and hilarious. I liked his early Green Lantern run and his first couple of arcs on Green Arrow. Yet over the last few years (since around the time of the ‘Brick’ arc in Green Arrow) Winick’s writing a taken a turn for the worse. Most of his recent writing has just been utter shit.
His recent work on Green Arrow is about to drive me from reading a book that I used adore starring a character I like a great deal. The ONE YEAR LATER issue of Outsiders was easily one of the worst comic books I have read all year (up there with Bruce Jones’ Nightwing). Winick just can’t seem to write anything these days that I can enjoy.
What does this have to do with the Trials of Shazam? A great deal. This book is a is just a showcase of all of Winick’s annoying writer-tics of recent years. Including:
- Child molester/killers as villains. The first time he used villains like this in Outsiders (and John Walsh guest starred) it was a little too “real-world” and forced for my taste. Here’s it’s just stupid.
- Repetitious captions. “Okay. I’m done being nice.” “All Done.” I’m tried of every writer, not just Winick (Bendis, I’m looking at you) writing every damn character with Frank Miller style narration. It’s annoying when Miller does it, these days, so it’s even MORE fucking annoying when other do it.
- Cliched villains. I swear to god I saw the loin-clothed evil cultist in the Monster Manual the other day
Good news is, there was no politics or “serious social issue” based preaching in this book.
Another major annoyance: poor Zatanna. It seems the poor girl can’t appear in a comic book these days without being used as a plot device (Identity Crisis, anyone?) or as a cipher to make the a book’s main character seem more powerful.
The stupidity of when a writer’s uses well established characters to make their book’s star look better was well expressed by Erik, a poster on Comic’s Should Be Good!:
Technique 1. Have him help someone the reader knows to be powerful. (”The great magician Zatanna.”) This help should be necessary to solve the powerful figure’s problem. (”Here’s how you kill this beast you’ve never seen before.”)
Technique 2. Have him make the figure in Step 1 look inferior in some meaningful way. (Zatanna: “I’m confused by your incredibly straight-forward explanation of how this creature came to be. The guy reading the comic wasn’t confused, but I am somehow completely baffled.”)
Technique 3. Set something up to sound powerful and serious. Then have your hero remark at the relative triviality of it. (”Fourteenth-level? That can wait.”)
Zatanna is an interesting character, with a long and rich history in the DC universe, who doesn’t need to be made to look like an idiot to make Shazam seem cooler or more competent.
One more pet peeve before I go. I’ve had it when writer’s use a “level” to describe a magical characters power in a comic, novel, movie, or TV show. It just reeks too much of gaming related stupidity (my 17th level elf wizard could totally
As you can see, I believe there’s absolutely no reason (other than to check out Porter’s new art style) to read this book. It’s crap through and through. RATING: UTTER SHIT
(To read a much more forgiving review, check out Brian Cronin’s)