Aw yeah, SHAZAM! That’s what I expected and, honestly, that’s what I didn’t get in this book. Anyone who has been reading “Billy Batson” is aware that Mike Kunkel has been keeping a less-than-regular schedule with regards to completing this book. So when it was announced that he would be trading story arcs with Baltazar and Franco, I was enthused. After all, I love what the duo of Baltazar and Franco give us every month in “Tiny Titans.” Except this isn’t “Tiny Titans.”
Baltazar and Franco do a great job of maintaining the feel of the series as Kunkel has established in the four previous issues of this title. The sense of wonder and awe, wide-eyed amazement and “golly gee” good attitude that don’t work quite as well in a mainstream book are given a chance to work in these all ages DC Kids (are they no longer Johnny DC?) books. If any character can appeal to an all ages audience, it’s Captain Marvel, and here we see many of the aspect of the hero – both Captain Marvel and his acronym-induced alter ego.
The art is rough in some areas, but kinetic. Vaughns gets sidetracked in his storytelling and composition in some places, such as the panel where Captain Marvel is smacked through the street by Mr. Atom. I was confused as to where the water came from. Additionally the scale of Mr. Atom is undefined. Is he a twenty-foot robot or fifty? For him to punch a skyscraper, he’d have to be pretty tall, but then again, the skyscraper did look pretty thin. Granted, I am definitely being a little nitpicky here, but that’s good, as Vaughns’ work is engaging enough to only leave me minor issues to criticize. All in all, if Kunkel cannot draw this book every issue and both J. Bone and Carlo Barberi (check out his take on Captain Marvel in “Batman: the Brave and the Bold” #5) are otherwise preoccupied, Vaughns makes a strong case to be the regular artist. I think he is a talent still growing into his interpretation of this character, and I look forward to seeing more.
This may not be all-out hilarity and hijinx like “Tiny Titans,” but it does prove the writing duo is capable of more. As long as it also allows us to enjoy adventures featuring Captain Marvel and his sister, Mary, on a regular basis, I am pleased that DC has made this move. This continues to be a good book to share with younger readers, even if it is different from Kunkel’s contributions to this title.