For a number of reasons I’m not gonna get into, 1995 was not a good year for me. Because there was so much stuff going on around that I could not control, I spent most of the year reading comics.
1995 was the year I tried many different titles, including some Vertigo for the first time. I was willing to try just about any comic that year, and as luck would have it, early in 1995 DC Comics launched The Power of Shazam monthly series. The new book was written by Jerry Ordway, with art by Peter Krause and Mike Manley.
At the time I didn’t know too much about Captain Marvel. Sure, I’d watched re-runs of the 1970’s show, and remembered he was briefly a member of the Justice League International. But I picked up the first issue from a spinner rack at a convenience store across the street from my apartment because of the striking cover by Jerry Ordway. Little did I know this one issue would lead to another, and another, and another, until I had collected all 47 issues plus an annual.
The main plot in The Power of Shazam #1 sees Billy Batson’s cousin, Sinclair Batson, attempting to modernize Fawcett City by creating new jobs with the new buildings he plans to build. But someone doesn’t want him to do this, so they send Ibac to destroy the new building he’s dedicating. When that attempt fails, another act of sabotage is planned, but this time Billy finds himself without his powers.
That plot was pretty cool, and gave the issue some good action scenes. However, the stuff that grabbed my attention was seeing Billy Batson and a normal kid. He’s late for school because he was saving lives; Billy gets excited when he learns a Big Belly Burgers is opening in town; and we see his joy at having missed only a couple of minutes of his favorite tv show.
The Power of Shazam #1 is what a number one issue should be. You get a full story, There’s action, you meet the key characters, and you learned something about the main character’s life. This is my friends, how you do a first issue.
During a time when superhero comics were getting dark, The Power of Shazam stood out for its bright storytelling, and optimism. This series was the closest thing my generatiion had to a Silver Age book, and for that I will always be thankful to Jerry Ordway, Peter Krause and Mike Manley.