Saturday, September 22, 2012

Paul's Picks! - September 19, 2012

Well, it's that time again folks: Wednesday! And you know what Wednesday is?... Well, of course you do, you're reading a blog about comics, so you obviously know it's New Comics Day, a.k.a. Paul's favorite weekly holiday! And now for his much-anticipated pick-of-the-week...

Hey guys! Sorry about the delay on this weeks Pick, I'm in the heat of classes, so I'm afraid there may be a few weeks throughout the semester when my column may slip back a day or two... But don't worry, I'll be certain to get a pick up every week, barring any excessive hindrances.

Throwing out my usual blurb leading into my pick of the week, lets just get right into comics, shall we? My absolute pick of the week (as spoiled by this weeks episode of the podcast) is...

Justice League #0 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

You guessed it! Justice League, or as I like to call it, "Shazam #0." Now, why would I say that? Isn't this the same book that Johns has been writing over the last year of the New 52? Well, yes, it is. However, the book does a flip-flop from what it has been over the last 6 or so issues, and the creative team of Johns and Frank bring their usual Shazam! backup to the front of the comic, and the readers finally get something that we've been wanting since that started: a full issue starring Billy Batson, a.k.a. Shazam! If you've followed along, then you know that I have not shied away from my blatant adoration for this story that Johns has been building up, and man alive did he and Frank knock this out of the park! Let me break this one down for you in terms of just what did it for me:

1.) Billy is a punk kid in Superman's body. Let me clarify here, he isn't actually in Superman's body, but he might as well be. If the story so far has taught us anything, it's that although Billy may be a good kid at heart, he's also impulsive and kind of a punk. This is discovered by the last wizard, who has wasted his life away looking for a man who is pure of heart and good to his core. Instead, the magic sends him Billy, who is all but righteous. This may sound pretty standard, but Johns' writing does a great job of selling it. We witness the wizard's inner conflict, as he tries to decide what to do in light of the looming threat of Black Adam's resurrection. In the end, he settles for the fact that, although Billy may not be pure, he has the potential for good, for righteousness, for heroism.

Billy finds himself imbued with the power of the gods, and you can just see the pure excitement and the realization of possibilities that are before him. Instead of the token superhero epiphany, we get the story ending on a panel with him rejoicing because, with these new powers, he can get rich. I loved it! Johns didn't take the bait of giving us the same old goody-two-shoes that we know from before and instead shows us a glimpse of the journey he has before him. Man, I am so excited to see where that goes. Shazam! ongoing series? Yes, please!

2.) Gary Frank is irrefutably in my Top Five. Okay, I know them's big words, but I just can't help it anymore. Jim Lee is the man, and there is a short list of artists I'd go out and buy a book for, but I have realized that Gary Frank can do no wrong. Even in series that have been lackluster, like Johns' "Superman: Secret Origin," his pages always wow me out of my head. And this book is no exception! Just thinking about that full page panel of Shazam's reveal gives me chills. Shazam is now an adult Billy, plain as day. He's created the definitive image of these characters for the New 52, and I can't imagine seeing this story drawn by anyone else. As a matter of fact, in spite of my love for what Johns is doing with the story, I'd rather see him move on and keep Frank than vice versa. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is saying something.

3.) Lastly, that backup really has me anxious for Trinity War. So we all know at this point that JL is DC's flagship title, and as such it is going to be the launching pad for the biggest stories in the DCnU. This is again reinforced by the backup story in this zero issue, which further teases the coming events of the Trinity War. Written by Johns, with art by another great, Ethan Van Sciver, we're given another taste of this mysterious background story about Pandora, Phantom Stranger, and, most confusingly, the Question. For those of you who many not have read this yet, I won't spoil anything, but I will say this: by the time I had finished those few pages, I was ready to go out and throw my money at DC for Trinity War #1. I still don't know what's going to come from all if this stuff, but I can say one thing for sure... Bring it on, DC. Bring. It. On.

That's Paul's Pick this week! Hope you enjoyed it, let me know on the twitter @jollygreen05 or @AncillaryTweets. Until next week!

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