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Why You Should Read Jeff Smith's SHAZAM! THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL

From 2007, find out the whole story of Billy Batson and Shazam.

Captain Marvel may now be known as Shazam but back in 2007, Jeff Smith, the creator of BONE, wrote and drew a four-issue prestige miniseries featuring the origin of the characters in SHAZAM! THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL.

As we are currently seeing the origin of the character in the back-ups in Geoff Johns' JUSTICE LEAGUE, Jeff Smith told it in a less serious fashion. By less serious, it doesn't mean less important. The current version by Johns and Gary Frank is telling a more mature story in a slightly darker DCU. Jeff Smith takes a more all-age approach.

Just because it's all-ages doesn't mean it's just for kids. It means this is the type of comic everyone can enjoy.

The story starts out with young Billy Batson, a homeless orphan. Forced to fend for himself and avoid the dangers of living on the streets. We witness Billy mysteriously finding his way to the Rock of Eternity where he first meets the Wizard.

With the appearance of Captain Marvel (or Shazam as he's being called today), we see the relationship between him and Billy. There are those moments of discovery as well as Smith's fun natured bouts of humor mixed in with the action.

Don't get the wrong impression. This story isn't just about bullies and hot dogs. With a title like "The Monster Society of Evil," you know there's definitely more to the story.

We also have the likes of Dr. Sivana, Mary Marvel, Tawky Tawny and other familiar faces introduced. The story contains high adventure as monsters begin to attack, just as Shazam is getting used to his return. With Jeff Smith delivering the story and art, it truly is something everyone can enjoy. This is what comics should be about - a great and fun story with great art. My daughter was five when I first read this to her. She loved every bit of it.

You don't need to know anything about the characters going into this story. This is truly the kind of book you could lend to a friend to show the what comics can be like. The hardcover collection (I liked it so much much I bought the four issue prestige comics and then the hardcover as well) does contain extra content. Sketches, notes and a production journal is included. Plus, with the hardcover, the dustjacket unfolds into a giant-sized poster.

We clearly need more comics like this. There is a deep importance in having comics suitable for everyone. We need the youth of today to be able to read and learn about the characters so they can become the comic fans of tomorrow. This isn't a story that's watered down to be 'safe' for younger readers.

Will this story change the face of comic books? Not necessarily. It is a great example of what comics can be about. They don't have to be all doom and gloom and laden with death and despair. Comic books can and should be fun.

30 Comments
Posted by Mucklefluga

Bit off-topic but this article makes me think of Superman Family Adventures which then makes me sad since it's getting cancelled :(

Edited by corpsecraft

One of my favorite graphic novels. It's nice to see an article about how fun it is.

Posted by Billy Batson

Good mini and yeah, and we need more fun books for all ages. Marvel has FF while DC doesn't really have anything from the New 52.

DC should have used this as their mold for the New 52 Billy.

BB

Posted by Crash_Recovery

It's a fun read. I actually have that in a drawer at my desk. I loan it out to friends with kids.

Posted by nmiller1939

I loved that story, one of the, if not the, best uses of Captain Marvel in the last few decades.

Posted by Sakurafire

@billy_batson: DC's too busy trying to appease all of us grumpy older comic readers rather than enticing new ones. Or something. I honestly don't know because nothing they do really works. (Especially as they seem to be slowly killing off their all-ages line.)

Posted by Or35ti

I think I'll actually be picking this one up in the near future. Thank you for the recommendation! :)

Posted by Smart_Dork_Dude

@billy_batson said:

Good mini and yeah, and we need more fun books for all ages. Marvel has FF while DC doesn't really have anything from the New 52.

DC should have used this as their mold for the New 52 Billy.

BB

EXACTLY!!!!!!!!! Now I've been begrudgingly continued reading the New 52 Shazam back ups, really the only reason I read Justice League now, and I admit it IS getting better though I'd still prefer it if either one or two things happened. Billy's heroic and good nature gets enhanced while he's Shazam, since the good nature part is kinda lost right now, so that it's basically like he's another person when he's Shazam.

Edited by mcbean

The Monster society of evil was good but wondering when will Shazam get a new ongoing series in the new 52 ?

Posted by TheDarkSalmon

get justin jordan to write it and ill allow DC to have my 4 bucks

Posted by StMichalofWilson

Back when he was Captain Marvel. Now he's Shazam. Maybe someday they'll make a Shazam series.

Edited by theDCkid

How did I not know Jeff Smith did a Shazam! series?, I will definitely be reading this as soon as possible.

Edited by deathmedal

I like how there can be two interpretations to the Captain Marvel Character, here Smith Writes Captain Marvel and Billy as two different completly different entities' which I found interesting. I hope there is a follow up to this someday. Maybe with Black Adam.

Posted by detective38

Such a great mini series! An excellent take on Capt. Marvel that stuck more in the vibe of the Power of Shazam ongoing from the nineties. I hate the direction that DC is taking the character now...

Posted by gotwillpower

I really, really like this segment. Keep doing it.

Edited by Supreme Marvel

Ready it years ago.

Posted by StrangeMan

Geoff Johns would learn a thing or two if he read this. Absolutely fantastic series, one of my favorites of the character.

Posted by SmashBrawler

Man, it's been a while since I read this but I do remember it was a lot of fun. I kinda miss this kind of stuff from the Big Two, especially current DC.

Posted by August_Macias

@deathmedal: There was a follow up, it was "Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam" series.

Posted by Mbecks14

Such a great read :)

Posted by Pixel_Kaiser

Definitely wish we had more books like this, for sure.

Posted by Miss_Garrick

I love this book! I was never crazy about young Billy in an adult Shazam body. That raised up weird gray areas, but Jeff Smith instead has his Billy and Shazam being separate people who swap places. That and the explanation he has for Talky Tawney is total BRILLANCE!!

Posted by Buzzman19

Good series but I have to admit that I enjoyed the "Trials of Shazam!" far more. I always think about (Trials) as being a good movie adaptation as well.

Posted by longbowhunter

Have read this in a while. Plan on going through my long boxes this summer. I'll have to sit this one out for a reread.

Posted by Necrotic_Lycanthrope

I love Captain Marvel, but with all the seriousness slapped onto him in the New 52, the artwork really clashes with the "new" him.

Posted by DadaHyena

It was a fun read; I didn't agree with every change made to the characters (Sivana as a midget who's involved in politics...the hell?), but all in all it kept the spirit of the original. Captain Marvel seems to work best when he's kept to his humorous, whimsical roots, and Jeff Smith got that down perfectly.

It's a shame that the original MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL story arc wont be reprinted any time soon (damn you, political correctness, give me my offensive WWII comics!), but this is still nice to have anyway.

Edited by arnoldoaad

definitely the best Shazam story ever made

Edited by RedheadedAtrocitus

I want to get this so much too...I love comics that are like this that can be accessible and appropriate for all ages!

Edited by AshlynSandra1

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Posted by Mbecks14

This is my favorite Shazam series