Writer Tom Taylor uses this chapter to once again dive face first into the "freedom vs. security" debate, except it's now from the perspective of Billy Batson and ordinary people. What are you willing to give up to be truly safe? What line does one have to cross to deserve death? It's more than understandable Billy's torn on the matter -- especially because the ultimate symbol of good is apparently the one making these controversial decisions. For the most part, we see most of the reactions you'd see from the people on the ground in such a situation. There's people who think Superman's awesome for ending Joker ("Fatality!"), those who refuse to speak up out of fear, and those who see this path paved with good intention leads to a bloody and terrible place. It's a nice little departure from the super powered community and they're reactions we'd expect, but still delivered in an organic manner instead of feeling forced. That said, knowing this does indeed result in a terrible outcome five years from now is unfortunate and makes the topic far less debatable from our end.
I'm by no means an expert when it comes to Shazam, but Taylor did a great job humanizing the character for me and I'm definitely curious to see what he'll do with the hero in the following issues. We know he'll stand by Superman's side, but what will convince him to reach this decision -- especially when he's clearly so torn?
Kevin Maguire's art brings a completely new tone to the book. I do have my complaints, but there's some brilliant detail which transforms these 2D images into living and breathing beings. There's so much heart behind Cyborg's expressions (most notably when his arm is removed) and he does a great job delivering Billy's innocence. Two instances aside, Black Adam's heated and passionate reactions also look solid.
As I stated above, Kevin Maguire does a great job conveying emotion... most of the time. There's a moment or two which are really glaring and unfortunately make the scenes tough to take seriously. In one, Black Adam makes an expression that feels way too melodramatic and basically ruins a rather awesome moment. In another, it looks like some buddies scribbled fake glasses on him with a black marker while he was sleeping.
Diving into the aftermath of Black Adam's assault made me really wish we could have seen the conflict that went down just moments earlier. He took down Green Lantern and Superman at the same time? This could have been a legendary encounter to observe, but I understand writer Tom Taylor's space is limited with these digital chapters. Lastly, a bit of the tension was removed from the powerful moment if you're a fan of the game. There's a great deal of suspense and build up over Black Adam's fate, but gamers know he definitely sticks around.
It's unfortunate we have to wait to see the developments with Batman and his team, but in the meantime, this issue revolves around what Taylor does best: characterization (unless you're a Wonder Woman fan, that is). It's easy to relate to Billy's struggle and I'm extremely interested to see where the character will go from here. Just because we know the outcome doesn't mean we know the journey and that's something Taylor continues to prove to us every Tuesday.