June 16, 2024

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Noteworthy Issues: Knight Terrors: Shazam! #1 (July, 2023)

Mary Marvel has some bad dreams.

So, I have had this feeling that the various Knight Terrors haven’t always been all that good at making the special issues feel dreamlike.

This one here is an exception.

Issue:  Knight Terrors: Shazam! #1, July 2023

Writer:  Mark Waid

Artist:  Roger Cruz and Wellington Dias

The Plot:  Mary Marvel has what looks like some legit bad dreams.

Commentary:  The problem with many of these “dream” stories is how little many of them actually feel dreamlike.  Few of them seem to have anything more than the most generic of monsters to battle or they actually seem to have, for lack of a better word, coherent stories.  Real dreams are rarely this narratively coherent.  Some of these stories, some of which I haven’t reviewed yet, do a better job than others of coming across as choppy, but none of them so far have quite achieved the level of dreamlike imagery as the Shazam! special two-parter.  Mary Marvel is the star here, and the dreams keep changing around her with little rhyme or reason.  She’s told her favorite meal is some sort of bug the size of a pie plate.  She gets in a limousine that is impossibly long and has ankle deep water inside.  People she meets don’t seem to have any coherent motives or even even always say things that make sense.  This is the two-parter, out of the whole batch, that managed to achieve the dream-like feel.

It’s also the only one written by Mark Waid.  Should I be that surprised the old pro in the bunch turned in the best story?

Yeah, this one is among the best so far, and the thing Mary fears most is apparently her brother Billy.  The Lazarus Planet storyline ended with Billy and Mary the only ones with Shazam-ish powers, but Mary’s patron gods are not the same ones as Billy’s.  That means their other foster siblings are powerless, and it does give Mary suitable fears that her own powers could be stripped from her by a corrupted Billy.  Billy’s “Captain Thunder” form looks a lot like Black Adam’s, and the final panel is perhaps the most unnerving cliffhanger possible given this is still the Marvel/Shazam Family, and there’s always been a sort of kid-friendly feel to their world.

Point is, this one may be the one I’ve liked best so far with one or two possible contenders, but I am generally glad I am not paying for these as individual issues.  I just know I’d be annoyed.

Grade:  A-