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Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, or, Comics are for Kids

Yes, comics are for kids.  Rather, they can be.  And certain properties tend to lend themselves more easily to a child-friendly version, or, even better, an all-ages version.  Captain Marvel and the Marvel family, long-time loves of mine, truly lend themselves to comics that anyone can enjoy from 8 to 88 (up yours, 89 year olds, you don’t get crap).  So you can imagine my excitement when DC announced a new, kid-friendly ongoing Cap book, especially if you’ve been reading this blog for some time.  A comic I can give my class, and it’s cheaper than the Jeff Smith one!


And, yes, it is, isn’t it?  Financially and artistically.  I guess it’s not fair to compare most cartoonists to Jeff Smith, nor most comics’ to his work.  But let’s be honest here, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam is pretty awful.  Now, before anyone says, “It’s not meant for you, it’s meant for kids,” let me remind you that I encounter and interact with more children than pretty much any of you do.  It’s part of my job to know them, know what they like, and understand them (as much as possible).  This comic isn’t meant for any child I’ve ever met.  It’s more meant for some mythical ideal child from some golden age; the child some parents want to believe they’ll have, an innocent, spritely thing filled with sweetness and wonder.

The sort of kid a real kid would avoid like the plague.  This book is corny.  The designs are obvious and corny.  The jokes are lame, over-explained, and corny.  It’s like someone sat down and decided to parody a poorly-made cartoon from 1998, and then forgot it was a parody.  And the page density!  It’s practically unreadable!  Check out this sample page:

Jesus!  What's going on here?

The terrible, obvious designs are everywhere.  And look at this page . . .I can barely read it, there’s so much going on.  Do they really think 5 year olds can (as this couldn’t possibly be aimed at any higher age)?  The big red 1 displays an over-played, over-extended joke (ah, she talks a lot, funny).  Then we get base, bad gag reactions and number 2 shows the joke BEING EXPLAINED.  And then there’s number three . . .so, wait, adults never owned bikes?  Is that the “joke” there?  Number four, Robin Williams animatics would be less cheesy than that stuff.

It’s a really terrible book.  It doesn’t appeal to kids in the slightest.  It appeals to adults that wished this appeals to kids.  It’s not hard to get kids to like something; you don’t have to be Jeff Smith.  Just don’t talk down to them and don’t pretend they’ve got the mindset that you pretend you had at that age (and you didn’t . . .you wouldn’t have read this, you’d have read GI Joe or a Duck comic or mutants beating the crap out of each other).  I mean, look at the Marvel Adventures books.  Maybe they’re not exactly for me all the time, but a kid picks them up and they look like any other comic, even if the story is more kid-friendly.  It doesn’t look like the creators/company suspect the kid might be a bed-wetter.  Kids are not the same thing as infants.  By the time they can read, in this day and age, they’ve got a bit more sophistication than this.  I saw this was the work of one guy and I looked him up and then, all the sudden, it clicked for me.

This is the guy that did Herobear and the Kid.  Herobear and the Kid, one of the most unbearable, absolutely lamest comics supposedly aimed at children I’ve ever seen.  Herobear and the Kid, that bastion of utter cheese/schmaltz from a few years ago.  I checked out the trade when last at a comic shop and yes, it was as awful as I remembered.  So, in the spirit of Brian’s month of top fives, here we go!

Top Five Reasons It’s Correct to Hate Herobear and the Kid

  1. It’s a SHAMELESS, far-less-talented Calvin and Hobbes rip.
  2. The art and story are so schmaltzy I had to have all my teeth replaced yesterday like Jaws from James Bond.
  3. His grandfather is Santa Claus.
  4. The line ” . . .and, most wonderfully, he hugged me back.”  There is no child on earth that would read that without feeling sick to their stomachs.
  5. It’s an excuse for grown men to wallow in false nostalgia and try to force this crap on kids, who’d truly rather read Dragonball or Archie or Spider-man or even Tiny Titans.

So, yeah, this is a disappointment, kind of on the same level (if in the opposite direction) as Winnick’s recent take on the Marvel Family.  I can’t give this comic to my students; they’d laugh in my face (at best) or hate me for talking down to them (probably not even at worst).

Don’t talk down to the kids.  And don’t pretend you were ever this simplistic either.

112 Comments

All I can say is that I really enjoyed the book and that my 5 year-old asked me to read it to him twice last night. Plus he took it to day care to show all of his friends. Sounds to me that it appealed to him.

Like I said, 5 is going to be the limit on that. I can see this working for a five year old. Not for kids that can actually read it.

“I can’t give this comic to my students; they’d laugh in my face (at best) or hate me for talking down to them (probably not even at worst).”

Have you tried to give this to your students for an unbiased opinion?

Seeing how it obviously doesn’t appeal to you and how you seem to be the appointed voice of children, especially the ones you know so well, it might be interesting to actually give them the book and get an unsolicited opinion before you say they wouldn’t like it.

It may be a bit cheesey and simplistic but some people enjoy that. Its an easy read. I’m unsure why you can’\ read from left to right and top to bottom when presented with the difficult choice, seemed straightforward enough to me. Yeah the jokes, on this page at least, aren’t especially crafted to fit several pages, but..who cares…

It’s another take on the Marvels who don’t seem to be doing especially well in any form they’ve taken over any length of period.

Hey, if this gets 5 year olds in on reading comicbooks and their first memory of having a comicbook in their hands or having it read to them over and over and over by their father is this one I say they could do worse.

Come down off the soapbox and enjoy it for what it is and not for what you think it should be.

I have to strenuously disagree. Yes, my kids are younger (3 and 5) but they loved it. (And yes, there should be comics for 3-5 year olds.)

What prompted me to write, though, was the comparison with the Marvel Adventures line. I let my kid pick any comic he wanted and he picked MA Spiderman. I flipped through it and, yes, it looked like any other comic — hypersexualized Enchantress in a Jim Lee type pose. No thanks. I made him put it back and got him his second choice, Superfriends.

That said, I agree that the book was much too dense in terms of panel layout and words per page and words per caption.

But I thought the art was appealing and the spirit of Shazam was there for me.

From a literacy-development standpoint, it’s kind of a walking nightmare. The art is appealing to pre-literate and beginning-concepts ages, but the textuality is dense and complicated. It’s really all over the map. Confusing to children who would like how it looks and boring to those that can read it.

Next time I see one of my kids, when I take her to film class, I’ll show her this. Guarantee you Lee will tease me about it being baby stuff.

I disagree. I’ve been reading comics since I was 6, and I think I would’ve enjoyed this back then. I used to read everything I put my hands on back then. About the only thing I didn’t like were horror comics (though they seem lame compared to the ones we have today.) Of course, I also didn’t see beyond the superhero trappings in Batman, Superman and such; I didn’t care about moralizing, romance, etc. It wasn’t until I discovered Marvel comics (which for some reason were only available here in English) that I realized the stories had much more to them. I was about 12 at the time. Even so, I still liked the Silver Age style stories that they still put out on occasion, mostly in Superman comics.

I do agree, though, that this comic does look a little crowded- too many panels, too many words. if it’s aimed at small kids, it might be too dense for them.

I’m the anonymous poster above, I just forgot to sign my comment. Sorry! :P

“It’s another take on the Marvels who don’t seem to be doing especially well in any form they’ve taken over any length of period.”

You mean, aside from that Golden Age stretch, and into the fifties, where they totally dominated superhero sales, and produced work that is still held up as classic illustration today? (Mac Raboy’s Cap Jr, in particular…)

And you mean aside from the Jeff Smith run, which was easily one of the best comics of last year?

Just because they’ve been mishandled at DC, off and on since 1985, doesn’t mean that they haven’t had classic runs.

Well, I’ve got a 7-year-old, and I think he’d probably like it. I’ve got him hooked on the Marvel Adventures books, and he likes those a lot. He reads at a very advanced level, but doesn’t really comprehend at an advanced level, if you follow. He’s never said to me that a book’s jokes or plot seemed stupid; he just likes reading comics. And he can’t differentiate between art styles, either. He didn’t see the difference between Gurihiru and Marcello Dicheria on Power Pack, for example. My kid’s plenty smart, but he doesn’t bring much sophistication to his comic reading. Maybe your students are more advanced, Joe.

“He reads at a very advanced level, but doesn’t really comprehend at an advanced level, if you follow.”

TRUST me I follow. I deal with that a lot. (More often I deal with “doesn’t” in both, but such is life.)

I’m not really talking about comics sophistication. I’m talking about the natural tendency of kids to not want to be “little” kids.

“Well, I’ve got a 7-year-old, and I think he’d probably like it. I’ve got him hooked on the Marvel Adventures books, and he likes those a lot.”

The ones written by Jeff Parker and Fred Van Lente are particularly smart and fun.

Parker’s usually have a funny cover, ala http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/MARADVAV009_COV.jpg

or http://www.comicbox.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/maradvavn0241.jpg

I think this page could have benefited from a bit of red pencil on the word balloons.

At #2, that whole panel could have been done wordlessly and been more effective. At #3, the joke would have worked better if he’d said “Last week, my bike…” instead of “I had a bike one time…” The joke’s still a little flat, because adults do ride bicycles, but it would have been better. The punch line from the conductor should have come after Captain Marvel flew away to save the train, leaving out #4 altogether.

And the narration at the top is completely unnecessary and a little clunky. Do we need to know that it was Sunday afternoon? I’m assuming this is page one, which would explain the exposition about who is who, but surely there’s a better way to do it than print it at the top of the page. Also, it would have served as a nice frame for the page with the long wordless panel at the bottom.

As for #1, I think it would have worked better if she’d been rambling about various weird ways she could stop the train. It would have a good set up for the next joke rather than having to start all over and explain the joke, which I’m sorry, it isn’t funny if you explain it.

It’s really tricky having a 6 year old and explaining to him why he really shouldn’t be looking at your copy of Action Comics (featuring the Legion of Superheroes).

On the other hand, the Marvel Adventures line is so really great.

Well I agree from looking at the page you’ve scanned that the layout seems really dense but I’m a bit confused about what you’ve said about the actual art. What exactly do you mean when you say the designs are obivious? I thought the art seemed quite fun.

There’s not a lot of originality in the designs. They seem cribbed from generic 90s cartoons. The linework and inking is also really inconsistent.

Matt, I hear ya. “Well, yes, I know you’ve been reading X-Men: First Class, but trust me, Astonishing X-Men is not for you. That woman? That’s Emma Frost. Don’t ask. Really.”

Fortunately, he mastered the difference between Marvel and DC very quickly, and he (mostly) gets the idea that the various animated series are a different continuity than the comics. It’s a little tougher for him to grasp that his comics are in a different continuity than mine, but he kinda gets it. I can just say “different universe,” and that usually works. Now, why it should be necessary for me to say “different universe” is a matter for debate.

At least Hoppy should be showing up!

You know what kids hate just as much as being told what to like? It’s being told what not to like. As a teacher, one thing I’ve learned is that thinking that you can accurately predict what kids will like or not like is a fools’ game. And I fail to see that if a kid liked Bone or Calvin and Hobbes they would find this artwork too cartoony. You can argue that Smith and Watterson are better cartoonists, but Kunkel’s style, while not as accomplished, is far from being offensive or childish to someone with the sensibility to like Bone.
I think it seems the author came in with an axe to grind against Mike Hunkel. Which is fine, I suppose, but to coach it in the argument about comics for children seems disingenuous.

Here’s the thing, Calvin and Hobbes (my kids love) and Bone (my kids love) don’t look “babyish” the way this book does. Is it a simpler style (on the surface at least) than adult superhero comics? Yeah. But there’s a difference between simpler cartooning and outright “This looks like it’s for babies.”

I didn’t see anything in the post about it being too cartoony or offensive or even childish. I do see ‘corny’, but that isn’t the same as any of those things. I’m not sure I agree with Joe, but I wouldn’t dismiss his opinion based on claims he never made. As you say, it seem disingenuous.

Why not assume that he just really didn’t like the book and discuss it from there, rather than assuming that he has some axe to grind?

Oh wait, it’s the internet.

Never mind.

"O" the Humanatee!

July 3, 2008 at 10:50 am

I share a lot of Joe’s reactions to this book. Then again, I’m 49. I have no idea whether a child would like it or not, or how age would factor in, though I’m sure it’s more likely to appeal to younger children. With respect to Joe’s comments about inconsistent linework and inking, I’m not even sure this was inked. There are so many visible sketch lines in the book that I suspect the art may be simply pencils darkened with Photoshop. Personally, I think strong, clear black lines would be more appealing.

One thing I noticed when this book was first solicited: The cover shows Billy “morphing” into Captain Marvel (or vice versa – it’s not clear). Has the change ever been depicted this way before? My recollection is that it’s always(?) shown as a sudden replacement of Billy by Cap (or vice versa).

When I first read that page, I didn’t think the bike thing had anything to do with him being ‘too old’. It’s just that HE CAN FLY.

But he’s not arguing solely that he doesn’t like the book; he’s making the claim that he knows what children want. (The direct quote is:”let me remind you that I encounter and interact with more children than pretty much any of you do. It’s part of my job to know them, know what they like, and understand them (as much as possible.)”) And I’m arguing as someone who is also a teacher, that teachers who claim that they know what their students WILL like or WON’T like are usually wrong on both counts.
And anybody who ends their review of an artist’s work with “Top Five Reasons It’s Correct to Hate Herobear and the Kid” (as if it is ever correct to hate anything) clearly has an axe to grind. Which is fine, it’s his column or whatever. But I take issue with grinding that axe and then saying “I’m doing it for the kids.”

Sorry Joe, I couldn’t disagree with you more on that whole review, and I’ve disagreed with you on quite a few things. I loved it. While I greatly appreciate your experience and dedication to the kids you work with, and knowing that dedication I know you genuinely take the time to learn about them and their likes and dislikes, this book is just plain fun. and I think you missed the boat on it. I have a sixth grade son, and I have a 4th grade daughter and they both LOVED it!

My son loved the frenetic style of the art and layouts and had no trouble following any of it.

I’ve tried to just about everything I could to get my daughter into comics and “Leave it to Chance” is pretty much the only thing she has ever attached to. She really enjoyed this and thought it was a lot of fun.

Not that I’m huge fan of it, but have you watched much Cartoon Network? My kids enjoy some of the things on there and hate others. This plays very similar to some of those shows and for me (and them) it works….it doesn’t for you.

I may be wrong,but it seems that you have an idea of how Shazam should be handled….and you have an ideal of how kids should and can be written to, and this book didn’t fit into either of those molds for you, so it fell flat for you. I also think kids are smarter than you are giving them credit for in some ways. My son loved Hero Bear and he totally understands the overly sentimental nature of it and he is smart enough to see that is what the work was going for. I know I’m biased of course but my daughter is brilliant. She reads everything from the Madeline L’Engle to the Berenstain Bears and finds value in each if they are executed well. She didn’t feel she was “talked down to” by this book and she is smart enough understand the cartoon like atmosphere Kunkel is developing.

“It doesn’t appeal to kids in the slightest. It appeals to adults that wished this appeals to kids.”
I’m not naive about my kids or what does and doesn’t appeal to them. They are not perfect angels nor are they sophisticated beyond their years. They are kids…and they like things that are FUN! Both of mine found this book to be a LOT of fun, and are really looking forward to issue #2.

Let me be the first to say I’m overjoyed I don’t know any of the kids you “encounter and interact with”…..or you, for that matter. What a miserable bastard.

The thing I think the book fails the most at: There’s no bite, no real power to any of the characters. None of them feel like they actually change anything in the story, hero or villain.

In my experience, kids adore the characters who can -change- the story, not just inhabit it.

These characters just inhabit their world. One gets the feeling the story would play out the same no matter what character was used. Not very engaging.

I just don’t get it. You disagree on whether a comic book is good. Why do you immediately go to “What a piece of garbage (both the piece and the guy who wrote it).”, as you, Mark Engblom, did on your blog.

Why does him not liking A COMIC BOOK make Joe a miserable bastard or a piece of garbage?

Someone explain it to me, because I honestly don’t get the need to go there, especially right out of the gate.

Is this the level of discourse at CSBG? I don’t spend a lot of time on the blog; is this normal? I was always led to believe that this was a somewhat reasonable group. Did I hear wrong?

I completely disagree with this review. Especially since the snark levels are off the charts.

I loved the book as a Captain Marvel fan and as a comic book fan. The story has a lot of heart and is also picking up threads from the Jeff Smith mini.

I do not understand how you can speak for all children and say that “it doesn’t appeal to kids in the slightest.” You present that as a fact, not as an opinion. There were plenty of kids at the comic shop yesterday picking up this book with out parents forcing them to pick it up.

What is wrong with a fun, all ages book? I am glad to see one and it looks like a nice companion to Tiny Titans.

People accuse me of being cynical a lot, but I’d like to know what happened to you to inspire this level of venom in a review for a comic book.

Yeah, Algren is right… that crap is over the line. You read one review of a book and make those kinds of statements and value judgments on someone just because they see something differently than you do? You lose all credibility and respect.

I remember very clearly being 10-11 and what comics I was reading, as this was the time I had gotten really into them. I was given the TPB of the “Dark Phoenix Saga”, and was reading the Claremont/Silvestri Uncanny book, and a lot of Dr. Strange stuff, especially the Montesi formula/death of Dracula books.

Looking back on those now, they are just as appealing now to me as they were then.

Kids are not dumb, and I agree, we shouldn’t talk down to them.

I don’t think feels it’s good to “talk down to kids”…people just differ on if this book does or not.

I was baffled that you didn’t like this, then I read the part where you said you hated Herobear and the Kid, and I understood completely. You simply have no soul.

(This is a joke. No one jump on me for bashing Joe. I just disagree with him and am making a funny. Everyone OK? Am I safe? Good.)

I completely disagree with this review. Especially since the snark levels are off the charts.

I usually take “by Joe Rice” to mean it’s going to be full of off-the-chart snark. I would suggest the same.

Anyway, I would like to see what Greg Hatcher’s students (for a truly unbiased, third-party analysis) make of it. I think they might like it a little bit more than Joe gives them credit. I recognize it’s riffing off of a lot of cartoons like Ren and Stimpy and Powerpuff Girls and such; indeed it’s the first time I’ve seen that hyper-kinetic nature of those cartoons captured in comic book form. But maybe they’ll hate it. Who knows.

Even so, I’m kind of with Joe on this one (which may make this one of those weird-once-in-a-blue-moon synchronization of the cosmic axis or something). I found it all over the map– loopy cartoony things like the train chase, 1st person narrated character bits– it kept changing tone every couple of pages.

I’m also annoyed that this is supposed to be a sequel to the Jeff Smith series, but Captain Marvel and Billy aren’t separate people like they were in Monster Society. Just be an entirely separate series. Don’t pretend to be an extension of something when you’re not.

I really wanted to like this, and I like parts of it, but not enough to give it my whole hearted recommendation. I live in hope that Jeff Parker and Colleen Coover will eventually one day do the Marvel Family series I dream about. It’s the only thing that gives me hope in light of all the mis-steps taken with with the Shazam franchise over the past 10 years.

“Let me be the first to say I’m overjoyed I don’t know any of the kids you “encounter and interact with”…..or you, for that matter. What a miserable bastard.”

You didn’t like the review, so you’re attacking Joe’s elementary school students. Real fucking classy.

Well, the thing is, the solicitation never even mentions the Jeff Smith series; so to complain that this isn’t a true sequel to it is unfair. It was never said to be a sequel; here’s the solicitation for issue #1:

BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM! #1

Written by Mike Kunkel; Art and covers by Mike Kunkel

Welcome to the brand-new, all-fun adventures of Billy Batson as the World’s Mightiest Mortal — Captain Marvel, from acclaimed writer/artist Mike Kunkel (Herobear)!

Thanks to a magical rift created when Captain Marvel battled Mr. Mind’s monsters, 14-year-old Theo Adam has been returned to Earth from banishment. For Theo, there’s just one problem: He can’t remember the magic word that gives him the powers of Black Adam. There’s only one solution: follow Captain Marvel and get the word out of his alter ego, 11-year-old Billy Batson.

And to complain that kids are too sophisticated for this book would hold more water if perhaps the book didn’t seem too sophisticated for the reviewer (his complete misunderstanding of the bike gag above.)

I have never read any of Mike Kunkel’s work before, and I thought the first issue was a lot of fun and charming.
I don’t know if kids will like it; Joe is right, often times kids don’t like things that seem to be written for kids, but his review is loaded with so much animus, so much “I know kids better than you, so don’t even challenge me on this” that I can’t help but wonder what Kunkel’s previous work did to him and his family.

Just because they’ve been mishandled at DC, off and on since 1985, doesn’t mean that they haven’t had classic runs.

I don’t think there’s been a classic run of Shazam-related characters since the franchise was revived by DC in 1973. The first Shazam! series was hamstrung by indifferent writing and editing by people who didn’t understand the character; the Jerry Ordway series was great in terms of what he set out to do– a 60s Marvel Comics-esque monthly slugfest with lots of homages to the original ’40s comics– but I would never call it ‘classic’. And Jeff Smith’s Monster Society– I know it’s heresy to suggest this– was gorgeous to look at and had the right tone but was surprisingly slight when it came to story. (Plus, I would argue, rather than being a ‘back to basics’ version of the character is actually just as much a radical departure as Winnick, though a more winsome one)

And the less said about Trials of Shazam the better.

I’m pretty much convinced the Marvel Family’s best days are behind them. All we have to look forward to are more bastardisations of the concept. At least until Colleen Coover comes to draw them.

Well, the thing is, the solicitation never even mentions the Jeff Smith series; so to complain that this isn’t a true sequel to it is unfair. It was never said to be a sequel; here’s the solicitation for issue #1:

And yet the two page recap of Captain Marvel’s origin at the start of the story, complete with images of the giant monsters Jeff Smith created forMonster Society of Evil, would argue against DC’s solicitation.

(Plus numerous comments made by Didio and others in interviews).

I suspect Kunkel’s trying to be ambiguous and play both sides of the aisle– appeal to the Monster Society’s fans as well as a new audience– but I’d just rather he not bother since clearly his Captain Marvel is an aged-up Billy.

Wait a minute! The solicitation you quote from refers to the mini-series!

Thanks to a magical rift created when Captain Marvel battled Mr. Mind’s monsters,

I’ll shut up now!

Alright, perhaps the solicitation implies a connection to the Jeff Smith miniseries by mentioning events from that miniseries (although I didn’t read it that way, I mean after all, it wasn’t exactly the first time Captain Marvel has battled Mr. Mind’s monsters)

But here’s a legitimate question for anyone here: What kind of Captain Marvel book do you want to see? If the 70s version didn’t understand the character, the Ordway version was too staid, Winnick’s was too far removed from the wonder and charm of the original, and now this version is too watered down and oversimplified, what do you want from a Captain Marvel book?

Well, at least the art’s pretty.

What kind of Captain Marvel book do you want to see?

A good one.

Anyway, I would like to see what Greg Hatcher’s students (for a truly unbiased, third-party analysis) make of it. I think they might like it a little bit more than Joe gives them credit. I recognize it’s riffing off of a lot of cartoons like Ren and Stimpy and Powerpuff Girls and such; indeed it’s the first time I’ve seen that hyper-kinetic nature of those cartoons captured in comic book form. But maybe they’ll hate it. Who knows.

My kids would completely snoot it, I’m pretty sure. They’re a little older than the target demographic, but more to the point, they are MUCH more interested in Naruto and Sailor Moon.

I have much more to say about this, but honestly, the more I think about it, the more it ends up sounding like tomorrow’s column. For now though I’ll say I think Joe is mostly right though I think he is being WAY too hard on Mike Kunkel. I rather like the art. It’s just a bit text-heavy and in completely the wrong format… but more on that tomorrow.

[i]”I usually take “by Joe Rice” to mean it’s going to be full of off-the-chart snark. I would suggest the same.[/i]

Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. I haven’t read that much by him and was unprepared.

/however I should expect it. This is the Internet after all…

This is Joe Rice, I’m at Alex’s house hanging out. I just wanted to say thanks to Dan, Shade, and Matt for pointing out the nasty attack on me (whatever, I’m used to it) and my kids (hey, Engbloom, fuck right off).

I’m not trying to brag or lord it over anyone when I say a huge part of my life is knowing what a lot of kids are into. It’s kind of a lame thing in some ways; certainly doesn’t pertain to my personal life much. But when I say I know none of the darling, wonderful kids I’ve spent the past six years educating would be able to read this without disdain, I come from a place where I really do know it.

Alex posted yesterday, Joe posted today and people are getting pissy/rude to one of them for their posts – what is this, 2004 at Comics Should Be Good?

As to Joe’s point, like Greg, I think he’s pretty much right – kids old enough to read on their own likely would prefer something other than this comic. It does seem a bit more geared towards the Pre-K crowd (and more specifically, the parents of the Pre-K crowd – as they are the ones buying the thing). If that is the intent of the comic (which it might very well be), then mission accomplished!

brian lockhart

July 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm

I’m 33. I’ve steered far clear of any of the DC or Marvel books aimed at younger readers. But something about this made me pick it up and I just might be hanging around for a while.
I feel like there is plenty of entertainment out there that is supposed to lure children and adults alike. Pixar movies, brilliantly illustrated children’s books. Things like that.
This book just seemed like something that could and wants to appeal to everyone. It’s a lot of fun with a lot of heart and the illustration style for me really popped.
I think it’s funny that a book in DC’s kids line is drawing such a debate on this forum.
If kids like it, great. If they don’t and it gets cancelled, well, DC tried and at least I’ll have a few issues in my collection.
I’m not quite sure who the above review is for. Certainly no five year olds are logging onto this site to find out whether they should ask mom, dad or whoever for $2.25 to buy Billy Batson.
I’ve read many glowing reviews that suggest this comic is great for all ages.
But frankly for 2.25, does a review really matter all that much? Why not just buy the damn issue for your kids or kids you know, and if they like it, great.
I think the reviews are for adults like me who were curious about the book and wondered if we’d like to read it ourselves.

I don’t particularly disagree with Joe’s review here– this comic strikes me as the mediocre kind of stuff kids might accept but aren’t really enriched by. Some kids will object to the art, but to be honest just about every cartoon on TV looks like this already.

That said, Joe, you do realize you’re committing a huge logical fallacy with your premise, right? You’re committing the classic appeal to authority fallacy, Just reading over the comments reveals how shaky and illogical that premise really is, and how it hurts the review. Being a teacher doesn’t give any assertion you make about children any particular truth value unless you can offer reasonable evidence of some sort to back your argument. “I’m a teacher” isn’t reasonable evidence.

So I say show this comic to some of your students and get them to criticize it– let us see how snarky it makes them! I’d love to read that.

Sometimes I feel odd, but since I only got into superheroes when I was a teenager, I just have no sense of what a pre-teen would like in a superhero comic. I remember that at 13-14 I hated anything “cute” and was really into angst (I was a huge Chris Claremont fan, for instance).

That is perhaps one reason I have difficulty with the concept of superhero comics for young children. Because when I was a young child I was really into funny animal comics, Disney, and stuff like that. To me, the superhero is more geared to the alienated teenager’s fantasy of empowerment than to young kids.

Oh, Lynxara, you are so a million miles off with that “authority” thing. Worse, you’re going to make Joe bust out the photos of him using Captain Marvel comics to teach his kids how to read. Years of them. They smile a lot about it, too, like they’re happy or something. Do not make him do this. It is unbearable.

Also, what makes me utterly puke about the schtick in this book is it’s sooooo like a middle-aged guy trying to recapitulate the glory days of watching Dudley Doright cartoons, like a tedious and creepy great-uncle trying to get you interested in hula hoops, because that’s what he saw all the other kids who didn’t like him playing with back in the good old days he never had.

It’s just a bloody xerox of someone else’s work, with buckets of sprinkles of nostalgic sentimentalizing big-fat-lying-to-yourself. Not just pandering to kids who don’t exist, but lying to yourself that you have any idea what it’s like inside a kid’s head.

I will now go read nine Bendis comics in a row to get the taste out.

1) Feel free to call me out if I’m mis-diagnosing the appeal to authority fallacy in Joe’s piece, but it would be nice if you could diagnose how the piece was not committing appeal to authority fallacy. I’m sure it’s easier to say I’m wrong, but it also isn’t interesting and doesn’t prove anything.

2) I rather liked those pics of Joe’s kids with Shazam comics and wouldn’t mind seeing ‘em again! But I also have to note that they’re irrelevant to whether or not Joe has committed the appeal to authority fallacy in writing. That he has given Shazam comics to kids in the past does not allow him to state with authority how his class would respond to any future Shazam comics he hasn’t actually shown them. He can make an educated guess, of course, and it may be a really good one… but he doesn’t really know, and we can’t reasonably attach truth value to his educated guess.

Anyway, I do agree with you that one of the prime negative points of the new Shazam is how derivative it is. It looks like everything on Cartoon Network, which looks like everything else on Cartoon Network, which is still desperately mining out the original work Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCracken did in the 90’s. Something about flagrant mediocrity in children’s entertainment has always bothered me, as if we were trying to warn the little ones ahead of time not to expect too much…

“It’s just a bloody xerox of someone else’s work, with buckets of sprinkles of nostalgic sentimentalizing big-fat-lying-to-yourself. Not just pandering to kids who don’t exist, but lying to yourself that you have any idea what it’s like inside a kid’s head.”

“Also, what makes me utterly puke”

Wow. Over dramatic much? Guess only you have the understanding of what “it’s like inside a kids head?”

I have two kids of my own, and about 13 years of experience working with kids ranging from 6-18 and much like Joe I work very hard to try and understand what they like and find ways to relate to their world. Like I said above, I don’t think you are giving kids enough credit to understand the tone of this book and that it’s going for that exact over the top feel you are talking about. Mine certainly did and they enjoyed the book throughly and I can assure you they did not feel talked down to, they did not feel pandered to, and they do indeed exist.

I got no problem with you not liking the book, but all the over the top dramatic analogies are more egregious than anything Kunkle has ever written. Geesh!

Wow, how ’bout another blog post where you rip on the Snuggle bear and the Tooth Fairy while you’re at it.

Seriously, I thought this was tongue in cheek at first. Is there one comic that doesn’t have to have fanboy venom rip it to shreds? It’s a nice, inocuous comic that CAN be appreciated by kids. Kids that aren’t beyond their body weight in snark, sure. But who the heck wants to hang out with kids that are like that?

Hannibal Tabu liked it. Explains a lot actually.

“I don’t particularly disagree with Joe’s review here– this comic strikes me as the mediocre kind of stuff kids might accept but aren’t really enriched by.”

I love what us oldtimers here purport to know what’s enriching to a kid and what isn’t.

Hannibal Tabu also liked Blue Beetle, Noble Causes and Fables. So what’s yer point?

I’m waiting for the next incisive review where he simply ravages three-part story arc in Jughead’s Double Digest. Give it to me, hard, good sir.

“Something about flagrant mediocrity in children’s entertainment has always bothered me”

Then you need some new hobbies, and fast.

Oldtimer? Fantastic. I’m 27. Which I guess is ancient by internet standards.

Anyway, I like to think you can apply simple critical faculties to be able to tell that a kid who reads this is going to be less enriched than if s/he had read, I dunno, something with substance or more technically proficient execution. Kids don’t notice those things explicitly, true, but they can still impact the reading experience. There’s a reason why kids grow up reading Calvin & Hobbes and recall it in impressive detail, but probably won’t remember any particular Garfield strip they’ve read.

(Except maybe that creepy one where Garfield’s in a parallel universe where everyone’s dead. The art/writing was a lot better in those strips than it’s ever been since.)

The same goes for books. I read a lot of light silly stuff like Magic of Shazam but can’t remember antyhing about it. I do remember the Newberry Honor/Caldecott books I read, the Wayside School books, the Westing Game, the Bruce Coville books, the Tolkien, the stuff that really got my imagination fired up or got me really engaged.

Magic of Shazam is, basically, nothing I think a kid reading it now would remember fondly in twenty years. I don’t think s/he would remember it at all. The stuff I would consider enriching is the stuff a kid is likely to remember clearly into adulthood. I don’t see Magic of Shazam fostering much but perhaps a basic interest in superheroes, which could lead to better reading down the line.

Totally agree. I came in during the 90’s and never liked the “for-kids” books. Something like Bone (which truly is all-ages) would appeal much more to kids than a book like this. Two out of the first three comics I ever read (I bought all three at the same time) were part of a storyline and I wasn’t really bothered by it. Sure, I didn’t get *all* of it, but it mostly made me want to go and buy more to learn more. To be sure, this was during the 90’s and I picked up some crap books that I liked back then (I had so many of those god-awful Venom minis) but as my tastes matured, before long, I was reading stuff like Watchmen and V for Vendetta and Sin City (you know, not that I should have read Sin City during that age, but still). I really can’t see this appealing to anyone above the age of seven or maybe eight. They’d think it was a “baby book” or whatever the young’uns are saying these days.

One thing I know I’ve tried to do is to give real reviews to books like Jughead, Scooby Doo, etc.

Because these pals and gals writing these books don’t usually get people doing actual reviews of their work, and I think it is a shame – as they are certainly intending to do good work, and it’s nice to let them know that their good work is appreciated.

On the flip side, though, if the work is bad – I think it’s fair to note that the work is bad.

IF this comic is bad (and I dunno, haven’t read it yet), Mike Kunkel certainly did not set out to make it bad. He intended to create a good comic that appealed to children.

So it is worthwhile to note if he achieved that goal or not.

And while I do not know Mr. Kunkel, I sincerely doubt he wants his work to be protected under the auspices of “it doesn’t matter if it is good! It’s a kid’s comic!”

And I sure as heck know that that is not the point of this comic book blog – it is about how comics should, you know, be good, and if they’re NOT good, it’s fair to point out as much.

Wow. People sure got ugly about a review of a comic book.

I think this quote explains why people are reluctant to take Hannibal Tabu’s word on the book:

“Mary’s motormouth know-it-all routine is endearing”

The one panel on the scanned page is obnoxious. I can’t imagine a book full of it.

Well, I liked it and thought it was just fun. Then again, I liked Herobear and the Kid too, which I shouldn’t have, because as a rule, I hate schmaltz and Santa Claus and so on. But it had genuine heart to it, which so many kiddie-pandering things lack. Kunkel has heart, and even this cynic can have fun with his work.

Like Tiny Titans though, I’m not sure how well little kids can jump into it, given that my problem with Tiny Titans is that all the jokes seem to depend on prior knowledge of the characters. I liked this more than Tiny Titans because it seems more accessible, but there’s still that drenched in continuity feel to it.

But aside from all that, I just liked it for what it was. Harmless fun.

its not for kids – it a friggen SHAZAM comic book.
herobear is cool, this is pseudo nostalgia, like all star superman.

its not for kids – it a friggen SHAZAM comic book.

I DARE you to make less sense.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 3, 2008 at 7:03 pm

And you mean aside from the Jeff Smith run, which was easily one of the best comics of last year?

Really?

REALLY?

I thought the art was nice, but the story lacked any wonder at all – I thought it was a big let down… especially as I thought it was going to be super-great.
It was nice to see the Marvel’s done in a colourful and fun way, but I don’t think it lived up to their golden age days (or even the 70’s DC stuff), and I certainly wouldn’t call it one of the best of last year.

They should probably just look at the original Captain Marvel strips if they want some inspiration for a kid-friendly series. A little less Billy in blackface and all, but kids haven’t changed that much.

“Hannibal Tabu also liked Blue Beetle, Noble Causes and Fables. So what’s yer point?”

Well for one his reviewing style is pretty childish and lazy (and to be fair so was my initial dismissal of Hannibal).

Well he doesn’t provide any real thoughtful criticism. It’s completely subjective and based on his personal bias. Worst yet if he dimisses it’s basically a “meh”, “WTH” or “look how stupid so and so is.” And true he dismisses some real stinkers but c’mon if CBR is paying you to do a column at least put a little effort.

Lets look at his Blue Beetle review.

“Guest writer Will Pfeiffer turns in a great done-in-one with detailed and crisp artwork vt David Baldeon, Steve Bird and the always solid Guy Major. Something’s terrorizing the town and a decades-old super villain has popped up, so the titular character has to do some impromptu (and frankly less-than-effective) detective work. Fun add-ons are the fact that there’s a “Grand Theft Gotham” game in the DCU (how awesome would that game be? Four stars, chased by Robin, Nightwing at five and the Bat at six, with Birds of Prey and JLA surprises the longer you hold out? The mind boggles at the cheat codes alone), great dialogue (“By which, of course, I mean …”) and a great narrative callback that was just shy of being “too cute.” Fun stuff from one of DC’s most promising titles.”

I don’t know how any of this would convince me to read this book. Why is that line of dialogue so great? Maybe it is in context of the story. And his plot synopsis was pretty vague and generic. What makes the “less then effective detective work” in Blue Beetle so interesting?

I’m not saying it’s a good book. I don’t know. But he doesn’t give me much of reason to check it out.

The mistake in this article was making a big, sweeping statement about kids and how they would hate this. No, if their parents are really overprotective and sheltering (like the one guy near the top who wouldn’t let his kid read a Marvel Adventures book–are you kidding?? Your kid’s gonna see way worse than that, and soon.) they might actually love this.

On the other hand, there are others….well. All I can say is what I remember reading when I was a kid. (Which is a long time ago, but I’m quite sure a lot less long ago than most people here, as I’m only 20.) At 9, my pull list (yes I had one) consisted of Grant Morrison’s JLA, Green Lantern, Busiek’s Avengers and Iron Man, and PAD’s Young Justice. There’s really only one of those that a lot of parents would give to a 9 year old (yet I had no trouble understanding any of them), and even THAT one is leaps and bounds above the page I saw above.

Something like this would’ve been something that I might’ve liked at 4. Then at 7 I would’ve found it behind a toy chest, looked at it, gotten ill and put it right back behind that chest. At 8-9 if my parents or relatives gave it to me I would’ve politely thanked them, then chucked it in the trash as soon as I got the chance. You’ll find any intelligent and non-sheltered kid (that second part is important–I knew a lot of kids who were brilliant but incredibly sheltered) would do the same.

In general I don’t approve of this entire line. I knew when I read Jann Jones talking about how she didn’t want the characters in kids comics to have to deal with any real problems–just “mischief” (I’m paraphrasing here)–that it wasn’t going to be for me. The correct approach is the Marvel Adventures line, which doesn’t talk down to kids or aim exclusively for kids.

I still don’t understand what changed. When I was growing up in the 90’s, everything for kids was something that could still be enjoyed by people of all ages. The comics (DC’s Adventures line), the cartoons (X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, the Warner Bros. comedy stuff)–even the videogames. Then suddenly we hit the new millenia and BAM! Anytime you hear about something for the kiddies you can be DAMN sure that’s all its for. Ever. And I know what people are thinking but NO–that’s not a good idea.

Wow, what a patronizing comment there, Sageshini. Arguably there is a problem with Jones not wanting any kind of suspense in children’s books, but saying only sheltered children would like this?

This book is not without it’s charm but what strikes me is that this seems to be constructed almost like DC editorial just totally misread what the appeal was for people regarding Jeff Smith’s take on the whole Shazam! thing.

It was first talked about in press as being something that followed in that spirit yet it ultimately can’t for several reasons not least of which is that this creator chose to go the Billy’s brain in Cap’s body route which Jeff pointedly did not do. It seems like DC just said “Shazam kiddy book! Go!” and didn’t think much further out than that. ..and yeah, humor is an element for Shazam! it truly is, but approaching it in a Dexters Lab or Powerpuff Girls style doesn’t really gel. Nothing wrong with either of course.

Heh, besides if they’re looking for inspiration from Cartoon Network then let me offer this thought in sort of pitch terms. Think Ben 10 meets Superman TAS! Hey, Glen Murakami would likely design a rather awesome Mr. Atom.

On one positive note though, from the sketches that were floated around earlier this year I actually find myself liking this idea of Black Adam’s secret ID being sort of the mean kid on the block. But maybe I’m just that damn sick of the Geoff Johns uber invincible X-treme hardcore gore-fiend version.

In my view, the main things that must be foremost priority for ANY Shazam! story above all else are this: magic and heart. Dini/Ross’s Power of Hope has that. Jeff Smith’s version has it to. These might seem like polar opposite takes on the surface but I think there’s actually something in common there even if one is considered more “serious”. Without magic and heart you’ve got nothing. Which is exactly why what’s going on in mainline with the Shazam! characters fails on all fronts.

Bah, who cares about what kids like! I liked this book ’cause it reminded me of my childhood, which I wasted by wanting to be “grown up”.

And so, in the spirit of Brian’s month of top fives…

Top Five Reasons It’s Correct to Hate those annoying little boggers. And by boggers, I mean Kids (not snot!

1- Kids are dumb! —They told me they could fix my computer so it would run faster, but all they did was pull it apart!

2- Kids are lazy! —They wouldn’t even help me squirt A1-oil on my suspiciously torn apart computer!

3- Kids are broke! —They don’t work and they are always asking for money. The fact of the matter is that they couldn’t afford Shazam! even if they wanted to… (and I’m not falling for that “advanced loan” scam, again!)

4- Kids are small & weak! —In a fair fight, I bet I could beat up two, maybe three! (That is, as long as there are no girls. Girls bite and pull your hair; then they hurt your feelings by telling you your ass is fat and you’ll never have a girlfriend!)

5- Did I mentioned kids are dumb? Well, they are! And they are stupid, and broke, and they owe me a new computer! (They also better learn how to clean oil from the floor, soon!)

YOU HEAR THAT YOU BASTARDS! YOU OWE ME A NEW COMPUTER!

Anyways, I’m going to enjoy Shazam!

Which is for me.

‘Cause I can afford it.

[…] this for a while anyway, but since Joe Rice clearly touched some kind of a nerve yesterday with his column about Mike Kunkel’s new Captain Marvel book, I thought I might as well get to it […]

I think this whole matter has already been explored from all possible vantages…….

Yeesh, looks like a pretty cynical attempt at getting a cartoon series made to me. On the plus side, Kunkel is terrible with deadlines, so maybe the fill-in folks will be better.

Jay Stephens could do an awesome Shazam book, I tells ya.

Andrew Collins

July 4, 2008 at 2:42 am

I’d like to see Scott McCloud take on a Captain Marvel story. His ZOT! character is pretty much Captain Marvel/Billy Batson in spirit and attitude if not in powers.

“Let me be the first to say I’m overjoyed I don’t know any of the kids you “encounter and interact with”…..or you, for that matter. What a miserable bastard.”

I don’t see what Joe’s parentage has to do with him having a different opinion than you do about a funnybook. Unlax.

I would not be as harsh as SageShini, but I wonder why so many adults are so fascinated with a return to some uncomplicated, mythical childhood?

I can’t emphatize with it at all.

Is it people with a happy childhood wanting to recapture it? Or people with a painful childhood wanting to do a do-over? Or parents who like to get in tune with their kids?

I’m indifferent to kids, and I’m indifferent to this comic, I’m just intrigued by why such stuff strikes a chord with so many adults.

McCloud or Stephens would have me waiting in line for a Cap comic! (Though I might prefer more Jetcat . . .)

Waaaay back on Jack Cheng’s response, about a “hypersexualized Enchantress in a Jim Lee type pose” in MA: Spidey last month… seriously? I’ve been buying MA: Spidey for well over a year now, and I would consider every single issue to be what Joe Rice is talking about when he urges kids’ books not to talk down to their audience.

It doesn’t dumb things down. It doesn’t slap itself on the wrist for putting a character in a bikini. Heck, it gives Spidey a freakin’ HAMMER to HIT PEOPLE with. There’s no need to balk at this, unless you’re in the Generic Oversensitive 21st Century American category. It is, quite simply The Enchantress. The same character that’s been kicking around Marvel since the 60’s. Pretty much the same costume she’s always had. Your child will not instantly turn into a misogynist or perverted porn addict by reading a single appearance of The Enchantress in an all-ages content comic book.

You know what else was really good recently? The Dark horse INDIANA JONES all ages book.

It was fun as hell, without really being watered down in any way.

Have I mentioned THE AMULET yet? That book is solid gold.

I don’t see how deliberately aiming something at young children is guaranteed not to attract them. It hasn’t hurt any of the Disney corporation’s output, or the children’s book market, or the producers of SHAUN THE SHEEP or THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES for CBeebies.

Of course, kids are just like every other potential reader- nobody really knows what they want and it’s all guesswork. On a more formalistic level- well, this is clever, funny, eventful, well-drawn, the very picture of a good comic.

On a more formalistic level- well, this is clever, funny, eventful, well-drawn, the very picture of a good comic.

This, I get, at least.

“It is a bad comic.”

“No, I disagree – it is a good comic.”

Right on.

No “I disagree, you asshole!!” nonsense.

Bogger? What the hell is a bogger?

Personally as much as I like the art I think the page is far too busy for a kids book. I just know if I saw a book like this when I was five or six I’d want to trace the characters, and it seem like it’d be hard to do with all of the tiny panels. On the other hand, a lot of panels makes for a dense read, so it’d give the kid a lot of value for their money.

Seems to me a lot of the back and forth in this discussion stems from the fact people are upset with Joe Rice seeming like he’s talking for every kid out there when he’s saying BBatMoS isn’t a good book for kids, especially when it seems like most of his issues with the book stem from it’s creator Mike Hunkel.

What’s the big deal? It’s his opinion. And, as noted, some folks out there have found that kids do like the book. So Joe Rice doesn’t like it and doesn’t think the kids he knows would either. Big deal. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing I’d be interested in, but it still seems fine enough that I’d get a copy to drop off at my local barber shop next time I get a haircut.

By the way, the Marvel Adventures books are great. Not for me mind you, but other posters are right on when they note that the fact they look and feel like regular comics makes them perfect for young readers.

Have a good day.
John Cage

“I don’t see how deliberately aiming something at young children is guaranteed not to attract them.”

I’m pretty sure that was never a point anyone made.

“It hasn’t hurt any of the Disney corporation’s output,”

You think that there may be more factors at play in that equation? I think there might be.

I wonder if any parents that object to the Enchantress being in an all-ages book also cover their kids’ eyes whenever a lady in a tight dress and hosiery walks by them in the street? Because that is what Enchantress classic costume is, basically.

Jason Lethcoe

July 4, 2008 at 11:18 am

Well, as an old friend of Mike Kunkel’s I decided to check out how his book was doing. When I pulled up some of the venomous posts and read what some of you were saying, I obviously felt defensive. See, I know Mike really well. We went to high school together. Our families live down the street from each other. Mike and I also share an office where we both work, writing and drawing books for kids. This comes after spending almost twenty years working for Disney studios and other animation houses. I’ve watched the time, love and energy that he’s dedicated to this book. I’ve celebrated his victories with him, feeling immensely proud of his accomplishments. Herobear won not one, but two Eisner awards. His character design work for Juniper Lee for the Cartoon Network won him the highest honor that the animation industry can bestow. His fan base is hugely supportive. I watched him go from drawing comics for our high school newspaper to having the people at DC call him up to the major leagues. I was there from the beginning and saw that dream come true. You guys have no idea what it’s meant to him.

But what compelled me to post was not just the fact that we are friends. It was that the internet allows people to say things that they would probably never say to someone in person. Often the attacks that are made are with the assumption that it’s all part of a private community and that this stuff never goes anywhere but to a small section of readers and bloggers.

I’ve watched Mike agonize over every panel, pour his heart into every bit of this book and work until four a.m. night after night. He’s left his career in Animation to do this full time, folks. It takes a lot of courage to do that. And yes, at the end of the day it’s just a comic book. But it’s also a lot more.

Everyone is free to have an opinion. Here I am expressing mine. But whatever happened to the gold old Golden Rule? Express your likes and dislikes. That’s the freedom of the Internet. But how many of you would express yourself the same way if you were standing next to Mike?

Mike’s a solid pro. He’ll continue to deliver work that he passionately believes in regardless of what anyone says. You certainly can’t please everyone. And I, for one, thought he did a fantastic job. Bravo, Mike!

That’s all very well, Jason L., but along the way you should’ve told Mike not to urinate in Joe Rice’s cornflakes &/or run over his dog.

Michael Mayket

July 4, 2008 at 10:57 pm

I haven’t read the book myself, but I make you this promise Joe… if you are correct and no children enjoy the book after reading it then they will stop asking for it and their parents will stop buying it and DC will stop publishing it and your long personal nightmare will come to an end.

Bogger? What the hell is a bogger?

A bogger is a typo that occurs when a prepubescent kid sets your spell check to the Urban Dictionary instead of the Oxford Dictionary, like he was asked to.

I’m sure Mike’s a nice guy and I wish him well. But reviewing a work of creation isn’t the same as talking to a guy. I’m sure if we met in person I’d find a very polite way of saying something like, “Well, I see what you’re going for but it doesn’t work for me.” Art school teaches you how to do that well. I wish him no ill will; I just think he’s made a very bad comic. (Most folks making comics do.)

Dude, I wondered what was up with my cornflakes tasting like that and my dog being so flat and dead! Damn you Kunkel!

>>Bogger? What the hell is a bogger?

>A bogger is a typo that occurs when a prepubescent kid sets your spell check to the Urban Dictionary instead of the Oxford Dictionary, like he was asked to.

Huh. I just assumed it was some silly British slang — I mean, god love ‘em, but for some reason the entire nation seems to indulge in baby-talk, with people called Gaz (for Gary) & Moz (for Morrison) going on hollies (holidays). It’s downright pwecious, yes it is.

Beta Ray Bill

July 5, 2008 at 4:34 am

My little sister seemed to enjoy it as far as I could tell. So did I, as a matter of fact. But I also liked the Captain Marvel live-action TV series from the 70’s and the Thomas/Mandrake mini from the 80’s so go figure.

I’m not a fan of the art. Too many ‘kewl’ poses. There are lots of other books aimed at kids I’d rather check out.

“I DARE you to make less sense.”

there is not a kid on the planet today that would pick up a comic about a magic superman knockoff, which is how most people’d perceive the big red cheese – superman’s redheaded stepchild.
kids like ‘cool’.
apparently wolverine is ‘cool’.
batman is ‘cool’.

it makes total sense, unless you live in make believe world, sean.

I dare you to think rationally next time.

It’s just your bad luck, edc, that you’d choose this place–filled to the brim with evidence that proves you wrong– to say something so dumb.

lol this is like watching a highway pile-up

FUCK

so sean, you are saying that the hep cats of today are lining up to buy shazam,
and that there are absolutely no adults buying this comic out of a sense of nostalgia?

then there is no helping you.

there is ‘evidence’ that you are having trouble understanding the basic concept that captain marvel isn’t popular with young ‘uns – you might be aware of the lack empire covers with shazam on them, then again you seem to be fairly unperceptive, so I don’t know.
there is a lot of ‘evidence’ that people agree that this comic is aimed at adults to give their young ‘uns, or at adults to recapture a false childhood.

“brian lockhart
July 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm

I’m 33. I’ve steered far clear of any of the DC or Marvel books aimed at younger readers. But something about this made me pick it up and I just might be hanging around for a while.”

“Rene
July 4, 2008 at 8:41 am

I would not be as harsh as SageShini, but I wonder why so many adults are so fascinated with a return to some uncomplicated, mythical childhood?

I can’t emphatize with it at all.

Is it people with a happy childhood wanting to recapture it? Or people with a painful childhood wanting to do a do-over? Or parents who like to get in tune with their kids?

I’m indifferent to kids, and I’m indifferent to this comic, I’m just intrigued by why such stuff strikes a chord with so many adults.”

I actually feel really sad that someone can’t grasp a basic concept like ‘shazam is aimed at adults’
its as simple as saying ‘rambo is aimed at men aged 18 – 30′
the fact that you are so misguided is scary.

I really like Shazam as a character and a concept, so I tend to “check on” the various incarnations. I liked what was done in JSA, the Ordway series was acceptable, I enjoyed what I’ve read of the 70’s series, the 80’s mini was lame, and Jeff Smith’s version was entertaining tho I wouldn’t call it his best work.

At 37 I’m really not the target audience for “Billy Batson”, nor do I need to be. I didn’t like it, but it’s a first issue, maybe it’ll improve, maybe it won’t. (I read three issues of “Star Trek Year Four” before giving up on that junk.) “Improve” in this sense means “become more appealing to me” — it doesn’t mean it’s actually bad, just that I don’t like it. I hated Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man, too, tho from what I’ve seen I’m in a minority. Anyway, I found it to be a little hyperkinetic, overly styled and too sugary. Going by the review, Joe Rice didn’t like it. I think the vitriol about how and why he didn’t like it is misplaced, as are some of the more impassioned responses. Kudos to DC for trying something different again, anyway. Hope it works out for them. Most of their aimed-at-kids books are based on cartoons and designed to help sell action figures and DVDs, this is completely different from those.

so sean, you are saying that the hep cats of today are lining up to buy shazam,
and that there are absolutely no adults buying this comic out of a sense of nostalgia?

That’s strange, I don’t think I said anything remotely like that.

Oh, I get your deal now. You’re not disagreeing with what I say so much as you’re pulling stuff out of your ass and disagreeing with that. Makes sense; I guess if you make up both sides of the argument, you can’t help but win.

I agree with you, Joe, that the book isn’t a big success. I wasn’t a huge fan of HeroBear and the Kid either, but there I at least felt an urgency and a connection between the cartoonist and the subject matter. This feels a little too much like a cartoonist with a lively style trying to fill 22 pages. I could be wrong and maybe the series will improve. I’ll give it two or three issues.

I admit that my bias probably comes from absolutely adoring the Captain Marvel line of comics in the 40s and 50s. The writers got to the story / action/ fantasy RIGHT AWAY. There weren’t pages spent explaining how Billy manages to live alone even though he is an orphan child–impersonating his own dead Dad to have meetings with teachers. Did Beavis and Butthead talk about why their parents weren’t around? Did the PowerPuff girls spend five minutes every episode with therapists discussing the trauma of having no fingers? A direct and unapologetic approach to fantasy would help any new Captain Marvel comic. Sam Henderson and Dean Haspiel’s Bizarro Comics Shazam story was closer to the right approach, I think, than any Captain Marvel comic since the 50s.

[…] David Hajdu on GTA Censorship Johnny Bacardi Looks For a Comic Industry I Hate Your Cartoon Comics Are For Kids <a […]

Ya know, I was really pumped about this book. Smith’s stuff really pumped me up about the Marvels and being the indie snob that I am, the idea of a a heralded indie creator working on the Shazam book sounded great. I’ve never read Herobear and now I certainly won’t.

The art is the book’s best quality–a dubious honor at best. I think it would definitely benefit from a bold inking style, but I actually do think the designs are quality (for a comic aimed at pre-readers), even if they are derivative. But yeah, man, just looking at those pages makes me not want to read them. Soooo crowded. Story could be a lot better, but it’s really the dialogue and overall tone that really drag this book down along with the crowdedness of the art.

Reminds me of the debates about Owly (which I still love…and Shazam makes Owly look that much better) and Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed (about which I now absolutely see Joe’s point).

no sean, the fact is you can’t understand my argument.
maybe it is too complex for you too understand, but at any rate there is no way to have a rational convo with someone who is in their own backwards mind.

do a little growing up, and stop living in the comic universe.

[…] had a big debacle about this some time back, and I don’t know why. There’s nothing here to get worked up […]

[…] about half a year, but we’re only on #3 of this continually-delayed series which caused a bit of a ruckus on this blog when it debuted. Back then, I was one of those who reserved judgment until he had read […]

look u jerk.i agree,the new capt.marvel(shazam0 stinks but the older ones(40s to early 70s were great.after 11 yrs in the joint i would love for u to tell me or a shit load of dudes i did time with(ole timers)that one of our childhood heros sucks.cap and his family way out did supes or spidey(who i love)plus to teach kids some morels isnt a bad thing.i guess ud rather have kids now days have no respect foranyone but them seleves and u ya buttmunch.

If you (or any other child) need a more simple to read comic book Im sure you´ll find it easily. The way to read this book maybe a little out-of-the regular-comicbooks, but that doesn´t make it BAD. My 5 year old daughter, pick it from my desktop and start to “read” it, and enjoy it. That´s the point. ENJOY IT.

Your title it´s (half) right. Comics are for kids (too) (but not all comics are for all kids).
By the way…I think it´s YOU who do not understand the jokes… (example,nº3… but Im not goin to explain it to u)

The art of this comics is Superb, different and match it very well with the story and the character.
I really enjoy (and my daughter too) the first 4 number… but when they changed the artist… it was waaaaaaaaaaaaay down.

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