Geoff Johns Wants SHAZAM! to Explore the Fun Side of Magic

It’s not uncommon to see storytellers depict magic as something dark and dangerous, but DC comic scribe Geoff Johns wants to remind people about the fun, whimsy, and adventure of magic in his upcoming monthly Shazam! comic series with artist Dale Eaglesham.

“I think often magic in the books can be connected to the darker stuff, like monsters, Swamp Thing, and Justice League Dark, and we’re really going to a different side of magic, to the actual origin source of magic, which is wonderful and colorful and mysterious,” Johns told IGN in a phone interview. Much like he constructed expansive new mythologies for Green Lantern and Aquaman, Johns is building out a whole history for the source of Shazam’s magic that expands far beyond just Earth. Johns cited fantasy works such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz as inspiration for how he’ll be using Shazam to open doorways to other magical realms all ripe for exploration.

Another aspect of positive magic will come in the form of youngster Billy Batson and the nature of how he shares his power with his foster siblings, better known as the Marvel Family.

“One of the best parts of Shazam, to me, that’s been in its legacy since the Marvel Family was introduced with Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., is that there’s always been a family of superheroes,” Johnsa said. “And that power comes from Billy, he shares it with his family, who he has a family bond with. And the whole point of Billy Batson’s journey, to me, is, family’s what you make it, not what you’re born with. And it’s about bond and not blood. And I think that was really important for us to continue in our Shazam! series, and although it focuses on Billy Batson, he’s our main character, the rest of the family and the supporting cast are within the book. And the book’s gonna be exploring, why does he have that ability, what does that mean? Who are these champions, and what are they champions of?”

Johns assures that despite all this talk of the light side of magic, there will be stakes and threats coming from the underbelly of the magical world that Billy and his family will have to face. Two threats in particular are the villainous duo of this new story. The first is Doctor Sivana, who readers already met in the Johns’ previous Shazam! tale with artist Gary Frank that concluded in 2013. He’s a man who sought out the magic of Shazam to cure ailments that science could not, and after a failed alliance with Black Adam, we saw him wandering inside the Rock of Eternity where he stumbled across a bottle containing a talking caterpillar-like creature that introduced himself as Mister Mind. Now, five years after that cliffhanger, everyone will finally see what happens next.

“Mister Mind’s aspirations are incredibly big, and just because he’s a small size, he might be funny to us and he might be underestimated by everybody around him, but his point of view is a pretty valid point of view. Size doesn’t matter, he could say the same thing to Shazam when they enter the Land of Giants, ‘Well, you’re tiny to them. You think they’re a threat?’ But I don’t think Mister Mind is so obsessed with him being a small worm. I think Mister Mind, because he’s a magical creature, he’s got more power. And more importantly, he’s got a lot of ambition. He’s very humorous in a lot of ways, but he’s also very threatening,” Johns explained.

Mister Mind is particularly interested in the secrets of the Rock of Eternity, which Johns says is far more than just an old cavern where Billy Batson got his powers.

“I purposely wanted to have doorways that go different places and stairways that go up and down. [The Rock of Eternity is] a huge castle. And at one point it was on Earth. At one point, the Rock of Eternity was this massive, magical palace that people of all kinds that wielded magic paid pilgrimage to. Because it was a nexus point. And we’ll learn all about that in the very first few issues of the series, we’ll start to uncover and unlock the secrets of the Rock of Eternity. And Mr. Mind is key in those secrets. What he’s up to is connected directly to the biggest secret of the Rock of Eternity that has been revealed thus far. And that’ll be revealed in issue one,” Johns teased.

Shazam! #1 will also feature a backup story drawn by artist Mayo “SEN” Naito, who Johns first met at San Diego Comic Con years ago and was impressed by her Shazam fan drawings. The backup will tell how Mary Bromfield came to be with her foster family, and later backups will tell stories about the other kids in the Shazam Family.

Shazam! #1 releases on November 28.

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