Shazam: Power of Hope
Paul Dini &
Alex Ross, writers,
Alex Ross, artist
(DC Comics, 2000)

Shazam: Power of Hope, the third installment in the Paul Dini and Alex Ross series of over-sized graphic novels, focuses on the Big Red Cheese of the DC Comics world, Captain Marvel. Billy Batson, Marvel's youthful alter ego, comes into possession of a massive bag of letters sent to the hero. One letter from the City Children's Hospital inspires Batson to say his magic word and, as Marvel, agree to spend a few days with the kids there. He tells them stories about his escapades, carries a special surgeon in from Japan to treat one with damaged eyes, and takes children on a variety of flying adventures. He threatens one boy's father into stopping the beatings.

Once again, Ross provides his most excellent paintings to illustrate the tale. Ross is one of the best artists working in the comics field today, and his work is startling in its ability to give life to his and Dini's words and characters.

There's no real story here, but a series of related vignettes. Although less interesting to me than its predecessors, Superman: Peace on Earth and Batman: War on Crime, Shazam: Power of Hope still managed to hold my attention. It lacks action, but it's touching. It's a little sad, but still promotes a hopeful spirit, as the title suggests. Better still, original artwork from the book was used to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America.

If you want something different from the usual superhero smash-'em-ups, check this out. You won't be disappointed.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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