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Monday, September 17, 2007

Just a Quick Graphic Novel(s) Recommendation-Trials of Shazam and more....

I try my best to never let our readership forget that we do try to discuss comics in Afronerd but it is sometimes a daunting task when there are so many other pertinent issues and hobbies that also vie for attention within this blog. Nevertheless, I have three books that I suspect the comic enthusiast portion of our audience might enjoy. Interestingly enough, all three books share two common themes-Greco-Roman/Middle-eastern mythologies and that the gods walk amongst us lowly mortals from time to time. Trials of Shazam has quickly become one of my top twenty books simply because it has given some literary life to the dated Billy Batson and family saga. Initially I was never a big fan of the Shazam mythos because as time goes on the characters still attempted to maintain a childish aesthetic in the midst of an ever maturing comic reading audience. In simpler terms-Batson never grew up. And coupled with the fact that DC acquired the Shazam franchise from a lengthy legal battle with Fawcett Publications going back five decades just added to the comic's murky history. Well now Batson has grown up and has taken on the mantle of the Wizard and the next in line to become Captain Marvel is well.....Marvel, Jr. Junior is on trial to become the Big Red Cheese but he must retrieve his individual powers (hence the acronym SHAZAM....wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules-you get the picture) from the gods who live their lives as mortals-but there are others that also want to get these vaunted abilities from the demigods as well.

The second book is in essence an extension or fleshed out sub-plot to Trials, entitled Black Adam: The Dark Age. Again, we are dealing with more murky history here-Adam or his mortal name, Teth-Adam was originally Egytian and essentially the first person to utter the phrase shazam but he went rogue, became the arch-nemesis of the Marvel Family and a citizen of of the fictional Middle-eastern nation known as Khandaq (you'll notice the Iraq War analogies in full abundance if you pick up related books-i.e. Justice Society, 52, etc) in the last 50 or 60 years. Its safe to assume that Adam is of arabic extraction to make things easier. Anyway....Dark Age is a bloody saga showing the depth to which a man will go to reclaim his life and wife. Here's more from Wikipedia:

Black Adam: The Dark Age
In this eight-issue mini-series, which begins sometime after his defeat, the still-powerless Teth-Adam orders his remaining loyal to savagely beat his face in order to alter his physical appearance. Effectively disguised, he leads the group to Kahndaq to retrieve the bones of Isis, while the JSA is in Bialya searching for him. Adam and his men are attacked by unidentified soldiers (who are also searching for Teth-Adam) while leaving the tomb of Isis and Osiris. Adam's followers sacrifice their lives so that he can escape with his wife's remains. Adam then travels to the frozen Himalays, where he eats the corpse of his last remaining henchman after running out of food. Finally reaching a secluded cave, Teth Adam resurrects Isis using a Lazarus Pit. The process is imperfect however, and Isis' new skin decays. Black Adam journeys to Doctor Fate's tower, hoping to retrieve Isis' amulet. He encounters Felix Faust, who offers his assistance in return for being freed from the tower. With Faust's help, Black Adam's magic word is changed to "Isis", and he sets off to retrieve the scattered pieces of Isis' amulet.

To make things simple-A god dies (and you know the likelihood of that remaining a fact) and then is reborn and must find his Asgardian-folk living among...you guessed it....mortals-some are even lurking in a post-Katrina habitat. And thanks to J. Michael Straczynski it seems like the reader will be in for a hell of a ride. Just to give you a taste as to how Straczynski has changed things around (beyond Heimdall living in New Orleans reference) Asgard is no longer located above the heavens with a rainbow transverse but hovers a few inches above the ground in Oklahoma!

Here's more from Wiki once again:

New beginning

The mysterious man seen during the events of Civil War is Donald Blake. When Blake touches the hammer Mjolnir, he is transported to the void where Thor has been in hibernation. Blake explains that when Odin originally removed the Donald Blake persona from Thor, Blake was transported to the void Thor now inhabits, and was returned to New York City when Thor broke the Ragnarok cycle. Blake convinces Thor to wield Mjolnir once more and return to Earth and renew the dual identity with Blake. Blake also reveals that Thor's fellow Asgardians are not dead but hidden on Earth.

Thor rebuilds Asgard in Oklahoma, paying for the land with Asgardian treasure, then goes off to seek his fellow Asgardians. He learns of the events of the superhero-registration "Civil War" and becomes angry that Tony Stark (Iron Man) and others used his DNA to create the Thor Clone without his knowledge or permission. Iron Man soon confronts him, demanding that he move Asgard and register with the government or be considered an enemy. Unimpressed, Thor decimates his former comrade with contemptuous ease. He then makes it clear that he will respond with greater aggression unless he is left in peace, and that his position in regards to the recent conflict is neutral. Seeking a compromise, Stark rationalizes that Asgard may be considered a foreign embassy of sorts, with diplomatic immunity granted to its inhabitants. Though Thor deems this acceptable, he makes it clear that the two men are far from reconciled. Afterwards, Thor finds the first of the lost Asgardians, Heimdall, and restores him to his true form. Observing the new addition to Asgard, Stark advises SHIELD to take no action, at present.

All in all, check out these great reads and tell the class what you thought.

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