Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! No. 1

than "Bone" creator Jeff Smith's recent try, which played out over a heavily hyped four-issue miniseries.

Former animator Kunkel begins his new monthly title with illustrations that purposely look hand-drawn by a child, using crayons on wide-ruled notebook paper. These few pages get readers up to speed on the original of Captain Marvel, a red-and-yellow-suited superhero who alternates between that guise and his true form of preteen boy Billy Batson with the utterance of the magic word "Shazam!"

Then the real adventure kicks in, with Captain Marvel and super-powered lil' sis Mary Marvel stopping a runaway circus train and later taming a construction site gone awry, caused by new-in-town archenemy Black Adam, cast here as a child bully. In between is a bit that has the Captain posing as his own father for a meeting with the school principal "? a kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy that shows off Kunkel's strength as a writer and thus, connection with his intended young audience.

 "Magic of Shazam!" may be geared toward grade schoolers, but it never dumbs things down. This one holds great promise.

 "?Rod Lott

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