Be Worthy Of The Family With Infected: King Shazam #1

by Josh Davison

Mild Spoilers Ahead
Billy Batson, aka Shazam, has been infected with some kind of warped toxin crafted by the Batman Who Laughs. It’s turned Shazam into a raging sadist who’s already lashed out at his family: Victor, Rosa, and Mary. He’s now on a warpath of finding someone worthy of being in his “family,” and this leads him to fighting Atlas, Thor, Rao, and other gods. Mary Marvel knows this isn’t really Billy; something very bad has happened to him. She follows Shazam’s path of destruction in the hope that she can save her brother before it’s too late.

Infected: King Shazam #1 cover by David Marquez and Dean White
Infected: King Shazam #1 cover by David Marquez and Dean White

Infected: King Shazam #1 shows the vast destruction of which Billy Batson is capable when he cuts loose. He has the power of several gods, and he wants to see if any of those gods can survive a few rounds with him in a fight.
Family is the main theme of this story, and Billy wants a new one. In his diseased mind, his family needs to be as strong as him. Given that he’s one of the strongest beings in the DC Universe, that’s a hard bar to clear. Of course, Billy’s true family is the one who cares about him: Victor, Rosa, Mary, and the others.
The odd thing is that the story never really resolves this, and it doesn’t really have a true resolution. The bad guys winning is the theme of the Year of the Villain, but a comic, even a one-shot, needs a proper ending. The Year of the Villain one-shots have done a good job of delivering that up until now. It kind of just feels like an advert for Batman/Superman in how it closes. Batman/Superman is a great comic, but that doesn’t change the problem.
Joe Bennett, of course, makes this a gorgeous comic. His eye for detail and action is among the greatest working in mainstream comics at the moment. He’s backed up by the skilled inking of Belardino Brabo and Matt Santorelli and the vibrant color work of Hi-Fi, all of whom do excellent work in this comic.
Infected: King Shazam #1 is a fun and, at times, brutal comic that shows Billy Batson leaving gods beaten and bloody. It tries to work out a theme of what family should be, but the lack of a true ending leaves the book feeling a little unfinished. It’s still fun and contains great artwork, so it’s still worthy of a recommendation. However, I’d only read it if you’re deeply invested in Year of the Villain and/or Shazam.
Infected: King Shazam #1 comes to us from writer Sina Grace, artist Joe Bennett, inkers Belardino Brabo and Matt Santorelli, color artist Hi-Fi, letterer Rob Leigh, and cover artist David Marquez with Dean White.
Final Score: 6/10

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