It's rare to see a superhero comic that is truly "all-ages". Sure the Marvel Adventures line and DC's Justice League Unlimited are kid-safe but for the most part, superhero comics cater to the teenage boys and the teenage boy at heart. A bit of T&A. A splash of blood and guts. It's tough for a parent who wants his/her children to take up the comic reading habit. I never thought the day would come when I have to censor the Avengers if I ever want my kids to read it. The frickin' Avengers, for Heaven's sakes! Razzin frazzin Bendis mutter grumble gripe...
I was gonna write, like, a five thousand word essay on why this hardcover collection is okay for the entire family including grandpa but I thought, "Screw that. Life's too short and I'm tired." So yeah, it's nice. I bought this book solely based on the fact that Jeff Smith wrote and drew it. I liked his Bone series, so I'll give his take on Shazam a shot.
It's a retelling of the Big Red Cheese's origin and his first encounter with the Wizard, Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind and the Monster Society of Evil. Mary Marvel also appears here and Smith chose to potray her as a small child and not a teen (and definitely not an evil psycho witch in a skintight costume). It's a fast read overall. At 197 pages (not including the bonus pages), the story just flies by and Smith's pencils are easy on the eyes. His strength, in my opinion, lies in the facial expressions. You don't just have faces with gaping mouths to denote that they're talking. These characters emote. They are alive.
For a kid, this book is perfect I would think. Especially a kid new to comics and knows absolutely next to nothing about Shazam. In other words, just about every kid out there right now. When jaded 34 year old me sat down to read it however, I felt like something was missing. I don't know how to describe it but I think it lacked a certain *Ooomph* factor. It's like gulping down a glass of flat soda. Sure, it tastes nice but some extra fizziness would have made it a classic, know what I'm saying?
Overall, I would give SHAZAM! Monster Society of Evil an "Okay" which is lower than "Great" and "Bloody Amazing!" but higher than "Crap".