Freddy Freeman is the lightning to Shazam’s thunder: they’re inseparable! Lightning is always there when the thunder brings the noise, even if you don’t see it.

Shazam! Thundercrack, a new middle-grade graphic novel set in the continuity of the two Shazam films, gives Freddy the spotlight he deserves. There’s also a snappy retelling of Shazam’s origin story, vital lessons about teamwork and some of the most brilliant winks to DC’s comic book past that I’ve seen in a long time. And did I mention lots and lots of football?

Let’s kick off the fun!

Rockin’ Recap

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Shazam! Thundercrack, which is written, illustrated and colored by Yehudi Mercado, revisits the characters we first met in 2019’s Shazam!. But don’t worry if it’s been a while since you and the kids have seen it, Mercado masterfully tells part of the movie’s tale from Freddy’s point of view.

Literally, it’s his point of view through a video camera lens.

From the family’s anticipation of a new kid moving in, to a quick recap of Billy Batson’s fateful meeting in the Rock of Eternity, this graphic novel is one of the best ways for readers of all ages to catch up on the superhero’s origin story. (Especially before Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in movie theaters!) Thundercrack also features one of Shazam’s first battles as a superhero, before he has a good handle on his powers—or his vanity.

Freddy Night Lights

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Freddy dubs himself Shazam’s manager and puts his encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes to good use as they test out his new powers together. Billy, however, is still a loner by nature. Not even reluctantly joining the school football team makes him much of a team player. (It was either that or detention, so Billy picked football.) His foster dad, Victor, shares a story about his own glory days on the field, but his fond memories aren’t enough to help the self-reliant teen see the value of being part of a team.

“I just know that people will eventually let you down,” Billy tells Freddy in a rare moment of candor.

Nevertheless, Billy is a natural at playing quarterback. His skills catch the eyes of his school’s rival team, who are willing to do whatever it takes to win. That includes trusting a mad scientist to equip the entire team with experimental cybernetic enhancements. Yikes! Evil football player robots give “gridiron” an electrifying new meaning.

Freddy Freeman isn’t one to sit on the sidelines, though. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to support his foster brother, so Freddy has an idea to keep himself in the game—and it’s a clever one.

It’s Tawky Tawny!

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Everyone’s favorite talking tiger is back! Sort of. The anthropomorphic tiger Tawky Tawny was an inseparable friend to Shazam in the pages of Fawcett Comics during the Golden Age. In a hat tip to the big fuzzball, Freddy dons an eye-catching tiger costume as part of his plan to stay close to Billy. That’s right, their team is the Tigers…and Freddy is their green-suited mascot! Oh, and did I mention their school is named Fawcett? If you love little Easter eggs in your DC Comics, this is how it’s done.

Thanks to the aforementioned evil football robots, Shazam quickly learns he can’t do everything on his own. It takes Freddy calling him out and one more pep talk from his foster dad to help Billy realize it’s okay to count on others. He understands the value in teamwork and begins to trust that he and his teammates are in the game together.

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The action ratchets up from there as Shazam tackles the bad guys head-on. Thanks to Freddy’s quick thinking and Billy’s heart of a hero, the Atom Men meet their match. But can the two save the day before the clock runs out?

Shazam! Thundercrack is certain to brighten your day no matter what you or your kids are passionate about. Superheroes? Shazam? Football? Vibrant art? A plain ol’ good story? Whatever it is, there’s something for you in this high-spirited graphic novel. Score!

Shazam! Thundercrack by Yehudi Mercado is now available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and as a digital graphic novel.

Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.