Having been a fan of Captain Marvel (published under the "Shazam!" heading) for years, I was rather surprised at how uneven this first collection of his adventures is. That's not to say it's BAD, mind you, but I think Captain Marvel needed a little time to find his stride.
Billy Batson, an orphaned newsboy, is led down an abandoned subway tunnel where he encounters the wizard Shazam, who endows him with a gift. By speaking the wizard's name, Billy Batson is transformed in the world's mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel!
The stories, by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, are typical of superhero comics of the 1940s -- with the superhero going to battle against the Axis forces that are always alluded to but never quite earmarked as the same foes America had not yet faced in the real world ("Nazis" becoming "Gnatzis", for instance). Remember, at the time these books were published, America was still several months away from Pearl Harbor and, with it, total war.
The book reads best as a historical oddity -- it's interesting to note some of the odd, very un-PC stereotypes Parker and Beck get away with, from their depiction of Asian characters to an issue where Billy actually disguises himself in blackface!
Towards the end of this volume the stories begin to hit their stride -- the second-to-last story, in which the evil Dr. Sivana works out a mathematical formula that allows him to become intangible, is my favorite in the book. I'm glad DC has continued this series -- up to the third volume now -- because I've read some of the later "Captain Marvel" stories and I know for a fact that once the series started to hit, it hit on all cylinders, becoming one of the finest superhero comics ever. Read this book for your introduction, then move on to the really good stuff Fawcett Comics did with the Marvels later.