It might be naïve optimism at this point, or it might be that Geoff Johns has made his writing so clichéd and nuance-free that it's simple to extrapolate the plotline, but I think I see where he's trying to go with this. Billy Batson is a jerkass, but he's a jerkass with a heart of gold. Gaining the powers of Shazam--and particularly the wisdom of Zeus--will eventually force him to become a better person and a hero and whatnot. I suspect that's the endpoint of this story, showing how Billy grows as a person into a true champion. It's a redemption story, it's the story that "Amazing Fantasy" #15 told in like twelve pages. It might even be a worthwhile story, but it's not a story I want to read.
There are two reasons for this. One is that, in order to tell this story, Johns seems to think that he needed to make the protagonist a generally unlikable dick, so that his eventual redemption would be that much greater. That's anything but necessary; I honestly think it's lazy. It's easier to write characters at the extremes than characters who actually have some semblance of recognizable humanity. Moreover, it's forced Johns to generate characters who are even more extreme jerkasses, so that there's some contrast between the protagonist and the villains. So the rich jackass dad in the story, who would otherwise be the transplanted smarmy jerk from any '80s underdog movie, has to be a Snidely Whiplash-type who would assault a child in broad daylight. It's sloppy, it's lazy, it's unnecessary.
But the other reason is a larger one, one exemplified by the rest of the book that "Shazam" has been a backup in. If Billy Batson were the only character who had fallen so far so he could pick himself back up, it wouldn't be quite so unpalatable. But Geoff Johns' whole approach to the New 52 has been to make the heroes arrogant, unlikable, abrasive jerkasses, to the point where it takes them five years to realize that, hey, maybe they should learn some teamwork. Making Billy Batson a jerkass only blends him into the morass of unlikable assholes that the Justice League has become.
I know there's an audience for this version of
I finally dropped "Justice League" this week. I won't be looking back.