While the original Captain Marvel was one of the first superheroes I ever encountered, and I've always been a fan of the character, I wouldn't say I was particularly knowledgeable about much of his broad mythology.
I, like many I guess, have always taken it as gospel that young Billy Batson received the powers of Shazam from "The Wizard" (as we saw in the recent movie).
However, recently rereading his first comic book appearance (in 1940's Whiz Comics #2, reprinted in DC Comics' Shazam! A Celebration of 75 Years) that turns out not be exactly true.
Billy still meets the "old man" - who says his name is Shazam (see above) - but then he explains his backstory:
The old man, Shazam, isn't a wizard... he was the previous Captain Marvel.
And he was doing the job he has just passed on to Billy for 3,000 years!
How cool is that?
DC, which now owns Captain Marvel, has always been big on legacy characters, so I don't see why they didn't stick with this idea.
I love the suggestion that the magical powers Billy has been gifted with could keep him alive for another three millennia.
The character clearly grows old, but at an incredibly slow rate.
So Billy is going to be essentially a kid for centuries yet.
And picture the 'future history' stories that could be told - Captain Marvel could join the Legion of Super-Heroes for one thing.
Or stories of the previous Captain Marvel (before he became the "old man") circa 1,000 BC.
That could tie nicely into the origin story of Black Adam. It's similar enough to the accepted story of Black Adam that it wouldn't take much tinkering to adapt to this new vision.
Then you leapfrog either a further 3,000 years back from the Black Adam era or a further 3,000 years on from the 50th Century and explore other Captain Marvels up and down the timeline.
|A purchase from several years ago of what I believe was the first issue of Shazam! |
that I read as a small child. Now framed on the bedroom wall