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Friday, 26 June 2020

SHAZAM! Captain Marvel Origin Bombshell!


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

4 comments:

  1. I actually had a Silver Age Sentinels character named Alpha Marvel who was the CM of the Roman Empire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that's what I'm talking about. The Captain Marvel mythos is all about sharing his power with friends and family, but what about up and down the timeline as well?

      Delete
  2. So...I can sort of explain.

    Shazam is indeed a Wizard in that he is a person who knows magic and is gifted with magical powers. Depending on the version of the story you want to adhere to, Shazam (the Wizard) used the power of Names or 'True Name Magic' to tie the abilities of various Gods and Mythic Figures (Solomon for example is not a diety) to the letters of his own name. By shouting out his name, he obtains these powers. The figures and Gods in question deemed him worthy and allowed for the continued use of their abilities in this way.

    The speaking of his name, SHAZAM!, is therefore a spell. A similar spell was given by the wizard Shazam onto Teth-Adam / Black Adam, and later Billy Batson.

    Consider that when Freddy Freeman wants to become Captain Marvel Jr. he has to say, 'CAPTAIN MARVEL' and not 'SHAZAM' like Billy and Mary do. This is because the Wizard made it so a port of Captain Marvel's power is given to Freddy to enable his transformation. Again, a Naming Spell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I get all of that, what "blew my mind" reading that original origin story is the suggestion that the "wizard" Shazam had been a hands-on "crimeighter" beforehand, for three millennia, rather than just a "power donating" mentor.

      That phrasing was new to me and opened up a wellspring of potential ideas.

      Delete

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