As many regular Nexus readers know, I am a pretty huge Captain Marvel / Shazam fan. Now, while Captain Marvel for DC Comics is no more, we are seeing a new Shazam emerge as part of the New 52′s Justice League series. BTW, did anyone else notice the back-up feature is no longer called “Curse of Shazam”, but simply “Shazam”. Wonder what that signifies?
Anyhow, I had speculated about a few things a while back about what we might expect from the Shazam mythos being created by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank. And, in the back up feature of Justice League, particular this last issue in Justice League #8, the mythos is being expanded as I had expected.
As I thought, more diversity is being added to the Shazam Family mythos. Will they part of the Shazam “matrix” per se as they were in Geoff Johns’ Flashpoint where six children together made up “Captain Thunder” or are the kids supporting characters to a more traditional portrayal of DC’s new Shazam hero (no longer called Captain Marvel)?
The six children that debuted in Flashpoint (see Flashpoint #4 cover to the lower left) make their New 52 debut in Justice League #8 (see right). In Flashpoint here’s how they played into the Shazam matrix:
A heavier-set Latino-American boy named Pedro Pẽna possesses the strength of Hercules.
A Caucasian-American girl Mary Batson possesses the stamina of Atlas.
Caucasian-American boy Billy Batson possesses the courage of Achilles.
A cute little African-American girl named Darla Dudley possesses the speed of Mercury.
It’ll be interesting to see where Geoff Johns takes this. The question is whether these family expansions are red herrings or signal in a material way what the super-heroics foundation of Shazam will be similar to the Shazam matrix from Flashpoint. Will the super-hero family be like it was in the Golden Age with several super-heroes independently being heroes or those of the more modern pre-Flashpoint version with just three in the core family: Captain Marvel (Billy Batson), Mary Marvel (Mary Batson), and Captain Marvel Jr. (Freddy Freeman). Naturally, with DC dropping the Captain Marvel moniker as Marvel Comics swiped the rights a generation ago (a long story) their respective heroic nom de guerre would be different. However, will we have one Shazam hero or three or perhaps six?
Interestingly, Geoff Johns has indicated that we would also be seeing the darker side of the Shazam family tree. It would appear that we will be seeing Black Adam / Teth Adam sometime soon in the New 52. We have seen the Billy Batson / Shazam costume (see left), but as reported by Bleeding Cool, with the upcoming tease of a Trinity War in DC Comics’ Free Comic Book Day 2012 offering, there are some new heroic debuts coming. I won’t post that full Jim Lee penciled FCBD pages here, but you can link here to see it if you want to be spoiled, but I will directly post a Shazam or Black Adam looking character in that four pages (see above right). We see different Shazam powers and a costume different from the one already released by DC for Shazam. So, who is this character?
Also, in Justice League #8 we saw the debut of hoppy the bunny (by Mary ______), although not in Golden Age hero form, and even Tawky Tawny as an actual tiger and doodle, but not as the classic talking tiger. I wonder if this are nice Easter Eggs or will, in particular the tiger, be critical to the Shazam matrix as he was in Flashpoint?
In terms of Mary, I wonder if Geoff Johns will abandon the notion that she is Billy’s actual sister. While comics do a lot implausible things, having Mary and Billy end up in the same foster home seems highly unlikely if they are actual siblings. Although, Billy has been set up as a problem child hopping from home to home, so maybe it’s more plausible in that context?
In terms of Freddy, with the New 52 debut of a National Comics ongoing series this summer and its first issue (see right) focusing on Christopher Freeman, Kid Eternity, I wonder if they will remain brothers. Hmmm.
Fun times ahead.
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Tags: Captain Thunder (DC), Cully Hamner, Curse of Shazam, DC Comics, DC Comics Relaunch, Demythify, Flashpoint (DC Comics), gary frank, Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire, Justice League, Mary Marvel, National Comics, Trinity War