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Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel)  is a superhero originally published by Fawcett Comics and later by DC Comics. Created in 1939 by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker, he first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940) with a premise that taps adolescent fantasy. Shazam is the alter ego of Billy Batson who works as a radio news reporter and was chosen to be a champion of good by an ancient wizard (also named Shazam). Whenever Billy speaks the word "Shazam!", he is struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into an adult superhero empowered with the abilities of six archetypal, historical figures. Several friends and family members, most notably Marvel Family/Shazam Family cohorts Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. can share Billy's power and become "Marvels" themselves.

Hailed as "The World's Mightiest Mortal" in his adventures, Shazam/Captain Marvel was nicknamed "The Big Red Cheese" by arch-villain Doctor Sivana, an epithet later adopted by Captain Marvel's fans. Based on sales, Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero of the 1940s, as his Captain Marvel Adventures comic book series sold more copies than Superman and other competing books of the time. Captain Marvel was also the first comic book superhero to be adapted to film, in a 1941 Republic Pictures serial titled Adventures of Captain Marvel.

Fawcett ceased publishing Captain Marvel-related comics in 1953, due in part to a copyright infringement suit from DC Comics alleging that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman. In 1972, DC licensed the Marvel Family characters and returned them to publication, acquiring all rights to the characters by 1991. DC has since integrated Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family into their DC Universe, and have attempted to revive the property several times with mixed success.
Because Marvel Comics trademarked their Captain Marvel comic book during the interim between the original Captain Marvel's Fawcett years and DC years, DC has used the trademark Shazam! to promote the property since 1972, instead of the name "Captain Marvel". Consequently, Captain Marvel himself has often been referred to as "Shazam", leading to DC to rename the character as such with their New 52 relaunch in 2012.


Captain Marvel vs. Superman

Captain Marvel's adventures have contributed a number of elements to both comic book culture and pop culture in general. The most notable of these is the regular use of Superman and Captain Marvel as adversaries in Modern Age comic book stories. The two are often portrayed as equally matched, and while Marvel does not possess Superman's heat vision, x-ray vision or breath powers, the magic-based nature of his own powers are a weakness for Superman.


The National Comics/Fawcett Comics rivalry was parodied in "Superduperman," a satirical comic book story by Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood in the fourth issue of Mad (April/May 1953). In the parody, inspired by the Fawcett/DC legal battles, Superduperman, endowed with muscles on muscles, does battle with Captain Marbles, a Captain Marvel caricature. Marbles' magic word is "SHAZOOM", which stands for Strength, Health, Aptitude, Zeal, Ox—power of, Ox—power of another, and Money. In contrast to Captain Marvel's perceived innocence and goodness, Marbles was greedy and money-grubbing, and a master criminal. Superduperman defeats Marbles by tricking him into hitting himself.


While publishing its Shazam! revival in the 1970s, DC Comics published a story in Superman #276 (June 1974) featuring a battle between the Man of Steel and a thinly disguised version of Captain Marvel called Captain Thunder, a reference to the character's original name. He apparently battled against a Monster League who cast a spell to make him evil, but Superman helped him break free.[80] Two years later, Justice League of America #135-137 featured a story arc which featured the heroes of Earth-1, Earth-2, and Earth-S teaming together against their enemies. It was in this story that Superman and Captain Marvel first met, albeit briefly. King Kull has caused Superman to go mad using red kryptonite, meaning he and Marvel battle, but Marvel restores his mind to normal with lightning. In Shazam! #30 (1977), Dr. Sivana creates several steel creatures to destroy Pittsburgh's steel mills, after getting the idea from reading an issue of Action Comics. He finally creates a Superman robot made of a super-steel to destroy Captain Marvel. They both hit each other at the same moment, and the Superman is destroyed.


Notable later Superman/Captain Marvel battles in DC Comics include All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58 (1978), All-Star Squadron #36-37 (1984), and Superman vol. 2, #102 (1995). The Superman/Captain Marvel battle depicted in Kingdom Come #4 (1996) served as the climax of that miniseries, with Marvel having been brainwashed by Lex Luthor and Mister Mind to turn against the other heroes. The "Clash" episode of the DC-based animated TV series Justice League Unlimited, which included Captain Marvel as a guest character, featured a Superman/Captain Marvel fight as its centerpiece. By contrast, the depiction of the pair's first meeting in the Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder miniseries establishes them as firm friends and allies to the point of Superman volunteering to be Billy's mentor when he learns the boy's true age.

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