Shazam

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See Captain Marvel

Debut:Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940)

Shazam is a comic book character created by Bill Parker and C C Beck for Fawcett Comics. He is an ancient wizard (Whiz Comics #2 gives his age as 3,000 years) who gives young Billy Batson the power to transform into the superhero Captain Marvel. Because DC Comics has billed Captain Marvel's adventures under the name Shazam! since 1973, the superhero is often mistakenly referred to by his mentor's name.

Contents

Character biography

Creating Captain Marvel

Shazam informs Billy that he has been using his powers for many centuries to fight the forces of evil, but that he is now old and not long for this world. He therefore passes along part of his power to Billy, who shouts his name — "SHAZAM!" — to transform into Captain Marvel. Although Shazam is killed—as prophesied—by a giant granite block falling upon him, Billy/Marvel can summon the ghost of Shazam for guidance by lighting a special brazier (a torch like apparatus) in Shazam's lair, the Rock of Eternity. More superheroes soon joined Marvel in carrying on the legacy of Shazam, including Marvel Family members Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr and the Lieutenant Marvels.

Origin

When Billy first meets him, Shazam tells Billy that his name is an acronym for six Greco-Roman deities and heroes, and Judeo-Christian prophets. These deities empower him with certain attributes:

In a story written by E Nelson Bridwell for World's Finest Comics #262 (cover date April/May 1980) Shazam's origins are further explored. This gave him a back-story in which he was a young shepherd who becomes the Champion, one of the world's first superheroes in ancient Canaan over 5,000 years ago, by speaking the magic word "VLAREM!". Vlarem (an anagram of "Marvel")


Many centuries later, the Champion, now going by the name of Shazam, feels the need to pass along his powers to a successor. He selects the pharaoh's son Teth-Adam to receive the power to become the super-powered Mighty-Adam by speaking the word "SHAZAM!" Black Adam draws his energies from:

  • The stamina of Shu;
  • The speed of Heru;
  • The strength of Amon;
  • The wisdom of Zehuti;
  • The power of Aton; and
  • The courage of Mehen.

As her mother did, Shazam's daughter Blaze takes on the form of a beautiful woman and seduces Adam, convincing him to kill the pharaoh and take over the kingdom. An angry Shazam draws Mighty-Adam's powers out of him and into a large jeweled scarab, thereby killing Adam. A wicked re-incarnation of Teth-Adam named Theo Adam would steal the scarab many centuries later, and use the power of Shazam to become Black Adam.

Millennia later, the wizard resurfaces as an aide on the 1940 Malcolm Expedition, one of many archaeological expeditions into the tombs and pyramids of ancient Egypt. The sarcophagi]] of Ibis the Invincible and his mate Princess Taia are uncovered and brought to the United States. Shazam keeps an eye on the sarcophagi and, once they are on display at the Fawcett City Museum, uses ancient spells to resurrect Ibis. Ibis then joins Bulletman, Spy Smasher, Minute-Man and others to fight evil during the World War II era. In 1955, a thug knocks Shazam across the head with a crowbar and causes him to lose his memory.

A clueless Shazam wanders around Fawcett for the next 40 years until C.C. Batson, a young man Shazam had met on the Malcolm Expedition, recognizes the old man and brings him to the museum to restore his memory. Shazam feels that he has truly found his successor in the upstanding Batson, but before he can act on this, a possessed Theo Adam murders Batson and his wife Marilyn. He therefore decides to enlist C.C. Batson's young son, Billy, as the successor to his power.

Day of Vengeance

In Superman #216, Shazam calls upon the Spectre to free Superman from being controlled by the demon Eclipso. This action breaks a covenant between Eclipso and the Spectre, and sets Eclipso permanently at odds with the wizard. Possessing the body of Jean Loring, the Atom's ex-wife, Eclipso corrupts the confused Spectre into joining forces with her, and begins a war against all magic-powered beings in the DC Universe.

Portion of a panel from The Trials of Shazam #2 (November 2006) featuring Marvel. Art by Howard Porter.
Portion of a panel from The Trials of Shazam #2 (November 2006) featuring Marvel. Art by Howard Porter.

Because of his previous action, Shazam is one of the duo's primary targets. In the Day of Vengeance miniseries, Shazam enlists Captain Marvel to keep the Spectre at bay, while the wizard gathers all of his power to battle him. With the assistance of the newly formed Shadowpact, a band of magic-based heroes, Captain Marvel fights the Spectre nearly to a standstill, but the Spectre escapes and makes his way to the Rock of Eternity to confront Shazam directly. The Spectre overpowers the wizard, absorbs his magics, and kills him. As a result, the Rock of Eternity disintegrates above Gotham City into "a billion pieces" and explodes, freeing the Seven Deadly Sins and sending a de-powered Billy Batson falling into the city.

In Infinite Crisis #1, Billy finds he is still able to transform into the Captain before he strikes the ground by saying the wizard's name as usual. It is also revealed that the entire affair was orchestrated by Alexander Luthor and the Psycho-Pirate to reduce magic to its raw form, enabling him to harness it through one of Shazam's champions (namely Black Adam) to fuel his tower.

In Day of Vengeance: Infinite Crisis Special, it is revealed that the Shadowpact teams up with the majority of the DCU's surviving magical characters to rebuild the Rock of Eternity and reseal the Seven Deadly Sins. The final piece of the reconstruction, revealed by Zatanna, is that a new wizard has to be appointed to guard the Rock. Billy, as the only real candidate, is chosen to succeed Shazam as the Rock's new caretaker.

In the comic series 52, Captain Marvel is revealed to be currently headquartered at the Rock of Eternity, acting in Shazam's stead.

The Trials of Shazam!

A year after the events of Infinite Crisis, the miniseries The Trials of Shazam! features Captain Marvel, now with a white costume and long white hair, taking over the role of the wizard Shazam under the name Marvel while a powerless Freddy Freeman attempts to prove himself worthy to take on the powers of Shazam.

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