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April 2, 2017

Character Spotlight: Billy Batson (Shazam)

SHAZAM! Just by saying that name, Billy Batson becomes Earth’s mightiest mortal. Wielding the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achillies, and the speed of Mercury. How does a kid become a superhero using the powers of gods and legends? Let’s find out!

William Joseph Batson is the eldest child to archeologists, C.C. and Marilyn Batson. Billy and his sister, Mary, would often join their parents on archeological digs but during their investigation of Ramses II’s tomb, things went horribly wrong. Their parents’ assistant, Theodore Adam came into possession of an ancient artifact that reminded him of his true identity as Black Adam, a fallen champion of the wizard Shazam. Adam would kill Billy and Mary’s parents and then kidnap Mary for protection from authorities.

Before Billy even has time to react, he is whisked away to a magical cave, the Rock of Eternity, home of the wizard Shazam. The wizard chose Billy to be his champion and by using the wizard’s name, would transform into an adult version of himself called Captain Marvel who had great power. Now able to go toe-to-toe with Adam, now going by his old name Black Adam, also wielding the powers of Shazam he once did long ago. The two would fight with Billy being the Victor and learning that Adam was working for Doctor Sivanna, a corrupt, wealthy scientist.

Billy and his sister would go to live in Fawcett City where Billy would work as an intern for the local radio station. Captain Marvel would be inenofnthe first in a new generation of heroes, ardivng soon after Superman and Batman were established but not too many others yet. He’d even team up with Superman and become great friends, when Superman discovered that the wizard Shazam had bestowed such abilities on just a child, he took umbrage with the wizard but became a friend and mentor to to Billy. Billy’s powers and exploits over the years would have him eventually drawing the attention of the Justice Society who would invite him to join the team, not knowing they were inviting a teen. This would get all the more awkward when he would start dating teammate Stargirl, who was the only one to know Billy’s true identity while the rest of the team saw an adult and a teen dating. The two would break up to keep Billy’s identity safe and he’d leave the team.

Realizing that Billy could use more help and companionship, Shazam would grant his powers to Mary allowing her to turn into Mary Marvel to fight for good alongside her brother. Billy would also grant his own power to a friend, Freddy Freeman, allowing him to turn into Captain Marvel Jr. Now having a family of heroes, Billy and company would take on all sorts of strange enemies. Often their enemies were of a more magical bent allowing him to be the Superman of the magical world since Superman had a weakness to magic that Captain Marvel and the rest of the Marvel family did not share.

The world would be thrown in upheaval as the manifestation of God’s Wraith, the Spectre, deemed all magic must be destroyed. All magical superheroes would fight to stop this from happening, Billy helping to contain the seven deadly sins who had been unleashed from the Rock of Eternity. This was also when Black Adam was now developing his own family similar to Billy’s in regards to sharing his power. This would go awry when his Adam’s family died causing him to go on a rampage, Billy would fight him and found a way to block him from his powers by changing his magical command word from Shazam to something Adam had to guess. While al thisnhappened, The Spectre had done an immense amount of damage before he could be stopped from completely destroying everything.┬áMagic did not end but a new age of magic began, Shazam was gone and the Rock of Eternity needed a guardian and someone to bestow power to champions. Billy realized he had a new responsibility and became the new wizard while putting his friend Freddy through magical trials to prove he could be the new Captain Marvel.

In the New 52, Billy Barson is a troubled youth moving from foster home to foster home. He has anger problems and ends up with the Vasquez family where he’s stays with other foster siblings such as Mary and Freddie. The Wizard summons Billy and deems him unworthy, which Billy responds with annoyance at someone seeking perfect good in a world without such a thing. The wizard finds his points worthy and grants him the powers of Shazam, now Billy’s name as the wizard’s champion. He’d fight with the former champion Black Adam who had been unleashed upon the world after being imprisoned. Billy would go on several adventures in this new world as the living lightning, Shazam.

There you have it! Captain Marvel may not be what Billy Batson is called anymore when he says “Shazam!” but he still has a lot of power and skill to offer as a hero. He’s supposedly got a movie in the works so we may seem him on the big screen which hasn’t happened since the 1940s when he did old serials. He was on the small screen back in the 1970s on the tv series The Power of Shazam. He’s been in several animated series, but we could always do with more TV and film appearances by the Marvel family.

Suggested Reading
Whiz Comics #2
Shazam! and the Shazam! Family
The Trials of Shazam
JSA
Superman/Shazam: First Thunder
Shazam!

Dr. Bustos
drbustos@comicattack.net

 

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