The DCU is getting a new look for Shazam, and the New York Post has the first glimpse. Once known as Captain Marvel and The Big Red Cheese, he’s now officially Shazam, and a backup strip in JUSTICE LEAGUE by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank debuts in JL #7 later this month.
Based on the new art and focus, this Shazam seems to be trading in his old crew of a talking tiger and cute bunny for a different crowd—say, Hellblazer and the Phantom Stranger.
With a new origin, a cowl, a lightning bolt on his chest, and a penchant for causing electrical appliances to explode, Shazam still bears similarities to the original hero, including the power to change from feisty teen Billy Batson into a superhero by uttering the magic word that is now his name.
“His place in the world will be far more rooted in fantasy and magic than it ever was before,” Johns said.
Over at The Source, Johns and editor Brian Cunningham elaborated on the new direction:
“With SHAZAM! Gary and I will be focusing on the magic hero instead of the super hero,” Johns told THE SOURCE. “For centuries, science has ruled the world, but now magic is returning. We’re telling the story of the hero’s young alter ego, Billy Batson, a foster kid at a crossroads in his life. The question is, how does the emotional journey of this troubled teenager collide with the fate of the world? The Rock of Eternity and the legacy of SHAZAM! will be explored in a different way as the extent of Billy’s connection to the magic world around him is greater than ever before. The story will have a profound impact on Justice League later in the year and you’ll see new characters, locations and creatures along with the classics from the SHAZAM! universe. Billy’s friends and enemies will be along for the ride.”
“You’ll notice that SHAZAM! looks different from many of the other heroes we’ve seen in DC COMICS-THE NEW 52,” said editor Brian Cunningham. “That was definitely intentional. His powers come from a different place, and we wanted to see that reflected in the design. We’ve removed the “circus strongman” elements from his costume. Rather than a traditional cape, he wears a cloak with a hood; there’s more of a mystical, magical, fantasy feel to that.”
Shazam was created by writer Bill Parker and artist C.C. Beck back in 1939, and had a long reign as one of the most popular comcis characters of all time, at one point selling more than a million copies a month. Such was Captain Marvel’s fame that DC sued for copyright infringement, claiming he was based on Superman, and won—a decision that sounds insane by today’s standards, but they had a different idea about IP then.
Anyone interested in the character’s history should check out this oral history, assembled by Zack Smith. Here are some other looks from through the character’s history:
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.