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:





  1. Finally the wildstorm extreme version of captain marvel that everyone was yearning for. One that will surely stand the test of time.

  2. How sad that, when referring to Captain Marvel’s costume, the editor compares it to a “Circus Strongman” with a “traditional cape”.
    The inspiration to the good Captain’s costume has been noted as a couple of things- “military uniforms and ancient Egyptian and Persian costumes as depicted in popular operas”…. seemingly NEVER cited as being a circus strongman costume. And a traditional cape? One of the coolest things about Captain marvel was that he didn’t have a traditional cape.
    Sad when the folks in charge don’t get it. If you want to change it, fine. But at least take the time to know what you’re changing. Don’t belittle an artist’s creativity (in this case CC Beck’s) with your own ignorance.

  3. I’ve more or less been on DC’s side with some of the changes that they’ve made since the New 52 but why not just make an original character rather than this version of Captain Marvel? If you’re really not keeping much of the original character then why even bother? One step forward, two steps back.

  4. I really don’t understand what people see as actually changing with Shazam. The wizard’s there, the Rock of Eternity, Sivana, Black Adam, etc. Oh my god, they changed of seams on the costume. Now he’s totally unrecognizable!

  5. @ Kenny G,
    Because this is a tone deaf version of the character. And while it’s been a few years since there was a series that captures his charm, they’ve done all they can to make him a character who is explicitly NOT captain marvel.

  6. Read a comment on the NY Post article, and now I can’t shake the image of a drunk Captain Marvel beating up Moon Knight and stealing part of his costume.

    I hope Black Adam is some skinny emo dude who drinks PBRs and has a magical moustache.


  7. Um, Kenny (hate your music, BTW)? Just look at the pic … and there are also sample pages up on CBR.com. It’s more than just “the seams of his costume!”

    I dunno … I think the old CAPTAIN MARVEL comics were fun because they didn’t fit into the real world so much … not really big on melodrama. In some ways, it was like Tin Tin with superpowers, not only with the boy reporter on adventures bit, but the simple art.

    I completely, utterly agree with the poster above who suggests they simply make a new character if they want to do this. On the other hand, it’s not like they didn’t ruin Mary Marvel already, so …

  8. Remember when Jeff SMith did Captain Marvel?
    And how wonderful that was? Can you imagine if DC continued with such a style? A real superhero for kids!

  9. The darker, grim and gritty direction is pretty much the norm for most Big 2 comics. From the description, it seems like he’ll be a cross between The Hood and Doctor Strange. If the details of his origin remain the same ( orphaned child follows stranger to magic subway), there is clear potential for this to take a disturbing turn. We’ll see how this all pans out.

  10. Ummmm… Not really convincing me this is an improvement yet. When the good Captain passes into the public domain, I shall create a version that will make grown men weep! And in a good way too, not the way this version makes me weep. ;)

  11. Echoing Mario Boon’s comments. Jef Smith showed you he can take a superhero character and still keep the whimsy of the original. CC Beck & Otto Binder are turning over in their graves over another failed attempt by DC to properly showcase Captain Marvel. DC still doesn’t know what to do with him.

  12. Wow, Geoff Johns has an incredible lack of range and imagination in the types of characters he writes.

  13. I try not to pass judgment on these things too early – did too much of that in advance of the Byrne Superman revamp – but until they show an image of Captain Marvel (or Shazam, or whatever) smiling, standing tall as a beacon of hope, truly behaving like the World’s Mightiest Mortal – their version won’t work…for me.

    They can make Batman a psychopath and Superman an aloof alien, but when they take the heart out of the Shazam Family, there’s not a lot left there to root for.

  14. Stupid cloak is stupid, and yeah, now that it’s been pointed out it looks like Moon Knight’s, I can’t unsee it. Ick. I like a lot of the New 52 changes, but this just looks god awful, and is so horribly tone deaf as to the appeal of this character that it’s kind of mind-boggling.

  15. I think Chip Kidd sums it up perfectly in the oral history linked –

    “There’s no point to me of doing a dark Captain Marvel.”

  16. He wears a hood because that corny Fred MacMurray look ain’t working with the kids. Does he now look like Eminem under the hood? What does DC stand for these days –Douchebag Comics?

  17. Marioboom – they DID do a followup to the Jeff Smith Captain Marvel – Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam in the Jonny DC line – it was wonderful and sold nothing.

    I am old enough to remember a 4 issue miniseries done in the 80s, after the Byrne Superman reboot that tried to make the Captain Marvel concept more “realistic” (Roy Thomas and Tom Grummet?). That didn’t take.

    But look at it from DC’s perspective – Black Adam has been more popular as a character the last few years than Captain Marvel has ever been since DC brought him back in the early 70’s. Why not give the audience what they want? that’s what content companies do. Once people stop buying this stuff, it will stop being produced, but as I said before, all those people who claim to want an all-ages Captain Marvel book had their chance and refused to buy it when DC put it out.

  18. Ironically, Captain Marvel’s pre-New52 costume was supposedly the new “gold standard” of superhero costumes, in that it didn’t sport the swim trunks that are so horribly embarrassing to the Kewl Kids. And a HOOD? That article reads like a PARODY!

  19. “all those people who claim to want an all-ages Captain Marvel book had their chance and refused to buy it when DC put it out”

    Boy, what a publishing mess that book was. DC somehow let Mike Kunkel take the reigns of the book, and who knows if Mike thought he could get it out on schedule of if DC just didn’t care. The first 12 issues are a mess, some due to art, some due to scheduling. The first issue came out in September 2008.
    The 3rd issue came out in February of 2009.


    The 13th issue in April 2010.

    By the time Mike Norton (along with Art Baltazar & Franco) came on the the book for issues 13-21 it appears I was one of the few left buying it. The sad thing is that those Mike Norton issues are some of the most beautiful comics published over the past 10 years. Norton’s work on them is absolutely fantastic and the best of his career! DC cared so little about the comic that they won’t even publish the last batch of issues in a trade. Screw you DC.

  20. He’s turned into Black Lightning! ;)

    JL sucks so much at the moment that even the inclusion of Penciler Gary Frank wont get me to pick this is up.

  21. My favorite superhero costume of all is Capt Marvel Jr, and I guess that won’t be seeing the light of day any time soon. This is a shame, but if this is what sells then this is what sells.

  22. Hmmm so now he can’t say his name out loud any more; cool.
    I’ll still be buying the original Fawcett comics and be happy.

  23. “Remember when Jeff SMith did Captain Marvel? And how wonderful that was? Can you imagine if DC continued with such a style? A real superhero for kids!”

    A real superhero for a comics-reading audience that doesn’t exist!

  24. “This is a shame, but if this is what sells then this is what sells.”

    Er, it doesn’t sell, because it hasn’t come out yet. All the whining and moaning in the thread is for nothing because no one has read it.

  25. “A real superhero for a comics-reading audience that doesn’t exist!”

    Oh, shoot, you’re right. I guess I was confused when I saw all those kids at Kid’s Day at NYCC and Wizard World delightedly reading comics, and the kids sitting at the all-ages section of my LCS whenever I walk in reading comics, and I looked at the long-term historical sales of Johnny DC vs. Regular DC, and must’ve gotten the INSANE notion in my head that kids read comics. Damn those kids who read comics, making me think kids read comics!

  26. If his character name is going to be “Shazam,” how would anyone know? He can’t introduce himself without turning into Billy, and Billy can’t tell anyone without revealing himself to be “Shazam.”

  27. This whole reboot thing has finally cured me of comics forever. It leaves me completely cold. Thanks DC!

    Anybody want to buy several boxes of old broken-continuity back issues?

  28. Just because continuity is ruined doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your comics. I tend to enjoy what I own in spite of continuity concerns.

  29. Give it time, it will all go back to the way it was. It always does. Remember Bucky staying dead? Or Barry Allen, or Batman and Captain America in armor?

    The classic Captain marvel will endure and return again someday.

  30. >> If his character name is going to be “Shazam,” how would anyone know? He can’t introduce himself without turning into Billy, and Billy can’t tell anyone without revealing himself to be “Shazam.” >>

    They’ve changed his name and costume. Surely you don’t think that’s all they’ve changed.

    I doubt that Geoff has written a story and only when the character keeps changing back and forth uncontrollably realizes that this is an issue. Whether you like the results or not, I’m guessing they’ve work something out to cover this.


  31. This is one of the most horrible, wrong-headed things I’ve seen come out of this new DCU mess. There is a difference between reinterpreting a hero and shredding every previous issue he appeared in and then using it as toilet paper. This appears to be the latter.