Marvel Family

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The Marvel Family
The cover of The Marvel Family #1, featuring (left to right) Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, Uncle Marvel, and the Wizard Shazam. Art by C. C. Beck
Publication information
Publisher Fawcett Comics (1942-1953)
DC Comics (1972-present)
First appearance Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (1942, first joint-appearance of Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, Jr.)
Created by Otto Binder, Ed Herron, C. C. Beck, Bill Parker, Mac Raboy, Marc Swayze
In-story information
Base(s) Fawcett City
Rock of Eternity
Member(s) Captain Marvel
Mary Marvel
Captain Marvel Jr.
Uncle Marvel
The Lieutenant Marvels
Hoppy the Marvel Bunny

The Marvel Family, also known as The Shazam Family, are a group of superheroes who originally appeared in books published by Fawcett Comics, and were later acquired by DC Comics. Created in 1942 by writers Otto Binder and Ed Herron, and Fawcett artists C. C. Beck, Mac Raboy, and Marc Swayze, the team is an extension of Fawcett's Captain Marvel franchise, and includes Marvel's sister Mary Marvel, their friend Captain Marvel Jr., and, at various times, a number of other characters as well.

Because Marvel Comics trademarked their own Captain Marvel comic book during the interim between the demise of the Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel comics in 1953 and DC's revival in 1972, DC Comics is today unable to promote and market their Captain Marvel/Marvel Family properties under those names. Since 1972, DC has instead used the trademark Shazam! for their comic book titles with the Marvel Family characters, and the name under which they market and promote the characters. When referring to the Marvel Family on comic book covers or various merchandise, they are by this legal necessity called the "Shazam Family". In 2012, DC officially changed Captain Marvel's name to Shazam, making Shazam Family the name of the superhero's associates.

Publication history[edit]

The Marvel Family was established in 1942 after the introductions of Captain Marvel's partners the Lieutenant Marvels (Whiz Comics #21, September 1941), Captain Marvel Jr. (Whiz Comics #25, December 1941) and Mary Marvel (Captain Marvel Adventures #18, December 1942). With Junior and Mary's additions to his adventures, Captain Marvel became the first superhero to have a team of sidekicks who share his powers, abilities, and appearance; a concept later adapted for heroes such as Superman and Aquaman, among others.

The members of the Marvel Family appeared both separately and together in many of Fawcett's comic book series, including Whiz Comics, Wow Comics, Master Comics, Captain Marvel Adventures, Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, and The Marvel Family. By the late 1940s, Marvel Family comics were among the most popular in the industry, and the Marvel Family had expanded to include both non-superpowered characters (Uncle Marvel and Freckles Marvel) and even funny animals (Hoppy the Marvel Bunny). By 1953, all of these books had ceased publication, due to Superman publisher DC Comics' lawsuit against Fawcett.

In 1972, DC licensed the rights to the Marvel Family characters, and began publishing them in a comic series titled Shazam!. Fawcett sold DC the rights to the characters in 1980, by which time Shazam! had been cancelled, and the Marvels had been relegated the back-up feature of World's Finest Comics, and, later, Adventure Comics. DC retconned Captain Marvel in 1986 with their Legends miniseries, establishing him as a solo hero without a team. Writer/artist Jerry Ordway resurrected the Marvel Family in 1995 with his Power of Shazam! series, establishing the team as being made up solely of Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr. Following several attempts at relaunching the Shazam! franchise during the mid-2000s, the Marvel Family was temporarily dissolved by writers Geoff Johns and Jerry Ordway in Justice Society of America (third series) #25, with only Captain Marvel Jr., now known as Shazam, retaining his powers, but from another source. In the interim, Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel continued to appear in Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!, an all-ages comic book series published under DC's youth-oriented Johnny DC line which ran from 2008 to 2010.

The Shazam Family was reintroduced during DC Comics' continuity-altering Flashpoint miniseries in 2011, as six kids who all spoke "Shazam!" in unison to become one superhero, Captain Thunder. In the later The New 52 reboot that followed Flashpoint, the Captain Marvel character was renamed "Shazam" and starred in a backup segment of the Justice League series (second volume) from 2012 to 2013. These backups, by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, introduced Billy Batson/Shazam and his new Shazam Family, consisting of Billy and his five foster siblings, with whom he can share his powers.

Marvel Family members[edit]

Primary members[edit]

  • Captain Marvel: the "World's Mightiest Mortal", Captain Marvel is the superpowered alter-ego of young Billy Batson, who speaks the name of the wizard Shazam to become an adult superhero. Billy has the powers of Solomon (wisdom), Hercules (strength), Atlas (stamina), Zeus (power), Achilles (courage), and Mercury (speed); and served as the wizard Shazam's champion and herald. Billy chose to share his powers with his sister Mary and his friend Freddy Freeman, creating the Marvel Family. Outside of the Marvel Family, Captain Marvel served briefly as a member of both the Justice League International and the Justice Society of America. With the The New 52 reboot of the DC characters, beginning with the Shazam! backups in the Justice League series in 2012-2013, Billy Batson is a troubled foster child who has inherited the name, powers, and seat on the council of magic of the wizard Shazam. As Shazam, Billy has powers and an appearance similar to the traditional version of Captain Marvel, save for the added ability to wield magic via the "living lightning": that powers him.
  • Mary Marvel: Billy's once-lost twin sister Mary Batson (adopted as Mary Bromfield), who found she could say the magic word "SHAZAM!" and become a female Marvel. The Golden Age Mary Marvel remained a teenager after saying her magic word, while the modern version is transformed into an adult like her brother. During the 2007 and 2008 limited series Countdown to Final Crisis and Final Crisis, Mary Marvel lost her powers and gained the powers of Marvel Family foe Black Adam, and temporarily slid into villainy, wearing black-leather costumes while working for Darkseid and possessed by the New God Desaad. The Golden Age Mary Marvel had a different set of patrons from Captain Marvel who contributed to her powers. They were Selene (grace), Hippolyte (strength), Ariadne (skill), Zephyrus (swiftness), Aurora (beauty) and Minerva (wisdom). In current New 52 continuity from 2012 on, Mary Bromfield is Billy Batson's foster sister, who knows of his secret identity and at Billy's whim can share his Shazam powers to gain a form similar to the traditional Mary Marvel.
  • Captain Marvel Jr.: Billy's friend and classmate Freddy Freeman. In both the Golden Age and 1990s versions of the Marvel Family, Freddy was attacked and left for dead by the supervillain Captain Nazi, and was given the power to become a Marvel to save his life. Whenever he spoke Captain Marvel's name, Freddy becomes a teenage version of Captain Marvel. This created the odd problem that he could not identify himself without changing back to his regular form. During the mid-1990s, the Freddy character went by the alias CM3 (short for "Captain Marvel Three", "CM1" being Billy and "CM2" being Mary) so that he could identify himself without transforming. He was a member of the Teen Titans during the late 1990s and later the Outsiders in the early 2000s. The 2006-2008 Trials of Shazam! mini-series featured Freddy gaining the powers of Captain marvel as Shazam, while Billy took over for the dead wizard Shazam as Marvel. In current New 52 continuity from 2012 on, Freddy Freeman (now a blond teenger instead of the traditional black-haired youth) is Billy Batson's foster brother, a pickpocket and trickster who shares Billy secret and at Billy's whim can share his Shazam powers to gain a form similar to an adult version of the traditional Captain Marvel, Jr.
  • Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, and Darla Dudley: Billy, Mary, and Freddy's foster siblings in current New 52 continuity. Introduced in the Flashpoint miniseries, the overweight Latino teenager Pedro, intelligent Chinese teenager Eugene, and exuberant African-American preteen Darla share Billy's secret, and at Billy's will can share his power and become adult Shazam-powered superheroes.

Past members[edit]

  • The Lieutenant Marvels: Three other boys named "Billy Batson" (nicknamed "Tall Billy", "Fat Billy", and "Hill Billy" — the latter because he was from the Appalachia — to differentiate themselves from "Real Billy", Captain Marvel) who learned that, because they also were named Billy Batson, they could draw on the power of Shazam. They vowed only to use their power if asked by Captain Marvel, and only if all three were to say the magic word, "SHAZAM!", in unison. This was first demonstrated when they were all captured by Doctor Sivana, and they said it over a buzzsaw's sound. They have not appeared in Marvel Family stories since Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, except for a scene in The Trials of Shazam! #2 where they briefly appeared only to lose their powers.
  • Hoppy the Marvel Bunny: a spin-off character generally confined to his own series, the pink funny animal rabbit version of Captain Marvel periodically assisted the human Marvels in their adventures.

Other members[edit]

These members of the Marvel Family appear in stories set in the future.

  • Thunder: The star of The Power of Shazam! 1996 Annual, Thunder is the super-powered alter-ego of a young girl from the planet Binderaan, circa 9,000 A.D., named CeCe Beck (or Beck for short). An aged Captain Marvel serves as the girl's mentor the same way Shazam served as his mentor. Whenever Beck speaks the magic words "Captain Marvel", she is transformed into Thunder, an adult super-heroine. After being lost in the timestream, Thunder briefly teamed up with the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century. The names "CeCe Beck" and "Binderaan" are tributes to Marvel Family creators C.C. Beck and Otto Binder.
  • Tanist: A teenaged male Marvel who appeared in The Power of Shazam! #1,000,000 (November 1998, part of the DC One Million event). A poor native of the planet Mercury in the 853rd century, young Tanist and his mother find something that they think will make them rich, only to have it stolen by a wealthier claim-jumper. His mother is killed and the crippled Tanist finds that he has discovered a passage to the Rock of Eternity, where he meets the aged Captain Marvel, who grants the boy superpowers to save his life as he had done for Freddy Freeman/Captain Marvel Jr.

Black Marvel Family members[edit]

Black Marvel Family
Isis, Black Adam, and Osiris, from Countdown #41 (July 18, 2007). Art by Dan Jurgens.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance 52 #23 (October 11, 2006, first joint-appearance of Black Adam, Isis, and Osiris)
Created by Otto Binder, C. C. Beck, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison
In-story information
Base(s) Royal Palace, Kahndaq
Member(s) Black Adam
Isis
Osiris
Sobek

The Black Marvel Family, a variant of the Marvel Family concept with Captain Marvel's former archvillain Black Adam as the central focus, was introduced in the pages of the weekly DC comic book 52.

  • Black Adam - An older Egyptian renegade protégé of the wizard Shazam, who was the first to be granted superpowers by the wizard. Adam eventually grew to abuse his power, and became a tyrant. Shazam returned to punish Adam with either exile into deep space (in the original Fawcett Comics) or death (in the modern DC Comics). He returns to Earth (or life) after Shazam appoints Captain Marvel his new successor, and was soon established as Captain Marvel's most powerful foe in physical abilities. In later DC continuity, Black Adam joined the Justice Society of America, claiming to have reformed, later turning on the Justice Society by using some of its younger associates to help him overthrown the government of his home country Khandaq. Adam was one of the main characters in DC's 52 weekly maxi-series, which followed his attempts to establish himself as a hero, which lead him to create a "Marvel Family" of his own, which included his superpowered wife Isis and his own "Captain Marvel Jr.", Osiris. In current "New 52" continuity, Black Adam was a former Khandaqi slave in ancient times who was granted the power of Shazam along with his young nephew, whom he kills for not sharing his taste for vengeance against their enemies. Adam kills the members of Earth's high Council of Magic save for the wizard Shazam, who imprisoned him and hid magic until Adam was freed by Doctor Sivana in modern times.
  • Isis - The superheroine Isis was originally created for live-action television to star in Filmation's The Secrets of Isis TV show, a sister series for Filmation's adaptation of Shazam!. Isis teamed up with Captain Marvel on occasion in both television and comics, and briefly starred in a licensed DC comic book in the late 1970s. In 2006, DC Comics created a new, unrelated Isis and introduced her into the DC Universe. This Isis is the alter-ego of Adrianna Tomaz, originally a slave from Egypt offered to Black Adam by the terrorist group Intergang as a token to curry his favor. Although Adam dealt harshly with the slavers and kills one of them, Adrianna becomes Adam's love interest and made him a more merciful figure, and was granted a special amulet that allowed her to become the avatar of the Egyptian goddess. Adam married Isis, but her death at the hands of the Four Horsemen of Apokolips drove him to a fit of mass murder. At the end of the Black Adam: The Dark Age mini-series in 2007, Isis was resurrected by Felix Faust. However, the ordeal of her death, and many months spent as a brainwashed slave, routinely abused by Faust, left her much colder and ruthless than before, making her even less merciful than her husband. In current "New 52" continuity, Adrianna Tomaz is a peaceful freedom fighter who helps her brother Amon resurrect Black Adam after his defeat at the hands of the superhero Shazam.[1]
  • Osiris - The teenaged Osiris is Amon Tomaz, Adrianna's long-lost brother who was kidnapped, enslaved, and crippled by Intergang. Adam shared his powers with Amon, allowing him to transform into the superpowered Osiris by saying the name "Black Adam". Osiris was murdered by his trusted companion, Sobek the talking crocodile, revealed to be Famine, one of the Four Horsemen. During the 2009-2010 crossover event Blackest Night, Osiris was resurrected alongside other heroes, and was later resurrected as a White Lantern, for the purpose of releasing Isis, for which he joins the new Titans. In current "New 52" continuity, Amon Tomaz is a rebellious freedom fighter who helps resurrect Black Adam after his defeat at the hands of the superhero Shazam.[2]
  • Sobek - Sobek is an intelligent humanoid crocodile, created and abandoned by the Sivana Family, who befriends the Black Marvel family during the 52 maxi-series after escaping from his cage at the Sivana compound. Despite his monstrous appearance, the character is portrayed as timid, meek, and good-natured, making him the Black Marvel Family's analogue to Tawky Tawny. Sobek reveals a more horrifying side in 52 Week 43, when he convinced a distraught Osiris to change into his mortal form, then suddenly killed and devoured him. Sobek was revealed in Week 44 to be the Fourth Horseman, Famine. He appeared to have been killed by Black Adam both in self-defense and revenge, but reappears in the 52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen mini-series.

Marvel Family allies[edit]

The cover of Whiz Comics #59, featuring most of the Golden Age Marvel Family and supporting cast.
  • The Wizard Shazam - Although he is killed as prophesied after giving Billy the power to become Captain Marvel, Shazam's spirit remains as the vigilant caretaker of the Rock of Eternity. His power varies in different stories. In the 1990s-2000s continuity, Shazam does not die after granting Billy his powers, and was a much more active character than he was during the Golden Age Marvel Family adventures. He attained godhood after the 1998 Genesis crossover, and was ultimately defeated and destroyed by The Spectre in the 2005 Day of Vengeance miniseries after he is convinced to destroy magic. Shazam was sent to the Rock of Finality, a Netherworld realm where he was imprisoned in stone and later revived. In current "New 52" continuity, Shazam was one of the first humans on Earth to wield magic in ancient times, and becomes the head chair of the Council of Magic, which policed the use of magic throughout the planet. After the betrayal of Black Adam, Shazam's compatriots on the Council are murdered, and as the remaining member, he imprisons Adam and hides magic from the world. When Adam is freed by Doctor Sivana in modern times, Shazam attempts to summon a successor, and gives his name and powers to young Billy Batson under duress, dying thereafter.
  • Uncle Dudley/Uncle Marvel - During the Golden Age, an old man named Dudley claimed that he was not only a relative of the Marvels but also a Marvel himself, although neither was true. Regardless, the Marvels took a liking to him and decided to humor his pretense, and "Uncle" Dudley became Uncle Marvel, the Marvel Family's manager. He'd make his "transformation" along with one or more of the others, but not by magic; rather, by quickly removing his break-away garments (under the cover of lightning that the real Marvel(s) called down) to reveal his homemade Marvel costume underneath. He explained his lack of superpowers by claiming he suffered from "shazambago". His niece Freckles Marvel was an irregular companion of Mary Marvel's in her Golden Age solo adventures. In modern continuity, Dudley H. Dudley is simply a janitor at Billy's school who finds himself involved in the Marvel Family's adventures, although in one story he was temporarily given superpowers by Shazam's ally Ibis the Invincible to help round up the escaped Seven Deadly Enemies of Man.[3]
  • Mister Tawky Tawny - A humanoid sapient tiger who, in Golden Age continuity, wishes to live among the humans in civilization instead of in the wild or the zoo. As such, he is typically dressed in a tweed business suit and usually carries himself in a formal dignified manner. The modern-day Tawky Tawny was a stuffed tiger doll who was animated by Lord Satanus to assist the Marvel Family in their battle against Satanus's sister Blaze. He describes himself as a "pooka" (Púca), a magical creature from Celtic mythology. He only appeared as an animate being to Billy, Mary and later Dudley, (much in the same way that Hobbes only appears sentient to Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes). Mister Tawky Tawny was made permanently real by the power of Ibis the Invincible. In Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil, and its ongoing follow up series, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!, Tawny is a benevolent shapeshifter who prefers to become a tiger when appropriate. During a battle with Doctor Sivana and Mister Mind, Tawny is struck while transitioning between forms and he was left fixed as a humanoid tiger. In current "New 52" continuity, Tawny is a tiger at the local zoo, who is brought food (hamburgers without pickles) regularly by Billy Batson.
  • Beautia and Magnificus Sivana - Dr. Sivana's beautiful adult daughter Beautia shared her father's passion for world domination until meeting, and falling for, Captain Marvel. She has an unrequited crush on the shy Captain, not realizing that he is actually only a young boy. Her brother Magnificus is also generally depicted as a Marvel Family ally, although in his only Golden Age appearance, Magnificus was super-strong and fought Captain Marvel hand-to-hand.
  • Mr. Sterling Morris - The president of WHIZ radio and Billy's employer.
  • Miss Wormwood - In The Power of Shazam! comics, Billy's schoolteacher (and later principal), presented as the typical "mean teacher" stereotype. She is named after Calvin's schoolteacher in Bill Watterson's comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.
  • Cissie Sommerly - Billy's girlfriend in Golden Age continuity.
  • Nick and Nora Bromfield - In The Power of Shazam!, Mary Batson's adoptive parents, who adopted her through illegal means after their maid, Sarah Primm, brought the child to them (Primm saved Mary from her kidnapper, Primm's brother Theo Adam). Nora Bromfield was a cousin of Billy and Mary's mother, but chose not to tell Mary about her real family. The Bromfields would eventually gain the rights to legally adopt both Mary and Billy, giving the children a traditional family structure again. The couple was named after Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man film series.
  • "Muscles" McGinnis - The antagonist of a story included in Captain Marvel Adventures #3 (1941), the toughest gangster of the city possessing enormous strength "Muscles" McGinnis promises to go straight after being defeated by Captain Marvel when he tries to take over Whiz Radio Station, as he feels the side opposing crime is much stronger. The character was reintroduced as a recurring supporting character in the Power of Shazam! series of the 1990s, in which "Muscles" had indeed reformed to become an undercover cop and a frequent ally of Captain Marvel.
  • Kid Eternity - In DC's pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, Kid Eternity ("Christopher "Kit" Freeman) was the long-lost brother of Freddy Freeman/Captain Marvel Jr. (a retcon made because both characters shared the same surname, even though each was originally created for and published by a different comic book company: Fawcett Comics for Captain Marvel, Jr., and Quality Comics for Kid Eternity). A resurrected boy with the power to summon deceased figures from eternity to aid him in battling evil after he died 75 years before his time, Kid Eternity often joined forces with the Marvels in early-1980s Shazam! adventures from World's Finest Comics.

Other versions[edit]

New Earth 5 from 52 Week 52, art breakdowns by Keith Giffen.

In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-5". As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-S, including the Marvel Family characters. The names of the characters are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but characters visually similar to the Marvel Family appear. There is also an alternative version of Green Lantern Hal Jordan that also exist on Earth-5 along the Marvel Family.[4]

Based on comments by DC writer Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-S.[5]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Film[edit]

  • The Flashpoint universe version of the Shazam Family (Billy, Mary, Freddy, Pedro, Eugene, and Darla) appear in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (the animated film adaptation of the Flashpoint miniseries).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Justice League of America #23.4: Black Adam (2013)
  2. ^ Justice League of America #23.4: Black Adam (2013)
  3. ^ Power of Shazam! #11 (1996)
  4. ^ 52 52: 12/5 (May 2, 2007), DC Comics
  5. ^ Brady, Matt (2007-05-08). "THE 52 EXIT INTERVIEWS: GRANT MORRISON". Newsarama. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  6. ^ http://www.worldsfinestonline.com/news.php/news.php?action=fullnews&id=890

External links[edit]