The wizard Shazam in a portion of a panel from Action Comics #826 (June 2005), art by Ian Churchill.
|Publisher||Fawcett Comics (1939–1953)
DC Comics (1972–present)
|First appearance||Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940)|
|Created by||C. C. Beck
|Alter ego||Jebediah of Canaan|
|Team affiliations||Marvel Family
Squadron of Justice
|Notable aliases||The Champion, Jebediah O' Keenan|
|Abilities||Magically bestowed superhuman strength, speed, stamina and courage
Nigh-omnipotent mastery of magic and mysticism
Omnipresent and omniscient
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. Because of this, in 2012, DC officially changed Captain Marvel's name to Shazam.
Fictional character biography
Creating Captain Marvel
Shazam informs Billy that he is an ancient Egyptian wizard who 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 on him, Billy/Marvel can summon the ghost of Shazam for guidance by lighting a special brazier 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 and Captain Marvel Jr. Shazam tells that once, 5000 years before, he gave powers to Black Adam, but banished him to the furthest star in the universe for trying to use them to take over the world.
When Billy first meets him, Shazam tells Billy that his name is an acronym for six ancient heroes. Each letter empowers him with certain attributes:
- S The wisdom of Solomon;
- H The strength of Hercules;
- A The stamina of Atlas;
- Z The power of Zeus;
- A The courage of Achilles;
- M The speed of Mercury.
Originally, the wizard's name was Shazamo, the last letter standing for the hero of magic, Oggar. However, Oggar became corrupt and tried to take power from Shazamo. The wizard defeated Oggar and cursed him to live amongst the world of mortals. He was given cloven hooves as a sign of his inner evil, and could cast each magic spell only once. Shazamo then dropped the last letter of his name.
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 backstory 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"), he gained the power of the following fictional gods:
|M||for the stamina of Marzosh||Using Marzosh's endurance, the Champion can withstand and survive most types of extreme physical assaults. Additionally, he does not need to eat, sleep, or breathe and can survive unaided in space when in his Champion form.|
|A||for the speed of Arel||By channeling Arel's speed, the Champion can fly and move at unlimited speeds.|
|R||for the power of Ribalvei||Ribalvei's power, besides fueling the magic thunderbolt that transformed the Champion, also enhances the Champion's other physical and mental abilities, provides physical invulnerability, and grants magic resistance against most magic spells and attacks as well as allowing interdimensional travel.|
|V||for the strength of Voldar||The Champion has incredible amounts of super strength, and is able to easily bend steel, punch through walls, and lift massive objects.|
|E||for the courage of Elbiam||Like wisdom, this aspect is primarily psychological and gives the Champion superhuman amounts of inner strength on which to draw. It also makes him highly resistant to mind control.|
|L||for the wisdom of Lumian||As the Champion, Shazam has instant access to a vast amount of scholarly knowledge, he can understand all languages.|
At one point, the Champion is seduced by a demoness disguised as a beautiful woman, and the two of them conceive two half-demon offspring, Blaze and Satanus, much to the displeasure of the gods. The Champion later creates the Rock of Eternity from two large rock formations – one from Heaven and one from Hell – to hold the Three Faces of Evil, a dragon-like demon, captive. Shazam trapped demons of the Seven Deadly Sins in statues of themselves and imprisoned them at the Rock of Eternity.
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 superpowered Mighty Adam by speaking the word "SHAZAM!". However, Blaze interferes with this succession and Adam is given powers from the following deities instead:
- S The stamina of Shu;
- H The speed of Heru;
- A The strength of Amon;
- Z The wisdom of Zehuti;
- A The power of Aton;
- M 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 as he ages to death. Shazam then seals his remains and the amulet in a tomb. A wicked reincarnation of Teth-Adam named Theo Adam would steal the scarab many centuries later, and use the power of Shazam to become Black Adam. Shazam was upset by this, and did not consider passing on his powers for millennia.
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 follows 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 forty 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 for the magic amulet. He therefore decides to enlist C.C. Batson's young son, Billy, as the successor to his power. In the Marvel Family series he was shown in some early issues carving the Marvel Family adventures into the Rock of Eternity.
Day of Vengeance
In Superman (vol. 2) #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.
Because of his previous action, Shazam is one of the duo's primary targets. In the Day of Vengeance mini-series, 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. While Shazam is preparing for his bout with the Spectre, he is confronted by Mordru, who has just escaped the Rock of Eternity. Mordru and the wizard fight for a short time while the Spectre begans to approach, despite being delayed by fighting Captain Marvel. Mordru, more concerned with escaping and staying out of the Spectre's way, leaves a slightly wounded and tired Shazam to fight the Spectre, who is already more powerful than him at full power. 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 along with many other demons and sending a depowered 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, the death of Shazam turning his name into a tether for the rest of the raw magic that Alexander could harness to power his tower by acquiring one of Shazam's champions, eventually forcibly 'enlisting' Black Adam for that purpose after failing to capture any of the other Marvels.
In Day of Vengeance: Infinite Crisis Special, the Shadowpact teams up with the majority of the DC Universe'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. He has already imprisoned the Sins again, although claims they cause trouble at full moon.
The Trials of Shazam!
A year after the events of Infinite Crisis, The Trials of Shazam! mini-series 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. Mary lost her powers a year after Shazam's death and fell from a great height, placing her in a coma. She later wakes up and accepts power from Black Adam.
Also attempting the Trials is Sabina who, with the assistance of The Council of Merlin, manages to gain several of the Powers of Shazam before Freeman can, including half the healing power of Apollo, who takes the place of Atlas after Sabina kills the Titan using the dagger of three points. Freddy is briefly trapped under Atlas's burden, but Marvel frees him, reminding him he can only be away for 24 hrs at a time. At the series finale, Sabina and the Council of Merlin seek audience with Merlin himself, and convince him to aid them in an assault on New York City that would send the magical world out of balance. Merlin opens a portal through which several demons appear and begin converting humans to their ranks, the intention being that if one million souls are taken, Zeus will be forced to give his power to Sabina as Merlin will have a foothold on Earth. The Justice League arrive to join the fight and Freddy battles Sabina herself, but is seemingly beaten. However, during the fight, Freddy Freeman proves that he is willing to sacrifice himself by attempting to force both Sabina and himself back through the portal that the demons emerged from; an act that would end the assault, destroy the powers of Shazam, and kill both of them. Witnessing Freddy's willingness to die so that magical balance can be restored, Zeus, who had been disguised throughout the series as Freddy's friend Zareb Babak, a retired necromancer, reveals himself and informs Freddy that he is the most worthy, granting him the full power of Shazam. Freddy says the word aloud and the lightning comes down, transforming him into Shazam. Sabina is forced through the portal and killed, and the demons disappear or turn back into humans.
In this new incarnation, Shazam looks essentially like the original Captain Marvel, only with Freeman's long hair.
Some time after Shazam's appointment, Black Adam and his resurrected bride Isis, along with the corrupted Mary Marvel, wrest control of the Rock of Eternity from Marvel, turning him back into Billy Batson at the same time. The spirit of Billy and Mary's father recruits Jay Garrick to go on a mission to the netherworld domain called Rock of Finality where Shazam's spirit sealed in stone resides ever since he was slain by Spectre. Jay brings Shazam to Earth, where Black Adam is convinced to give back his powers to restore Shazam, so that the greatly corrupted Isis can be saved as she is planning to wipe out humanity. The restored wizard removes the powers from Isis and the Marvels, and turns Teth-Adam and Adrianna to stone. Shazam tells Billy and Mary that they failed him and that their access to his power is cut off. He also returns Stargirl to Earth as his final favor to them. Shazam also mentions Freddy, stating that his magic comes from elsewhere, and that he too will be dealt with as Shazam closes up the Rock of Eternity to go deal with Freddy.
The New 52
While not part of the first wave of DC's The New 52 2011 line wide relaunch, it was announced at New York Comic Con on October 15, 2011 that Billy Batson would be featured in a back up story, "The Curse of Shazam!" beginning in Justice League #7 in March 2012. It was confirmed by Geoff Johns that Billy Batson's alter ego would be called "Shazam" rather than "Captain Marvel" from now on. In DC's, 2012 Free Comic Book Day offering called The New 52 FCBD Special #1, it was revealed that seven wizards representing seven different mythologies occupied the Rock of Eternity, the typical home of the classic Wizard Shazam, at the dawn of time in The New 52. They seemingly harnessed the power of Shazam to cast out a "Trinity of Sin", which acts as a precursor to "Trinity War". A younger version of the classic Wizard Shazam appeared to be part of this group of wizards, but this has yet to be confirmed by DC Comics.
In this version, the Wizard is unnamed and is depicted as an Australian Aboriginal. The Wizard was the last of a council of beings who controlled magic from the fortress known as the Rock of Eternity. One of their first actions was to punish and sentence the Earth's greatest transgressors. So they summoned Phantom Stranger, Pandora, and Question to the Rock of Eternity and evoked the different punishments on them. At some point in the Council of Wizards' history, most of the council members were killed by Black Adam except for the Wizard. Many years later, the Wizard appeared before Pandora. He is very weak and tells her that he has just given his power to a new champion of magic who will take his seat on the now destroyed council. The Wizard says that he has come to tell Pandora that he and the council were wrong for punishing her. He says that the other two members of the Trinity deserved their punishment but she was just a curious girl and he asks for her forgiveness. He then tells her that she can no longer open the box and that what had been released could not be put back. But there was still power within the box and it would take the strongest of heart or the darkest to open it. Then the vision disappears before Pandora can find out who that person might be. When Doctor Sivana opens Black Adam's tomb and frees Black Adam, the Wizard begins abducting people one by one via magic and bringing them to the Rock of Eternity to assess them for the job of inheriting his powers only to dismiss each of them for not being pure of heart. The Wizard then summons Billy to the Rock of Eternity as his last candidate, but upon meeting him sees how rotten a child he is and dismisses him as well until Billy argues that perfectly good people "really don't exist" and that the Wizard may never find what he's looking for. Agreeing with Billy and aware that he is dying, the Wizard sees that Billy has the potential to be good and passes on his powers to the boy by asking him to speak the magic word "Shazam" with "good intentions" as merely saying the word has no effect. After saying the magic word, Billy is struck by a bolt of lightning which transforms him into Shazam, a super-powered being possessing super-strength and flight. The Wizard then passes away and transports Shazam back to Earth.
Powers and abilities
Shazam has many superhuman powers and abilities as the result of his magical skills as well as powers bestowed to him as the representative of the various gods whose powers the Wizard gives to certain representatives of those gods as their champion as in the cases of Black Adam and Batson.
As the Guardian of the Rock of Eternity, he is one with the Rock as it is a part of him. He channels the energies of the primal God-wave and the Greek Lords of Magic through the Rock of Eternity. As such, he is infused with the duty to keep the power and the magic of the earth realm in balance. As keeper of the Rock of Eternity, he also holds the dark forces at bay. Due to being bound to the Rock of Eternity, Shazam's spirit can leave the Rock of Eternity for short periods of time. It should be noted that Shazam gets weaker the longer he is away from it.
Pre-Crisis, he once claimed to get his powers from his magic mantle which protected him from evil harm and enabled other powers. When it was removed he lost his powers and became just an old man, although it does not appear to work for others, when Sivana put it on he was not protected from Captain Marvel as it only protects the wearer from evil harm. In other stories he is shown as being weaker, being captured even while wearing the mantle, and it is once shown that the brazier being lit will summon him even if he is not in Eternity. He also possessed a device with which he could observe the past, present and future, and can throw lightning bolts from the Rock, which transform the Marvels. In another story it is claimed Shazam's powers come from a Shazamium bracelet which enables him and anybody else wearing it to become ethereal and travel back and forth from the Rock of Eternity. If Shazam has it off for 24 hours he dies.
In Flashpoint reality, the power of the six Elders is divided up between six children who say Shazam together to transform into Captain Thunder, similar to the Lieutenant Marvels. They claim to have gotten on the subway car to Shazam's lair.
In other media
- Shazam appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Power of Shazam" voiced by Jim Piddock. Doctor Sivana brings Black Adam out of his exile in a plot to steal Shazam's powers. Batman and Billy Batson visit his shrine to get answers about Black Marvel. Shazam reveals his history with him and Black Marvel and how he banished him to the furthest star. Just then, Black Adam and the Sivana Family arrived as Black Adam comes for revenge where Doctor Sivana reveals to Black Adam that Shazam resides in the Rock of Eternity. When confronting Shazam at the Rock of Eternity, Black Adam ended up fighting Shazam as Doctor Sivana sits on Shazam's throne double-crossing Black Adam. After Doctor Sivana is defeated, Black Adam disappears with Shazam fearing his return.
- Shazam appears in the 1941 film serial "Adventures of Captain Marvel" portrayed by Nigel De Brulier.
- Shazam appears in an animated short film entitled Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (released on the DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection DVD compilation as part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies) with Academy Award-nominated veteran screen legend James Garner voicing Shazam. Upon Billy Batson making his way into Shazam's lair, Shazam relays to the boy that he is the next Chosen One. He explains that Black Adam had been the champion he had chosen 5000 years ago, but Teth-Adam had used his power for personal gain and corrupted the gift. He was then banished to the farthest star in the sky, and now Black Adam has returned seeking vengeance. Shazam then causes a cave in, telling him that he wishes to atone for the mistake of creating Black Adam. He does tells Billy that should he need him, he has only to speak the Wizard's name.
- Shazam appears in the Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe video game voiced by Joe J. Thomas. After Captain Marvel fended off Raiden, the presence of Shazam appears and tells him that Dark Kahn is behind the world merge crisis and that Darkseid's essence has merged with evil magic from the other world. Shazam then tells Captain Marvel to help defeat Dark Kahn by gathering an "army of both dark and light" to fight him before the world merge is complete enough for the Kombat Rage to consume every living being on both worlds. In Superman's ending, Superman seeks the aid of Shazam to help him prepare for any protection against any future magical threats where they used ancient Kryptonian Lore to the creation of a new costume giving Superman an immunity to magic. In Captain Marvel's ending, Captain Marvel was guided by Shazam through a focusing ritual in order to regain control of his powers.
||This section has an unclear citation style. (April 2011)|
- "Captain Marvel Officially Becomes ‘Shazam’ In DC Comics". geeksofdoom.com. January 30, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
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- DC Universe: The Source » Blog Archive » SHAZAM! joining DC COMICS-THE NEW 52
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- InsidePulse.com: FCBD New 52 #1 Spoilers: Who Are DC’s New Trinity If NOT Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman?
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