Superman/Shazam: First Thunder

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Superman/Shazam: First Thunder
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Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Genre
Publication date November 2005 - February 2006
Number of issues 4
Main character(s) Superman
Captain Marvel
Creative team
Writer(s) Judd Winick
Artist(s) Joshua Middleton
Letterer(s) Nick Napolitano
Colorist(s) Joshua Middleton
Editor(s) Mike Carlin
Collected editions
Superman/Shazam: First Thunder ISBN 1-4012-0923-8

Superman/Shazam: First Thunder is a 2006 comic book mini-series published by DC Comics, written by Judd Winick, with art by Joshua Middleton.

The story recounts the first meeting between two DC superheroes, Superman and Captain Marvel. Contrary to the usual popular stereotype, the encounter proves most pleasant as they quickly become staunch allies whose individual differences complement each other well.

Plot[edit]

Set at the beginning of what the Wizard Shazam calls "the second age of the great heroes", after the debut of the Man of Steel, Batman, and Captain Marvel, but before the coming of Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern, the story begins with Superman traveling to Fawcett City in pursuit of a group of criminals who have just robbed a museum from Metropolis and used magic against him. Upon arriving in Fawcett, he finds Captain Marvel fighting the same group of thieves. Together, Superman and Marvel dispatch a pair of monsters in a battle where Superman is impressed at how this new hero is able to ward off magic attacks that he himself is defenseless against; the Captain himself is a bit envious of Superman's additional vision and breath based powers. Afterward, they take a break from crime fighting to chat at Mt. Everest, where they discuss their powers and professional lives as superheroes. Superman breaks off the more personal aspects of the conversation, remarking that he prefers to keep his two lives entirely separate. Captain Marvel says he understands, but that he thinks "it kind of stinks". Afterward, they continue working together to thwart the villains Lord Sabbac (who the museum-robbing gang had been attempting to summon all along) and Eclipso. At the end, Superman notes he is glad to have an ally in the Captain who is better suited to battling the supernatural than he would ever be.

In a separate subplot, Marvel's nemesis, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, has contacted his business rival Lex Luthor and asked for assistance in destroying Captain Marvel. In exchange for Sivana selling Luthor back shares of LexCorp he'd been secretly buying, Luthor gives Sivana a man named Spec, a metahuman tracker-for-hire who eventually discovers that Captain Marvel is the alter ego of 11-year old Billy Batson. After learning this, Sivana sends a heavily armed hit men to the subway where the orphaned Billy is living with orders to kill him. Calling upon the power of SHAZAM, Captain Marvel dispatches his would be killers, but caught in the crossfire is Billy's best friend, Scott Okum; Marvel rushes Scott to the hospital, but they are unable to save him.

When Fawcett City police are unsuccessful in interrogating one of the killers (some sort of hired gun who seems to have no identity), Captain Marvel storms into the police department, bursts into the interrogating room and, despite attempts by police to restrain him, assaults the suspect and threatens to kill him, (by crushing his skull then displaying his decapitated corpse to his partners down in lock up) if he does not reveal who sent them to attack him. The killer buckles and reveals his employer as Doctor Sivana. Thirsting for revenge, Marvel travels to Sivana's office building, shatters the top floor and nearly chokes Sivana to death, but he can't bring himself to kill Sivana, even though he knows Sivana will attack him again, and leaves.

Back in Metropolis, Clark Kent, having just published an article on the encounter of Superman and Captain Marvel, learns of Marvel's "rampage" in Fawcett City, and confronts Marvel at Mt. Everest, demanding an explanation for his actions. The tearful, guilt-ridden Marvel tells Superman why he did what he did, explaining that Scott was his best friend. Echoing Marvel's words, an obviously-dubious Superman returns an accusing stare and a fierce snarl. Realizing how strange that this sounds (and the Man of Steel wants a response...right now), Captain Marvel reveals his true identity, calling upon the power of SHAZAM to transform him back to Billy Batson, commenting that it might too dangerous to still be "Billy". "Who did this to you?" is Superman's demanding reaction.

Superman confronts Shazam and berates him for bestowing the power and responsibility of Captain Marvel upon an 11-year-old boy; stating (or rather barking) that the biggest concerns of boys his age should be "homework assignments and school yard crushes — not if their best friends are going to be murdered by assassins!" Bearing such destinies, he snaps, should only be chosen by adults, and Billy "is just a little boy!" The Wizard sadly remarks that Billy is indeed a child, ".. a boy who could use... guidance." Superman's expression softens to one of sadness (as the reality of the situation hits home).

The scene changes to Billy's new home, an abandoned apartment building, and Superman, in his guise as Clark Kent, drops by for a visit (subtly using his X-ray vision to find Billy before even entering the building). Billy initially thinks that Kent is from social services, but then Kent reveals himself to be Superman, sits down next to Billy and tells him: "My real name is Clark." This seems to imply that Superman has agreed to become a mentor to Captain Marvel.

Reception[edit]

The book was met with positive reception. The Common Voice said that while "it is doubtful Superman/Shazam will be remembered as a graphic novel classic...fans will nevertheless get a kick out of seeing these legends team up."[1] Phillip Hayes of Paperback Reader gave the book an A-, saying "if you want a laid back adventure, try this book out. It is one of the best Captain Marvel stories I’ve had the honor of reading." [2]

Collected editions[edit]

The series was collected as a trade paperback:

Notes[edit]

References[edit]