Kate (and Dan) Read JUSTICE LEAGUE #0 (The Secret Origin of the New Shazam)

Dan: “shazam.”

D: …

D: ::goes outside, looks at the skies:: “Shazam.”

D: …

D: ::holds golf club up to the sky:: “SSSSHHHAAAAZZZZAAAAMMMM!”

Kate: I know I’m going to regret this, but I can’t help myself. What in hell are you doing out here on the front lawn? And why are you pretending you’re Gomer Pyle, of all things?

D: ::Puts hands on hips:: I’m trying to summon the power of Shazam! Duh!

K: Only you would WANT to get hit by lightening. So, you’re back on a Shazam kick? We already read about him after you got that Kindle-thing that you won’t let me use. Remember?

D: Yes! And the Kindle is STILL covered in mystery sticky-stuff.

K: ::rolls eyes:: I’ve apologized for that and bought you a new bottle of Goo Gone. What more do you want?

D: I’m just saying this is why we can’t have anything nice… Anyway, DC is revealing the new, updated origin stories of all of the heroes in the New 52 with special issue #0’s of their books.

K: So, what about the story lines from the previous year? Is this a re-boot of the re-boot? Do I have to buy all new Wonder Woman stuff to get on board with the new story lines and character designs? What about my Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. lunch box? I just got my Batgirl baseball glove oiled and broken in. I don’t have time to restart the restart! This is ludicrous! I…I think I’m going to faint…

D: Calm down, Red. This is just DC doing a “Wayne’s World” style flashback. You know, like how the band got together in the first place.

K: But I just finished collecting the Justice League pint glass set…

D: Oh, uh. About that. The Dog kinda jumped up on the table, and well, Dust Pan City. Sorry.

K: DAMMIT!!

D: So… In JUSTICE LEAGUE 0 writer Geoff Johns tells the culmination of the new Captain Marvel’s origin story, except he’s now called “Shazam,” the same as the magic word he says to change from young Billy Batson into the grown super-powered hero.

Orphan Billy Batson is drawn to the magical fortress, the Rock of Eternity. Here he meets The Wizard who is desperate to find someone to pass his powers onto, but he’s disappointed when Billy shows up.

K: I’d be disappointed, too. This Billy Batson is a dick.

D: Whoa. There’s no need to be mean. Like the original story, Billy’s an orphan. But here in the New 52, he’s a bit older, and has been bounced from foster home to foster home. People haven’t exactly been nice to him and most of his innocence is gone.

K: Right, but when he saves that woman from being mugged? He totally asked for money as a reward! NOT. COOL.

D: Dude, he’s broke. He saw an opportunity to make some money and he took it. He’s just taking care of himself and his foster brother, Freddy. The Wizard chose to transfer his powers over to Billy because he had the “embers of good” within him. Even though Billy made some bad decisions along the way, like stealing meat from the butcher or stealing a car, he had good intentions. The meat went to the tiger at the zoo and he was using the car to save a little girl from an abusive home.

K: I get it, but I guess I just like a younger, more innocent Billy.

D: Boom! And that is the major sticking point with most Captain Marvel/Shazam fans. This is a character that has been around since the Golden Age of Comics, and aside from the very beginning and the series in the mid ‘90’s, he’s had a pretty spotty success rate. Many folks have pointed out that the reason may be because of his “All Ages” style of storytelling.

K: Example?

D: Well, take his origin. Young orphan. Chosen by a wizard. Turns into an adult super-powered version of himself. Pure wish fulfillment. It’s just that his stories tended to have talking worms with glasses and radios around their necks…

K: Mr. Mind is my favorite!

D: … and super-powered bunny rabbits in the Captain Marvel uniform.

K: Hoppy the Marvel Bunny is so weak.

D: But this is my point: DC is trying to “update” a character that, while always having a passionate fan base, has always been a 2nd tier character. And if that means putting a little harsher spin on things, I say at least they’re trying.

K: ::mumble grumble::

D: You’re not alone with that. The Internet has been rife with those same statements since the Shazam re-launch started.

K: And what’s with the name change, anyway?

D: Editorial decision. Because of a long-running lawsuit with Marvel Comics, DC couldn’t have the name “Captain Marvel” on the covers of their books. So, the billing always read “Power Of Shazam,” or “Here Comes Shazam,” or whatever. So they figured, might as well take this opportunity to go the full Shazam.

K: But I thought you were never supposed to go the “Full Shazam?”

D: That’s something different. Anyway, parts of the re-launch have grown on me. And to be honest? I just really want more Shazam stories. He’s one of my all time favorites. And elements of his story, like the Wizard and the Rock Of Eternity, are some of my favorite bits in all of comics.

K: But if you change it too much, you may lose the essence of the character. And that would suck. That’s how I feel about the innocence piece because it really is the one feature I loved the most about Billy. And now, he’s just not “Billy” to me.

::Thunder Clap::

D: ::Eyebrows raise and grabs golf club:: Innocent Billy or Modern Billy, whatever. Here’s MY chance to be Captain Marvel!!! SSSSHHHAAAAZZZZAAAAMMMM!

K: ::sigh:: Pretty sure I’m just going to end up with a Singed Malmon.