The traditional Captain Marvel, painted by Alex Ross.
|Publisher||Fawcett Comics (1939–1953)
DC Comics (1972–present)
|First appearance||Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940)|
|Created by||C. C. Beck
|Alter ego||William Joseph "Billy" Batson|
|Team affiliations||Marvel Family
Justice Society of America
Squadron of Justice
|Notable aliases||Captain Thunder, Shazam, Marvel|
|Abilities||Magically bestowed aspects of various mythological figures which include: vast super-strength, speed and stamina, physical and magical invulnerability, flight, fearlessness, vast wisdom and enhanced mental perception, & control over and emission of magic lightning.|
Captain Marvel is a fictional comic book superhero, originally published by Fawcett Comics and later by DC Comics. Created in 1939 by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker, the character first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940). With a premise that taps adolescent fantasy, Captain Marvel is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a youth who works as a radio news reporter and was chosen to be a champion of good by the wizard Shazam. Whenever Billy speaks the wizard's name, he is instantly struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into an adult superhero empowered with the abilities of six legendary figures. Several friends and family members, most notably Marvel Family cohorts Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., can share Billy's power and become "Marvels" themselves.
Hailed as "The World's Mightiest Mortal" in his adventures, Captain Marvel was nicknamed "The Big Red Cheese" by arch-villain Doctor Sivana, an epithet later adopted by Captain Marvel's fans. Based on sales, Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero of the 1940s, as his Captain Marvel Adventures comic book series sold more copies than Superman and other competing superhero books during the mid-1940s. Captain Marvel was also the first comic book superhero to be adapted to film, in a 1941 Republic Pictures serial (Adventures of Captain Marvel).
Fawcett ceased publishing Captain Marvel-related comics in 1953, due in part to a copyright infringement suit from DC Comics alleging that Captain Marvel was an illegal infringement of Superman. In 1972, DC licensed the Marvel Family characters and returned them to publication, acquiring all rights to the characters by 1991. DC has since integrated Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family into their DC Universe, and have attempted to revive the property several times. However, Captain Marvel has not regained widespread appeal with new generations, although a Shazam! live-action Saturday morning television series featuring the character ran for three seasons on CBS in the 1970s.
Because Marvel Comics trademarked their Captain Marvel comic book during the interim between the original Captain Marvel's Fawcett years and DC years, DC Comics is unable to promote and market their Captain Marvel/Marvel Family properties under that name. Since 1972, DC has instead used the trademark Shazam! as the title of their comic books and thus the name under which they market and promote the character. Consequently, Captain Marvel himself is sometimes erroneously referred to as Shazam.
After the success of National Comics' new superhero characters Superman and Batman, Fawcett Publications decided in 1939 to start its own comics division. Fawcett recruited writer Bill Parker to create several hero characters for the first title in their line, tentatively titled Flash Comics. Besides penning stories featuring Ibis the Invincible, Spy Smasher, Golden Arrow, Lance O'Casey, Scoop Smith, and Dan Dare for the new book, Parker also wrote a story about a team of six superheroes, each possessing a special power granted to them by a mythological figure. Fawcett Comics' executive director Ralph Daigh decided it would be best to combine the team of six into one hero who would embody all six powers. Parker responded by creating a character he called "Captain Thunder." Staff artist Clarence Charles "C. C." Beck was recruited to design and illustrate Parker's story, rendering it in a direct, somewhat cartoony style that became his trademark.
The first issue of the comic book, printed as both Flash Comics #1 and Thrill Comics #1, had a low-print run in the fall of 1939 as an ashcan copy created for advertising purposes. Shortly after its printing, however, Fawcett found it could not trademark "Captain Thunder," "Flash Comics," or "Thrill Comics," because all three names were already in use. Consequently, the book was renamed Whiz Comics, and Fawcett artist Pete Costanza suggested changing Captain Thunder's name to "Captain Marvelous", which the editors shortened to "Captain Marvel." The word balloons in the story were re-lettered to label the hero of the main story as "Captain Marvel." Whiz Comics #2, dated February 1940, was published in late 1939. Since it was the first of that title to actually be published, the issue is sometimes referred to as Whiz Comics #1, despite the issue number printed on it.
Inspirations for Captain Marvel came from a number of sources. His visual appearance was modeled after that of Fred MacMurray, a popular American actor of the period. C. C. Beck's later versions of the character would resemble other American actors, including Cary Grant and Jack Oakie. Fawcett Publications' founder, Wilford H. Fawcett, was nicknamed "Captain Billy," which inspired the name "Billy Batson" and Marvel's title as well. Fawcett's earliest magazine was titled Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, which inspired the title Whiz Comics. In addition, Fawcett adapted several of the elements that had made Superman, the first popular comic book superhero, popular (super strength and speed, science-fiction stories, a mild mannered reporter alter ego), and incorporated them into Captain Marvel. Fawcett's circulation director Roscoe Kent Fawcett recalled telling the staff, "give me a Superman, only have his other identity be a 10 or 12-year-old boy rather than a man."
As a result, Captain Marvel was given a twelve-year-old boy named Billy Batson as the alter ego. In the origin story printed in Whiz Comics #2, Billy, a homeless newsboy, is led by a mysterious stranger to a secret subway tunnel. An odd subway car with no visible driver takes them to the lair of the wizard Shazam, who grants Billy the power to become the adult superhero Captain Marvel. In order to transform into Captain Marvel, Billy must speak the wizard's name, an acronym for the six various legendary figures who had agreed to grant aspects of themselves to a willing subject: the wisdom of Solomon; the strength of Hercules; the stamina of Atlas; the power of Zeus; the courage of Achilles; and the speed of Mercury. Speaking the word produces a bolt of magic lightning which transforms Billy into Captain Marvel; speaking the word again reverses the transformation with another bolt of lightning.
Captain Marvel wore a bright red costume, inspired by both military uniforms and ancient Egyptian and Persian costumes as depicted in popular operas, with gold trim and a lightning bolt insignia on the chest. The body suit originally included a buttoned lapel, but was changed to a one-piece skintight suit within a year at the insistence of the editors (the current DC costume of the character has the lapel restored to it since 1994). The costume also included a white-collared cape trimmed with gold flower symbols, usually asymmetrically thrown over the left shoulder and held around his neck by a gold cord. The cape came from the ceremonial cape worn by the British nobility, photographs of which appeared in newspapers in the 1930s.
In addition to introducing the main character and his alter ego, Captain Marvel's first adventure in Whiz Comics #2 also introduced his archenemy, the evil Doctor Sivana, and found Billy Batson talking his way into a job as an on-air radio reporter. Captain Marvel was an instant success, with Whiz Comics #2 selling over 500,000 copies. By 1941, he had his own solo series, Captain Marvel Adventures, while continuing to appear in Whiz Comics as well. He also made periodic appearances in other Fawcett books, including Master Comics.
Through his adventures, Captain Marvel soon gained a host of enemies. His most frequent foe was Doctor Sivana, a mad scientist who was determined to rule the world, yet was thwarted by Captain Marvel at every turn. Sivana's evil children, Georgia and Sivana, Jr., were later introduced to the comics. Marvel's other villains included Adolf Hitler's champion Captain Nazi, an older Egyptian renegade Marvel called Black Adam (whose sole Golden Age appearance was in Marvel Family #1), an evil magic-powered brute named Ibac, and an artificially intelligent nuclear-powered robot called Mister Atom. The most notorious Captain Marvel villains, however, were the nefarious Mister Mind and his Monster Society of Evil, which recruited several of Marvel's previous adversaries. The "Monster Society of Evil" story arc ran as a twenty-five chapter serial in Captain Marvel Adventures #22–46 (March 1943 – May 1945), with Mister Mind eventually revealed to be a highly intelligent yet tiny worm from another planet. He is evantually executed in the electric chair for 186,744 murders, but revived inShazam #2.
In the early 1940s, Captain Marvel also gained allies in the Marvel Family, a collective of superheroes with powers and/or costumes similar to Captain Marvel's. (By comparison, Superman spin-off character Superboy first appeared in 1944, while Supergirl first appeared in 1959). Whiz Comics #21 (September 1941) marked the debut of the Lieutenant Marvels, the alter egos of three other boys (all also named Billy Batson) who found that, by saying "Shazam!" in unison, they too could become Marvels. In Whiz Comics #25 (December 1941), a friend named Freddy Freeman, mortally wounded by an attack from Captain Nazi, was given the power to become teenage boy superhero Captain Marvel Jr. with a distinctive gold on blue version of the Marvel costume. A year later in Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (December 1942), Billy and Freddy met Billy's long-lost twin sister Mary Bromfield, who discovered she could, by saying the magic word "Shazam," become teenage superheroine Mary Marvel.
Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel Jr. were featured as a team in a new comic series entitled The Marvel Family. This was published alongside the other Captain Marvel-related titles, which now included Wow Comics featuring Mary, Master Comics featuring Junior, and both Mary Marvel Comics and Captain Marvel Jr. Comics. Non-super-powered Marvels such as the "lovable con artist" Uncle Marvel and his niece, Freckles Marvel, also sometimes joined the other Marvels on their adventures. A funny animal spin-off, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, was created in 1942 for Fawcett's Funny Animals comics, and later given a series of his own.
As with other superheroes, Captain Marvel had a number of non-powered friends and associates as well. These included Mr. Morris, Billy's employer at WHIZ radio; Joan Jameson, Billy's secretary (and one of the few people to know his secret identity); Beautia Sivana, Dr. Sivana's good-natured adult daughter who had a crush on Captain Marvel and only periodically joined forces with her father (and usually by force); and Dexter Knox, an intelligent young scientist who was a friend of Billy's friends. The most prolific of Captain Marvel's supporting characters at Fawcett was Mister Tawky Tawny, an anthropomorphic tiger who'd been fed a serum that allowed him to learn to speak and stand upright.
The members of the Marvel Family often teamed up with the other Fawcett superheroes, who included Ibis the Invincible, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, Spy Smasher, Minute-Man, and Mr. Scarlet & Pinky. Among the many artists and writers who worked on the Marvel Family stories alongside C. C. Beck and main writer Otto Binder were Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Mac Raboy, Pete Costanza, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Marc Swayze.
Through much of the Golden Age of Comic Books, Captain Marvel proved to be the most popular superhero character of the medium with his comics outselling all others, including those featuring Superman. In fact, Captain Marvel Adventures sold fourteen million copies in 1944, and was at one point being published weekly with a circulation of 1.3 million copies an issue (proclaimed on the cover of issue #19 as being the "Largest Circulation of Any Comic Magazine"). Part of the reason for this popularity included the inherent wish-fulfillment appeal of the character to children, as well as the humorous and surreal quality of the stories. Billy Batson typically narrated each Captain Marvel story, speaking directly to his reading audience from his WHIZ radio microphone, relating each story from the perspective of a young boy.
Detective Comics (later known as National Comics Publications, National Periodical Publications, and today known as DC Comics) sued Fawcett Comics for copyright infringement in 1941, alleging that Captain Marvel was based on their character Superman. After seven years of litigation, the National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publications case went to trials court in 1948. Although the judge presiding over the case decided that Captain Marvel was an infringement, DC was found to be negligent in copyrighting several of their Superman daily newspaper strips, and it was decided that National had abandoned the Superman copyright. As a result, the initial verdict, delivered in 1951, was decided in Fawcett's favor.
National appealed this decision, and Judge Learned Hand declared in 1952 that National's Superman copyright was in fact valid. Judge Hand did not find that the character of Captain Marvel itself was an infringement, but rather that specific stories or super feats could be infringements, and that the truth of this would have to be determined in a re-trial of the case. The judge therefore sent the matter back to the lower court for final determination.
Instead of retrying the case, however, Fawcett decided to settle with National out of court. The National lawsuit was not the only problem Fawcett faced in regards to Captain Marvel. While Captain Marvel Adventures had been the top-selling comic series during World War II, it suffered declining sales every year after 1945 and by 1949 it was selling only half its wartime rate. Fawcett tried to revive the popularity of its assorted Captain Marvel series in the early 1950s by introducing elements of the horror comics trend that gained popularity at the time. Feeling that a decline in the popularity of superhero comics meant that it was no longer worth continuing the fight, Fawcett agreed to never again publish a comic book featuring any of the Captain Marvel-related characters, and to pay National $400,000 in damages. Fawcett shut down its comics division in the autumn of 1953 and laid off its comic-creating staff. Whiz Comics had ended with issue #155 in June 1953, Captain Marvel Adventures was cancelled with #150 (November 1953), and The Marvel Family ended its run with #89 (January 1954).
In the 1950s, a small British publisher, L. Miller and Son, published a number of black and white reprints of American comic books, including the Captain Marvel series. With the outcome of the National v. Fawcett lawsuit, L. Miller and Son found their supply of Captain Marvel material abruptly cut off. They requested the help of a British comic writer, Mick Anglo, who created a thinly disguised version of the superhero called Marvelman. Captain Marvel Jr. was adapted to create Young Marvelman, while Mary Marvel had her gender changed to create the male Kid Marvelman. The magic word "Shazam!" was replaced with "Kimota", "Atomik" backwards. The new characters took over the numbering of the original Captain Marvel's United Kingdom series with issue number 25.
Marvelman ceased publication in 1963, but was revived in 1982 by writer Alan Moore in the pages of Warrior Magazine. Beginning in 1985, Moore's black and white serialized adventures were reprinted in color by Eclipse Comics under the new title Miracleman (as Marvel Comics now existed and objected to the use of Marvel in the title), and continued publication in the United States after Warrior's demise. Within the metatextual storyline of the comic series itself, it was noted that Marvelman's creation was based upon Captain Marvel comics, by both Alan Moore and later Marvelman/Miracleman writer Neil Gaiman.
In 2009 Marvel Comics obtained the rights to the original 1950's Marvelman characters and stories.
In 1966, M. F. Enterprises produced their own Captain Marvel: An android superhero from another planet whose main characteristic was the ability to split his body into several parts, each of which could move on its own. He triggered the separation by shouting "Split!" and reassembled himself by shouting "Xam!" He had a young human ward named Billy Baxton. This Captain Marvel, who didn't last long, was created by Carl Burgos. 
When superhero comics became popular again in the mid-1960s in what is now called the Silver Age of Comic Books, Fawcett was unable to revive Captain Marvel because in order to settle the lawsuit it had agreed never to publish the character again. Eventually, they licensed the characters to DC Comics in 1972, and DC began planning a revival. Because Marvel Comics had by this time established its own claim to the use of Captain Marvel as a comic book title, DC published their book under the name Shazam! Since then, that title has become so linked to Captain Marvel that many people have taken to identifying the character as "Shazam" instead of his actual name.
The Shazam! comic series began with issue #1, dated February 1973. It contained both new stories and reprints from the 1940s and 1950s. The first story attempted to explain the Marvel Family's absence by stating that they, Dr. Sivana, Sivana's children, and most of the supporting cast had been accidentally trapped in suspended animation for twenty years until finally breaking free when the Suspendium globe moved towords the Sun.
Dennis O'Neil was the primary writer of the book; his role was later taken over by writers Elliott S. Maggin and E. Nelson Bridwell. C. C. Beck drew stories for the first ten issues of the book before quitting due to creative differences; Bob Oksner, Fawcett alumnus Kurt Schaffenberger, and Don Newton were among the later artists of the title.
With DC's Multiverse concept in effect during this time, it was stated that the revived Marvel Family and related characters lived within the DC Universe on the parallel world of "Earth-S". While the series began with a great deal of fanfare, the book had a lackluster reception. The creators themselves had misgivings; Beck said, "As an illustrator I could, in the old days, make a good story better by bringing it to life with drawings. But I couldn't bring the new [Captain Marvel] stories to life no matter how hard I tried." Shazam! was canceled with issue #35 (June 1978) and relegated to a back-up position in World's Finest Comics (from #253, October-November 1978, to #282, August 1982, skipping only #271 which featured a full-length origin of the Superman-Batman team story) and Adventure Comics (from #491, September 1982, through #498, April 1983; only #491 and #492 featured original stories however, the rest containing Fawcett era reprint stories). With their 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series, DC fully integrated the characters into the DC Universe.
The first post-Crisis appearance of Captain Marvel was in the 1986 Legends miniseries. In 1987, Captain Marvel appeared as a member of the Justice League in Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis' relaunch of that title. That same year (spinning-off from Legends), he was also given his own miniseries titled Shazam! The New Beginning. With this four-issue miniseries, writers Roy and Dann Thomas and artist Tom Mandrake attempted to re-launch the Captain Marvel mythos and bring the wizard Shazam, Dr. Sivana, Uncle Dudley, and Black Adam into the modern DC Universe with an altered origin story.
The most notable change that Thomas, Giffen, and DeMatteis introduced into the Captain Marvel mythos was that the personality of young Billy Batson is retained when he transforms into the Captain. The Golden Age comics tended to treat Captain Marvel and Billy as two separate personalities. This change would remain for most future uses of the character as justification for his sunny, Golden-Age personality in the darker modern-day comic book world.
This revised version of Captain Marvel also appeared in one story arc featured in the short-lived anthology Action Comics Weekly #623–626, released from October 25, 1988–November 15, 1988. At the end of the arc, it was announced that this would lead to a new Shazam! ongoing series, which failed to materialize.
DC finally purchased the rights to all of the Fawcett Comics characters in 1991. In 1994, due to the unpopular revision of the character from 1987's Shazam: The New Beginning miniseries, Captain Marvel was retconned again and given a revised origin in The Power of Shazam!, a painted graphic novel written and illustrated by Jerry Ordway. This story became Captain Marvel's official DC Universe origin story (with his appearances in Legends and Justice League still counting as part of this continuity).
Ordway's story more closely followed Captain Marvel's Fawcett origins, with only slight additions and changes. For example, in this version of the origin, it is Black Adam (in his non-powered form of Theo Adam) who killed Billy Batson's parents, and the "mysterious stranger" who leads Billy to the subway tunnel and the wizard Shazam is revealed to be the ghost of his father. The graphic novel was a critically acclaimed success, leading to a Power of Shazam! ongoing series which ran from 1995 to 1999. That series reintroduced the Marvel Family, and many of their allies and enemies, into the modern-day DC Universe.
Marvel also appeared in Mark Waid and Alex Ross' critically acclaimed 1996 alternate universe Elseworlds Kingdom Come miniseries. Set twenty years in the future, Kingdom Come features a brainwashed Captain Marvel playing a major role in the story as a mind-controlled pawn of an elderly Lex Luthor. Being one of the most powerful beings on Earth, his mere presence unnerves many of those around him and, brainwashed, he even sets out to cause what could lead to the end of the world. However, Marvel ultimately sacrifices himself as an act of redemption and, as a figure of martyrdom, becomes the symbol of a new world order.
Since the cancellation of the Power of Shazam! title in 1999, the Marvel Family have made appearances in a number of other DC comic books. Black Adam became a main character in Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer's JSA series, which depicted the latest adventures of the Justice Society of America. Captain Marvel also appeared regularly in JSA in 2003 and 2004. He also appeared in Frank Miller's graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, the sequel to Miller's highly-acclaimed graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns.
The Marvel Family played an integral part in DC's 2005/2006 Infinite Crisis crossover, which began DC's efforts to retool the Shazam! franchise. In the Day of Vengeance miniseries, which preceded the Infinite Crisis event, the wizard Shazam is killed by the Spectre, and Captain Marvel assumes the wizard's place in the Rock of Eternity which is rebuilt by the Shadowpact. The Marvel Family made a handful of guest appearances in the year-long weekly maxi-series 52, which featured Black Adam as one of its main characters and introduced Adam's "Black Marvel Family", consisting of Adam himself, his wife Isis, and her brother Osiris, and Sobek. The Marvel Family also appeared frequently in the 12-issue bimonthly painted Justice maxi-series by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Doug Braithwaite, published from 2005 to 2007. When Black Adam attacks the world due to the deaths of Osiris and Isis, Captain Marvel first asks the Egyptian gods to take Adam's powers but fails, then uses his lightining to change Adam back. He also changes Adam's magic word.
The Trials of Shazam!, a 12-issue maxi-series written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Howard Porter for the first eight issues and by Mauro Cascioli for the remaining four, began publication in August 2006. The series redefined the Shazam! mythos, the characters, and their place in the DC Universe. Trials of Shazam! featured Captain Marvel, now with a white costume and long white hair, taking over the role of the wizard Shazam under the name Marvel, while Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel lose their powers. A powerless Freddy Freeman is then drafted to prove himself worthy to the individual six gods evident in the "Shazam" acronym so that he can become their new champion and herald under the name Shazam. Atlas is killed during the series, but Apollo replaces him. Marvel helps him when he is trapped by the weight that Atlas bore.
In the pages of the 2007-2008 Countdown to Final Crisis limited series, Black Adam gives the powerless Mary Batson his powers. By the end of the series, as well as in DC's 2008-2009 Final Crisis limited series, the now black-costumed Mary Marvel, possessed by the evil New God Desaad, becomes a villain, joining forces with Superman villain Darkseid and fighting both Supergirl and Freddy Freeman/Shazam.
The redesigned Marvel made a few appearances in various DC comics outside of The Trials of Shazam! maxi-series for two years before returning in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #23 in January 2009. Justice Society writer Geoff Johns collaborated with writer/artist Jerry Ordway to write a storyline that would again retool the Shazam! franchise.
In the story, Marvel is ambushed by Black Adam and Isis, who are intent on taking over the Rock of Eternity. Isis robs Marvel of his powers and banishes a powerless Billy Batson back to Fawcett City, where he contacts the Justice Society for help. Upon arriving at the Rock of Eternity with Billy, the Justice Society fights Black Adam and Isis. Billy is abducted by the now evil Mary Marvel, who shares her powers with him and turns him into an evil teenage Captain Marvel. The evil Billy and Mary join Adam and Isis in fighting the Justice Society. However, Adam switches sides when Isis sets into action her plan to kill off humanity and destroy modern civilization. With the help of the Justice Society's Flash and the spirit of C.C Batson (Mary and Billy's father), the dead wizard Shazam's soul is retrieved from an underworld realm known as the Rock of Finality, and Adam gives up his powers to resurrect him from the Statue he is imprisoned in. Shazam promptly takes his powers back from the other three Black Marvels, turns Adam and Isis into stone statues, and banishes Billy and Mary from the Rock of Eternity. They are later seen walking the streets of Fawcett City while homeless and pondering the fate of their father's spirit.
The Superman/Shazam: First Thunder miniseries, written by Judd Winick with art by Josh Middleton, and published between September 2005 and March 2006, depicted the first post-Crisis meeting between Superman and Captain Marvel. The meeting proves to be most amicable, with Superman noting that he is impressed to have an ally who may have similar powers to himself, but who is also far more resistant to the kind of magic attacks that he is vulnerable to. However, he is disturbed when he learns that the Captain is actually a child and agrees to Shazam's suggestion that he mentor the boy.
A second Captain Marvel miniseries, Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil, written and illustrated by Jeff Smith (creator of Bone), was published in four 48-page installments between February and July 2007. Smith's Shazam! miniseries, in the works since 2003, is a more traditional take on the character, which updates and reimagines Captain Marvel's origin. Smith's story features a younger looking Billy Batson and Captain Marvel as separate personalities, as they were in the pre-1985 stories, and features a prepubescent Mary Marvel as Captain Marvel's sidekick instead of the traditional teenaged or adult version. Sivana is Attorney General, and Mr Mind looks more like a snake.
An all-ages Captain Marvel comic, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!, debuted in July 2008 under DC's Johnny DC youth-oriented imprint and is published bi-monthly. Following the lead and continuity of Smith's version, it is written and drawn by Mike Kunkel, creator of Herobear. Kunkel's version returns to the modern concept of having Captain Marvel retain Billy's personality, and also introduces a version of Black Adam whose alter ego, Theo Adam, is a child like Billy Batson.
When Billy Batson says the magic word "Shazam!" and transforms into Captain Marvel, he is granted the following powers:
|S||for the wisdom of Solomon||As Captain Marvel, Billy has instant access to a vast amount of scholarly knowledge, including most known languages and sciences. The wisdom of Solomon also provides him with counsel and advice in times of need. In early Captain Marvel stories, Solomon's power also gave Marvel the ability to hypnotize people. (Note that Solomon is the only figure in the list not taken from Greco-Roman mythology).|
|H||for the strength of Hercules*||Hercules' power grants Captain Marvel immense superhuman strength, making him one of DC Comics' most physically powerful characters; he is able to easily bend steel, punch through walls, and lift massive objects, (including whole continents like South America). His strength is shown to match even Superman.|
|A||for the stamina of Atlas||Using Atlas' endurance, Captain Marvel 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 Captain Marvel form.|
|Z||for the power of Zeus||Zeus' power, besides fueling the magic thunderbolt that transforms Captain Marvel, also enhances Marvel's other physical and mental abilities, and grants him resistance against all magic spells and attacks. Marvel can use the lightning bolt as a weapon by dodging it and allowing it to strike an opponent or target. The magic lightning has several uses, such as creating apparatus, restoring damage done to Marvel, and acting as fuel for magic spells. It can also turn other Marvels back.|
|A||for the courage of Achilles||This aspect gives Captain Marvel the courage of Achilles. In the Trials of Shazam! miniseries, this was changed to the Greek hero's near invulnerability. It also aids Captain Marvel's mental fortitude against most mental attacks. Pre-Crisis it was clearly stated that he did not get his invulnerability from Achilles.|
|M||for the speed of Mercury||By channeling Mercury's speed, Captain Marvel can move at superhuman speeds and fly. This also gives Marvel the ability to fly to the Rock of Eternity by flying faster than the speed of light. In the earliest stories he was unable to fly, only jump great distances (like Superman), but it soon became flight.|
The Captain could turn into Billy by saying "SHAZAM!". In the Trials of Shazam! miniseries (2006-2008), Captain Marvel assumed Shazam's throne at the Rock of Eternity, (under the name Marvel), and had access to all of the dead wizard's magical powers. However, Marvel was required to remain on the Rock of Eternity and could only be away from the Rock for twenty-four hours at a time.
In the alternate universe Elseworlds book Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl (1998), Captain Marvel is depicted as a bald African American man.
In Superman (vol. 1) #276 (June 1974), Superman found himself at odds with Captain Thunder, a superhero displaced from another Earth and another time. Thunder had been tricked by his archenemies in the Monster League of Evil into doing evil, and Thunder therefore was made to do battle with Superman. Captain Thunder, whose name was derived from Captain Marvel's original moniker, was a thinly veiled pastiche of Marvel; down to his similar costume, his young alter ego named "Willie Fawcett", and a magic word ("Thunder!") which was an acronym for seven entities and their respective powers.
At the time of Superman #276, DC had been publishing Shazam! comics for two years, but had kept that universe separate from those of its other publications. The real Captain Marvel would finally meet Superman in Justice League of America (vol. 1) #137 two years later.
In the final issue of the maxi-series 52 (#52, May 2, 2007) , 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 Marvel Family foe 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 a character visually similar to Captain Marvel appears. Based on comments by 52 co-author Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-S.
The Earth-5 Captain Marvel and Billy Batson appeared in the Final Crisis - Superman Beyond miniseries, assisting Superman. The miniseries established that these versions of Captain Marvel and Billy are two separate beings and that Billy is a reporter for WHIZ Media, rather than a radio broadcaster. The Earth-5 Captain Marvel re-appeared in Final Crisis #7 along with an army of Supermen from across the Multiverse.
Captain Marvel often fights evil as a member of a superhero team known as the Marvel Family, made up of himself and several other heroes: The wizard Shazam who empowers the team, Captain Marvel's sister Mary Marvel and Marvel's protégé Captain Marvel Jr. Before the Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series, the Marvel Family also included part-time members such as Mary's non-powered friend "Uncle" Dudley aka Uncle Marvel, Dudley's non-powered niece Freckles Marvel, a team of proteges (all of whose alter egos are named "Billy Batson") known as the Lieutenant Marvels, and the funny-animal pink rabbit version of Captain Marvel, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny.
Through his adventures, Captain Marvel gained an extensive rogues gallery, the most notable of whom include the evil mad scientist Doctor Sivana (and, pre-Crisis, the Sivana Family), Shazam's corrupted previous champion Black Adam, Adolf Hitler's champion Captain Nazi, and the mind-controlling worm Mister Mind and his Monster Society of Evil. Other Marvel Family foes include the evil robot Mister Atom, the "World's Mightiest Immortal" Oggar, and Ibac and Sabbac, demon-powered supervillains who transform by magic as Captain Marvel does.
The Marvel Family's non-powered allies include Dr. Sivana's good-natured adult offspring Beautia and Magnificus Sivana, Mister "Tawky" Tawny the talking tiger, WHIZ radio president and Billy's employer Sterling Morris, Billy's girlfriend Cissie Sommerly, Billy's school principal Miss Wormwood, and Mary's adoptive parents Nick and Nora Bromfield.
Captain Marvel's adventures have contributed a number of elements to both comic book culture and pop culture in general. The most notable of these is the regular use of Superman and Captain Marvel as adversaries in Modern Age comic book stories.
The National Comics/Fawcett Comics rivalry was parodied in "Superduperman," a satirical comic book story by Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood in the fourth issue of Mad (April-May, 1953). In the parody, inspired by the Fawcett/DC legal battles, Superduperman, endowed with muscles on muscles, does battle with Captain Marbles, a Captain Marvel caricature. Marbles' magic word is "SHAZOOM", which stands for Strength, Health, Aptitude, Zeal, Ox—power of, Ox—power of another and Money. In contrast to Captain Marvel's perceived innocence and goodness, Marbles was greedy and money-grubbing.
While publishing its Shazam! revival in the 1970s, DC Comics published a story in Superman #276 (June 1974) featuring a battle between the Man of Steel and a thinly disguised version of Captain Marvel called Captain Thunder, a reference to the character's original name. Two years later, Justice League of America #135-137 featured a story arc which featured the heroes of Earth-1, Earth-2, and Earth-S teaming together against their enemies. It was in this story that Superman and Captain Marvel first met, albeit briefly. They would later on meet teaming-up together in various titles such as DC Comics Presents. Before this there was a three-issue storyline in which the Greek gods create a being called Zha-vam, with powers similar to Captain Marvel, and send him to battle Superman using his winged sandels of Mercury.
Following this Justice League story, DC followed Mad's cue and often pitted Captain Marvel and Superman against each other for any number of reasons, but usually as an inside joke to the characters' long battles in court; they are otherwise staunch allies. Notable Superman/Captain Marvel battles in DC Comics include All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58 (1978), in "When Earths Collide", written by Gerry Conway with art by Rich Buckler & Dick Giordano. All-Star Squadron #36 & 37 (1984), and Superman (vol. 2) #102 (1995). The Superman/Captain Marvel battle depicted in Kingdom Come #4 (1996) served as the climax of that miniseries, with Marvel having been brainwashed by Lex Luthor and Mister Mind to turn against the other heroes. The "Clash" episode of the DC-based animated TV series Justice League Unlimited, which included Captain Marvel as a guest character, featured a Superman/Captain Marvel fight as its centerpiece, which Superman wins when the lightining hits Marvel. By contrast, the depiction of the pair's first meeting in the Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder miniseries establishes them as firm friends and allies to the point of Superman volunteering to be Billy's mentor when he learns the boy's true age. In contrast to Alex Ross' earlier depiction in Kingdom Come, Justice has Captain Marvel rescuing Superman and then closely working with the Kryptonian to find a means to save the Flash who is running out of control.
In pop culture, Billy Batson/Captain Marvel's magic word, "Shazam!", became a popular exclamation from the 1940s on, often used in place of an expletive. The most notable user of the word "Shazam!" in this form was Gomer Pyle, a character from the 1960s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show and later Gomer Pyle USMC. Foxxy Cleopatra from the 2002 film Austin Powers in Goldmember is also fond of the word. In another 2002 movie, Spider-Man, Peter Parker shouts "Shazam!" while trying to control his powers. Then in the 2007 sequel Spider-Man 3 Peter Parker again uses the phrase while posing and celebrating, whilst receiving the key to New York City.
Years after the character disappeared in 1953, the superhero was still used for allusions and jokes, in films such as West Side Story, TV shows such as The Monkees and M*A*S*H, and songs such as "Shazam" (1960) by Duane Eddy. Elvis Presley was a fan of Captain Marvel, Jr. comic books as a child, and later styled his hair to look like Freddy Freeman's and based his stage jumpsuits and TCB lightning logo on Captain Marvel Junior's costume and lightning-bolt insignia. The Academy of Comic Book Arts named its Shazam Award in honor of the character's mythos. The Beatles mentioned Captain Marvel in their song "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" (1968).
The characters appearance have been collected into individual volumes:
Redirecting to Captain Marvel (DC Comics)