www.cbr.com

How Can Shazam Say His Own Name Without Turning Back Into Billy Batson?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader James T. wrote in to ask, "How can the original CAPTAIN MARVEL be now known as SHAZAM without everyone knowing his secret identity? Wouldn't saying "Hi, I'm SHAZAM" trigger his transformation back to Billy Batson? Does he hand out business cards? How can other comic book heroes know his name is SHAZAM?"

As we all know by now, for years, Billy Batson transformed into the hero known as Captain Marvel by saying the magic word, "Shazam." He said it for the first time in this story in Whiz Comics #2 (by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck)...

Once established, it became a whole big deal in the comics featuring Billy Batson and Captain Marvel that the bad guys would have to go out of their way to keep Billy from saying the magic word, like this bit from Whiz Comics #13 (by Parker and Beck)...

Luckily, Billy is still a smart kid despite his youthful exterior (by the way, is that seriously the requirement? If Billy had a lisp, he wouldn't be allowed to become Captain Marvel?) and he manages to re-age himself and escape...

I did a whole Drawing Crazy Patterns on times when villains tried to keep Billy from saying "Shazam" here.

That is all well and good, though, because it is unlikely that Billy would ever accidentally say the word "Shazam."

However, in Whiz Comics #25 (by France Herron and Mac Raboy), a tragedy occurred during a fight between Captain Marvel and the villainous Captain Nazi. The bad guys landed in the water, where a young boy and his grandfather tried to save him. It did not go well for them...

Billy was so disturbed by the injustice of it all that he took the young boy to the wizard, Shazam, and had him give him some of Captain Marvel's powers and so now Freddy Freeman's magic word, instead of "Shazam" was "Captain Marvel"...

This was a problem, though, when his name was then Captain Marvel Jr.!

After all, when he later tried to join the Teen Titans, he couldn't tell them his own name (in Teen Titans #17 by Dan Jurgens and Phil Jimenez)...

Captain Marvel Jr. eventually started to go by CM3 for a while. However, that gets the point across well. The issue is that if your magic word is your name, how can you work with that situation? That, naturally, is the question a lot of people have with Captain Marvel finally officially changing his superhero name to Shazam with the New 52 (Captain Marvel Jr. actually took the name Shazam himself before the New 52, but now the whole origin story has been retconned so that this is how Billy Batson's origin has always been).

Luckily, Geoff Johns had this dilemma covered...

1 2
Deathstroke Justice League Joe Manganiello
Joe Manganiello 'Could Write a Book' About His Experience Playing Deathstroke

More in CBR Exclusives