Wallace Shouts "Shazam!" In 2011

Captain Marvel and the rest of the Marvel Family haven't been featured in their own, in DCU continuity, ongoing series for more than a decade, dating back to the "Power of Shazam" series, which ran 48 issues from 1995 to 1999.

But Eric Wallace is doing everything within his power to keep Shazam! alive, first delivering the one-shot "Blackest Night: Power of Shazam" #48 last January and then featuring Osiris - brother of Isis and brother-in-law of Black Adam - in his current run on "Titans." Next up, the veteran television writer ("Eureka") is telling a story featuring Freddy Freeman, Billy Batson and Mary Marvel in a "Shazam" one-shot scheduled for January 2011.

Wallace also told CBR News that Freddy - the current Captain Marvel - will make a cameo appearance in "Titans" #32 in February 2011 and there is a good chance we'll see more of the Marvel Family later next year.

Created in 1939 for Fawcett Comics by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker, Captain Marvel first appeared in "Whiz Comics" #2 in February 1940. His first appearance for DC Comics was "Shazam!" #1 in February 1973. The original Captain Marvel transformed from his alter ego Billy Batson, a 12-year old homeless newsboy, by saying "SHAZAM." With Billy powerless following the events of the "Black Adam and Isis" arc in the pages of "Justice Society of America," Freddy Freeman is now DCU's Captain Marvel.

CBR News: How did this one-shot come about? Did it grow organically out of the work you've been doing the last few years or did DC approach you?

Eric Wallace: It came about organically from the stuff I've been doing at DC, especially the "Power of Shazam"#48 one-shot from earlier this year. Since I had such a great time working on that story, the prospect of doing another one that focused more directly on the Marvel Family was irresistible.

Not unlike Aquaman, Captain Marvel and the Marvel family are a bit of an odd duck within the DCU. Readers that love the characters really love them, but others find them a tough pill to swallow. Why do you think that is?

Some of it may have to do with the fact that many readers simply didn't grow up reading these characters. Therefore, they still might not be familiar with them. This is especially true for newer readers, because there hasn't been a regular monthly "Shazam" title for a while now.

What do you love most about the power of Shazam?

What I love most about Captain Marvel - in all his incarnations - is his integrity. If there's anyone who is even more of a "good guy" than Superman, it's Captain Marvel. Characters with such inherent goodness have farther to fall when confronted by evil, so it makes them very interesting to write. More specifically in the case of Billy and Mary Batson, they've gone through so much recently in the pages of "Justice Society of America" that they've become tragic figures. That, in turn, makes them irresistible to write.

This one-shot features darn near the whole Marvel family, including a character you're very familiar with in Osiris from "Titans." How closely does this story tie into what you're doing in that ongoing series?

There's a very small story strand at the end of this one-shot that leads directly in "Titans" #32. But you don't need to know the current "Titans" storyline to enjoy this one-shot. It's truly a standalone story in the same way "Power of Shazam" #48 was.

By the way, one of things I'm enjoying most about writing "Shazam!" is that it's the complete opposite, story-wise, from the set-up in "Power of Shazam" #48. In that book, you had a Shazam story that primarily featured Osiris from the Black Marvel family, but had only brief cameos from Billy and Mary Batson. "Shazam" is just the opposite. Billy, Mary, and Freddy are the focus while Osiris essentially makes a cameo appearance. That's a deliberate choice on my part, as I really wanted to tell a story that showed audiences where Billy, Mary and Freddy are right now, both as individuals and as a real family.

Can you share any details about where they are right now? And maybe for those who missed it in "Justice Society of America," would you explain why Mary and Billy no longer have their powers?

Without giving any major spoilers, I'll say this is a story that comes out in January, which is set in January, so the post-holiday season is involved and it sets the tone for the tale. One of the characters has a very specific New Year's resolution that he or she would like to carry out. Whether or not they succeed is what the special is really all about.

As for the background on Billy and Mary, all readers need to know is that their powers were taken away because both of them had essentially given into the dark side and were abusing them. The two have been looking for a way to regain those powers - the ability to become Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel respectively - ever since. In the meantime, Freddy Freeman has since become the new Captain Marvel.

Is Freddy Freeman back on form, having recovered from the events of "Justice League: Cry for Justice"?

Yes. When this story begins, we'll find out what Freddy has been doing since "Cry for Justice" and how it's changed him. He's still proud to be Captain Marvel, but a bit older and, hopefully, wiser.

Blaze, the current ruler of Hell, is the main villain in this story. For those unfamiliar with the supervillainess, what do we need to know about her coming in and what separates her from other demonic villains like Neron or Mephisto?

Blaze is the Queen of Hell. But she's also the daughter of the Wizard who originally bestowed the powers of Shazam on Billy, Mary and Freddy. Therefore, she has a personal bone to pick with the Marvel family. As for what makes her different from Neron and Mephisto, Blaze doesn't pontificate. She doesn't suffer fools gladly, nor does she waste time surrounding herself with sycophants. Blaze is very direct and in many ways, one of the most honest villains out there, which is wonderfully ironic. For example, if she were a Bond villain, she wouldn't waste time telling 007 about the crazy plan she has to kill him, but then leave the room and give Bond a chance to escape. No, she'd kill 007 immediately and then kill him again just to make sure he was dead. That's what I love about this lady. She's smart and gets to the point.

Any chance we'll see some Satanus, too?

Not this time around, but eventually. Blaze's brother Satanus has an important role to play in the Marvel family's not-so-distant future.

So there's a chance you'll be doing more with the Marvel family in 2011?

Yes. Again, this is already happening in "Titans" #32, where Freddy Freeman makes a special appearance. It's all part of the next evolution for the Marvel family, one that will take them into 2011 and beyond. I'm just excited to be a part of it, as these are characters I love.

Pretty happy to be working with Cliff Richards and Cliff Chiang, too, I'd expect.

To say I'm ecstatic about the art team for this book would be a huge understatement. I'm currently working with Cliff Richards on "Titans" along with artist Fabrizio Fiorentino, and he's doing an incredible job. For example, his work on the fight between Arsenal and Spike in "Titans" #27 was just terrific - both intimate and epic - and full of drama. He's bringing all that and more to "Shazam," and I can't wait to see the results.

Per Cliff Chiang, like many others, I've been a fan of his work for years. His style is so distinctive and brilliant that it's a real privilege having him aboard this project.

The Shazam one-shot, "Titans," "Eureka" - what else are you working on these days?

I'm currently working on my first creator-owned comic book, which is very exciting for me. It's still in the early stages, so I can't talk about it too much except to say that it's supernatural in content. More on that, hopefully, in 2011.

"Shazam," written by Eric Wallace and featuring art by Cliff Richards and a cover by Cliff Chiang, goes on sale January 26.

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