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Comic Book / Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam

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An all-ages comic series based DC Comic's Shazam! franchise, and a Broad Strokes Sequel Series to Shazam: the Monster Society of Evil. Part of DC Comics' Johnny DC imprint, it ran for 21 issues from from 2008-2010.

It stars Billy Batson, a ten-year-old boy who can turn into the adult superhero Captain Marvel by saying the magic word "Shazam!," which is also the name of the wizard who gave him his powers. Billy is an orphan who also has to take care of his younger sister, Mary, who can transform into the still-childlike sidekick Mary Marvel. More Marvel Family characters and villains appear as the story goes on.

This series contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Mr. Morris' new secretary, Ms. Dalshaw, was clearly hiding some kind of secret; given the story where she premiered, it's possible she was intended to be Blaze. Perhaps because of the series' cancellation, nothing ever becomes of it.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Mr. Banjo, based on his son's description. He was a Japanese spy in the old World War II comics, but here he seems to have just been a stage hypnotist.
    • The Space Ghoul appeared in one 1950s comic where, as his name suggests, he wanted to eat human corpses. Here his goal is hamburgers. WITH CHEESE.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Freddy initially blames Captain Marvel for getting crippled and briefly becomes Black Adam Jr. He realizes that this was a mistake pretty quickly.
  • Age Lift: In most continuities, Billy and Mary are twins; here she's at least a year or two younger than him. She also still looks like a kid in hero form except briefly near the end of the series.
    • Black Adam is usually an adult in both his hero and mortal forms; here his mortal form, Theo Adam, is 14.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: The Space Ghoul. He wants to ask them where he can find a cheeseburger. Later he abducts a burger joint. He lets the people inside go, though.
  • Aliens Speaking English: "Of course! Doesn't everyone in the known galaxies?"
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Mary, often.
  • A Rare Sentence:
    • From issue #17:
      Mary Marvel: Hey! They're not attacking! They're not the only ones that think you're a cow!
      Captain Marvel: Didn't think I'd hear that twice in one day.
    • From the same issue:
      Mary Marvel: Why are you abducting all our cows? I can't believe I just asked that.
  • Art Shift: The early issues feature a prologue done to look like a child's crayon drawing on notebook pages.
  • The Atoner: Billy, after Mr. Mind begins to corrupt him, then steals his powers.
  • Big Bad: Black Adam is the main villain of the series.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: Mary does this when talking to the wizard about Black Adam.
    Mary Marvel: Not to mention alsoooooooo a stinky-pants.
  • Blood Knight: When Captain Marvel is Not Himself, he's either lazing around the apartment or being far more violent than he should be. Billy decides not to transform until he figures out why, but by the next issue, he starts acting this way too.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Black Adam is given Identity Amnesia at the end of his first arc. It doesn't stick.
    • A rare villain-to-hero example: when Billy is afraid to transform due to Mr. Mind possessing Captain Marvel, he gets hypnotized by Axe and told to overcome his greatest fear. In a trance, Billy walks out of the bank Axe is robbing, transforms in an alley and fights Mr. Mind for control.
  • Breather Episode: Issue #17, which is about the Space Ghoul going around stealing cows. It's the only issue that doesn't connect to a larger arc and comes right after the Wizard's disappearance.
  • Broad Strokes: This series is supposed to be a Sequel Series to Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil, but the first arc only vaguely alludes to those events and seems to play Captain Marvel and Billy as one personality instead of two. The next arc changes both of these things. See Depending on the Writer.
  • The Bully: In his first arc, Theo Adam is basically set up as a school bully who happens to have superpowers; the Wizard even says this explicitly in the prologue.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Billy clearly enjoys using his Older Alter Ego to pose as his and Mary's father.
    "Mr. Batson": Now, while I don't have a single complaint in the world about li'l adorable William, or Billy the angel as I like to call him...that darn Mary can at times be trouble.
  • Clark Kenting: Mary. Billy gets older and Freddy gets working legs, but the only obvious difference between Mary Batson and Mary Marvel is her outfit, aside from how her hair is done (she has it down in civilian form, but up in Girlish Pigtails as Mary Marvel).
  • Composite Character: Freddy could be seen as one for Amon Tomaz/Osiris, who served as Black Adam's sidekick in the mainstream books. His disability is even changed from a limp to being wheelchair-bound like Amon was.
  • Continuity Snarl: In Kunkel's version, the Wizard trapped Black Adam in some sort of interdimensional prison, apparently not long after he first got his powers at age fourteen. The Baltazar/Franco version tries to combine that with elements from the mainstream universe: he actually had his powers for years, turned evil because of his love for Blaze and died by Rapid Aging when the Wizard took the magic back. However, the result doesn't quite make sense—if he died, how did he wind up in some other dimension that he could suddenly escape from? Why was he fourteen again when he was free? For that matter, why did he still have some power before he managed to steal the amulet it back?
  • Create Your Own Villain: Theo Adam is initially able to return to this world because Billy's defeat of Mister Mind (who was also brought from Billy's recklessness) damaged the barrier between worlds. (The final issue seems to Retcon this into the Wizard accidentally bringing him back by giving Billy his powers, which still falls under this trope.)
    • Freddy becomes Black Adam Junior because he blames Billy for the accident that confined him to a wheelchair.
    • The Arson Fiend is a half-example: he was doing crimes before Captain Marvel fought him, but just for money, not revenge.
  • Demonic Possession: When Captain Marvel (and, slowly, Billy too) start acting nasty and evil, it turns out that Mr. Mind is corrupting them from within.
  • Depending on the Artist: The series went through several, ranging from cartoony styles (as can be seen in the page image) to some hyper-realistic ones. Helen in particular looks very different once Norton takes over.
  • Depending on the Writer: Officially Billy and Captain Marvel are supposed to be separate personalities in this version (in the prequel series they even talked to each other), but the writing keeps going back and forth on whether or not they act or refer to themselves that way. By about issue twelve the idea of them being separate seems to have been completely dropped.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation: Or rather, More Severely Disabled in the Adaptation. Freddy here is a complete-paraplegic wheelchair user, in most continuities only his left leg is affected and he walks with crutches.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Kunkel seems to have been aiming for a kiddier story that focused a lot on Billy and Mary's normal lives plus superheroics; note the attention he gives to introducing school-related characters who get dropped when Baltazar and Franco take over.
  • Favors for the Sexy: Billy always goes out of his way to get Helen Fidelity a latte and muffin before work.
  • The Heart: The Wizard refers to Mary as this.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Non-fatal example: to save Billy's life, Freddy is willing to give up his Black Adam powers, ostensibly meaning that he'll never walk again.
  • Heroic Willpower: The only thing that keeps Billy from becoming completely taken over by Mr. Mind.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Theo Adam goes through a few while trying to remember the Magic Word.
    Theo Adam: Sassafras! Butterscotch! Baloney! Schnauzer!
  • Knight Templar: This seems to be how Freddy sees Captain Marvel... which, ironically, results in Freddy becoming one himself.
    Captain Marvel: I'll do whatever it takes to stop you, Black Adam!
    Freddy: (punches Captain Marvel) That's how it starts with you! You'll do whatever it takes, right? It doesn't matter who you hurt to get that done, does it?
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: When Theo Adam first shows up in our world, he finds himself unable to remember the Magic Word that will turn him into Black Adam. The next few issues are him trying to coerce/trick Billy into telling him.
  • Last Episode, New Character: The Justice League shows up at the end of the final issue to recruit Captain Marvel.
  • Legion of Doom: In the last two issues, all the previous villains are working together; they were summoned by Black Adam, but apparently Sivana was putting the group together before that. They actually don't use the "Monster Society of Evil" name from Shazam! history, perhaps because it was already used for Mr. Mind's army in the previous series.
  • Like a Son to Me: In the penultimate issue, the Wizard says this to Billy.
  • Little Miss Badass: Mary, especially during her fight with Freddy—he doesn't want to fight her at all, but that hardly stops her.
  • Magitek: Sivana makes a giant robot powered by some of the Marvels' stolen lightning, with a captured Tawky Tawny to funnel it.
  • Mind-Control Music: Axe, a villain who has a hypnotic guitar.
  • Mythology Gag: Captain Marvel refers to his backwards-talking Evil Twin (actually Mr. Mind) as "a sort of Niatpac Levram." That's the name of one-off villain who appeared in pre-Crisis story.
    • Axe describes his father, Mr. Banjo, as a stage hypnotist who used music. Mr. Banjo was an old Marvel villain who played music on the radio to pass messages to the Japanese during World War II.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Both times that Theo Adam learns the Magic Word, it's Mary's fault.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Axe's command to a hypnotized Billy accidentally helped him discover that the Magic Lightning could break the spell, which he then used to free Mary.
  • Not Himself: In issue #9, Captain Marvel is acting nasty to everyone, and repeatedly refuses to turn back into Billy, culminating in permanently disfiguring the Arson Fiend. Eventually Mary forces him back into Billy, who is even more freaked out than she is. By the end of issue #10 he's starting to act meaner too. It's eventually revealed that Mr. Mind is possessing him.
  • Playing with Fire: The Arson Fiend. He originally needed weapons, but near the end of the series he can somehow generate fire out of his hands.
  • Precocious Crush: Billy towards Helen Fidelity.
  • Punny Name: Pretty much all of the teachers, including Principal Strikta, Ms. Crabtree and the perpetually-sleepy Mr. Blander.
  • Remember the New Guy?: When we first meet Freddy, Mary says that she can remember him as a victim of one of the Arson Fiend's fires; Freddy himself blames Captain Marvel for either causing or failing to stop the building from collapsing on him, confining him to a wheelchair. However, the issue with the Arson Fiend features no such incident: we only see one building that actually had people in it, none of whom looked like Freddy, and Billy did rescue them and put the fire out without the structure collapsing.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Or Kid Heroes smash them over their heads. Whichever.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Both Captain Marvel and the Wizard independently call the former's evil half "Niatpac Levram" before learning his true identity.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Captain Marvel tricks Mr. Mind into trapping himself in a mirror.
    • At the end of the series, Black Adam gets trapped inside his magical amulet.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: Mr. Mind has been trapped inside Billy's subconscious since the prequel series.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Getting magically injured mid-transformation at the Rock of Eternity traps Tawny halfway between his human and tiger forms.
  • Shout-Out: Tiny Titans is referenced as a Show Within a Show.
    • At one point a bystander can be seen wearing a Watchmen shirt.
  • Show Within a Show: Tiny Titans is apparently a cartoon in this universe.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Aside from the Marvel Family, not superheroes are even mentioned, implying this may take place in a world without them. Then the Justice League shows up in the last issue.
  • Taken for Granite: Taken for Metal, in the case of King Kull.
  • That Man Is Dead: One of the signs that Captain Marvel is Not Himself is that he gets angry at Mary for calling him "Billy," claiming that he's never going to transform into Billy again.
    • Whenever Captain Marvel tries to reason with "Freddy," he punches him and responds that he's "Black Adam Junior."
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: The final issue basically consist of Billy and Black Adam each finding new ways to become more powerful than each other.
  • Übermensch: How Theo Adam sees himself. He even offers to work together with Billy, since he's one too.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: After Tawny is stuck between human and tiger forms, he's still able to interact with Muggles with nary a comment.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Axe's guitar is weak against any metal, including coins.
  • Wondrous Ladies Room: At one point Billy has to transform and ducks into a school bathroom, only then noticing that it's the girl's room. After quickly making sure no one is there:
    Billy: Wow!...Look at this place. Foot massagers? Heated seats? And is that silk toilet paper?
  • Would Hurt a Child / Would Hit a Girl: Freddy actually makes it a point of saying that he doesn't want to fight Mary, but since she's not backing down, he isn't either.