DC is just past six months into its relaunch (don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years) and we’ve been shown the new Shazam. That’s right, he’s not called Captain Marvel on covers anymore since DC lost that to Marvel comics more than thirty years ago, but since character has always been called Captain Marvel it looks like DC has just given up on that one. Which may be a good thing because they’re basically cutting away everything that C.C. Beck made Captain Marvel Shazam! Editor Brian Cunningham said:
[quote]His powers come from a different place, and we wanted to see that reflected in the design. We’ve removed the “circus strongman” elements from his costume. Rather than a traditional cape, he wears a cloak with a hood; there’s more of a mystical, magical, fantasy feel to that.[/quote]
Captain Marvel has been one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe for a very long time, and has been woefully underutilized. His most popular run in recent memory was as part of Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire’s Justice League International.
What’s most concerning is taking DC’s most upbeat and positive character and modernizing him. Just look at that image: dark, brooding, a new grimacing Shazam hiding under a cloak. Geoff Johns said:
[quote]Gary and I will be focusing on the magic hero instead of the super hero…We’re telling the story of the hero’s young alter ego, Billy Batson, a foster kid at a crossroads in his life. The question is, how does the emotional journey of this troubled teenager collide with the fate of the world? The Rock of Eternity and the legacy of SHAZAM! will be explored in a different way as the extent of Billy’s connection to the magic world around him is greater than ever before. The story will have a profound impact on Justice League later in the year and you’ll see new characters, locations and creatures along with the classics from the SHAZAM! universe. Billy’s friends and enemies will be along for the ride.
We changed his name for a lot of reasons. One of them is that Shazam is the word most associated with the character, so we just felt it made sense — a lot of people already thought that was his name, anyway.[/quote]
Why is Batson a troubled teenager? Can’t anyone in the new DCU be happy? Who are these “people” who thought Captain Marvel’s name was Shazam? My grandparents and parents know his as Captain Marvel, as do most non-comic readers I spoke to. Nothing about that preview image says positive or upbeat. Hmm.