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Shazam! Fury of the Gods hits theaters on March 17. The primary Shazam!, which was launched in 2019 and starred Zachary Levi because the titular hero, was one in all DC’s higher obtained films, even when the character’s comedian e book origins are a bit complicated. When you’re trying to learn some Shazam comics earlier than seeing the film, I’ve rounded up a couple of suggestions for you.
However first, a fast rationalization of the character’s identify. The character we now know as Shazam is Billy Batson, a younger boy who transforms into the World’s Mightiest Mortal when he speaks the magic phrase “Shazam!” Nevertheless, when Billy debuted in 1939, he was revealed by an organization referred to as Fawcett Comics, and saying the phrase “Shazam!” turned him into the superhero Captain Marvel.
Cap shortly turned the largest superhero of the Nineteen Forties, outselling even Superman, so after all DC promptly sued, claiming copyright infringement. Whereas DC and Fawcett tied the character up within the courts, Marvel snuck in and revealed their very own, fully unrelated Captain Marvel — and secured the trademark, which means that irrespective of how the lawsuit panned out, solely Marvel might publish comics underneath the model “Captain Marvel.”
Fawcett ultimately went out of enterprise and DC bought the rights to Billy Batson, however they may not publish him in comics with the title “Captain Marvel,” so all DC comics starring Billy Batson as Captain Marvel used the phrase “Shazam” within the title as an alternative. That’s, till 2011, after they gave up and simply modified the character’s identify to Shazam.
All which means a number of the characters beneath are Captain Marvel comics about Captain Marvel, some are Shazam comics about Captain Marvel, and a few are Shazam comics about Shazam. However they’re all the identical man, and he’s an actual sweetheart.
Additionally, like so many different long-running comedian e book characters, Shazam has overwhelmingly been written and drawn by solely white males. That’s slowly, incrementally altering, however DC nonetheless has important work to do on this regard. Whereas Billy catches up, take a look at these comics by creators of shade and these comics by girls.
Shazam!: A Celebration of 75 Years by Invoice Parker, C.C. Beck, et al
As famous above, Shazam has a protracted and storied historical past, and his earliest comics, although dated within the typical methods, are a number of the finest the Golden Age of Comics has to supply. If you’d like an summary of the character from his earliest beginnings to the fashionable take the flicks are drawing on…properly, it’s all there within the title.
Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder by Judd Winick and Joshua Middleton
Superman and Captain Marvel have been in contrast numerous instances — that’s what the DC vs. Fawcett lawsuit was about — so that you may count on this miniseries about their first assembly to start and finish with the drained previous comedian e book query of who would win in a combat. However the first assembly of Clark Kent and Billy Batson is the actual soul of this story, and Clark’s compassion and Billy’s sweetness make it the most effective items of characterization in both character’s historical past. Put together to have your heartstrings tugged.
Shazam! Vol. 1 (The New 52): From the Pages of Justice League by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
Oof, what a title. I’m going to be trustworthy: I’m not a fan of this tackle Billy Batson, which adjustments him from a candy, earnest child to a egocentric, opportunistic brat. Gary Frank’s painstakingly reasonable artwork additionally looks like an odd match for a personality who transforms by way of magic phrase and is mates with a speaking tiger. But it surely was the New 52 Shazam that launched Billy’s in depth foster household outdoors of longtime characters Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman, so if you wish to see the place the film forged got here from, begin right here.
Shazam!: To Hell and Again by Tim Sheridan, Clayton Henry, Eduardo Pansica, and Julio Ferreira
Wish to make amends for the place Billy is at the moment within the comics? Begin with this 2021 miniseries. Billy’s seek for solutions about why his powers are performing up leads him on a quest to Hell, alongside a mysterious new good friend named Dane and a time-displaced model of one in all his biggest enemies. It’s technically a derivative from Teen Titans Academy, however you may (and may) ignore that. This can be a enjoyable little facet quest that stands by itself.
The New Champion of Shazam! by Josie Campbell and Evan Shaner
This just lately accomplished miniseries picks up immediately after To Hell and Again, however now it’s Billy’s twin sister Mary who holds all of the magic of Shazam, whereas Billy is [SPOILER]. Mary simply desires to go to varsity and reside a standard life, however a sequence of disappearances, plus a speaking rabbit, gained’t let her. Mary has all the time been my favourite member of the Marvel Household (the Shazam Household? the Shazamily?), Josie Campbell writes stellar superpowered girls, and I’m undecided there’s anybody on this Earth who attracts Shazam characters as exquisitely as Evan Shaner, so that you principally can’t miss with this e book.
Shazam! and the Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith
On the finish of the day, Shazam is a baby’s energy fantasy: a child who can say a magic phrase and turn into the hardest, strongest grownup of all, then return to the liberty of childhood every time he desires. Which means Shazam is at his finest in kids’s comics, and this one is the most effective of the most effective. The Monster Society of Evil is an out-of-continuity origin story that introduces readers to the important thing gamers in Billy’s world — his long-lost twin Mary, the Wizard, the evil Dr. Sivana — by way of probably the most charming artwork you’ve ever seen in your life. When you solely learn one Shazam comedian, make it this one.
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! by Mike Kunkel and Artwork Baltazar
This youngsters’ comedian is a non secular sequel to The Monster Society of Evil. The creators are completely different, however the tone, accessible cartoony artwork, and up to date takes on the characters are very related. Plus, it introduces extra necessary characters like Captain Marvel Jr. and Black Adam. It’s an ideal follow-up to Jeff Smith’s work, particularly in the event you’re studying with youngsters.
There are tons of extra Shazam comics on the market, however these ought to get you began! And if you wish to know extra concerning the franchise, take a look at the primary look of marquee Shazam villain Black Adam, or the historical past of the Shazam character who was the primary feminine superhero along with her personal TV present.