The New York Post today premiered the first image of the New 52's version of the long-standing hero Captain Marvel, who will no longer go by that moniker. Instead, writer Geoff Johns has renamed Billy Batson's alter ego Shazam, and he will make his first appearance in a backup story in Justice League #7, with help from art by Gary Frank.
“We changed his name [to Shazam] for a lot of reasons,” said Johns. “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.” The other might be the fact that DC's chief competition is Marvel, and they won't let them call a comic featuring him Captain Marvel.
This might make sense from a marketing perspective, but now he's saddled with the same very stupid problem Freddy Freeman had when his magic words were "Captain Marvel Jr." – he can't say his own name without transforming back into a kid. Maybe Johns will invent a workaround. We'll see. In the meantime, what does this mean for the wizard who grants Billy his power? That guy was named Shazam. Again… we'll see.
“With SHAZAM!, Gary and I will be focusing on the magic hero instead of the super hero,” Johns said. “For centuries, science has ruled the world, but now magic is returning. 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.”
“You’ll notice that SHAZAM! looks different from many of the other heroes we’ve seen in the New 52,” said editor Brian Cunningham. “That was definitely intentional. 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.”
The New 52 doesn't like circus strongmen. Here's the first image of the new Shazam from Justice League #7. No blankety cape, no warm smile, no bright and sunshiney feel. This isn't the kid you remember. Will it be the kid you want to read about?