Billy’s career as Captain Marvel quickly involved a wide collection of enemies such as Captain Nazi, Ibac, and others. Dr. Sivana remained his most persistent enemy and quickly learned Captain Marvel’s secret identity (WHIZ COMICS #3, 1940).
Along with Dr. Sivana, Billy wound up fighting the entire Sivana family at times, which included the mad scientist’s children Beautia, Thaddeus Jr., Georgia and Magnificus. But to aid him in his fight against evil, Billy also acquired his own “Marvel Family.”
One day, three teenage boys who were also named Billy Batson contacted Billy. To distinguish them all, they decided to refer to the celebrity radio host Billy Batson simply as Billy or “Real Billy”, while the three others became Tall Billy, Fat Billy, and Hill Billy. When the four boys later got into trouble, they all shouted “Shazam” and all became versions of Captain Marvel. The three extra boys called themselves Tall Marvel, Fat Marvel and Hill Billy Marvel, collectively known as the Lieutenant Marvels (WHIZ COMICS #21, 1941).
During a battle between Captain Marvel and the villain Captain Nazi, an adolescent named Freddy Freeman and his grandfather Jacob found themselves in the crossfire. The villain killed Jacob and struck Freddy, critically injuring him. Feeling responsible, Captain Marvel shared some of his power. Though he lost the use of his left leg, Freddy could now transform into Captain Marvel Jr. (WHIZ COMICS #25, 1941).
Soon after Billy Batson met brilliant and kind girl Mary Bromfield, he discovered that she was his long lost twin sister and they reunited. By shouting “Shazam” herself, Mary became Mary Marvel (CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #18, 1942).
During one adventure, a mostly harmless trickster known as Dudley H. Dudley attempted to convince Mary and Billy that he was their long lost “Uncle Dudley” and could also summon the magic of Shazam. The Marvel Family easily saw through his deception but decided to play along, humoring him when he occasionally donned a homemade Captain Marvel costume while claiming that his powers didn’t operate properly (WOW COMICS #18, 1943).
Another addition to the Marvel Family came when Captain Marvel met Mr. Tawny, a talking tiger from India who learned to stand upright and wore clothes in hopes of integrating into human society. Recognizing he was a peaceful being, Captain Marvel befriended “Tawky Tawny” (CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #79, 1949)
The Golden Age Captain Marvel’s greatest epic was his war against the “Monster Society of Evil,” as chronicled in CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #22-46 (1943-1945). The group was organized and led by Mr. Mind, a sentient alien worm of genius intellect that used the Monster Society as his agents against Captain Marvel and the forces of good.
After facing the Monster Society of Evil, Black Adam returned to Earth after having been banished to a distant star thousands of years ago. After battling the Marvel Family, it was Uncle Marvel who tricked Black Adam into saying “Shazam,” turning him into an ancient mortal man who immediately aged to a skeleton (MARVEL ADVENTURES #1, 1945).
The Golden Age Captain Marvel’s adventures ended publication in 1954 with MARVEL FAMILY #89. The hero and his related characters returned in 1973 in the pages of SHAZAM!, in which it was revealed that the Sivana Family had trapped the Marvel Family and some of their allies in a sphere of “suspendium” that floated through outer space. The Sivana Family accidentally became trapped in the sphere as well, and the suspendium compound kept everyone within in a state of suspended animation for years until the heat of the sun weakened it and freed them.
The Marvel Family and Sivana Family then returned to Earth to resume their lives and battles against each other. Likewise, familiar enemies such as Captain Nazi, Mr. Atom, Mr. Mind and others showed up again. During one adventure, Dr. Sivana resurrected Black Adam (SHAZAM! #28, 1977).
After this, it was revealed that Billy Batson and his friends, family and enemies all existed within the DC Multiverse. Their version of Earth, where all their adventures had taken places, was officially designated as Earth-S. Following this revelation, Captain Marvel wound up crossing the multiversal barrier and meeting heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2. During one adventure, the Marvel Family teamed up with Superman of Earth-1 and was joined by Hoppy, the Captain Marvel Bunny of Earth-C Plus (DC COMICS PRESENTS #34, 1981).
Post-CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS
Following the history altering events of the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS (1985-1986), Billy Batson and his related characters were all integrated into the main DC Universe and given a new history. Captain Marvel then joined the newly reformed Justice League soon after he started his career, but only stayed with the team a short time (JUSTICE LEAGUE #1-6, 1987).
The 1987 limited series SHAZAM! THE NEW BEGINNING gave a new version of Billy’s origin depicting him as an orphaned teenager with a malicious uncle named Dr. Sivana and a kind uncle named Dudley. This origin was soon dismissed however for a new Post-CRISIS version introduced in the 1994 graphic novel THE POWER OF SHAZAM!. Billy’s adventures continued in THE POWER OF SHAZAM! ongoing series (1996-1999).
In this version of events, the wizard Shazam was born Jebediah of Canaan and was once a hero called Champion. During this time, he was seduced by a demon and fathered two demonic children, Satanus and Blaze (THE POWER OF SHAZAM! #11, 1995).
During the 20th century, he made Fawcett City a temporary home base, building the secret subway tunnel leading to the Rock of Eternity and befriending the Batson family. After imprisoning demons known as the Seven Enemies of Man into containers in the Rock of Eternity, the wizard Shazam asked the sorcerer Ibis to cast a spell of protection over the city, barring further demonic interference and also causing time to pass more slowly within its limits (THE POWER OF SHAZAM! #11, 1995).
Billy’s parents C.C. and Marilyn were archeologists who discovered a hidden temple during a dig that held an amulet containing the essence of Black Adam. Their colleague Theo Adam, a descendant of Black Adam who worked for corrupt tycoon Thaddeus Sivana, then murdered them in an attempt to take the temple’s secrets for himself. Theo Adam’s sister Sarah Primm, the Batsons’ nanny, made sure that Mary was kept safe and took her to be raised by the Bromfield family, but Billy was later abandoned by his Uncle Eben and left on his own on the streets of Fawcett City.
Billy’s origin then resembles his Golden Age incarnation, where a strange subway car takes him to the Rock of Eternity. In this version, Captain Marvel’s name and appearance came from Billy’s own mind regarding what he thought a great superhero should look like, one whose face was identical to that of his father. What’s more, the stranger who lead Billy to the subway car was actually the spirit of his father.
This version of Billy was homeless but got a job at Whiz Radio. He also acquired an apartment, pretending that he lived with an uncle. Mr. Dudley, custodian at Billy’s school, realized the boy was actually on his own, but covered for him out of sympathy. Billy came to consider Dudley a trusted friend and later accidentally revealed his secret identity to the man.
Billy quickly discovered and reunited with Mary, then met many of his familiar allies and enemies, sometimes under similar circumstances as before. When Mary and Freddy both tapped into the power of Shazam, the wizard considered all of them to be “a Captain Marvel” of some sort. So occasionally, the three referred to each other as CM1 (Billy), CM2 (Mary) and CM3 (Freddy). In the version of events, Tawky Tawny was a tiger doll magically transformed into a living, talking pookah to act as a guide for Billy and Mary (THE POWER OF SHAZAM! #3, 1995).
When Black Adam and Blaze unleashed the Seven Enemies of Man, the team of villains fought not only Billy, Mary, Freddy, and Shazam, but also Tawky Tawny, Bulletman, the sorcerer Ibis, and Mr. Dudley (who was temporarily given access to the power of Shazam). After several battles that transcended dimensions, the heroes were victorious and the wizard Shazam temporarily left the Rock of Eternity to explore the modern world. During this time, he lived with Billy, pretending to be his grandfather “Jebediah O’Keenan” (THE POWER OF SHAZAM! #9-13, 1995-1996).
When Black Adam later attempted to reform by working alongside the Justice Society of America, Captain Marvel briefly joined the team to keep an eye on him. During this time, the now teenage Billy became infatuated with Courtney Whitmore, the Star-Spangled Kid (later known as Stargirl). When Courtney became aware of Billy’s true nature, she returned his affections.
In the 2005 limited series DAY OF VENGEANCE, the wizard Shazam was killed, leading to Billy taking his place as guardian of the Rock of Eternity. Freddy Freeman took his place and became the champion of Zeus himself, now tasked with making sure magic on Earth stayed in balance. While Billy now simply called himself “Marvel,” Freddy adopted the name “Shazam.”
New 52 (2011-2016)
In 2011, much of DC history was reimagined in the New 52 universe. In the New 52, Billy becomes Shazam, the champion chosen by the god or wizard known as Mamaragan. In this history, Billy Batson becomes fond of a tiger at the zoo named Tawny and regularly feeds it. When the Vasquez family adopts him, Billy gains foster siblings: Mary Bromfield, Freddy Freeman, Eugene Choi, Darla Dudley and Pedro Peña (JUSTICE LEAGUE #8, 2012).
After becoming Shazam, Billy did not understand his role as “protector of magic” and initially sought to use his power for fun. But then Black Adam attacked, wanting him dead so there would be no one else tapping into the same magic that gave him power. During the battle, Billy came to realize evil, danger, victimization and courage in ways he’d never understood before. He also realized that he could share his power with those he regarded as family, and so he created the “Shazam Family” with his foster siblings.
Mary, Freddy, Eugene, Darla and Pedro all had slightly different abilities and helped Billy fight Black Adam as well as the Seven Enemies of Man (now called the Seven Deadly Sins). In the end, Billy defeated the villain by tricking him into saying “Shazam.” Black Adam became a mortal who should’ve been dead thousands of years ago, and he disintegrated (JUSTICE LEAGUE #21, 2013).
Wishing to respect his enemy, Shazam flew to Kahndaq to scatter Black Adam’s ashes in his homeland. Right after this, he encountered different Justice League teams during 2013's TRINITY WAR event. The Crime Syndicate, a villainous version of the League from Earth-3, then imprisoned him and several of Earth’s heroes. The Crime Syndicate’s attempt to conquer the main DC Universe’s Earth was chronicled in the 2013-2014 limited series FOREVER EVIL.
Lex Luthor and several others, including a resurrected Black Adam, defeated the Syndicate, after which Shazam and the other heroes were freed. Following this, Lex Luthor and Shazam both joined Justice League. In the Darkseid War event (JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE DARKSEID WAR, JUSTICE LEAGUE #40-50, 2015-2016), the dark god of the planet Apokolips known as Darkseid was physically killed. Though he was later reborn, his physical death caused an energy ripple across dimensions that interfered with Shazam’s connection to the pantheon of figures that gave him his powers. To compensate for this, the wizard/god Mamaragan quickly established connection between Billy and a new pantheon of figures, including himself. This gave him a stronger spiritual connection with the wizard of the Rock of Eternity (JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE DARKSEID WAR – SHAZAM #1, 2016).
Following the events of 2016's DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, a new SHAZAM! series picks up where Billy’s New 52 stories left off. Billy now protects his hometown of Philadelphia and beyond from the Seven Enemies of Man alongside all five of his foster siblings.