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The place to Begin with Shazam Comics

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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 considered one of DC’s higher acquired films, even when the character’s comedian guide origins are somewhat complicated. For those who’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 title. 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!” Nonetheless, when Billy debuted in 1939, he was printed by an organization known as Fawcett Comics, and saying the phrase “Shazam!” turned him into the superhero Captain Marvel.

Cap shortly turned the most important superhero of the 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 printed their very own, totally unrelated Captain Marvel — and secured the trademark, which means that irrespective of how the lawsuit panned out, solely Marvel might publish comics below the model “Captain Marvel.”

Fawcett finally went out of enterprise and DC bought the rights to Billy Batson, however they might now 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 a substitute. That’s, till 2011, after they gave up and simply modified the character’s title to Shazam.

All which means that 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 guide 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, try these comics by creators of shade and these comics by ladies.

Cover of Shazam! A Celebration of 75 Years

Shazam!: A Celebration of 75 Years by Invoice Parker, C.C. Beck, et al

As famous above, Shazam has an extended 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 need an summary of the character from his earliest beginnings to the trendy take the flicks are drawing on…properly, it’s all there within the title.

Cover of Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder

Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder by Judd Winick and Joshua Middleton

Superman and Captain Marvel have been in contrast numerous occasions — 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 guide query of who would win in a combat. However the first assembly of Clark Kent and Billy Batson is the true soul of this story, and Clark’s compassion and Billy’s sweetness make it among the finest items of characterization in both character’s historical past. Put together to have your heartstrings tugged.

Cover of Shazam! Vol. 1

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 practical artwork additionally looks like an odd match for a personality who transforms by way of magic phrase and is buddies with a speaking tiger. However it 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.

Cover of Shazam!: To Hell and Back

Shazam!: To Hell and Again by Tim Sheridan, Clayton Henry, Eduardo Pansica, and Julio Ferreira

Wish to atone for the place Billy is presently 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 pal named Dane and a time-displaced model of considered one of his best enemies. It’s technically a derivative from Teen Titans Academy, however you may (and will) ignore that. This can be a enjoyable little facet quest that stands by itself.

Cover of The New Champion of Shazam!

The New Champion of Shazam! by Josie Campbell and Evan Shaner

This lately accomplished miniseries picks up straight 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 needs to go to varsity and stay a standard life, however a sequence of disappearances, plus a speaking rabbit, gained’t let her. Mary has at all times been my favourite member of the Marvel Household (the Shazam Household? the Shazamily?), Josie Campbell writes stellar superpowered ladies, and I’m unsure there’s anybody on this Earth who attracts Shazam characters as exquisitely as Evan Shaner, so that you principally can’t miss with this guide.

Cover of Shazam! and the Monster Society of Evil

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 grow to be the hardest, strongest grownup of all, then return to the liberty of childhood each time he needs. Meaning 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 essentially the most charming artwork you’ve ever seen in your life. For those who solely learn one Shazam comedian, make it this one.

Cover of Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! by Mike Kunkel and Artwork Baltazar

This youngsters’ comedian is a religious sequel to The Monster Society of Evil. The creators are totally different, however the tone, accessible cartoony artwork, and up to date takes on the characters are very comparable. 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 when 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, try 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.



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