Billy Batson / Shazam’s birthday
When Billy Batson speaks the name of an ages-old wizard, he is transformed into the World’s Mightiest Mortal — Shazam!
Aliases: William Joseph “Billy” Batson, The World’s Mightiest Mortal, The Big Red Cheese, Captain Marvel
First Appearance:WHIZ COMICS #2, 1940
Billy Batson’s parents died when he was still a baby. The orphaned child believed he had no one to rely on and had to fend for himself. But one day, he was guided to the Rock of Eternity, where the ancient wizard Shazam waited. The world needed heroes and the boy became the wizard’s new champion, able to transform himself into an adult superhero by calling down a magical bolt of lightning. Now, whenever evil must be stopped or people are in need of help, Earth can rely on the power of Shazam!
In Billy Batson’s first story in 1940, he was a boy orphaned at an early age and sent to the care of his uncle Ebenezer Batson while his twin sister was adopted by the wealthy Bromfield family. Ebenezer was a greedy man and threw Billy out onto the street once he had full control of the boy’s inheritance. By the age of 10 or so, Billy lived and sold newspapers on the streets of New York. One night, a mysterious figure led him into a subway station where a futuristic train car appeared and transported him to the mystical Rock of Eternity. Waiting for him was the ancient wizard Shazam, who sat beneath a great stone block hanging by a thread.
The wizard explained that he had fought evil for thousands of years but was too old now and needed to pass on his power to a new champion. Long ago, the wizard had granted power to Teth-Adam (“Mighty Adam”) to be his champion. But the man abused his power and attempted to conquer humanity, becoming Khem-Adam (“Black Adam”), and had to be defeated.
The wizard Shazam believed young Billy would be a true champion and told the boy to say his name to be imbued with power and abilities from a pantheon of figures that included Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury. Billy shouted “Shazam” and was transformed into the hero Captain Marvel by a bolt of magic lightning, the force of which broke the thread above the wizard, causing the stone to fall and kill him. The wizard’s ghost remained in the Rock of Eternity, able to be summoned for guidance and knowledge whenever Billy needed help.
Captain Marvel then returned to Earth and began his career against evil by fighting the mad scientist Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. As a result of this adventure, Billy impressed Mr. Morris, the owner of a radio station, and was rewarded with a job as a radio news broadcaster. Thanks to this position, Billy was often among the first to know about situations that needed help from a hero such as Captain Marvel (WHIZ COMICS #2, 1940).
In ancient times, there was the man called Mamaragan, wielder of “Living Lightning.” One account says this man was a sorcerer native to the country of Kahndaq, while another says he was not a human being but the god Mamaragan of Aboriginal mythology. In either event, he became part of a council of magic wielders and wizards that oversaw the balance of magic on Earth and punished those who tampered with the progress of humanity or upset the balance of magic. Their fortress was the Rock of Eternity.
For a time, the Council of Wizards of the Rock of Eternity empowered Black Adam, but then the man abused his power and turned on them. Mamaragan was left the soul survivor and he imprisoned Black Adam in a hidden tomb, frozen in time. He then remained as the sole protector and keeper of the Rock of Eternity for thousands of years, and became known simply as “the wizard.”
The scientist Thaddeus Sivana sought out secrets of magic and discovered Black Adam’s prison in Iraq, freeing him in the process. In response, the now aged wizard of the Rock of Eternity decided a new champion was needed to defeat Black Adam and became the protector of magic on Earth. He brought several human beings to the Rock of Eternity, dismissing each one for not being heroic or “pure” enough in their nature and intentions.
Meanwhile, fifteen-year-old orphan Billy Batson was an embittered, suspicious, thrill-seeking troublemaker as a result of mistreatment at many foster homes. Soon after being adopted by the Vasquez family of Philadelphia, Billy entered a subway car that then transformed into an old-fashioned transport and delivered him to the Rock of Eternity. The wizard Mamaragan was surprised to see that his magic had brought him a boy, and one seemingly selfish and ill mannered when his champion needed to be pure of heart. Billy remarked that while he had tried to be good many times, his experience was that good people were victimized and disappointed too easily.
Mamaragan believed that Billy had “embers” of a good person and preferred to protect rather than victimize. With no time left to search for yet another candidate, he decided to trust Billy, naming him as the new Keeper of the Rock of Eternity and telling him to say the magic word “Shazam.” Billy did so, and Mamaragan’s “Living Lightning” transformed him into a representation of his full potential, a magical super-powered warrior named Shazam! (JUSTICE LEAGUE #0, 2012).
Powers & abilities
In his human form, Billy Batson is a normal human being and has the normal vulnerabilities and strengths of a boy his age that engages in semi-regular exercise. When he says the word “Shazam” and focuses on summoning the magic of the Living Lightning, the same magic force then empowers him while simultaneously transforming him into an adult superhero with abilities and traits of different figures. The abilities he has as Shazam are: the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. Some figures in the DC universe consider him on par with being a demigod.
It is interesting to note that this original version of Captain Marvel had a slightly different personality than that of Billy Batson. Some comics implied that this was a result of Billy’s mind being gifted by the wisdom of Solomon, while others implied that Captain Marvel was a separate entity that merged with Billy through magic, like a genie he summoned. Since 1987, Billy Batson and his alter ego have the exact same personality and are clearly the same person.
In his magically empowered form, Shazam is technically immortal, meaning he can be killed but is immune to disease and age. He has strength, speed, stamina and resiliency to injury all on par with heroes such as Superman and Wonder Woman. He can bend steel in his bare grip, survive in the vacuum of space and the bottom of the ocean without a pressure suit, and fight for hours without suffering fatigue. He is unaffected by conventional Earth weaponry and attack, and his skin and muscles are bulletproof. He can fly at speeds exceeding Mach 10. His magic allows him to heal several times better and more quickly from wounds than an ordinary human would. He is resistant to certain forms of magical attack, but certain spells and magically empowered weapons can still harm him.
His magic power and the wisdom of Solomon enhance Shazam’s mind, giving him near photographic memory, as well as a great understanding of mathematics, combat strategy, languages, and sciences. The wisdom of Solomon can be an increased moral instinct and understanding of strategy or an audible voice in his mind that guides him. He can also sometimes sense mystical forces at work.
The Living Lightning gives Shazam the ability to generate and control lightning, as well as call on certain spells in special circumstances. This mystic lightning can also enhance the power of other magic spells, as well as his strength and healing abilities. Shazam’s mastery of the Living Lightning (and the extra abilities it gives him) is not featured in comic book stories earlier than 2011 (when the New 52 era began).
From 1995-2011, Billy’s power was halved whenever he and his sister Mary or he and his friend Freddy Freeman simultaneously used the magic. If all three used the power of Shazam, then they were each only 1/3 as powerful as one of them would have been otherwise.
In 2016, as a result of the event known as “The Darkseid War”, Billy (at least temporarily) was connected to a different pantheon of figures. During this time, calling down the magical lightning gave him: the strength of S’ivaa (one of the Old Gods of the Godworld called Urgund), the pyrokinetic fires of the Martian god H’ronmeer, the compassion of Anapel, the power of Zonuz (also known as Yuga Khan, father of Darkseid) who could draw energy from the Source (the energy field behind all life), the boldness of the impulse goddess Ate, and the Living Lightning of Mamaragan.
ESSENTIAL STORYLINES AND HISTORY
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.
- The Shazam Family
- The Marvel Family
- Justice League
- Justice Society of America
Appearances in other media
Main Character Appearances
- The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!
- Legends of the Superheroes
- Superman: The Animated Series (as Billy Batson)
- DC Nation Shorts
- Justice League
- Justice League Unlimited
- Justice League Action
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Young Justice
Main Character Appearances
- Adventures of Captain Marvel
- Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam
- Justice League: War
- Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
- Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
- Justice League Vs. Teen Titans
- Justice League: The New Frontier
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- DC Universe Online
- Infinite Crisis
- Injustice: Gods Among Us
- Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
- Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
- Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe
- LEGO DC Super-Villains