Granted his abilities by the all-powerful Wizard, orphan Billy Batson wields the power of the gods of old, with each letter in his name representing one of those gods. He has 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 (yes, one of those isn’t a god and the names are a mixture of Roman and Greek).
He found the Wizard through a subway beneath his home of Fawcett City. This opened a portal that led him to the Rock of Eternity, where the Wizard dwells. After gaining his power, he stood as a champion of his hometown as well as the world. He has joined the ranks of the Justice League and the Justice Society. His abilities put him on par with heroes like Superman and the Martian Manhunter, and he has stood down rogues as powerful as Black Adam, all the while just being a kid with super powers.
Yes, his original name was Captain Marvel. Yes, the reason he’s called Shazam now is because Marvel was being really petty with the copyrights, naming many of their heroes Captain Marvel over the years. Yes, I’m calling him Shazam despite knowing this. I honestly like the name “Shazam,” and it makes it easier to distinguish him from the likes of Mar-Vell, Monica Rambeau, and Carol Danvers, all of whom have been called Captain Marvel.
The kid aspect of Shazam is one of the main reasons I love this character. He is just a kid, well pre-teen/teenager. He acts like a kid. This grants him an optimism and insight many veteran heroes lack due to their years of experience. This also makes him impulsive and cocky, but even those qualities are charming with Shazam.
The inexperience has of course been a problem in the past, with people like Lex Luthor taking advantage of the young Batson. Luthor in particular, back when he was the president of the United States, used him to hunt down Superman and Batman, having declared them enemies of the state.
That being said, that innocence is what makes him a classic hero. He’s young, so sees the best in people. He’s good-natured and he just wants to help people. He knows what it’s like to be at the bottom of society’s totem pole, so he wants to be there for those who are as powerless as he used to be.
There’s not much more to say. He’s just a thoroughly loveable hero, and I really hope we get to see more of him soon in DC’s Rebirth line.
Come back tomorrow for the high-flying Number Six!