The Power of SHAZAM, Year 3

Issue 25 - April 1997

The third year of this series kicks off with the Family Reunion storyline. Sivana has used the Rock of the Eternity to rewrite history. By ensuring that Theo Adam never killed the Batsons (Billy and Mary's parents), he has retained the wealth and position which he lost during the Power of SHAZAM graphic novel. In this version of time, C.C.Batson and Marilyn receive the gift of SHAZAM's power to protect them from a cave-in during their expidition to recover the Scorpion artifact (inspired by the Republic serial). C.C.Batson (as Captain Marvel) and Marilyn go on to become a husband and wife super-hero team. SHAZAM, however, realises that something is wrong. After questioning Sivana, he learns that, yes, he could try to reorder time, but doing so will mean killing C.C and Marilyn and destroy the Batsons' hope of a (relatively) normal family life.

Issue 26 - May 1997

The Linear Men are aware of the temporal breach caused by Sivana and insist that SHAZAM restore the time line to its proper form. C.C.Batson agrees to pluck our original Sivana out of the time stream before he sets his own disruptive future in motion. In the mean time, Billy and Mary bluff Ibac into believing that they too have the power of SHAZAM (which, in this time line, they don't), long enough for Marilyn to arrive and drive IBac away.

Issue 27 - June 1997

Waverider catches up with C.C. in the time stream, while he ponders whether or not to set things right or to protect his children. In the end, C.C.Batson agrees to rectify the time line in exchange for Waverider's promise that the children would be well looked-after (a promise fulfilled with the recovery of C.C.'s will, clearing the way for the Bromfields to adopt Billy, as they did with Mary). The end of issue #27 sees SHAZAM reassume his spirit form and position at the Rock of Eternity.

Issue 28 - July 1997

With the timeline more or less restored, Mary Marvel now bears a white and yellow costume, similiar to that Marilyn wore in the Family Reunion timeline, instead of the red and yellow costume that she used to wear. In issue #28, Mary battles Patty-Patty Bang-Bang, a pair of small-time villainesses who get transformed into Terminator-2-like entities by liquid metal from Magnus Robotics. The criminals are neutralised by separating the components of the liquid metal.

Issue 29 - August 1997

It is unclear if issue #29 represents, for the most part, a real story or a dream. In this story, Captain Marvel falls through a supposed magic hat at Billy and Mary's birthday party, and finds himself in a world inhabited by talking rabbits. Billy's transformation to Captain Marvel whilst going through the hat also transforms one of the native animals into Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny. Together, Captain Marvel and Hoppy battle the henchmen (or hench-animals) of an aging magician cast into this world by his protege. The portal to this world starts to collapse as lightning from Billy's transformation is burning the hat in the "real" world. Captain Marvel gets back to his world in the nick of time, only to awaken as Billy, apparently having had a bad dream. Meanwhile, Hoppy swears to perform good deeds on his world in Captain Marvel's name.

Issue 30 - September 1997

Dudley has been haunted (for want of a better word) by Pooka named "Mister Finish" that is "replacing" Tawny as Dudley's companion while Tawny appears in a movie. Mister Finish, who looks very much like a werewolf, tells Dudley that he (Dudley) is fated to die in three days' time, unless Dudley can think of seven people that Finish should take in his stead. Although not intending to accept the offer, Dudley can't help but think of seven people, and that's enough for Finish to start stalking his victims. Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel manage to save the victims from mortal harm, but Dudley's relationship with Billy is strained when it is revealed that Mary is Mister Finish's seventh victim because Dudley resented that being adopted by Mary's parents forced Billy to move away.

Issue 31 - October 1997

In a Genesis tie-in, Billy and Mary find their powers starting to fail them, and the wizard SHAZAM is mysteriously absent. Mary goes in search of Ibis, hoping he can shed light on the Wizard's disappearance. Ibis indicates that his own powers, and those of SHAZAM, may be failing as a result of a crisis of faith. (Unknown to them, this crisis had been brought on by the genesis wave). Meanwhile, Uncle Dudley has been arrested on suspicion of abducting Billy and Mary. This is obviously untrue, but the Bromfields hadn't seen their children for sometime and had reported them missing. When vouching for the kids' safety as Captain Marvel didn't change things, Billy and Mary go to their adopted parents in superhero form (being unable to transform back into children) and reveal the truth about their dual identities.

Issue 32 - November 1997

Billly and Mary track a small a small military aircraft that used windshear to shear the wings off a corporate jet. When the craft is grounded, it is revealed that it was being piloted (by remote control) by Deanna Barr, an airforce test pilot and daughter of Bulletman. Later, Jim Barr (Bulletman and Deanna's father) approaches Billy, asking her to find his daughter who has disappeared and is suspected of stealing the Windshear aircraft. Captain Marvel finds the craft, its pilot and potential buyer in the Rocky Mountains. After a brief aerial combat, Cap learns how to compensate for the craft's windshear and calls dwn SHAZAM's lightning to disable the craft. Deanna was piloting the craft, but as part of a government sting to slush out traitors on the Windshear project.

Issue 33 - December 1997

Captain Marvel tries to help a victim of the Arsonist, who was disfigured during one of the Arsonist's fires, while saving his mother. Captain Marvel thinks that Minerva's Neo-Derm may help restore his friend's looks. After other options fail, Minerva relinquishes enough Neo-Derm for one application, presenting the burns victim with the choice of never restoring his looks or restoring them for one day, only to have them degrade again, when the Neo-Derm wears off. In the end, he decides to use the Neo-Derm for a "normal" day, to help ease himself back into society, after closeting himself away with his deformity.

Issue 34 - January 1998

Billy Batson is kidnapped by thugs, but his abduction is witnessed by Gangbuster. After an ocean chase, Gangbuster rescues Billy. Billy learns that it was James Barr, Bulletman, who ordered the kidnapping, trying to stop him Billy from dating James's adult daughter. Billy accepts James's motives but is less than happy with the means he chose.

Issue 35 - February 1998

This is part 2 of a 4 part story called "Lightning and Stars", crossing over between Starman (issues 39 and 40) and SHAZAM! (issues 35 and 36). Summarising parts 1 and 2, film footage has beel uncovered, purporting to depict Bulletman as a Nazi collaborator during World War II. Bulletman denies the claim, but refuses to state his alibi, as he was on a secret mission when the footage was supposed to be taken. Starman is asked to "run interference" against Captain Marvel, to hive his father and Bulletman time to contact Minuteman (who is still involved with the US government) and obtain clearance to publicly explain the secret mission and thereby cement is alibi. It is becoming clear to the reader that Bulletman has been framed as part of a Neo-Nazi conspiracy involving Captain Nazi's brother. In the mean time, however, Starman crosses paths with Captain Marvel and a fight ensues...

Issue 36 - March 1998

Part 4 part of "Lightning and Stars", following Starman issue 40. Summarising parts 3 and 4, Starman doesn't seem to have the raw power to stop or hurt Captain Marvel and both of them know it. Captain Marvel tries to reason with Starman, but is adamant that Bulletman must be brought to the proper authorities. As the battle heightens, Starman learns new uses for his staff, slowing Captain Marvel down long enough for the O'Dare family (a family of cops) to face him down, forcing Cap to strike out on his own to find Bulletman. When Starman and Captain Marvel face off for a rematch in Fawcett City, it's Mary Marvel who intervenes, explaining that the incriminating footage is a fake. Unfortunately, Minuteman, who Bulletman was counting on to release him from his oath of secrecy, has been shot and killed by Neo-Nazis. Elsewhere, it is revealed that the film footage in question had been faked with the help of a Nazi shape changer called the "Poser", who impersonated Bulletman for the fake footage. In a public rally, Bulletman declares his innocence to a hostile crowd. The Poser confesses his involvement in the conspiracy, clearing Bulletman, but is shot by Neo-Nazis before the Marvel family can intervene.

Year 3 Interludes

Genesis

Genesis was DC's 1997 summer crossover. The basic plot is that a shockwave from the cataclysm which split Apokolips and New Genesis into two planets has travelled the breadth of the universe (bestowing gods and superheroes with power on its millenia-long journey) and is now on its way back, where it is likely to destroy the wall which separates the Source from the rest of the universe. The Marvel family, like every other hero in the DC universe get caught up in this adventure, first intermittently losing some of their powers and later joining in the team effort to save the universe. Billy and Mary summarise their involvement with Genesis in issue 32 of the Power of SHAZAM. Relevant points for SHAZAM readers from this mini-series include:

The Source which New Genesis draws upon is also, ultimately, the source of the powers which SHAZAM bestows upon his champions.

Mary was chosen (by drawing straws) as one of a select team of super-heroes to enter the Source - a feat then never successfully attempted.

After the crisis had been resolved, SHAZAM decided to stay a while and commune with the Source.

The Highfather has given Billy and Mary Mother Boxes (living computers from New Genesis) to allow them to transform into their superhero forms, in SHAZAM's absence.

Adventures in the DC Universe, Issue 7

Although Adventures in the DCU is not strictly within current DC continuity, it mirrors that continuity when it can. In issue 7 of this series, the Marvel family (or the SHAZAM family, as they are billed on the cover) step into the spotlight. Black Adam has teamed up with Sivana to bring down the Marvels. Sivana has perfected a means of recording and playing Billy's voice saying "SHAZAM", thus allowing him to take away Billy's power at will. While Billy is in Sivana's clutches, Adam goes to fight Mary and Freddy. Billy forces Sivana's hand by pushing them both out a window, forcing the evil genius to ungag Billy, if he wants to Cap to save him from a 40-story plummet. After destroying Sivana's recording device (and saving Sivana's life), Captain Marvel enters the fray with Black Adam, taking him by surprise.

My only criticism of this issue is that a lot of time was spent on character explanations, who people are and how their powers work. Setting aside the major characters (like Superman and Batman), whom everyone knows anyway, I'm told this degree of explanation is not typical of other issues of Adventures in the DCU. My uneasy suspicion, therefore, is that it is indicative of how inaccessible some of the current SHAZAM continuity is to new readers.

© Mark Wann 2012.  All characters owned by DC Comics.