Warning: spoilers ahead for The New Champion of Shazam! #2!DC has proven that the Shazam is becoming more than one hero–it is becoming a team. The concept of family has been an integral part of the character, particularly since his reboot during the New 52 era and in The New Champion of Shazam! #2, as the Shazam Family is at its most fractured, DC shows just how important it has become. The issue, the second of four, is on sale now in print and digital.
In the 1940s, during comics’ Golden Age, Shazam (then called Captain Marvel and published by Fawcett Comics) pioneered the concept of a “superhero family,” introducing Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., the Lieutenant Marvels, Uncle Dudley, Tawky Tawny and others; this would be years before other publishers latched on to the idea. When Shazam’s history was rewritten during the New 52 era, a new Shazam Family was introduced, consisting of stalwarts Mary and Freddy (who had been Captain Marvel Jr.’s alter-ego) alongside new characters Eugene, Darla and Pedro–Shazam’s foster siblings. This new Shazam Family functioned like a well oiled machine, protecting Philadelphia from all manners of threats, but these bonds have been strained in recent years, as Billy is currently exiled to Hell–which has left all but Mary with powers. The New Champion of Shazam! has chronicled Mary’s struggles to hold her family together, and she has not had an easy time of it–and readers can see just how bad it has become in issue two.
Mary has left home to attend Vassar College; however, not long after term starts her foster parents disappear, necessitating her return to Philadelphia. Opting to enroll at a local community college and transfer back when the dust settles, Mary returns to her house to help take care of Freddy, Eugene, Darla and Pedro. While Darla is in her usual good spirits, Pedro is not, expressing resentment over Billy leaving them behind. Freddy, also glad to see Mary, informs her that Eugene is off at his “special smart kid college classes.” Mary then goes to campus, where she catches Eugene between classes. Surprised to see that Eugene has become a big man on campus, she attempts to talk to him, but he does not seem interested. Eugene lays bare the state of the family, telling Mary how things have truly been since she’s left. Before going to his next class, Eugene tells her “Billy gave you the powers, not us, right? That’s all I need to know.” The issue is written by Josie Campbell, illustrated by Doc Shaner and lettered by Becca Carey.
The issue makes it clear: without their powers, the Shazam Family has fallen apart–and without her super-powered siblings, Mary is having a difficult time being the sole Champion, proving that Shazam has become a team, and not just a singular hero. Even with superpowers, Mary is struggling to discover the fate of her foster parents. If Mary had her super-powered siblings to assist, she might stand a greater chance of locating her parents. Each member of the Shazam Family brings something to the table: Eugene’s smarts, Darla’s optimism and Pedro’s strength, for example. Without Eugene, Darla and the rest of the Shazam Family, Mary must rely on the enchanted rabbit Hoppy to help her on her quest, and she soon discovers he has limits. Mary must now fight harder than ever to find Billy and restore the Shazam Family to its rightful glory.
As stated earlier, the character was one of the first superhero to embrace the concept of a “family,” and The New Champion of Shazam! #2 shows the evolution of the concept, as Shazam becomes more of a team than a singular hero.
The New Champion of Shazam! #2 is available now from Marvel Comics.