How I’d Change: Shazam!

I’m probably never going to run DC Comics, and while I’ll never stop trying to replace the likes of Brian Michael Bendis, for now this is what I’m resigned to.  So this series is about what I’d do if I had carte-blanche to change existing characters and guide them into a new direction.

So we’re starting with Shazam!  No, not the film, just so we’re clear.  I have no doubts that the film will be fantastic.  I’m a big Zachary Levi fan and I can see myself being big into this role.

No, I mean specifically the comics.  How would I change the mythos of the character, the side-characters and all that jazz.

Firstly, the name and how he summons his powers.  Whenever he says his name, he gets struck by lighting.  If he’s a magical being, shouldn’t he have the ability to dictate when and where he summons the magical powers of the Wizard?  So we’re going to go with intent.  He has to want the powers to strike him . It’s either that or we give him ANOTHER name change.  Something tells me Captain Proton is already taken.  How about Captain Marv……wait, copyright issues.

The second thing I hate, and I mean HATE, is the Shazam Family.  They’re all the same characters.  Literally.  Minor personality trait differences but they’re all just lesser versions of Billy Batson’s alter-ego.  Now, I like what they could do and be, but I want to shift the focus on what types of powers they have.

So instead of making them carbon copies, why not give them one unique treat of the SHAZAM moniker that they can have exclusively for themselves.  We can even reuse some other character designs to help sell it.  Like the Earth-2 Flash, Jason Garrick.  Instead of having to have such a crappy character, why not kill him off and repurpose the helmet?  All five of the other SHAZAM characters should have Greek designs implemented into their power.

So firstly, the five other kids are Pedro Pena, Freddie Freeman, Darla Dudley, Eugene Choi, and Mary Bromfield.  They also have a cat named Tawny.   So we’re clear, each character will summon their own powers by summoning their specific Greek deity.

So we’re starting with the first S for Solomon, which is for wisdom.  That goes to Tawny.  Yup.  Following in the creatures long and bountiful line of asshole relatives like Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Amanojaku from Ghost Stories; we’re giving the Shazam Six (better name, alteration always works) a fucking talking cat.  He’ll be a giant dick to them, spouting spiciest bullshit, like how if cats had the powers of the Shazam Six, there’d be no problems in the world.  Though, he’d be completely hilarious and insightful.   Each member will have the Shazam symbol somewhere on their body after transforming.  First, Tawny’s will be a pattern down his back, and will be predominantly brown.

For the H, which is the strength of Hercules, that goes to Perdo.  Mostly because his adult-form looks just like him.  He’s big, burly and has a beard.  That’s how Hercules is constantly depicted.  Take the cape off, remove the sleeves, and give him some kind of steel straps running up and down his sides, and boom.  Pedro will also be the quietest of the group, not afraid, but aware that he has the strength to rival Superman and Shazam.  For Pedro’s Shazam symbol, it’ll be as gauntlets on his arms.  His primary color will be green.

For the A, which is Atlas’ Stamina, we’re going with Eugene Choi.  His ability will be hyper-endurance.  Meaning he basically has Superman and Shazam’s durability.  He’ll be more of a daredevil of sorts.  Jumping off buildings into pools, skateboarding off high ramps, jumping into shark tanks.  You know, the dumb kid-shit.  I’m not too sure what he’ll look like as a hero, though I think having a classic Greek toga would work to a degree.  Like something that flows like an old Spartan warrior look.  With the weird garter belt attached to little flaps.  That thing.  Choi’s Shazam symbol will be on each of those little flappy things.  His primary color will remain grey.

For the powers of Zeus, which is obviously the Z, we go to Mary.  We’re going blunt, and obvious; electric powers.  She can throw lighting bolts like Zeus could, allegedly.  She’ll have a more classic robe, similar to women in ancient Greece.  However, she’ll also have a gold fauna in her hair like ancient royalty back int he day, and her Shazam symbol will be a broach on her shoulder.  She gets the biggest switch from her original color design, switching from red to white, like she used to have.

For the courage of Achilles, the A, we go with Darla.  Her power will allow others and herself to overcome their fears that they have as mortals, but only if she’s in close proximity to them.  She’ll also have an understanding and minor ability to to use magic.  She’ll have a similar look to Choi, but with a Spartan helmet like the legendary Achilles once had.  Her Shazam symbol will reside on the sides of her helmet.

And that means the M for Mercury goes to Freddie.  Freddie will gain the speed of Mercury, with a similar look to Jason Garrick of the former Earth-2.  He’ll have a sporty bike helmet looking headgear.  Though, it’ll have the wings of Mercury on each side just like Jay Garrick has.  He’ll also have wings on his feet, which if he runs fast enough allow him to sprint into the air, but not actually fly.  He’ll be faster than most but not as fast as The Flash, and the speed force users, or guys like Superman.  He’ll wear blue, and will be the only other member of the Shazam Six to have the Shazam symbol on his chest.

All of the family members though will have different hero names.  Billy will still be Shazam, though but everyone else takes the name of their respective Greek-legend.  Mary becomes Lady Zeus, Pedro becomes Hercules, Eugene becomes Atlas, Darla becomes Lady Achilles, and Freddy becomes Mercury.  Tawny remains Tawny though demands everyone call him Solomon.  No one does though, and he hates it.

The big difference here is that when each of the others call upon their powers, that reduces Shazam’s efficiency.  So if all six of the others have summoned their powers, Billy’s own powers are severely limited.  He’ll go from being as strong as Superman to half that.  On the inverse, if he borrows their powers, he can magnify his own abilities, though his body can’t take the load and stress for long and the powers will return to their original hosts after a matter of minutes (fifty two minutes, cus get it!?)

Black Adam will both be a mentor and a villain at times.  He’ll not be necessarily evil, as he wants truth, justice and all that.  However, he’ll be more open to killing and will have less scruples about crossing certain lines to protect people.  He’ll also put his home region over the welfare of anywhere else.  That being said, he’ll constantly want to train Shazam and the rest of the family, seeing them as his relatives and wanting to be around them.

Doctor Sivana will become obsessed with reduplicating the powers of the Shazam Six, and that will allow him to create interesting and unique monsters of the past.  Creatures like the minotaur, banshees, centaurs and others will become big recurring villains.

The Seven Deadly Sins become less cartoonish and far more monstrous.  They’ll take human form as they’ll be summoned by humans.  Each human that allows them to be possessed by a Sin takes a specific physical trait from the sin. They’ll be the reason why Black Adam joins up with the Shazam Six at times, as they’ll want to kill him as well as the Wizard Shazam and his brood.

The Wizard is no longer a physical entity at this point, due to *pick your reason*.   He’ll serve as Billy’s magical guardian, communicating with him when he’s Billy, but no longer able to talk to him as Shazam.

The biggest change however will come with the relationships between Shazam and his friends.  Eventually his uncle Dudley comes and adopts Billy.  Dudley will have been away working as a trucker in Canada and never knew he had a nephew, as he had fallen out with Billy’s parents. His parents would of passed away only a year or two prior to garnering the powers, and before they died, they got in touch with Dudley about reconnecting.  Dudley returns to town and found out his family had died because *insert personal choice here*.  When he finds out he has a nephew, he does everything he can to make it up to Billy for not being around.  He still retains his job as an over the road trucker, and spends days away at times from Billy; which sees Billy spend the night on occasion with his former Foster Parents, The Vazquez’ whom he has a good relationship with (now).

This is done for several reasons, firstly it’s done to allow Billy and Mary to have a thing for one another without it being weird.  The other is that it begins to breed resentment with Freddie and Billy.  Freddie will resent Billy at times for the fact he has a living uncle, and has all the powers of the group, but amplified.  On one occasion, when Freddie is feeling the worst mostly because of his crippled legs, Billy summons the powers of the other six to help divert a catastrophe.

The other five, Tawny included, give up their powers willingly, but Freddie refuses at first.  Citing his desire to want to help as well.  Eventually Billy reveals he doesn’t need Freddie to give him the powers, and that he can jut take them at will; but doens’t like to do it.  This angers Freddie and he’s left in his crippled state as Billy goes off to save the day once again.

This causes Freddie to grow closer with Black Adam, who offers him the ability to become his protege, free of Billy’s influence and ‘troublesome behavior’.  He offers Freddie the chance to become Set, the Antagonist God.  Much like with Billy, Black Adam has the ability to bestow the powers of Egyptian Gods on others.  Due to Adam’s knowledge of the mystic realm, he’s able to grant people these powers without drawing from his own.  That means Freddie will never have to relinquish his powers ever again.

The offer splits the Shazam Six (should be seven, technically, but Tawny rarely ever fights), and Freddie and Billy eventually get into it, prompting Black Adam to get involved.

For the rest of the series, Freddie will grow and change.  Developing new abilities, healing his body, and becoming a darker and more aggressive character.  Eventually things will come to a head, and that’s before we get involved with Sivana, his monsters and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Eventually a new member of the family will be introduced, taking Freddie’s spot, and the Black Adam Brigade (sounds so much better than family, no?) will recruit more lost souls to become the bearers of the next wave of Egyptian Gods.

So that’s how I’d change the Shazam story.  The idea of having Freddie and Billy as rivals, but still care for one another is a unique idea that hasn’t been explored that I know of.  With Freddie’s limitation with his legs, the sense of conflict that brings and Black Adam’s charismatic tone, it makes sense that Freddie wouldn’t want to be in anyone’s shadow.  The chance to become ‘normal’ and have working legs will also be a big deciding factor, causing him to go ‘dark-side’.

That’s how I’d set the series up going forward.  Maybe I can get this made one day, but who knows.  Let me know what you think.