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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 11:25am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

The new SHAZAM film opened this week, and it portrays the character as a child in a man's body, with superpowers. Basically,  it's a superhero makeover of the Tom Hanks film BIG.

Even in the comics it seems writers can't decide if the character once known as the original Captain Marvel is supposed to be a child in adult form, or a child who changes into an adult. But for the camp that thinks it's the former, where does the wisdom of Solomon fit in? His powers are derived from the gods, and the "S" in "Shazam" stands for "Solomon," so why would Captain Marvel ever act childish? Is the wisdom something he has to concentrate on in order to access it?

Thoughts?


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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 11:55am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

You stole my comment! :D

Even in the comics, the Wisdom of Solomon is never handled consistently.

If we wanted to be literal about the Wisdom of Solomon, reading the bible verses concerning that, Solomon was asking God for the ability to judge right and wrong. So I guess one can argue that Captain Marvel's power is the ability to discern right from wrong, but he'd still have the choice to act on that or not. Much like Solomon chose not to act on his wisdom when it came to the ladies.

Black Adam's wisdom was derived from Zehuti/Thoth, which was a more general god of wisdom/knowledge, so I guess you can also argue that the Shazam wisdom power was more than just moral judgment (or perhaps it's the difference between Captain Marvel and Black Adam).

In conclusion, I don't know.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 12:27pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Cap was an “innocent abroad”, but not a child.

I’ve been wondering, tho, since they changed him to “Shazam”, is he now trapped in the old Captain Marvel Jr problem, where he can’t say his own name?

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James Johnson
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 12:45pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Cap was an “innocent abroad”, but not a child. I’ve been wondering, tho, since they changed him to “Shazam”, is he now trapped in the old Captain Marvel Jr problem, where he can’t say his own name?

===============================================

LOL!

Did DC editors ever think this through?
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Paul Gibney
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 1:06pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

As I understand it, he has to actually want to change when he says Shazam!, so, no. Too bad; it was a charming bit for Junior. Charming is not in the current lexicon, I guess.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 1:09pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

How many Billy Batsons does it take to change into Shazam?

Only one, but he has to WANT to change.

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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 1:28pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

 Micheal Roberts wrote:
...You stole my comment! :D ...

WHOOPS! It was one of those "two minds thinking alike" things, I promise. :-)


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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 8:49pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I assume that, post-CRISIS, DC wanted to differentiate Capt. Marvel from Superman more than he had been, and I think the Keith Giffen crowd thought it would be funny if the big strong guy had the mind of a kid.

I've read the ALTER EGO articles that talked about all the SHAZAM proposals that were rejected, and I think I would have preferred any of them to what was ultimately done.  The Roy Thomas/Tom Mandrake mini-series was a hit and should have gone to series but fell through the cracks somehow.

So, to answer the question--the Wisdom of Solomon DOESN'T fit with childish actions and mistakes.  The question is: Is it a good trade-off?  In a shared universe (comic book or cinematic), it probably works.  Ideally though, I'd prefer if the character headed his own comic company and universe and, then, I don't think that's the way a smart editor and creative team would go.
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Eric Smearman
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Posted: 04 April 2019 at 11:57pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I just saw the movie and every time Billy/Shazam says the name, he
changes whether he intends to or not. I think that’s also the case on the
animated JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION show. I’m not sure what the
current status quo in the comics is.
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Andy Mokler
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Posted: 05 April 2019 at 12:16am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I imagine Captain Marvel's lack of familiarity but heightened wisdom to be akin to Schwarzenegger's character in Twins. 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 05 April 2019 at 12:40am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The idea that Billy and Cap were one and the same and referred to themselves as one person started in the 1987 Roy Thomas mini-series, in which the wizard Shazam briefly recalls the original Marvel Family before saying that he must put such memories out of his mind forever, for that way lies madness. 

I think the concept of the "little kid in an adult body" is awful within a shared universe or otherwise. Kids do not move, speak, or think like adults. Every villain he encounters should tumble to his "secret" pretty quickly and take advantage of it at every turn. At the very least, he would be regarded as "differently abled."

The "wisdom of Solomon" is not going to compensate for a kid's lack of grace, awareness, or experience. He may be able to weigh complicated decisions and come to wise conclusions regarding the means by which to proceed, but that's not the same thing as behaving as an adult. If fact, based on my experiences in the adult world, that ability occurs infrequently at best.

Going ahead with a Captain Marvel feature in which the lead character no longer appears holds no appeal for me. Billy Batson comics starring the great Billy Batson in disguise as Billy Batson may be your idea of a good time, but it is not mine, especially now that Billy is no longer a decent kid but rather more of a punk with a chip on his shoulder.

Much like Foglio's Plastic Man, who hallucinated a Jack Cole-style reality because of his exposure to "acid," the Billy-as-Cap character is a one-note joke run amuck. Unfortunately, that qualifies as a "concept" in this imaginatively-bereft age of comics.


Edited by Brian Hague on 05 April 2019 at 12:41am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 April 2019 at 5:41am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

...I'd prefer if the character headed his own comic company and universe and, then, I don't think that's the way a smart editor and creative team would go.

•••

Some of you may recall that I almost did Captain Marvel. One of my up-front conditions, tho, was that he be “separate” from the DCU. The Powers That Were agreed to this, and I started work. Then they said “Oh, by the way, he has to be in the Justice League.”

sigh

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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 05 April 2019 at 8:24am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

JB, I believe the period you were working on the project,  DC was not yet doing stories set outside of current continuity,  but had Elseworlds been an option at that point,  would that had been acceptable to you?

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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 April 2019 at 9:19am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I believe the period you were working on the project, DC was not yet doing stories set outside of current continuity…

••

DKR, WATCHMEN. . . . .

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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 05 April 2019 at 11:59am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Perhaps ironically, there's now an "Earth-Five" where traditional versions of the Marvel Family and their friends and adversaries live.

Not that DC is doing much of anything with them, of course.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 April 2019 at 1:05pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Perhaps ironically, there's now an "Earth-Five" where traditional versions of the Marvel Family and their friends and adversaries live.

••

Ironically? Sounds like SOP for DC. They seem almost always to have "traditional" versions of their characters everywhere. Usually in trade paperbacks released just before some massive shake-up.

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Rick Whiting
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Posted: 05 April 2019 at 10:39pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

The new SHAZAM film opened this week, and it portrays the character as a child in a man's body, with superpowers. Basically, it's a superhero makeover of the Tom Hanks film BIG.

Even in the comics it seems writers can't decide if the character once known as the original Captain Marvel is supposed to be a child in adult form, or a child who changes into an adult. But for the camp that thinks it's the former, where does the wisdom of Solomon fit in? His powers are derived from the gods, and the "S" in "Shazam" stands for "Solomon," so why would Captain Marvel ever act childish? Is the wisdom something he has to concentrate on in order to access it?

Thoughts?

____________________________________


What is currently happening to Captain Marvel/SHAZAM in the current comics and in the current movie is why some fans shouldn't become pros.
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 06 April 2019 at 9:09am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Earth-5... because a 5 looks like an S, the original designation for the Fawcett heroes' world, Earth-S?

Discussing Solomon and is wisdom... is this any different than the "power" of Zeus? It's pretty obvious that Captain Marvel was created to be a counterpoint to Superman (their name is Legion) and Shazam sounded good, was memorable, and needed to be a nifty abbreviation.

Really, the powers for the World's Mightiest Mortal are strength (Hercules or Atlas), speed (Mercury), and invulnerability (Achilles.) The others had to supply something - wisdom, stamina, and power - but I don't think there is supposed to be a direct correlation to Cap's abilities.

I think wisdom is just a way for Captain Marvel to make the right decisions without blatantly saying, "Hey, the writer knows what's supposed to happen, so we ascribe it in the story to his wisdom." Obviously this was never outright stated... but it DOES make a nice explanation of knowledge in context without it being impossible for Cap to know it, doesn't it?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 April 2019 at 9:13am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

I've long thought the "power" of Zeus might be encapsulated in the transformation. The King of Olympus had a fondness for changing his physical form.
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Brandon Frye
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Posted: 06 April 2019 at 10:32am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

I was always under the impression that Billy and Captain Marvel were two separate entities that shared the same memories rather than one being that had two different forms. 


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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 April 2019 at 11:33am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Confusion arise from Mary Marvel seeming very much to be a “grown up” version of Mary Batson—tho not as grown up as Cap. And then there’s Freddie, whose lame leg is cured when he becomes Captain Marvel Jr, but who seems otherwise unchanged. Likewise the three Lieutenant Marvels.

And do not even get me started on Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny!!

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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 06 April 2019 at 11:56am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Earth-5... because a 5 looks like an S, the original designation for the Fawcett heroes' world, Earth-S?

***

Yup.

I think it's clear that Shazam is based on Captain Marvel but is a different character. Johns is doing what he thinks will make the character popular. I don't like it, but I don't blame him. It's not as him he hadn't worked with the older DC version of the character in JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA and 52.
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Paul Reis
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Posted: 07 April 2019 at 11:18am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

i always felt that the Roy Thomas/Gil Kane version of Captain Marvel handled the transformation between civilian and superhero quite well (other differences aside) while respectfully updating the original idea.

(yes, i know we are talking about entirely different characters, and different companies, but this discussion centers around the transformation of Billy Batson to/from Captain Marvel. i just feel what Marvel did was a good reboot. it was all DC's fault, i believe, by letting the copyright 'run out' and allowing Marvel to step in, forcing themselves to rename their own character: Shazam when they were finally ready to do something with the 'Captain Marvel'
 property)


Edited by Paul Reis on 07 April 2019 at 11:36am
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 07 April 2019 at 11:51am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

The only version of Captain Marvel that Johns ever worked with was the post-Legends "naif-in-a-man's-body." And for most of his time with him, he presented the character in a blood-soaked, hyper-violent world filled with dismemberment, death, and horrible things being done to his now-overtly-sexualized sister.

Thomas's Mar-Vell update was a fun nod to the original Captain Marvel, but it also introduced the fannishly overthought idea that Billy goes someplace else when Cap shows up. The same sort of over-thinking would later give us Alan Moore's concept of "Q-Space," where everyone's civilian form hangs about floating in space waiting to called back. 

DC was not at fault for failing to guard the Captain Marvel copyright. It wasn't theirs to protect. Fawcett's owners still held the rights to character following their decision to stop publication and did not defend those rights going forward. This allowed for cheesier takes on the name and concept such as Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer and the "Split! Xam!" version, just prior to Marvel's swooping in and gobbling up the name for its own purposes.

DC licensed the character and many others from their original owners in the 70's. It did not own them. It only purchased them outright in recent years. 


Edited by Brian Hague on 07 April 2019 at 12:33pm
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Marc Foxx
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Posted: 08 April 2019 at 11:46am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

And, really, since Fawcett had been sued (successfully) by National (DC) and forced to cease publication of the Captain Marvel characters, they probably had little incentive in keeping the copyright active...
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