Shazam! is a character that commands respect, as should anyone with an exclamation point in their proper name. The upcoming movie stars Zachary Levi as the iconic character in sizzling “shajamas.”
Shazam!, AKA Captain Marvel (though they don’t use that name lately because… you know!), has a backstory at D.C. Comics which will catch most modern comic fans by surprise. Originally the name SHAZAM was an acronym, standing for “Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury” – a combined coda of “immortal elders” all sampled from Greek Roman, and Abrahamic mythology. That’s a naming gimmick you don’t see every day. His muggle name is Billy Batson.
In the Golden Age of comics yore, Shazam was D.C. Comics’ best-selling titles of the 1940s, outselling, yes, Superman himself! He was also the very first superhero to be adapted from the pages of comic books to film – under his competitor’s namesake moniker, a serial film series called Adventures of Captain Marvel, first showing in 1941.
There was quite a bit of squabbling around Shazam’s ownership, in fact. Fawcett Comics was the first to publish the character, originally in Whiz Comics. D.C. (which originally stood for “Detective Comics”) sued for copyright claiming Shazam was a rip-off of Superman. The legal tug-of-war went through a round of appeals until Fawcett dropped Shazam and D.C. revived it starting in the 1960s.
It isn’t often we get a comic-to-film reboot that’s literally older than WWII. There was also a live-action TV series in the 1970s, and an animated TV adaptation by that great sausage factory of Saturday morning cartoons, Filmation. Shazam curiously seems to have fallen by the wayside these past few decades until now.
This New Line Cinema film version, releasing April 5th, feels like a fresh take on the superhero formula. Like Marvel’s Deadpool, Shazam is a character who’s not afraid to be taken less than seriously. Now maybe some fans aren’t on board with this approach, but quite a few of us are yearning for a breath of fresh air from the dark, deep, anti-hero, pitch-black egocentrism of the current trend in superhero movies. This fits, because Golden Age comics had a far different tone from modern dramatizations.
For the record, Shazam’s powers break down like this:
- Wisdom of Solomon
- Strength of Hercules
- Stamina of Atlas
- Power of Zeus
- Courage of Achilles
- Speed of Mercury
We don’t yet know exactly how that will translate into film just yet. At first he does sound a lot like Superman, but an important distinction is that Supes is invulnerable to almost anything; Shazam is not. Also Shazam brought in his whole family to join in the fun, able to bestow his powers in small doses upon his relatives. And by the way, Shazam, unlike some Kryptonians we could name, is a human from good old Earth.
Now that you’re caught up on at least an overview of Shazam’s history, you’re all set for the flick; and be sure to check out these collectible figures to get started on the Shazam wing of your superhero showcase.
Kotobukiya DC Comics New 52 Version Shazam ArtFX and Statue
- A Kotobukiya Japanese import
- Based on the "New 52" incarnation of the classic DC Comics character
- Sculpted by Atelier Bamboo
- Stands just under 8" H
- Features magnets embedded in his feet for extra stability on Shazam-themed base
This Japanese translation of Shazam is a solid figure standing just over eight inches tall. While it’s not based on the movie, it is a recent update on the character, showing him in more traditional Silver Age form.
Kotobukiya New 52 DC Comics Black Adam ArtFX Statue
- Stands 7.9 in tall in 1/10th scale
- Magnets have been embedded in his feet for extra stability on the display base
- Already impressive on his own, display him with Shazam to create a diorama
We should explain about Black Adam. He was originally an alternate-version type nemesis for Shazam, but has recently been recast as more of an anti-hero. Like Shazam, Adam was the former holder of these immense powers, but became corrupt. Black Adam is supposed to have his own movie in here somewhere or not, it’s complicated. Anyway, this is the statue figure counterpart to Shazam above.
Diamond Comic Distributors Shazam 13" Deluxe Collector Figure
- Created by C.C. Beck, the World's Mightiest Mortal debuted in 1940 and quickly became the best-selling comic book of the time outselling even Superman
- Latest addition to DC Direct's line of realistically proportioned, super-heroic 1:6 scale figures
- Comes clothed in an authentically detailed fabric costume, includes a display stand
- Comes packaged in a deluxe 4-color window box with a fifth panel
The dynamic packaging makes this an attractive prospect for never removing from the case, just to watch it spike in value. This is definitely Shazam in Golden Age form, lovingly reborn as a displayable figure.
Shazam! Vol. 1 (The New 52): From the Pages of Justice League
$15.29 in stock
3 used from $ 11.37
- DC Comics
For those of you who don’t follow comics publishing, the “New 52” was D.C. Comics’ sweeping reboot of their entire publishing line, front to back. Characters were rebooted, numbers reset, publishing policies changed – it was a shake-up. But it does enable you to say you have a copy of Shazam! Vol. 1, without that whole time-travel thing. (Seriously, you time-traveled back to the 1940s and didn’t kill Hitler, you just got a comic book?)
DC Collectibles Comics Justice League: Shazam Action Figure
- From DC Comics-The New 52 and the pages of Justice League
- Recreates Earth's Mightiest Mortal
- Based on the designs of comics superstar Gary Frank
- Stands 6.75" high
- Limited edition
This is the Justice League iteration of Shazam – there’s a lot to catch up on with a character nearly a century old, OK? This figure has a re-imagined costume with the Gary Frank version of Shazam’s bolt insignia and with a mysterious hood added to the cape. Poseable, too.
DC Collectibles DC Comics Icons: Black Adam Forever Evil Action Figure
$23.75 in stock
- Recreates Black Adam from Forever Evil
- Figure stands 6" tall
- Multiple accessories
- Exceptional detail
- Limited edition
We’re starting to warm up to Black Adam more. This is the Black Adam design from the recent Forever Evil crossover, and is he ever intimidating! What a cocky sneer! By the way, did we mention at one point Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was tapped to play Black Adam? It apparently didn’t go through as planned, but they’re planning on giving Rock his own Black Adam movie instead – stay tuned!