I promised @benito-cereno​ that I’d write this a while ago, but it fell by the wayside until now. So, Benny, ::finger guns:: here’s one for you …

Who is Captain Marvel?

This is one of the questions which pretty much every writer who has handled the original Captain Marvel over the last thirty-five years has tackled in one way or another. Are Billy and Cap the same person, transformed through magic? Are they different people who trade places with the utterance of a magic word? Or are they something else?

The original Golden Age adventures seem to make it pretty clear that Billy and Cap were separate people. They often refer to each other in the third person; Cap will say something like “Now that Billy is safe …” and Billy will say “I better call Captain Marvel” before bellowing his magic word, for example.

Then again, lots of comic book superheroes refer to their alter-ego in the third person. Superman and Clark Kent will often refer to each other as distinct persons, as will Batman and Bruce Wayne,  Spider-Man and Peter Parker, and so on – and we know that those aren’t two distinct entities. It’s just a device for the reader’s benefit.

And the words “transformed” and “changed” are frequently used to describe the effects of Shazam’s magic lightning – terms which seem to imply a single individual altering his material condition, but which also might just be short-hand for the effects of the magic word. So there’s evidence on both sides.

Personally, I find that a lot of the charm of these Golden Age superhero comics is how closely they hew to the internal, magical logic of fairy tales. I personally don’t think you need to make a distinction between Cap and Billy being the same person or Cap and Billy merely switching places – it can be both.

Before I go any further, let me offer a few caveats. First off, none of my conclusions from here on out are strictly canon or in continuity. As far as I know, it may directly contradict canon, for whatever that’s worth. This is a personal interpretation, it works for me, and it’s no threat to anything anyone else has written, assumed or chosen to believe. Please feel free to have your own interpretation, which you should – everyone should. There should be as many interpretations of a popular character as there are people who have connected with that character. That’s rather the individual magic of storytelling  ::and with those magic words, a cloud of Neil Gaimans appears::.

Additionally, my extrapolation refers exclusively to the original, Fawcett-published Captain Marvel and his adventures. I know that recent writers who’ve tackled the character under the DC banner have addressed some of these questions and characters – very expertly, in some cases – but they’re not much in my mind when I think of the source material.

(That’s on accounta I believe that characters in later incarnations are different characters from the source material. How is a character with a different origin, personality, costume, supporting cast, publisher and creators meant to be the same character as the original, particularly when the current adventures are taking place almost four generations later than the debut stories? And in new media, at that? Even Morrison/Quitely’s and Parker/Shaner’s tonally spot-on homages strike me as new incarnations rather than continuations of the original characters, but your mileage might vary and I digress …)

What We Talk About When We Talk About Shazam

So the thing about Billy and Cap is that they’re unique in Marvel Family lore – no one else has a Captain Marvel as their alter-ego.

Mary Batson becomes Mary Marvel, not significantly different from her civilian self, but gifted with super-powers. Freddy Freeman becomes Captain Marvel Jr, the same fella he was before but bereft of his crippling injuries and gifted with super-powers. Even Cap’s immediate predecessor as the wizard’s champion, the villainous Black Adam, only ever became a super-powered version of himself. None of them ever became a distinctly, visibly different person.

The only members of the Marvel Family who experience a distinct physical change such as Cap’s are the Lieutenant Marvels – three boys born on the same day as Billy Batson and also named Billy Batson, all of whom acquired the power of Shazam through what amounts to a bureaucratic oversight. The Lieutenants transform into what are clearly the adult forms of their real selves, although I don’t recall them ever referring to the pre- and post-Shazam forms as distinct people. So there’s a pivotal distinction.

It is worth mentioning that Billy and Cap resemble each other to the degree that you might assume that Cap is, at least, an idealized image of what Billy might look like as an adult. As it is, they look so similar that they could be brothers – much like the Lieutenants, but with the added element of at least occasionally seeming to be different people.

It’s fairly evident that Cap and Billy share a relationship which is unique among the other assorted members of the Marvel Family – and that it persists no matter the incarnation of Billy and Cap.

One of my favorite old Captain Marvel stories involves Billy and Cap travelling a thousand years into the future and meeting their direct (and identical) descendants  – BilBat and CapMarv (In the future, you see, society moves so quickly that we speak exclusively in abbreviations, which is obvs p.ludicrous lol). 

Like their contemporary counterparts, the 30th century World’s Mightiest Mortal and his juvenile alter ego resemble one another and speak of one another as separate people, but are also “transformed” and “changed” by the magic lightning.

As long as it’s Billy and Cap, whatever the incarnation, there’s something different about Billy’s relationship with the power of Shazam … but what is it?

Now who is this guy?

One figure which has remained shrouded in mystery throughout the golden age run of the Marvel Family books is the shadowy figure which lures Billy into the magic subway car, depositing the boy in the hall of the mighty wizard.

Obviously, this figure is some entity, shade or spirit in the service of Shazam, but who? And why? He goes as far as to accompany Billy to the immediate presence of the Wizard before he unceremoniously disappears between panels, effectively vanishing forever without further explanation.

Personally, I think the shadowy figure is Captain Marvel. This is what Captain Marvel is without Billy’s imagination and courageous spirit to give him form and direction, without Billy’s wit to give him a personality, and without Billy’s presence to give him a likeness. The shadowy figure is some immaterial revenant in the service of the Wizard, embodying the contract and the power Shazam has wrangled from six great heroes and gods of history, just waiting to be put into service.

There’s only one of these shadowy figures (that we’ve ever seen), so only Billy – Shazam’s current champion – gets him. Everyone else gets what Teth-Adam had, powers and vitality in their existing form. The Lieutenants, by the aforementioned bureaucratic error, get the cosmetic appearance of Cap’s unique form, but not the specifics.

So Cap and Billy are different people, and are transformed back and forth as well. Fairy tale logic, works just fine to my mind.

But who is Captain Marvel?

I have another favorite story from the era, The Son of Shazam. A clever magician uses stage magic to convince Captain Marvel that he is “Shazam Jr,” and orders the World’s Mightiest Mortal to go about on all sorts of money-making errands for him. At one point, Cap – riddled with suspicion over the atypically greedy antics of the alleged offspring of his kind and generous master – flies to the Rock of Eternity. There, he asks the old Wizard if Shazam has a son, and Shazam replies that he does. Cap flies off before hearing the full reply.

In the final panel of the story, the spirit of the Wizard clarifies the information – “You are my son, Captain Marvel!”

Now, obviously, this was meant to be read as an expression of paternal affection. Or … could Captain Marvel – which is to say, the shadowy figure which served Shazam, the formless shade who brought Billy to the Wizard and then was transformed himself into Captain Marvel – actually be the old Wizard’s immediate offspring? Was Shazam speaking literally?

I like to imagine this version of the story (even though this particular element is assembled from whole cloth) because it has a mythological and fairy tale feel to it. Shazam has a son, a brave and noble son who serves his father faithfully. His son is, at some point, killed – by treachery? In defense of right? In some sort of noble sacrifice? It’ll be good, whatever it was – and the powerful wizard is left with only his memories.

So Shazam descends to the afterlife to see his son one last time – possibly to rescue him from eternity. He meets, on his journeys, six gods and heroes of legend. He bargains with each of these mighty figures for some boon to give his son back the qualities he possessed in life; great courage, great stamina, fleetness and strength, wisdom and righteous power.  

But, even though he acquires these boons, he neglects to secure the return of his son’s physical body. It never occurs to him, or he fails a vital challenge, or perhaps the acquisition of a new physical form is the greatest of the Wizard’s seven labors, and takes centuries.

In the interim, his son attends to him only as a phantom, a shadow of his former self. This leads Shazam on a quest covering millennia in hopes of finding a new champion who embodies all the virtues needed to give his son life once again.

And then, with one magic word, there’s Billy Batson, and the rest is history.

So that’s my take on it, I find it a nice, neat, poignant little narrative which ties up a loose end or two. Your mileage, as I said earlier, is very much welcome to vary. Hope you liked it, Benito ::kisses fingers, points them to heaven:: you’re partying with the angels now, dude!

(PS Benito is not dead).

I think the biggest thing that pisses me off about straight people is that some of them truly believe LGBT people didn’t exist before it was “mainstream and cool”.

They actually believe that you can’t be gay, trans, Bi, or any of the other orientations if you lived in any time before 2010 or even 1980.

It just adds onto their moronic idea that it’s a choice and that LGBT people don’t identify as straight because they wanna be “cool and relevant”

JIB 7 - Jensen & Misha Panel - Part 1 - Before the questions
Jensen and Misha panel at Jus In Bello 7 on Sunday May 22nd 2016

J: “How–  by the way uhmm, sore? At all?
M: “Sore?”
J: “Sore.”
M: “Am I sore?”
J: “Sore.”
M: “Well, after my panel with Jared, yeah.”
*audience cheers
M: “I’m sorry, you were talking about the bike riding.”
J: “No no, I was actually talking about what just happened.” *points at backstage and grins 
*Misha ignores and quickly proceeds to talk about the mishalecki panel and the bicycling instead 

Why is no one talking about Jensen’s response!?! What is he refering to?

ANBU Legacy Gets a Certified Medic

Mega congratulations to our own @saunterleftside, who has spent the last several months taking an EMT course. He passed the class with flying colors, passed his national exam last night, and he is CERTIFIED as an EMT!

Although we will continue to attempt a policy of not breaking ourselves *ahem. shifty eyes* (look, I said attempt) we are delighted to have someone on staff who can properly assess altered consciousness, manage profuse bleeding, bandage an impalement for transport, splint a fracture, immobilize someone to a backboard, and perform CPR.

But mostly we’re proud of him! Congratulations, DK!