DC Comics is rolling out a new Shazam title in June 2023. This is all part of the Dawn of DC initiative. I have always loved Billy Batson, so I was glad that DC Comics would be investing some capital into the Big Red Cheese. However, the news of the creative team of Mark Waid and Dan Mora is what really blew me away! That was some stunning news! This powerhouse creative team tells me that DC Comics is not screwing around with this latest effort to resuscitate the moribund Shazam franchise.
Poor Billy Batson has never found his proper place within the DCU ever since DC Comics got the rights to the character in 1972. I am sure that the branding problems with Shazam have definitely not helped any during all of these decades.
Fawcett stopped publishing Captain Marvel comics in 1953. This allowed Marvel Comics to scoop up the trademark for Captain Marvel for their new superhero that debuted in 1967. Marvel Comics still owns the trademark to Captain Marvel.
Trademarks last as long as the owner continues to use them. The owner must continue to use the trademark in ordinary commerce. Every ten years the owner will need to provide proof of usage and a declaration as a part of the trademark renewal process. This is one big reason that despite Carol Danvers never selling well that there will always be a Captain Marvel comic. Marvel Comics needs to keep that trademark alive.
This is also why DC Comics has been forced to publish Captain Marvel comics under the Shazam title ever since DC Comics acquired the character in 1972. It is unlikely that Marvel Comics is ever going to give DC Comics the opportunity to grab back the trademark to Captain Marvel.
So, with all of that in mind, the new Captain Marvel comic will be entitled Shazam, but Billy Batson will not go by the name Shazam. Nor will Billy Batson go by the name Captain Marvel. Instead, Billy will now be known as…The Captain.
I am not sure how I feel about this name. But, at this point, I am also unsure what else DC Comics can do. Calling Billy “Shazam” has always seemed like an odd proposition. Shazam is the magic word Billy uses to transform into a superhero. Shazam is also the name for the wizard who grants the powers to Billy. So, I have never warmed up to Billy Batson operating under the codename “Shazam.”
While I would prefer Billy to just keep using Captain Marvel we all know that DC Comics is never going to give one of its characters the same name as a Marvel Comics character. It comes off like free advertising for Marvel’s Captain Marvel which is more widely known thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So, this is what leads us to the new name in The Captain. Yeah, this new codename feels like awkward fence-straddling. The Captain also feels super generic. It is like the Washington Commanders rebrand for Billy Batson. However, I am not sure that DC Comics really has too many better options at the moment.
At any rate, I love Shazam. And there is no denying that Mark Waid has had an amazing and storied comic book career over multiple decades. Also, Dan Mora is an insanely talented artist who is a perfect match for a Shazam title. All of this makes me incredibly excited about this new Shazam title. However, I was really won over once I listened to this Mark Waid interview on the Comics Cube YouTube channel. During the interview, Waid delivered this paragraph when explaining what his Shazam title is going to be about.
“Billy Batson is back as the champion in the action-comedy comic about a boy with powers that rival Superman’s and a whole lot of growing up left to do. We’ll see Shazam hanging out at the Rock of Eternity, his secret clubhouse that can travel through space and time, as well as punching dinosaurs in the face, seeing how long he can hold his breath on the moon, and getting into wild and fun adventures with his tiger, Tawky Tawny, by his side.”
What?! Are you kidding me?! If that quote does not get you all pumped up and excited for this new Shazam title then you just hate the superhero genre all together! This sounds incredible! This is exactly what I want to get from a Shazam comic book!
Rokk’s Excitement Level:10 Night Girls out of 10. I am a longtime Captain Marvel fan. Add to that the fact that I Ioved Mark Waid back when he was in his prime and I love Dan Mora’s artwork. All of this adds up to Shazam being a title that I am beyond excited to read. I have high hopes for this new Shazam title!
Rokk’s Prediction: This is a tough one. My heart is telling me one thing, but my head is telling me something else. Mark Waid used to be a consistent seller back in the day. However, Waid’s popularity has dipped and many of his Marvel Comics titles over the past eight years sold rather poorly.
However, Waid and Mora have been totally killing it with Batman/Superman World’s Finest! No doubt about it. Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #1 debuted at the number 3 spot in the sales rankings. Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #2-#11 have averaged the number 28 spot in the sales rankings.
To be fair, Waid and Mora are dealing with the two most iconic superheroes of all time in their World’s Finest title. With Shazam, Waid and Mora will have a character that has struggled to have a clear identity and mission statement ever since DC Comics got Captain Marvel back in 1972. So, I am not expecting Waid and Mora to hit the same sales rankings with a Shazam title that they do with a title that stars Batman and Superman.
The last Shazam title was back in 2019-2020. The creative team was another powerhouse team consisting of Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham. Shazam #1 debuted at the number 10 spot and sold 66,950 units. Shazam #2-#11 averaged the number 57 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 32,280 units per issue.
Mark Waid/Dan Mora is a stellar combination, but they are not quite on the same level as the all-star team of Geoff Johns/Dale Eaglesham. And Johns and Eaglesham could not make Shazam a Top 50 title with each issue. So, I am not expecting Waid and Mora to pull that off with the new Shazam title.
I predict that Shazam #1 will come in hot and debut in the Top 25. I do think that Shazam will stay in the Top 50 for the first five issues. It is after that point that I am unsure. If Waid and Mora kill it then there is a chance that Shazam settles into the 50-60 range in the sales charts after the fifth issue. However, I could also see Shazam not being quite that much of a hit and settling into the 75-100 range after the fifth issue.
Conclusion: I want to be bullish on the sales success of Shazam. I do think that the creative team of Waid and Mora is a grand slam. However, Billy Batson has always struggled in the sales charts. And DC Comics has never had a consistent vision for Billy’s character or his place within the DCU. If Waid can finally create the definitive version of Shazam and create a long-term and organic role for Shazam within the DCU then DC Comics may finally have a Shazam title that experiences true sustained sales success.
But, in the end, I am unsure if there is a big enough audience out there who like Shazam and will be willing to support this title on a monthly basis. So, I am hoping for the best, but I am prepared for Shazam to not receive big reader support.