Thursday, 21 March 2019

SHAZAM Is Just The Magic Word!

Based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name, American Gods has returned to Starz for a second season.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
Starring Ian McShane as “Mr. Wednesday," the show tells the story of the old Gods (Odin, Belquis, Czernobog, Anansi, etc…) trying to find their place in a world which worships Technology, Media, and similar new Gods. If such an array of characters wasn’t eclectic enough, Gaiman throws a zombie, a six foot tall leprechaun, and an excon named Shadow into the mix for good measure.

Stir the pot and the result is an exciting, mind bending tale filled with violence, dark humor, and profoundly thought provoking ideas about why we believe what we believe.

Due to the use of graphic violence and adult language, this is not a show for the little ones. Yet, adults, who tune into Starz on Sunday nights, will find new episodes of an intelligent entertaining series.

SHAZAM Is Just The Magic Word!
The movie Captain Marvel opened on March 8th, and has been breaking box office records. SHAZAM opens in theatres on April 5th. Bizarrely, at least to us old farts, the two movies are about two completely different characters.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
When I was growing up, Billy Batson shouted SHAZAM (Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury) in order to transform into the world’s mightiest mortal Captain Marvel. Now SHAZAM is the name of the hero Billy Batson turns into, and Captain Marvel is a female heroin in a different universe. So, WTF happened ?

Fawcett Comics, the original publishers of Captain Marvel/SHAZAM comics, cancelled the title in the 1950s. In the 1960s, Marvel Comics trademarked the name Captain Marvel for their own Kree alien superhero, which meant when DC licensed the Fawcett characters in 1972, they had the Fawcett character named Captain Marvel, but couldn’t call the comic Captain Marvel, so they used his magic word “SHAZAM!” for the title.

The rule applied to non-print media as well. When Billy Batson made his TV debut in 1974, his show was titled The SHAZAM/Isis Hour, which I looked forward to every Saturday morning. Eventually, DC grew tired of making the distinction, and renamed the character SHAZAM when they rebooted their line of comics as “The New 52.”

In my mind, SHAZAM will always be Captain Marvel, mainly out of tradition. Plus, if you think about it, it just makes more sense. If his name and magic word are the same, how can the hero tell someone his name without reverting to Billy Batson?

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