With a Magic Word, Wallace Brings the MARVELS Back to DC

SHAZAM! Mary & Billy Batson Return

The Marvel Family characters are returning to the spotlight in January's Shazam #1, and writer Eric Wallace is hoping this one-shot can attract new fans to the characters that have been beloved for so many years.

Featuring art by Cliff Richards, the issue will tie into a series of stories Wallace is doing over the next few months to advance the Marvel Family "as grounded characters in the modern DCU."

Captain Marvel is a character who was among the first superheroes in comics, but the Marvel Family of characters has experienced a lot of changes recently. In the last five years, the mantle of Captain Marvel has been passed down, and several of the Marvel Family characters have been pretty absent from the DCU, as they've either turned to evil, become powerless, been turned to stone, or been killed.

But Wallace will change all that in January, continuing the journey he started with the Marvel Family back in January 2010 when he wrote The Power of Shazam! #48, a Blackest Night tie-in.

Osiris, the Marvel Family character who was mauled to death in 52, ended up coming back to life soon after that issue re-introduced him to readers. Ever since then, Osiris has been part of Wallace's Titans series, and readers have learned through the Brightest Day series that Osiris is supposed to free his sister, Isis.

With this one-shot issue, Wallace brings Billy and Mary Batson back into the DC fold — along with current Captain Marvel Freddie Freeman — as their return ties into what's happening with Osiris in the ongoing Titans series.

Newsarama talked with Wallace to find out more about the issue and the future of the Marvel Family in the DCU.

Newsarama: Eric, there are a lot of fans who have been patiently waiting for more Marvel Family stories. How did the idea for this one-shot evolve?

Eric Wallace: When DC made the decision to put the spotlight on their top characters this January, Captain Marvel’s name came up right alongside Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc. Why? Talk about a great character, this guy is one of the originals. Not only has he been around for more than 70 years, he’s also become — along with the entire Marvel family — an important part of the modern DC universe in stories like the '80s run of Justice League, Kingdom Come and Justice Society of America, 52, and most recently, JLA: Cry for Justice.

Nrama: Are you a long-time fan of Captain Marvel? What were some of your favorite stories?

Wallace: I mostly knew the character from the Fawcett reprints of the 1940s. I still love some of those stories! But I’m also a huge fan of Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come. That story really showed me how powerful and cool a modern Captain Marvel could be.

Nrama: There have been a lot of changes to the Marvel Family over the last few years, what's everyone's status right now? Who are Billy, Mary and Freddie, and how do you approach their current circumstances in this one-shot?

Wallace: First of all, we’ll get everyone’s status in the upcoming Shazam #1. Billy and Mary are still powerless, but are dealing with it in very different ways. That difference forms the heart of the story in the upcoming special. As for Freddie, we’re going to really see him cut loose in this story.  He really is a true hero and he’s going to shine in this outing.

As for my approach to writing this next chapter in the Marvel Family, it’s a great honor. These are wonderful characters to write for that have long, cherished histories. I want to honor those histories as best as I can, while still continuing to advance them as grounded characters in the modern DCU.

Nrama: What's the set-up of this story? What can you tell us about the premise?

Wallace: The premise is that Billy and Mary may have found a way to get their powers back. However, is the price too high to pay? Beyond that, I can’t say. Sorry… no spoilers here.

Nrama: Can you tell us how Osiris fits in?

Wallace: In the Titans monthly series, Osiris is well on his way to fulfilling a dark destiny, one he unknowingly accepted and inherited the moment he first spoke the words, “Black Adam.” However, the path he’s on is going to cross with that of the entire Marvel family. And it’s going to happen very, very soon.  Again, without revealing any spoilers, I’ll just say that the first glimpse of his involvement with Billy, Mary, and Freddy plays a part in the climax of Shazam #1.

Nrama: Does this tie into your Titans work in any other way?

Wallace: Again, the answer to that is a resounding, “yes.” What happens at the end of Shazam #1 is the first speck on a larger canvas in showcasing the Marvel family as one of the DCU’s premiere superhero families. More immediately, the ending of Shazam #1 will also bring Captain Marvel directly into the current Titans storyline in a surprising way.  

Nrama: What's the artistic style of this issue?

Wallace: The art on Shazam #1 is by Cliff Richards, one of two wonderful artists currently working with me on Titans. What I love about Cliff’s style is his incredible eye for detail, especially in his use of backgrounds. Yet there’s also an inherent softness and realism that Cliff brings to drawing faces and bodies in motion, which I love. This combination of detail and kinetic emotion will be highlighted throughout the issue, because there are different story elements in it that require both artistic approaches.

Nrama: Will you be setting up anything for the future of the Marvel family? And are you involved in that future?

Wallace: I’ve really fallen in love with the Marvel family through working on both Titans and last year’s Power of Shazam! #48. I can’t tell you enough how exhilarating it is to write these iconic characters, so hopefully I’ll get to continue that through 2011 and beyond.

Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Shazam #1?

Wallace: Yes.  The Marvel Family has gone through a lot of shake-ups in the last few years. Not only have Billy and Mary lost their powers, but also Black Adam and Isis are now trapped in prisons of stone. But that was only the beginning. The first step in the Marvel family’s return to DCU’s center stage begins here in Shazam #1. That makes this issue a great time for Shazam fans, both old and new, to come on board.  

What do you want to see out of Shazam's return?

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