The idea that Billy somehow materializes in some other dimension that Captain Marvel is pulled out of when the transformation occurs is another fan-based mis-reading that goes back years and years, to when Roy Thomas paralleled the Billy/Cap relationship with Rick Jones and Mar-Vell in the Negative Zone.
|Posted: 10 August 2018 at 5:47am | IP Logged | 2
Where does Billy go when Captain Marvel appears? He's right there. He has changed into this magical champion constructed by Shazam from the raw materials of Billy, the Gods (or Elders), and his own magic. That entity is a separate being from Billy, but Billy is definitely there in the mix, informing the new being with his basic humanity, bravery, and decency.
Captain Marvel is a fantastic concoction, a fully-grown adult champion of right, imbued with the powers of the Gods*, to fight against those who would destroy what is good. He is not Billy in a grown-up suit. He is not who Billy will become when he grows up. He does not look like Billy will one day, nor does a kid-sized version of Cap look like Billy.
He is an idealized, perfected champion of Good constructed in large part from the idealism and naivete of a fundamentally decent young boy. His mind and identity are his own, yet he shares them on some level with Billy.
Billy and the others did not suffer amnesia whenever they changed into the Marvels. They were there, having changed into these new champions and riding along in a sense, sharing their adventures. They are not in limbo. They have transformed. When they change back, they acknowledge that it is the Marvels who won the day, but they remember the adventure as well. They do not engage in vanity, falsely seeing themselves as the authors of the victory. They recognize that the Marvels are independent intellects and independent beings. Nonetheless, they played a role as well.
If you killed a Marvel, their other self would die as well, because they are not hanging about in "Q-Space" or Limbo awaiting a signal to return to reality. They turned into the Marvel.
Nailing all of this down into the insufferably simplistic "Billy in a grown-up suit" is part and parcel of comic fans-turned-pro's ongoing need to fix everything, explain everything, and tear away any sense of mystery connected with the characters. What is Billy's exact relationship with Cap? It's a mystery, and should be allowed to remain one.
But we know that it was not simply Billy himself running around with big muscles pretending to be an adult.
Writing Cap himself out of the mix and replacing him with Billy simply gives us a naif with more power than he reasonably knows what to do with. That can be an interesting character. It hasn't been so far, but it could be. But it is not Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel himself has been removed from the concept and replaced with this deceptive child laughing up his sleeve at everyone who can't see past his disguise. Oh, yeah, and he gets to hurt people! Cool, right?
No. Not even remotely.
Wallace, it's unfortunate that much of this Billy-worship (and hey, I like Billy as much as the next comics reader, but c'mon...) came from the attempt to differentiate Cap and Superman, something that shouldn't have ever been "necessary," given that the two existed in completely different contexts, even through the Seventies. It's only when you strip the characters of their individual imaginative worlds and hammer all the square pegs into Continuity's round-hole-conformity that you need to justify why two such similar heroes exist side-by-side.
Back when they were created, they didn't, and so there was never any need to make one this and the other one that. Their differing premises and approaches more than satisfied any possibility of confusion between them.** There was no need to infantilize the Shazam concept and strip the character of his intelligence and dignity.
Truth be told, even putting the two on the same team, as DC seems pathologically incapable of avoiding, doesn't necessitate this insulting strip-mining of the character. Superboy and Mon-El were perfectly capable of working together in the Legion without fans falling apart over their similarities between them.*** Superman and Cap could have done the same, but there was so, so very much Roy needed to de-mystify and explain to us about Cap and Billy; fan theories he'd treasured for years and now had the ability to bring about for real.
* Solomon was a Biblical figure. Hercules a demi-god. Achilles was a legendary military leader, and Atlas was a Titan. Technically, only two of Captain Marvel's patrons, Zeus and Mercury, are Gods.
** Or it should have. Initially, there was some reason for concern. Once Cap found his footing, however, in his more light-hearted, talking-tiger world, readers were not confused as which book they had picked up.
*** Being fans of course, many did, but the book did not bow to them... until Crisis when fannish, slavish bootlicking to the concept of Continuity demanded, De-Manded!! DEMANDED!!! they be reconciled into separate timelines. Absolutely pathetic.