DC Comics and Geoff Johns have been criticized recently after it began to spread the word about plans for its Shazam! property in its New 52 lineup. A backup feature (penned by Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank) introducing the new take on the World’s Mightiest Mortal is set to begin in Justice League later this month. The backup will be titled “The Curse of Shazam!” and as Johns has revealed in interviews, he and DC are renaming the super-hero character. Instead of Captain Marvel, the hero will be called Shazam. Johns argued many people outside of the niche market of super-hero comics know DC’s Captain Marvel by his magic word anyway. It can be presumed DC isn’t comfortable with “Marvel” being in the name of one of its iconic heroes anyway. Purists will no doubt be disappointed, but I see the logic behind the decision (even if I think Johns is selling readers short).
Fans of the character also expressed their trepidation when DC released a preview of the new Shazam (seen at right). Now sporting a hood, the teaser image would seem to make it clear this is a darker, more intense take on the Big Red Cheese (who will no doubt no longer be referred to as such in the New 52 — if “Captain Marvel” throws people off, the cheesy slur hurled by his enemies must be perceived as befuddling as well). Of course, it’s been known for some time Frank would be the handling the art chores for this reinterpretation and revival. Given his involvement, it was a safe bet we’d be looking at a grittier Shazam.