Robot 6

Derek Fridolfs brings Shazam to ‘Justice League Beyond’


If you want to see what the Justice League does next, you can wait for the next issue or you can fast-forward into the future — the far future — in DC Comics’ digital-first series Justice League Beyond.

Launched last year, Justice League Beyond shows the flagship team in the futuristic continuity established by the animated series Batman Beyond (which also has a digital-first comic). Saturday’s installment of Justice League Beyond features the debut of one of the publisher’s most overlooked heroes — Shazam, whom you can see in a Robot 6’s exclusive preview, below.

Introduced in 1939 by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker, Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel) is a wholesome superhero from an earlier, more time who doesn’t always work well in a modern setting. Having him show up in the future of Justice League Beyond, even further removed from his Golden Age roots, makes the classic hero seem that much more of a throwback — and that’s something writer Derek Fridolfs is tackling head-on with artist Ben Caldwell.

On the eve of Shazam’s debut, Robot 6 spoke with Fridolfs about the hero’s introduction, and his work on Justice League Beyond.

Robot 6: Derek, what can you tell us about Saturday’s Justice League Beyond comic?

Derek Fridolfs: This is the last part to the Brain Trust story “In Gods We Trust.” And there’s a reason why gods is plural for the wrap-up to this story. Also, for all you Ben Caldwell art fans (myself amongst them), it’s one more treat to see his style applied to the Beyond universe.

Shazam debuts Saturday with a wink and a smile

Shazam debuts Saturday with a wink and a smile

The big news of this is that this issue features the debut of Shazam in the Beyond continuity. Can you tell us about Shazam in this future?

Shazam really is a man out of time. In the sense that the town of Fawcett City and the hero that is Shazam, have basically gone untouched, even in the future Beyond timeline. This idea of a very Mayberry-type community and its outlook on heroes … somehow surviving (or left alone and forgotten) in this high-tech future world. The Batman Beyond show looked to the future. But this is a way for these future heroes to stumble into this preserved city from the past.

Shazam has always been portrayed as a classic hero, kind of a throwback of sorts. How does he fit in the futuristic Beyond universe?

Shazam hasn’t aged after all these years — just part of the magic associated with the character. In that regards, one might think of him as a sort of Peter Pan. Ben Abernathy, my original editor on Justice League Beyond, chose to see the flip side to that … bringing up the idea to maybe explore a more tragic outlook to a child that doesn’t age (much like Claudia in Interview With the Vampire).

All that said, Shazam is as heroic as ever, with a wink and a smile. He’s very much the same classic throwback version of the character we all know, with a bit of an added twist on display in this last chapter to the story.

You’ve been writing Justice League Beyond for a good while now. How do you feel you’ve settled in to the series, and do you feel you know more about them now than in the beginning?

Justice-League-Beyond-24-_SFCoverHonestly, I feel like I barely got started. Barely scratched the surface to these characters. It just feels longer to the audience due to the way it’s released.

It’s no secret that I love the animated universe and this interpretation of the characters that grew out of that. A chance to have them continue to live outside that show. They had such a brief appearance in the animated show, that it left a lot of room to really flesh out these characters more.

I really wanted to show them as more than a team of heroes and friends, but as a family. The bickering, jokes, elbow-ribbing, and their caring hearts. A lot of the same approach that Dustin Nguyen and I have brought to Batman: Li’l Gotham probably got its start here in Justice League Beyond: a fun, optimistic approach to the future and these characters.

Story continues below

This Brain Trust story is as much a story about our Green Lantern Kai-Ro, and how far he’s come as a member of the League, as it is about Shazam’s appearance. Kai-Ro is the heart of this future League. The youngest member, still learning the ways of the world, with a peaceful Buddhist outlook towards those around him. I love seeing the Beyond universe through his eyes, and hope the readers have too.

What do you have planned coming up for Justice League Beyond?

I have one more Beyond origin story about Danica, our female Flash, that is coming out. All those Dani Flash fans will get to see how she got her powers, and where all those voices in her head are coming from. And then my time on this title is at an end.

All of us that have worked on Justice League Beyond up to this point have set the groundwork for the next creative team to continue forward. I hope they’ll use the new Flash and Shazam, and even continue this “Recruitment Drive” arc to expand the League. But that’s up to the next crew. I was happy for my time spent in the future. But now I’m spending my time in another “Li’l” corner of the DC Universe. And a few other familiar places as well.

Thanks to all the fans that have joined us on this journey! Your enthusiasm has been greatly appreciated.

Shazam debuts in Saturday’s Justice League Beyond #24 digital comic, and will be available in print inside June 19’s Batman Unlimited #17.



Does this get released in print, because I’m suddenly very interested. And the art is pretty cool.

Jesus S! read the last line in the article again

So wait, Mary turns into a man? What is with this week and gender-bending superheroes?

Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)

May 31, 2013 at 11:03 am

Am I the only one who cannot stand the name “Shazam?” If you can’t use Captain Marvel, why not use Captain Thunder? Just not “Shazam.”

Um… and in the DCAU this is part of, he was already around in the 20th century as Captain Marvel.

That art is gorgeous though. I wonder who the colorist is.


I’m with you on this…

I am really annoyed at the name change of Captain Marvel… Keep the name the same, don’t change the costume, or just don’t bother, DC.

They. Just. Don’t. Have. A. Clue. WHAT. to do with him!

There’s no reason they can’t use the name “Captain Marvel” other than some stupidity with the Moronic Competition. It comes down to money and trademarks… they really shouldn’t be able to trademark words, IMHO. Images and backgrounds behind characters, yes, but not basic English — that’s where the law has gotten crazy IMHO in addition to the criminal trademark extensions passed into law! Yes, creators and idea people SHOULD get money on their patents and copyrights but the companies whom these concepts pass onto shouldn’t have the right to extend ownership on those ideas/concepts beyond the natural lifespan of the original creators OR keep extending ownership years after the creators have died! IP trademark has been completely perverted from the original intent by the politicians (judges, congressmen, etc.) and corporations that own these people.

You know the law can’t keep other people from using the same movie titles, right? Someone somehow realized that the world doesn’t end if there are a million movies that use the word “Evil” in the title or “Star”?

Mr. Robinson, you will be happy to hear from me, though, that the original Fawcett Captain Marvel comics are in the public domain and DC can’t do a damn thing to fans of the character that seek those comics out and download them from the Internet! Virtually every Captain Marvel comic published during the series’ original run in the 1940s and 1950s is available online and it’s perfectly legal because Fawcett Publications never renewed its copyright on the original comics! (Same thing happened with the Fleischer Superman shorts… The guy at DC who was SUPPOSED to keep track of the trademark renewal forgot and that’s why there are a million different releases of those shorts on home video.) Yep, the rights on the Fawcett comics expired BEFORE DC bought the stable of characters from Fawcett. That’s a dirty little secret DC doesn’t want spread and yet they do nothing on their own to make the original comics more available at a price-point that would encourage people to try them out… That’s one thing I have NEVER liked about the Archives and most specialty hardcovers now.

The last time many of the Fawcett characters saw print in new stories was during The Power of Shazam series by Jerry Ordway. I didn’t necessarily agree with how he portrayed his Cap in the modern edition but his heart was in the right place, and he at least used original versions of the characters even if I was annoyed by some of the little tinkering he did (grown-up Mary Marvel in white outfit; Junior calling himself CM3 which is more ridiculous than Junior!). Nobody redesigned Spy Smasher, Bulletman, and the others during his Captain Marvel series run… Everywhere else you see these characters now in the DCU — if DC even bothers to use them(!) –, they’re redesigned and not the same person behind the mask.

It’s unfortunate that DC is the custodian of Captain Marvel… They generally do NOT know what to do with Captain Marvel which is why we had the ridiculous Judd Winick revamp a few years back and now this mess with the new, dumb cape-over-his face by Geoff Johns who’s doing his best (worst) Frank Miller impression now in its 15th year now. This is Captain Marvel in only the vaguest sense now.

Jeff Smith came closest to capturing the essence of the original character and following “the rules” set by Otto Binder and the other original “Cap” writers… I’ve never agreed with the modern interpretation (which Kunkel followed; love his art but not necessarily what he did storywise) that Captain Marvel is the “grown up version” of Billy Batson. Read the original Fawcett Comics and you’ll see clearly that wasn’t the original version of the character. Jeff Smith got it right = Captain Marvel is basically a kind of djinni and is influenced by the character of Billy Batson but is still his own separate entity. Not quite like the Hulk — more like the original version of Starhawk (Guardians of the Galaxy) and the Captain Mar-Vell fusion character (Rick Jones as his “alter ego”) in the early 1970s.

I’m not trying to be a negative nanny, but this version of CAPTAIN MARVEL (f&cked if I’m ever calling him Shazam) makes me not only happy, but reminds me how crappy the New 52 version looks like with his hoodie and metal socks and sandals combination. Please bring him back to the DC Universe please.

I can’t understand why they renamed him either. Do most of the public really think he’s called “Shazam?” Personally I think continuing to call him Captain Marvel is a good way to stand up to Marvel and retain some dignity. Renaming him feels like Marvel Comics has kicked their asses and they’re slinking away.

George – please post a link or a way I can get to those free CM comics!

Very cool! Glad to see Captain Marvel show up here, and that Ben Caldwell’s drawing him!

*sigh* Captain Marvel was perfectly fine as JUST Billy Batson, now it looks as though Johns’ version of Captain Marvel might be slowly seeping its way into other parts of the nDCU. So help me god if Captain Marvel says his name to revert back, and it turns out to be a bunch of kids like in Flashpoint, I’ll be sorely depressed. They should have one shot digital issues like they’re doing with “adventures of Superman” & “legends of the dark knight”. The classic look of the character, and done in one stories.

I worked in a comics shop here in Kitchener for years. Two friends of mine own comics shops. I have NEVER heard ANYONE refer to the character as “Shazam”. Anyone who was interested knew his name and those who liked the character tended to find out about his history. When he was revived in 1972, I knew a bit about him because my dad read about him when growing up (his favorite hero). I read the reprints and found the SHAZAM! FROM THE 40’S TO THE 70’S hardcover (which I still own) and enjoyed that. I find it repugnant that the egos of many of today’s creators (I’m talking to you, Geoff Johns) makes them feel they have to tinker and “fix”. Perhaps some things aren’t meant to work in the modern era. Bruce Timm said he thought Batman looked better in “old” setting and that’s why the animated series has a “retro” feel. I’ve read good and bad stories with Captain Marvel, but I’m saying it loudly – I HATE the new name.

I also feel that some characters work better in small doses. There are second stringers and big guns and while a second stringer can be made into a big gun (a la GREEN LANTERN – which I was getting tired of but thought ended better than expected) many second stringers fall back into their second string status after the “major” talent leaves the book. I wonder if SWAMP THING will fail again, as it slowly started to sink after Moore left?

I hate the new 52 – I have not found ONE book in the lineup that is BETTER than the pre-52 lineup. Yes, I LIKE some of the books – but the entirety of the old DC was far, FAR better.

Rant over.

It’s my understanding now that the previous DCAU Captain Marvel appearances did indeed happen, which is a relief.

Anyone seen it? Do they use his real name or call him Shazam?

Mary does not turn into a man. All of them are in the Rock of Eternity, but Billy tells the League that only one of them can appear on Earth at one time now. Cap shows up first, then Mary Marvel, then Black Adam.

Do they call him Cap or Captain Marvel? Pretty please? Hoping?


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