To celebrate this week’s release of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, I’m happy to present my Shazam Guide – The Captain Marvel of DC Comics – now available to all readers of CK!
Read my original Shazam Guide launch post for an essay on Billy Batson’s origins and how DC has gradually lost the magic that once made Shazam and his family the most-loved (and highest-selling) heroes in all of comics.
If you’r thinking about reading Shazam for the first time you may find yourself daunted by the fact that he has been around for over 80 years. However, his Golden Age comics from 1940-1953 are almost wholly uncollected, and they are completely disconnected from his present day continuity.
DC revived Shazam in 2012 starting with a new origin and a large adopted family that match closely with the film continuity. However, I don’t think it’s worth starting there. There’s simply not that much material to read, and none of the stories are particularly satisfying. They often have a cruel, violent edge that is a total mismatch for the wide-eyed wonder of the character.
For a terrific, hefty Shazam read, try starting back in 1994 with Jerry Ordway’s The Power of Shazam. The first half of the nearly 50-issue series are collected as The Power of SHAZAM! Book 1: In the Beginning (2020 paperback, ISBN 978-1401299415 / digital) and The Power of Shazam! Book 2: The Worm Turns (2023 paperback, ISBN 978-1779521743), plus the entire series is available on DC Universe Infinite.
The title is set in pre-Crisis continuity, which isn’t presently relevant for Shazam, but it’s a complete and well-thought-out series that sees him as a part of the larger DC Universe alongside heroes likes Superman and Wonder Woman. I read much of the series while putting together this guide, and it’s enjoyable from start to finish.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it! My Shazam Guide covers every appearance the character has made from 1940 through last month, with links to collected editions and digital reading options for every major starring issue. Start at the launch of one of his many series, or just jump in randomly to an issue with a cool cover.
This guide exists thanks to the ongoing support of the astonishing Patrons of Crushing Krisis. They’ve had early access to the guide for the past month! Join for as little as $1 a month or $10.20 a year to get early access to dozens of existing guides and every new guide as it makes its first appearance on CK.