alschroeder3: (Default)
[personal profile] alschroeder3 posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Look, in general I LIKE Geoff Johns. But I am more and more dissatisfied with his "angry young punk" characterization of Billy Batson. It's just not ....Billy, any more than you can convince me young Clark Kent was an angry young punk (although Grant Morrison got the early adult Superman exactly right as a social reformer unsatisfied with society as it stood, as Jerry Siegel repeatedly showed). We're missing the essence of the character. Shazam picked him because he was "pure of heart"...and what does that mean?

You'll see.

Warning. Triggers for CHILD ABUSE and CHILD CRUELTY. If seeing such distresses you (at least moreso than child cruelty SHOULD distresses ANY normal right-thinking individual) or can trigger a severe response in you, DON'T CLICK ON THIS. Some Golden Age stories are not all happy, and as you'll see from this story in 1948-- if you thought Billy had a tough childhood before, you didn't know the half of it.

How did Billy placate his old miserly uncle? He was told to go steal for his uncle Ebeneezer. Even in the face of being repeatedly WHIPPED, he instead sold pencils and begged in the cold in threadbare clothes and shoes that had huge holes in them.


Taken by a policeman to a nearby hospital, for the first time in his life, Billy was treated kindly. However, his Uncle Ebeneezer ran true to form.


Later, Ebeneezer became the leader of a band of child thieves that he blackmailed into working for him, sort of like Fagin in OLIVER TWIST crossed with Ebeneezer Scrooge, and with the worst qualities of both. Interestingly, Captain Marvel didn't immediatley recognize Ebeneezer, but Billy definitely did, although Captain Marvel said the face DID ring a bell. If Billy was Captain Marvel, you'd think he'd know immediately--if he was a seperate person, he wouldn't recognize him at all. Evidently the wisdom of Solomon and the courage of Achilles modified the original Billy's memories to a certain extent, but didn't eradicate them.


I'm happy to say that Ebeneezer wound up in prison after that--for loan sharking and theft. They should have added child abuse and abandonment, to boot!

But if the Geoff Johns interpretation of Billy as a bitter and somewhat conniving young punk doesn't seem true to the original idea---well, yes.

And one might see why the wizard Shazam picked HIM out of all people in the world as the one most "pure of heart".

Date: 2013-01-01 05:34 pm (UTC)
nyadnar17: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nyadnar17
I have no clue who the new Shazam is suppose to appeal to. Like who is the book being written for?

Date: 2013-01-01 05:40 pm (UTC)
bewareofgeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bewareofgeek
Geoff Johns, of course.

To address a point in the main post, the question of whether Cap was a separate person or simply Billy in a super-powered body was not a clear-cut one in the Golden Age, and the stories drifted from one answer to another. This looks to be somewhere in the middle.

I used to be on the "grown-up Billy" side until I read Jeff Smith's SHAZAM mini, which was just excellent.

Date: 2013-01-01 06:28 pm (UTC)
leoboiko: manga-style picture of a female-identified person with long hair, face not drawn, putting on a Japanese fox-spirit max (Default)
From: [personal profile] leoboiko
I find "both" to be the most interesting answer. (I mean "both" at the same time, not two independent personalities.)
Edited Date: 2013-01-01 06:29 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-02 07:32 pm (UTC)
jaybee3: Nguyen Lil Cass (Default)
From: [personal profile] jaybee3
It's no secret that Johns is a Black Adam fanboy more than a Billy Batson fanboy and he seems to be trying to make reboot Billy more like BA than the other way around. Which is not how it's supposed to work. There's a reason why Billy was chosen among all the billions on Earth and a reason why Black Adam was banished.

Date: 2013-01-01 11:19 pm (UTC)
nate_abril96: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nate_abril96
It appeals to me. It makes room for character growth by allowing us to see Billy Batson grow and become a real hero, something that I find more interesting that him just starting out nice. I like that New 52 Billy Batson is a bad kid with a good heart.

Date: 2013-01-02 04:35 pm (UTC)
ablackraptor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ablackraptor
Personally, considering that Dan DiDio has expressed his disinterest in Captain Marvel, and his dislike of him being part of the DCU as a whole, its highly possible that they're trying to appeal to him, since he loves dark and edgy apparently.

Date: 2013-01-01 08:11 pm (UTC)
silverhammerman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverhammerman
Wow that is dark. Just like, shockingly dark. It's like those old fairytales before they were edited to be family friendly, back when they had murder and torture all up in that business. It's practically Dickensian, I mean, WOW. You were not kidding when you said some Golden Age stories aren't all happy.
I don't hate the new "Shazam" as much as you might, but I'm definitely somewhat impatiently anticipating seeing Billy lighten up, because I really have no desire to read the new one from what I've seen. The idea that he'd be a little less naive and have a bit of an edge isn't bad I think, but I don't find it particularly original or compelling. The jaded, angry brat who secretly has a heart of gold is something that I feel is pretty played out, and at this point it's almost more predictable than the cliche of the happy orphan, which is at least less common than angry "edgy" kids these days.

Date: 2013-01-01 08:40 pm (UTC)
mrosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrosa
The gentler comics of a simpler, easier era...

Date: 2013-01-01 08:24 pm (UTC)
theflames: The Joker best expression. (Default)
From: [personal profile] theflames
What's wrong with his eyes?


They're just... so soulless.

Date: 2013-01-01 08:41 pm (UTC)
mrosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrosa
No more than Tintin's

Date: 2013-01-01 08:43 pm (UTC)
theflames: The Joker best expression. (Default)
From: [personal profile] theflames
Tintin's a whole 'nother bag of issues.

Black button eyes creep me out and make me laugh at the same time. Especially when they gave Billy these same eyes in the JLU animated show... it just looked so out of place.

Date: 2013-01-01 10:32 pm (UTC)
mrosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrosa
I understand it's very common in Canadians...

Date: 2013-01-01 11:19 pm (UTC)
theflames: The Joker best expression. (Default)
From: [personal profile] theflames
Oh those poor sweet people.

Date: 2013-01-01 10:41 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] doodleboy
Well that's just great, now I'm imagining all their eyes sewed-on Coraline style.

Date: 2013-01-01 09:05 pm (UTC)
kenn_el: Northstar_Hmm (Default)
From: [personal profile] kenn_el
I liked Freddy and Mary much more, possibly because they were not drawn in as 'cartoonish' a style. Strange that Modern Billy is actually the one who is cruel to the adults. I sort of like the way Johns is building the story, but I like neither Billy nor Freddy and have no investment in their adventures. I am only intrigued as to whether the other kids have any place in the Shazam power structure, as they did in Flashpoint.
"Triggers for CHILD ABUSE and CHILD CRUELTY. If seeing such distresses you, DON'T CLICK ON THIS."
I know you didn't intend it that way, but I don't like the implication that my interest in the post implies that seeing child abuse and/or cruelty does NOT distress me. (Had to get that off my chest! Thanks!)

Date: 2013-01-02 02:29 am (UTC)
kenn_el: Northstar_Hmm (Default)
From: [personal profile] kenn_el
Thanks! I didn't want to seem nitpicky as I knew you didn't mean it that way.:)

Date: 2013-01-02 07:37 pm (UTC)
jaybee3: Nguyen Lil Cass (Default)
From: [personal profile] jaybee3
That's the point I think. Billy, Freddy and Mary were always very likeable. Or they should be. That's the reason they sold in the millions back in the day. During the Countdown/FC era when writers were destroying Mary Marvel they kept talking aobut taking her goody-goody image down a peg, or having the good girl go bad is "hot" and "exciting" (we saw how well that worked). That pretty much shows that the current DC regime (since they were the ones who authorized change after change to the Marvel Family to make them darker and grittier) really doesn't get it. Johns himself who professes to love the Shazam/Marvel Family doesn't get it. The Marvel are...nice. They just are. They're not only good kids but they're the best kids - that's why it's them (Billy, Freddy, Mary) were allowed to wield the literal power of the Gods. Because the Wizard knew they (unlike Black Adam) WOULDN'T mess up.

Date: 2013-01-01 10:53 pm (UTC)
skemono: I read dead racists (Default)
From: [personal profile] skemono
But I wish I knew who he reminds me of...?!

You know, Captain, maybe if you actually opened your eyes you'd recognize him.

Date: 2013-01-02 01:58 am (UTC)
althechi: (green lantern)
From: [personal profile] althechi
He's referring to the fact that Uncle Ebeneezer has a disturbing resemblance to Doctor Sivana with a bad combover. =P

Date: 2013-01-02 01:36 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
I"m not really seeing pure of heart here, I'm just seeing an abused child. It's not purity or nobility that makes children try to appease an abusive caretaker, it's the fact that they're children and depend on someone else to keep them alive.

(Though apparently Billy can go out and get a job and support himself, so whatever.)

Mod Note

Date: 2013-01-02 04:48 am (UTC)
salinea: Deadpool has a fucking horned hat on and is ready to kick gum and chew ass. Errr, moderate s_d. (mod hat)
From: [personal profile] salinea
Calling an abused child stupid for not being able to avoid abuse is tantamount to victim blaming. Be careful with that sort of argument, okay?

Date: 2013-01-02 05:39 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
I don't really think so. Cowering out in the snow begging, hoping he'll make enough money to avoid a whipping, that just reads as fear to me. It's not as if stealing is a super-easy thing that anyone can do instantaneously. And it's not even guaranteed that he'd be any better off stealing. His uncle keeps whipping him regardless of how much money he brings home, so.

This whole thing just reads like it's conflating suffering with purity of heart, which is a really uncomfortable idea to me. Poor people aren't purer or nobler just because they suffer. They would be better off if they didn't have to suffer as much.

Date: 2013-01-02 03:24 am (UTC)
an_idol_mind: (Default)
From: [personal profile] an_idol_mind
I can see what Johns is doing with the new Captain Marvel. I just don't think it fits the character well.

Then again, you only have to look at the many interpretations of Batman to see that superheroes can change radically from era to era. Whether the new Captain Marvel is a version that lasts will largely depend on how well the story is received by the public.

Personally, though, I just don't think DC has it in them to tell the type of stories that Captain Marvel fits best in.

Date: 2013-01-02 07:39 pm (UTC)
jaybee3: Nguyen Lil Cass (Default)
From: [personal profile] jaybee3
Didio once literally said that the Marvels didn't fit the "sensibility" of the modern day DCU...and this was after Identity Crisis. DC has just gotten darker and grimmer since then. Books like Amanda Conner's Power Girl or Miller's Stephanie/Batgirl were the exceptions in the modern DCU.

Date: 2013-01-03 01:54 am (UTC)
silverhammerman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverhammerman
It's just too bad they can't shunt Billy and the rest of the Marvel Family off into an alternate universe where they wouldn't clash with the "mature" tone of DC's current stuff. It's not like they had a big relaunch and reintroduced the multiverse in a big way recently or anything.

In all seriousness though I'm kind of baffled why DC didn't do just that. The whole multiverse concept would have finally given them a way to get rid of the characters and concepts that they're apparently ashamed of and think are too "bright/goofy"/fun for the main DCU, while still being able to publish stories about them. Aside from Earth 2, which I think was an unnecessary but kind of interesting change, DC's done pretty much nothing with the concept, they even rolled the Vertigo and Wildstorm universes into the main DCU, which is like the exact opposite of using the multiverse concept to keep clashing ideas and setting separate.
But now I'm playing backseat executive again.

Date: 2013-01-02 07:50 pm (UTC)
jaybee3: Nguyen Lil Cass (Default)
From: [personal profile] jaybee3
I've always thought of Billy Batson as the DCU version of Sir Galahad. He's the purest of heart, the uncorruptible, the best of the best and the other heroes KNOW it (which is why I hated it when writers had people like Guy Gardner call him names and the other heroes say zip). There's a reason it was Billy who as chosen not Superman or Batman or Green Lantern or the Flash or any hero in the world. Because the Wizard saw in this child who had gone through so much (the murder of his parents, loss/separation from his sister, robbed of his inheritance, forced to literally live on the streets) and yet still remained optimistic and idealistic and uncorrupted by his travails. Billy Batson is the un-Batman, instead of turning inward and dark by tragedy he turned outward and full of light.

I think one of my favorite Billy Batson moments came in the Alex Ross/Jim Kruger/Doug Brathwaite "Justice" mini-series where Superman has brought Billy into the Batcave and Batman is taken aback and says Billy is just a child and might not understand tragedy (or something to that effect). And Billy just says "I know more than you think". It's never elaborated on. Ross doesn't mention how Billy's parents were killed just like Bruce's. It's just put out there but people who know Billy's backstory will instantly understand it in a way Batman couldn't.

That's who Billy Batson is or should be. This thing Johns has written (with the increasingly hard to take seriously blonde Freddy Freeman) is the opposite of that.


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