According to the New York Post, the DC Comics’ character known as Captain Marvel since 1939 is to be rebooted and re-launched as part of the on-going revamp of the entire line of monthly superhero books.
Geoff Johns (Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics) said, “We changed his name for a lot of reasons. One of them is that Shazam is the word most associated with the character, so we just felt it made sense — a lot of people already thought that was his name, anyway.”
However as Marvel trademarked the name ‘Captain Marvel’, back before Fawcett sold the rights for the Captain Marvel/Marvel Family properties, DC Comics is unable to promote and market their Captain Marvel/Marvel Family properties under that name. Since 1972, DC has instead used the trademark Shazam! as the title of their comic books and thus the name under which they market and promote the character.
I personally think that DC have probably figured out that as they aren’t going to get the trademark for Captain Marvel back again, so each time they use the name they are actively promoting a multitude of Marvel characters instead, they’ve just decided to go with the word they’ve used to associate with their Captain Marvel for the last 30 years instead … SHAZAM.
The reboot is a great time to do this, of course, because it means that the character will be introduced within the DC universe, for the first time with that name – there won’t need to be any awkward conversations about why he’s suddenly changed his name
There are supposedly other ‘changes’ in store for the character, such as a costume with cowl, a lightning bolt on his chest, and being much more rooted in fantasy and magic. However he is still a kid called Billy Batson who changes into a superhero by uttering a magic word – it’s just that it is now his name, rather than the name of the wizard Shazam.
At the moment, from the information released, and the preview image of the ‘new’ costume (above), I’m not really seeing too much that is really different – red suit, white cape, lightning bolt on chest, etc – though it does look like they are getting rid of the quirky, goofy humour that was associated with the old Captain Marvel in favour of a darker approach. That may be a shame, as it made the character stand out from others.
We’ll just have to wait until March 21st, and his new ‘debut’ in Justice League issue 7, to see what changes are actually made, and if there is any of the magic of Captain Marvel / Shazam left.