Remake & Reboot: DC’s Captain Marvel Comic Series

After months of providing a new spin on some of the best (and worst) comics-to-film adaptations, we’re taking iFanboy’s Remake & Reboot weekly series in a new direction: comics. With DC’s “New 52” upon us, it brings to light just how often comic characters and their titles are remade, refashioned and rejiggered. With that in mind, Remake & Reboot will be offering up my own ideas on comic characters and titles that Marvel, DC, or any comic companies could revive.

First  up, one of the biggest M.I.A. characters in DC’s “New 52”: Captain Marvel. Whether you call him Billy Batson, Freddy Freeman or even Shazam, DC’s Captain Marvel has been left out of the mix for DC’s line-wide relaunch. Last seen in the pages of Flashpoint as a team of characters calling out his phrase of power, the Big Red Cheese’s absence this fall is conspicuous given that he had 52 chances for his own title. Is it because the character is too idealistic? Or is it because his powers are rooted in magic? Maybe DC is simply trying to avoid complicated copyright/trademark quagmire that forces them not to use his name in a title thanks to Marvel’s ownership of the name? Take your pick; it could be any of those, or simply that no one inside DC had a pitch good enough for the publisher to give it a chance.

That’s where we come in.

The Concept:

Boiling down the Captain Marvel concept to its essence and it’s Big meets superheroes. Boy’s Adventure meets Escapism, in uppercase letters. But how does that work in the varying degrees of cynicism that is present in modern comic, where DC is even getting the big blue boy scout Superman dirty in Action Comics in an attempt to make him more relevant? But in the age of PIXAR expanding the idea of an “all ages” epic, does relevant even matter if it’s done right?

Be that as it may, the Shazam! title would need to work within the existing/expanding superstructure of DCU continuity. Maybe he’s re-introduced in an arc of Geoff Johns & Jim Lee’s Justice League, showing just how contrasting he would be to heavyweights like Supes, Bats and Wonder Woman. Remember he’s a kid in a grown man’s superhero body. Remember the great episode of Justice League Unlimited called “Clash” where Marvel’ childlike ideas clash with Superman’s sense of reality? That episode, written by Dwayne McDuffie and J.M. DeMatteis was something, and so could a new Shazam! series.

The Creators:

Writer – Mark Waid: Although he’s bounced around comics for over 25 years as a writer, Mark Waid has yet to settle in with the Captain Marvel character except for some glancing moments in Kingdom Come and other books. He’s touched upon some of the issues with the character in books like Irredeemable and The Flash. Having an encyclopedic memory for the ins and outs of DC Continuity doesn’t hurt either.

Artist – Daniel Acuna: Acuna’s no stranger to DC; he worked in the mid 00s for two years as an exclusive artist, but jumped ship to Marvel in 2008 for an exclusive with them. But Acuna gets Captain Marvel, and with most exclusive contracts going two or three years, Acuna could be a big ‘get’ for DC.

Artist – Evan Shaner: Acuna’s a powerhouse, but when it comes to doing 12 issues a year he’s no Mark Bagley. Instead I would have a rotating artist pool comprised of Acuna and artist Evan Shaner. His style is far removed from that of Acuna’s, but that difference could be symbolic of the dual nature of Captain Marvel and his human counterpart. Perhaps even Acuna & Shaner could share certain issues, with them being called in for different scenes in the book.

Special Guest Artist – Steve Rude: Every once in a while you need to pop up with a nice done-in-one special issue; I’m not talking for an anniversary issue, but just something nice and surprising. Imagine Waid and Rude going at it on a standalone Captain Marvel story; maybe the origins of the original wizard, Shazam?

Colorist – José Villarrubia: In an effort to bring together the alternating styles of the different artists on-board and to bring in some signature style, I’d nominate José Villarrubia to color over the work of Acuna, Shaner and Rude. He could really bring together the book the same way Dean White does on Uncanny X-Force, and Villarrubia’s coloring style would be tailor made for the book.

Letterer – Todd Klein: 16-time Eisner award winner for lettering; just imagine what the guy who lettered The Sandman could do on a book like this?


  1. Obviously, instead of “Shazam” he would shout “SM!”

  2. It’d really be nice to get a Captain Marvel book again. Or even a book in which he was regularly featured…

  3. I was always a fan of DC’s Captain Marvel. I hope they bring him back as Billy, not Freddie. I recall they had a Captain
    Thunder or something back in the Seventies in Superman who was guided by the spirit of an Indian chief.
    Anyway, I digress, let’s bring back the Marvel family.

  4. A Mark Waid Captain Marvel would be AMAZING! I’d hope that they decide to do a more adult oriented book, or at least something that doesn’t look like its for little kids. If they want to do a separate kids title as well that’s fine, but we need an adult title.

    • I think the guy’s just proved this week that all-ages books can be enjoyed by, well, all ages.

    • I think the point of the article is that it should be both a la Thor: The Mighty Avenger

      I personally don’t need to see Captain Marvel burning people’s faces off.

    • Why do we NEED it to be an adult title? It can be just as relevant and important AND still redable by my 9 year old nephew. Things don’t need to be “Adult” to be good. When will fellow fanboys get over the insecure thought that something appealing to kids as well as adults somehow makes the work lesser?

    • it’s not just fanboys, how many adults do you know that were really proud of the fact that they read the harry potter books? It’s a stigma people have throughout various mediums

    • Roi, a lot of adults are proud to say they’ve read the Harry Potter books. They’re a worldwide phenomenon.

    • There’s a huge difference between childish and child like. Something can be appropriate for all ages and still be a great product. The Incredibles (or any Pixar movie, really) comes to mind. I love all their movies and I am in my 30s. I enjoy Batman: the Animated Series as an adult. I think Jeff Smith’s Bone is one of the best comics ever made, and it’s totally appropriate to give to my 6 year old nephew. You can make Captain Marvel an all ages book and still have adults enjoy it with the right creative team.

    • Not sure where you are seeing that Roi… I wish more adults approached comics like they do Harry Potter books.

    • @Hawkboy, when I say adult, I just mean I don’t want it to look like a kids book. Over the recent years DC has mostly relegated this characters to be for kids. Meanwhile they have batman kids titles and adult titles. I don’t mind there being a kids title, but I really want something that I can enjoy as well. I’m fine with an all ages book. Just don’t make it look like its meant for 6 year old’s.

  5. If Waid can recapture the fun, youthful feel of the Impulse series, he would be a shoe-in to write this. I would alternately suggest Kevin Smith, since he can do heroes and comedy.

    I wouldn’t mind pairing Waid with Humberto Ramos again, because their run on Impulse just clicked.

    And slap a moustache on Cap for good measure – he could be Freedie Mercury instead of Freddy Freeman!

  6. I have been wanting DC to do a Captain Marvel ongoing since I read Jeff Smith’s “Monster Society of Evil”. I would love for a new Captain Marvel series to be like that.

  7. I think now is the perfect time to fit captain marvel into the new DC. If this “reboot” does stick its important that we establish many Characters as potential peers to Superman in the realm of powers, We’ll Have Superman for the traditionalists, Apollo for the more hardcore, and Captain Marvel for light fair, if we can squeeze in a few more that would be awesome. Just Because the traditional DCU was built around Superman and Batman Doesn’t mean that with this ground up approach we can’t set up new paradigms. I just had a fun image in my mind of Apollo throwing down with Black Adam… mmmm….

  8. I think DC is waiting for Multiversity to re-introduce them. I think they’re back on their own Earth, Earth-5, as depicted in Final Crisis.

  9. I would prefer a different Earth too…. Earth-S to be exact!!!!

  10. Like the creative team but I would replace Daniel Acuna with Ed Mcguiness

  11. well, lets give this a shot

  12. Nope, shove him back into Earth-S/Earth-5 and work really hard on using him as a reconstruction of the super hero ideal, a bit like All Star Superman, that doesn’t take itself too seriously and knows it exactly what it is.

  13. Captain Marvel has been notoriously difficult for DC to get a hold of, in regards to putting out something of real relevance and power. But the possibilities of the character are really quite endless, I think, demonstrated not just by the franchise’s popularity in the 50s, or by Alan Moore’s successful play and reinvention of the concept in Marvel/Miracle Man, but also by the success of something like Harry Potter. Whatever one might say about median age or sophistication comic fans, the majority of the comic book reading public is still in it for the power fantasy and escapism. And Marvel satisfies that like few other characters.
    Why DC has been unable to really do something vital with this character has been the subject of debate for a while now — and more informed men and minds than I have certainly hashed it out for a while — but I suspect it has a lot to do with our habit to look backwards rather than forwards (and by ‘we’, I suppose I mean humanity, but most especially that small, spectacle-wearing, mushroom-fleshed segment of humanity that call ourselves comic book fans). Marvel has never been modernized, never been made complex, never really been made a character.

    So without further ado, I present…

    Story direction for Captain Marvel – Just as Captain Marvel is one big metaphor for growing up, the run follows a sort of lifecycle.

    First arc, birth– nod to miracle man, Dr. Sivana has trapped Captain Marvel in a universe he constructs, designed specifically to keep him pacified. Has an ideal life, with living parents, friends, family. He has dreams, more real than anything waking, stripped-wire phantasms crackling with a vitality missing from his day to day life, but filled with horror and tragedy as well. Outside, the lack of the earthly plane of existances’ chief magical protector causes all sorts of otherworldly magic to pop through. Billy has to ‘birth’ himself, leave the womb of his comfortable universe into the harsh reality of the real world. He’s not angry at Sivana, though. Grateful, even, maybe, for that brief time of happiness, that respite. He’s a child, still, and so he still knows how to enjoy what he has rather than dwell on what he’s lost.

    Second arc, learning to walk – Exploring the extent of his powers, his physical abilities in the new magical universe, what he’s capable of and what he isn’t. Add some new ones, take away some old ones. Put him up against some new physical threat. In his mortal life he struggles with establishing a life for himself, learning to ‘walk’ in the real world.

    Third arc, learning to talk – faces some magical/mystic threat – Mordru, Wotan, Warlock of Yz etc – has to learn about the magical aspect of his abilities, spells and perceptions and the rules of magic. Defeats the foe through exploitation of the rules of magic and some minor, minor spellcasting. In his personal life, he struggles to find a ‘voice’ for himself as a kid blogger.

    Fourth arc, family – in his personal life he deals with his own lack of family, the sense of lonliness and alienation that comes with that. As Captain Marvel, deals with a magical war of gods, finds that the conflicting sides are family. Family isn’t flesh and bone, but what you make of it. You never get to choose your family – not even if you’re an orphan – and none of them are perfect.

    fifth arc, struggling with love – in his Captain Marvel life, faces some sort of mystical god or demon of lust. In his personal life, begins to develop a relationship, his first girlfriend. The two ‘stories’ overlap in that he begins to see the difference between lust – what he feels for this girl when they are alone – and love – an emotion that comes with time and knowledge and real intimacy. He got into the relationship for lust, but in time it has developed into more. Armed with this distinction, he confronts this creature of Lust – a being who truly believes herself to be a Goddess of Love – and shows her her true nature, her true face – that she is nothing of the kind, that she had deluded herself, that she isn’t making people fall in love, she’s just unleashing their basic urges. Horrified, confronted by the truth of her emptiness, she kills herself, controlled by her PASSIONS to the bitter end.

    6th arc, struggling to maintain his identity – In his superhero life, faces some new version of Mr. Mind, the thought parasite that spreads, invades, via sound.The idea of one giant being shattered, a fractal mind, a consciousness big enough to fill a multiverse, and he’s slowly trying to reclaim it, trying to rebuild his sentience. Each person contains one infinismal fraction of the grand whole. In his personal life, previously, he’s struggling to fight censorship, to stand up for the integrity of his work in the face of pragmatic pressures from people in authority, etc.

    7th arc, learning to manipulate society rather than be manipulated by society – faces the internet God, the idea that it’s become the most powerful god of all, a patchwork god with unbelievable knowledge and unimaginable depravity. Has to somehow quell it. Fed by billions masturbating, eating, learning, etc in it’s name. In his personal life, defeats the forces arrayed against him and the freedom of his expression in the last arc. A subplot, I guess you’d call it, with the last arc ending on his work being shut down, and this one ending with him having successfully out maneuvered them.

    8th arc, Odyssey – an other dimensional tour around the various realms of magic. At least 5 or 6 issues, making up an Odyssey, sort of like “Prime Elements” in Hickman’s Fantastic Four. Realm of fiction (like in Cornell’s FF True Story), realm of faerie, etc etc. Allegory for the new sociologically recognized stage of development, Odyssey, where one travels to different countries and cultures and experiences new ideas. If I have time later I’ll elucidate upon some of the worlds — I’ve got a lot of fun ideas for this one.

    9th arc, bringing it all together – Return of Dr. Sivana, another reference to Miracle Man where the rest of the run is ‘revealed’ to be another illusion, that he had never really escaped from the pocket universe at all, asking did he think it was coincidence that each challenge was such obvious allegory for growing up, etc. Captain Marvel might have fallen for it at one point, but his trials have taught him who he really is, have allowed him to see the world for what it really is, and he’s no longer to be fooled by corporate-generated illusions designed to prey upon his fears and desires.He knows that everything that happened has been real, is absolutely true. He defeats Sivana (who is armed with all manner of super science weapons and henchmen).

    And that is what I would do with Captain Marvel.

  14. I love to see the Big Red Cheese get his own ongoing my hope is that DC will find room for him in DC Presents or even Action Comics to tell a year long story at some point. Until that takes place I’d break up the Marvel Family spread them through out the New DCU. Since JLA is for the A-List heavyhitters I’d say JLI would be another wonderful place for him to find a home. Having a kid on the team would be great way for the UN(fictionally) to deal issues facing kids around the world. His rogue gallery could also find a new home among the JLI book.

    Use Mary Marvel on Birds of Prey or Titans title having her on Birds of Prey particularly would be a good way to age her up some to deal with issues she’s never faced before. Having her look up to older women who could mentor her to kick ass. Has she ever been in a relationship before?

    Freddie Freeman Titans hands down.

    Black Atom would be great as a villian in Demon Knights (plot the First Crusade is actually to stop Black Atom) and a Anti-hero Justice League Dark.

    If this never happens i’ll enjoy him in Billy Batson the magic of Shazam! this books is worth the .99 digitally for a laugh.

  15. I really liked Captain Marvel in the JSA books a few years back. And I always enjoy whenever he teams up with the big blue!Heard once that Captain Marvel Jr was Elvis’ favourite comic book character!