Billy Batson is John Jones' neighbor.
In Metropolis, the Special Crimes Unit is dealing with a hostage situation, as a school bus has been suspended high above the streets by a crane and some thugs wearing high tech teleportation vests are holding the young children hostage. Billy, who is inside the bus, decides to get super heroic despite his friend's warnings, opens up his shirt to reveal a Superman logo underneath, and thinks he can zap one of the bad guys with heat vision. Fortunately, the boy is saved when Superman's real heat vision melts the gun, and then he rips through the roof and hefts the bad guy into the sky. The rest of the thugs teleport away then reappear and open fire on the police but Superman defeats them and saves the kids.
During Psimon's attack in Metropolis, Billy is with his mother when Psimon mentally picks up a semi tractor-trailer and attempts to drop it on the crowd. Everyone starts to run but Billy, who is in shock, stays behind and his mother screams to him to move. Fortunately, Superman intervenes and rescues the boy before the truck falls on him. Then Billy thanks Superman, while his mother takes him away from the scene.
At John Jones' apartment building, a woman, who is his neighbor, struggles to get through the front door with her groceries as her son recounts how Superman saved him from a truck thrown at him by Psimon. John helps his neighbor inside to her apartment and takes a moment to talk with her hero-obsessed son about doing his part to help his mother out.
Later, Billy hears a loud noise from John's apartment. He runs out to check on the detective and finds a cloaked being in the apartment, holding a cracked Martian tablet. The boy asks where Jones is and the cloaked being attacks him, revealing itself to be a White Martian. Chasing the boy downstairs toward his mother, the Martian is nearly upon them when John intervenes. At the building's front door, Batman orders mother and child to get out for their own safety.
After that, Billy and his mother are seen inside an ambulance outside their house, being checked by the paramedics.
Some time later, John returns to his apartment with Megan, his "niece", and reassures Billy and his mother that the being that chased them won't trouble them any further. Megan tells to Billy that the creature might was more afraid of him than he was of it. Billy's mother then says to John that Superman payed them a visit and repaired all the damage that was done earlier. Before John leaves with Megan, Billy asks him whether he is just a regular Detective or not to which John responds by saying that he most certainly isn't and then he asks him again where will they go and John says he will take his "niece" to one of his work trips as it is time for her to learn their family's history. Then they vanish in front of him.
Months later, after the disappearance of Clark Kent and Booster Gold, Skeets appears all alone looking all over the city for help. Billy sees him and shouts his name in excitement but his mother believing that Billy said a swear word grabs him by the hand and they continue to walk, much to Billy's frustration.
In the Comics
Captain Marvel, also known as Shazam, was originally published by Fawcett Comics and later by DC Comics.
Billy Batson, a homeless newsboy, is led by a mysterious stranger to a secret subway tunnel. An odd subway car with no visible driver takes them to an underground tunnel with seven statues depicting the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man, the lair of the wizard Shazam. The wizard shows that he has observed the hardship of Billy's life, and grants him the power to become the adult superhero Captain Marvel, just before a stone suspended above Shazam's head crushes him. His ghost says he will give advice when a brazier is lighted.
In order to transform into Captain Marvel, Billy must speak the wizard's name, an acronym for the six legendary figures who agreed to grant aspects of themselves to a willing subject: the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. Speaking the word produces a bolt of magic lightning which transforms Billy into Captain Marvel. Speaking the word again reverses the transformation with another bolt of lightning.
Through his adventures, Captain Marvel soon gained a host of enemies. His most frequent foe was Doctor Sivana, a mad scientist who was determined to rule the world, yet was thwarted by Captain Marvel at every turn. He had two non-evil children, the beautiful Beautia, who loved Captain Marvel, and the superstrong Magnificus. Sivana's evil children, Georgia and Sivana, Jr., who were later introduced to the comics, resembled their father both physically and mentally. Marvel's other villains included Adolf Hitler's champion Captain Nazi and an older Egyptian renegade Marvel named Black Adam, an evil magic-powered brute named Ibac, who gained powers from historical villains.
In the early 1940s, Captain Marvel gained allies in the Marvel Family, a collective of superheroes with powers and/or costumes similar to Captain Marvel's. Whiz Comics #21 marked the debut of the Lieutenant Marvels, the alter egos of three other boys (all also named Billy Batson) who found that, by saying "Shazam!" in unison, they, too, could become Marvels. In Whiz Comics #25, a friend of Captain Marvel's named Freddy Freeman, mortally wounded by an attack from Captain Nazi, was given the power to become teenage boy superhero Captain Marvel, Jr., with a distinctive gold-on-blue version of the Marvel costume. A year later in Captain Marvel Adventures #18, Billy and Freddy met Billy's long-lost twin sister Mary Bromfield, who discovered she could, by saying the magic word "Shazam," become the teenaged superheroine Mary Marvel, although the pre-Crisis Mary Marvel got her power from "goddesses". Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, Jr., were featured as a team in a new comic series entitled The Marvel Family, published alongside the other Captain Marvel-related titles, which now included Wow Comics featuring Mary, Master Comics featuring Junior, and both Mary Marvel Comics and Captain Marvel Jr. Comics. Non-super-powered Marvels—such as the "lovable con artist" Uncle Marvel and his niece, Freckles Marvel—also sometimes joined the other Marvels on their adventures. A funny animal spin-off, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, was created in 1942.
When superhero comics became popular again in the mid-1960s Fawcett was unable to revive Captain Marvel, having agreed never to publish the character again. The publisher of DC Comics, licensed the characters from Fawcett in 1972, and DC began planning a revival. Because Marvel Comics had by this time established Captain Marvel as a comic book trademark, DC published their book under the name Shazam!. Since then, that title has become so linked to Captain Marvel that many people have taken to identifying the character as "Shazam" instead of his actual name.
With DC's Multiverse concept in effect during this time, the revived Marvel Family and related characters lived within the DC Universe on the parallel world of "Earth-S".
In 1987, Captain Marvel appeared as a member of the Justice League in the relaunch of that title. That same year, he was given his own miniseries titled Shazam: The New Beginning. With this four-issue miniseries it was attempted to re-launch the Captain Marvel mythos and bring the wizard Shazam, Dr. Sivana, Uncle Dudley, and Black Adam into the modern DC Universe with an altered origin story. The most notable change introduced into the Captain Marvel mythos was that the personality of young Billy Batson is retained when he transforms into the Captain. This change would remain for most future uses of the character as justification for his sunny, Golden-Age personality in the darker modern-day comic book world, instead of the Golden Age depiction, which tended to treat Captain Marvel and Billy as two separate personalities.
Captain Marvel was retconned again and given a revised origin in The Power of Shazam!. This story became Captain Marvel's official DC Universe origin story. In this version of the origin, it is Black Adam (in his non-powered form of Theo Adam) who killed Billy Batson's parents, and the "mysterious stranger" who leads Billy to the subway tunnel with statues of the Sins, and the wizard Shazam is revealed to be the ghost of his father. The graphic novel was a critically acclaimed success, leading to a Power of Shazam! ongoing series which ran from 1995 to 1999. That series reintroduced the Marvel Family and many of their allies and enemies into the modern-day DC Universe.
The Marvel Family played an integral part in DC's Infinite Crisis crossover, which began DC's efforts to retool the Shazam! franchise. In the Day of Vengeance miniseries, which preceded the Infinite Crisis event, the wizard Shazam is killed by the Spectre, and Captain Marvel assumes the wizard's place in the Rock of Eternity, which is rebuilt by the Shadowpact, although he has trouble with the Sins imprisoned there when he hears their voices. The Marvel Family made a handful of guest appearances in the year-long weekly maxi-series 52, which featured Black Adam as one of its main characters and introduced Adam's "Black Marvel Family," consisting of Adam himself, his wife Isis, her brother Osiris, and Sobek. The series chronicled Adam's attempts to reform after falling in love with Isis, only to launch the DC universe into World War III after she and Osiris are killed. The Marvel Family appeared frequently in the 12-issue bimonthly painted Justice maxi-series.
The Trials of Shazam! redefined the Shazam! property with a stronger focus on magic and mysticism. It featured Captain Marvel, now with a white costume and long white hair, taking over the role of the wizard Shazam under the name Marvel, while Captain Marvel, Jr., and Mary Marvel lose their powers. A powerless Freddy Freeman is drafted to prove himself worthy to each of the six gods represented by the "Shazam" acronym so that he can become their new champion and herald under the name Shazam. However, a witch named Sabina attempts to take the power herself. In the pages of Countdown to Final Crisis limited series, Black Adam gives the powerless Mary Batson his powers, turning her into a more aggressive super-powered figure, less upstanding than the old Mary Marvel. By the end of the series, as well as in DC's Final Crisis limited series, the now black-costumed Mary Marvel, possessed by the evil New God Desaad, becomes a villainess, joining forces with Superman villain Darkseid and fighting both Supergirl and Freddy Freeman/Shazam, who turns her back using his lightning. A three-issue arc in Justice Society of America undid much of the Trials of Shazam! changes. It featured Black Adam and a resurrected Isis taking over the Rock of Eternity and robbing Billy Batson of his Marvel powers. Billy calls the Justice Society to intervene, while Adam and Isis enlist the evil Mary Marvel to turn Billy into an evil Marvel as well. By the end of the story arc, Adam realizes that Isis and the evil Batson siblings are out of control, and gives up his power to resurrect the wizard Shazam. The angry wizard promptly takes back his powers from the others, threatening to also deal with Freddy Freeman/Shazam, who is absent from the story. Billy and Mary Batson made a brief appearance during DC's Blackest Night saga. The siblings watch the rampage of the once-dead Osiris, now revived as an undead Black Lantern, on the Internet from their apartment.
In the New 52, Captain Marvel received a new costume with a long cloak and hood. The character also was officially renamed "Shazam". The Shazam! origin story concluded in Justice League #21, a full-length Shazam! issue, preceding a DC's crossover Trinity War storyline which heavily features the Shazam mythos.
In his revised origin, Billy Batson is an arrogant and troubled 15-year-old foster child living in Philadelphia who has gone through several foster homes. At his newest foster home, he gains five foster siblings, including new versions of Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman. When the evil Dr. Sivana unleashes the ancient magical warrior Black Adam from his tomb, the Wizard of the Rock of Eternity – the last of a council of beings who once controlled magic – begins abducting new candidates to assess them for the job of being his champion. He dismisses them all for not being pure of heart.
Eventually, the Wizard summons Billy, who is another unsuitable candidate, but he persuades the Wizard that perfectly good people "really don't exist". In desperation, the dying Wizard passes on his powers and teaches Billy they can be accessed through the magic word "Shazam" when spoken with good intentions. After saying the magic word, Billy is struck by a bolt of lightning which transforms him into Shazam, a super-powered being possessing super-strength and flight. The Wizard dies and transports Shazam back to Earth, where Billy reveals his new secret to Freddy. The two scheme to make money off Shazam's new powers, until Shazam is attacked by Black Adam. After learning of Black Adam's troubled origin, Billy attempts and fails to reason with Adam, and is only saved by sharing his powers with his foster siblings, who all become magic-powered adult superheroes. Ultimately, Billy goads Adam into saying the magic word and transforming into his human form, at which time he promptly turns to dust.
Commencing the Trinity War storyline, Billy flies to Black Adam's home nation of Khandaq to bury Adam's remains. However, Shazam's entry into the country is interpreted by the locals as illegal US entry into their territory, following a similar international incident with Superman and Wonder Woman some weeks previously. Both the independent Justice League and the US-sponsored Justice League of America (JLA) arrive in Khandaq to take control of the situation. Shazam is taken into US custody by the JLA, alongside the Justice League, after Superman inadvertently kills Doctor Light. Shazam travels with the Justice League to the Justice League Dark for further investigation of Light's death, and the sorcerer John Constantine briefly steals Shazam's abilities, fearing what a child will do with them. Shazam later tries to open Pandora's Box, a device which opens the doorway to Earth-3, and is infected with evil. His costume changes, giving him the visual appearance of Black Adam.
Other faces of Billy Batson
- According to writer Bryan Q Miller, Billy Batson has already appeared in Smallville: Season Eleven. This is verified by the fact that a small boy, who has being referred to as Billy, has frequently appeared along with his mother in multiple storylines through the eleventh season of Smallville.
- Billy and his alter ego, Captain Marvel/Shazam, have many similarities with another original character created for the show, who is loosely based on him, Alec Abrams who appeared in Season Nine's episode, Warrior.
- Billy seems to be a fan of superheros as he is usually seen wearing T-shirts with logos of many popular heroes like Superman and Booster Gold.
- In the comics, Billy's mother is named Marilyn Batson.