Shazam! Movie Inspires Artwork From DC Comics’ Jerry Ordway
The upcoming Shazam! movie has inspired fresh artwork by DC Comics’ Jerry Ordway, as a means of kicking 2018 off right. The uncolored image was sketched on a blank-cover variant comic book for the DC Comics’ series Multiversity.
Despite a long and varied career as a writer, inker, artist and painter and such achievements as inking George Perez’s pencils in the classic Crisis On Infinite Earths, Ordway is perhaps most beloved by comics fans for his work on the The Power of Shazam. Ordway wrote the script and painted all the artwork for the 1994 graphic novel, which reintroduced Billy Batson and his alter ego into the DC Comics Universe. The Power of Shazam! proved popular enough to inspire a monthly comic book, for which Ordway provided the painted covers and scripts.
Ordway publicly released the image on his personal Twitter account (see the artwork below). He tagged Shazam! director David F. Sandberg in the New Year’s Day post, as well as actor Zachary Levi, who has been cast as Shazam himself. The back cover depicts the transformation of tween reporter Billy Batson into his superheroic alter ego, the sorcerery-empowered strong-man Shazam, with a dramatic strike of lightning and a puff of smoke. The front cover depicts a smiling Shazam in flight, as a magical lightning storm brews behind him.
The character of Shazam has one of the more confusing publication histories in comics history and most of that confusion stems from his name. First appearing as Captain Marvel in Whiz Comics #2, the hero was, at one time, the most popular superhero in the world, outselling even Superman. This may have prompted a 1953 lawsuit by DC Comics, who alleged that Captain Marvel was a clear rip-off of Superman. There would be no new Captain Marvel comics until 1971, when DC Comics acquired the rights to the character.
By this time, rival Marvel Comics had copyrighted the name “Captain Marvel” for their own original character. For years the hero was allowed to be referred to as Captain Marvel in the comics but the name could not be used in the title of any series starring that character. This led to DC marketing the character under the name “Shazam!” and most comic readers assuming that was the hero’s name. DC Comics eventually tired of fighting the confusion, and officially changed the name of Billy Batson’s alter ego to “Shazam” as part of The New 52 revamp of the entire DC Comics Universe.
Filming on the movie Shazam! is getting underway in Toronto this year. Details are scarce regarding the film’s plot beyond detailing the hero’s origins. One of the few facts that has been confirmed is that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – long cast to play the role of Black Adam in the DC Comics Cinematic Universe – will not be part of Shazam! despite the long history between the two characters in the comics. However, Johnson will be starring in a Black Adam solo movie down the line.