Following a wave of new heroes stepping up to take on classic mantles, DC has announced that the one-time Mary Marvel will be graduating to become the new Shazam in a series, fittingly titled, The New Champion of Shazam!. First reported by Polygon, the four-issue The New Champion of Shazam! Will be written by Netflix's She-Ra head writer Josie Campbell, with art by Evan 'Doc' Shaner, who drew the fan-favorite Convergence: Shazam limited series.
"For a long time I just didn't have any interest in returning to anything Shazam-related," Shaner tells Polygon. "But I always thought Mary should be the lead of the book for a while; and that was the one time I would return if it ever happened."
Created in 1942 in response to the popularity of Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel was visually based on the Wizard of Oz's Judy Garland, and like the actor, quickly became a star in her own right, starring in both a Wow Comics series as well her own Mary Marvel book. Mary Marvel's star eventually faded due to issues with the publisher Fawcett Publications and the character was later acquired by DC.
The 'Mary Marvel' name (as well as the Captain Marvel name) grew into disuse due to legal issues between DC and Marvel Comics, leading her to become known for a time as Lady Shazam when she did appear in comics. Even the announcement of this New Champion of Shazam! Series dances around the naming issue and the comic book's storyline will take it on in a unique way.
"'Who Mary is' the very heart of this comic," says Campbell. "Who she is, who she wants to be, and the roles that she's either been forced into or has willingly joined into. [...] It's really shining a light on her and her wants and her desires — as somebody who was part of a superhero team, doesn't have her powers, gets them back, and then she's got a lot of choices suddenly displayed in front of her that she's gonna have to make real fast."
So what can you call her? Well, for now, you can use her real name - Mary Bromfield - but once The New Champion of Shazam gets started you can call her Shazam. The publisher says Mary will be deputized to be the new champion of Shazam! when a "talking rabbit" is sent to her by Billy Batson - her brother, and current Shazam.
"It's been so long since she had her own book, since before she was a DC property," says Shaner. "We're hoping to have the fun and the creative energy behind so much of the early stuff that Binder did, but bring that to a more modern audience and try to make it more relatable to kids or young adults today."
The New Champion of Shazam! #1 (of 4) goes on sale on February 8, 2022.
This new Shazam could soon graduate to our list of the best legacy superheroes of all time.