Recently, I've been reading some backlog of the old DCU, mostly stuff that came highly recommend through some well known faces in the fandom that is comics (Linkara, The Gutters etc.) so things like All-star Superman, Red Son, GL:Rebirth and the like. About 2 weeks ago I finished off the last of a friends copy of the absolutely fantastic 52, which was just a fantastic series all around, but what really stood out about it was how focused on some of the most obscure characters in the universe and really brought to our attention how powerful their presence can be and how they could still carry a story, even in today's climate. All the cast was treated with plenty of respect, but the main family of characters that caught my eye (other than The Question(s), him/her being one of my favorite hero's ever) was the SHAZAM/Marvel family, a group of characters that has been grossly mishandled over the years due to various legal and financial problems, mostly the issue regarding the use of the very name "Captain Marvel" (in other words, creativity getting shafted because people just couldn't couldn't share their toys). My interest in them had been picked already with the hilarious interpretation of the Captain in Young Justice, but thanks to this series I actually got a much greater feel for him and his supporting cast, and I really found myself wanting to learn more about the characters. When I had heard about captain marvel in the past, I typically wrote him off as a superman parallel, but this series really sold me on how much possibility his world could provide, and how he could really set himself apart from the rest of the DCU. Then I read a couple of other stories (there's unfortunately not that many), most recently Judd Winick's The Trials of Shazam!, which was.. allright. Great art and it definitely tried to revamp the characters and the more magical/mythical nature of their stories, and in some ways it did, but it just fell flat at some point. Still a good effort, but I assume it didn't have the intended effect DC wanted since I can't find many other series featuring the characters.
That brings us to now, with The New 52 in full swing and not looking to slow down any time soon. Recently, Geoff Johns has announced that he is writing a back-up feature in Justice League that is in effect completely revamping the Captain Marvel character, retelling his origin from scratch (and permanently changing his name to SHAZAM to avoid the confusion he has probably caused for so many years). I personally feel this is a great Idea, for a number of reasons. First and foremost Geoff Johns has become, along with Grant Morrison, to be the go-to guy in restoring popularity and relevance to characters whose interest has long been lost to the public eye. We all know about the success of Green Lantern, Aquaman, the Teen Titans etc. (and some will argue about his work on the Flash), so it seems kind of rational to put him in charge of this new series. Including it along with the Justice League is also a smart idea, it being the number one selling comic today would mean that a lot of people would be exposed. Combine that with the cleaning up of the continuity and giving a definitive origin for newcomers, and you may just have your self a hit.
My only real concerns at this point that Geoff has a habit of planning big events and being a little underwhelming in their delivery (think back to Flashpoint, HUGE game changer, but it never felt as BIG as a story that changers the fabric of a universe SHOULD be), plus looking at how the current JL series seem to focus on making almost blockbuster style stories that focus on style more than substance, I worry that either the SHAZAM back-ups will either be done too much along those lines, or be too much of a contrast to the main feature. In any case, I'm optimistic, and will give it the chance it deserves. Especially since if it is well received, and with DC always hinting at more cancellations coming on the way, we might be looking at a SHAZAM ongoing (or maybe a "series of mini series" kinda thing might be cool), and at this point I am kind of looking forward to it.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. If you know any good SHAZAM stories, if you disagree or have other thoughts on the matter, feel free to tell them too me.