The Marvel family has been re-imagined in the new 52. Although their origin is not yet clear, Billy, Freddy and Mary have all come together in the same foster home with the Vazquez family. It also seems that Mary and Billy are no longer related biologically, though it is still to soon in their story to determine this conclusively. She tells Billy that her parents are dead and Freddie's are in prison. She tells Billy early on when introducing herself she has a bunny that she rescued from The Puppy Mill Animal Farm, rescuing from cosmetic testing and named him Hoppy.
Mary’s story is inherently linked with that of her namesake, Captain Marvel, known as Billy Batson in his alter ego. Before attaining any superpowers, she met Billy and Freddy Freeman as a game show hosted by Batson. Through a series of revelations, it becomes clear that Mary and Billy are siblings. Mary soon after is kidnapped and upon being rescued by Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. (the alter ego of Freddy) the family connection is revealed to her as well. Through necessity after Billy and Freddy are captured she discovers that the magic phrase operates with her as well. She then meets the wizard Shazam who reveals her powers are not the same as Billy’s, though they are similar. She takes on the name Mary Marvel and fights crime alongside her new friends.
Following the reboot of the DC Universe after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths the origin story of the surviving Marvel family members is slightly retold. Mary and Billy Batson's parents are now archaeologists and Egyptologists. At the age of nine, Mary goes with her parents on a Sivana-sponsored expedition to and Billy stays at home. An associate of the Batsons is a man named Theo Adam, who happens to be the half-brother of Sarah Primm. Adam kills the Batson parents when they unearth a priceless jeweled scarab, and steals Mary back to . Mary looses her memory, both of her life as a Batson, and of the murder of her parents. Adam places Mary into the care of Primm, who at the time is working as a maid for the Nick and Nora Bromfield. As with his previous history, Billy is eventually chosen by the wizard Shazam to be his champion, and is given the power of Captain Marvel. One of the first tasks the old wizard gives to Billy, is to find his lost sister. After some searching they discover Mary at a spelling bee hosted by WHIZ radio and is being emceed by local teenage host Billy Batson. After some Also entered in the bee is a young boy named Freddy Freeman. Mary wins the spelling bee, and is whisked away only to be kidnapped. Billy rescues the girl, but she is soon kidnapped again, proving there is a conspiracy to collect a ransom from her adoptive parents. Billy begins to think about how familiar Mary seems. He soon discovers that Mary is his lost sister. Mary soon discovers that the powers of Shazam apply to her as well and as with the golden age story she must go to free her brother from kidnappers. In the new universe, Mary's powers no longer stem from a different set of gods than Billy's, but instead share from a finite store of the magic which the wizard Shazam serves as a conduit.
Her story is to rebooted once again in the DC Universe after the new 52. In this universe she meets Billy as the two are placed together in a foster home. As the child that has been there the longest she is given some level of authority over him in the house. The story is ongoing.
Fawcett Publications and its primary superhero were among the most prominent of early comic book publishers. As opposed to other companies who went for more variety in their superheroes, Fawcett was more of the impression of modifying the original concept (and indeed the formula worked as they were the most popular comic book company for a while). So it was not long until a feminine version of Captain Marvel should be expected and Mary was it. She was specifically designed as a feminine counterpart to the male Marvels (drawing her abilities from female goddesses) with her initial appearance being based on a young Judy Garland.
Among DC’s most substantial acquisitions of other comic book companies, Fawcett and Charlton stand out. Thus Mary is one of many DC heroes to have a long publication history with two separate comic book companies. Despite her stature as one of the most prominent early superheroines and even headlining her own book, Mary was not really intended as anything more than a superhero (as opposed to Wonder Woman who was designed as a feminist icon.) Thus her early stories focused on adventuring, though of course it was intended to appeal in part to a female audience. Due to ongoing litigation with DC over copyright infringement on Superman, Fawcett was eventually forced to stop production of the entire Marvel family and so the character languished in obscurity until the 1970s. The entire Marvel family was relaunched in the 1970s by DC, who had in the meantime purchased the rights to the characters. The Marvel family eventually came to inhabit Earth S in the multiverse, and did not have a great deal of interaction with the mainstream DC comics, though there were some stories which featured them. In these years Mary had her first interaction with Supergirl, a similar character which followed her substantially chronologically but which was far more well-known due to her connection with Superman. During Crisis on Infinite Earths, Earth S along with all other alternate Earths was merged into a single Earth, thus making her among the heroes of a unified world.
During Mary's time with the Superbuddies, her worldview (which was conservative and traditional in outlook, paying homage to her golden age roots) is repeatedly challenged. When Mary Batson becomes roommates with Fire, Mary's brother Billy is extremely upset as Beatriz DaCosta is not known for her correct moral posture at all times. Of the Marvel family members Mary has been consistently shown to be the one most interested in maintaining her powers.
Major Story Arcs
Among the most prominent story arcs of the golden age, was an attempt by Doctor Sivana, using a new element called suspendium to trap the Marvel family in suspended animation in space. He was successful but ended up trapping himself as well. The heroes eventually escape after twenty years and return to Earth where the wizard Shazam returns them to their own time, so that in essence nothing happened. Stories throughout the silver age and leading up to Crisis on Infinite Earths focused on the heroics of the Marvel family with the occasional meet-up with other hero teams such as the Justice League of America or the Justice Society of America.
During Crisis on Infinite Earths, Mary joins the heroes gathered from many different Earths by the Monitor and Harbinger for their struggle against the Anti-Monitor. They ultimately defeat the Anti-Monitor, but not before their and all other surviving earths are collapsed down and merged together. The Marvels now find themselves living on the same Earth as the rest of DC continuity.
The first major story arc post-Crisis involves Doctor Sivana altering the timeline of the Batsons, so that their parents never perished and indeed obtained the powers themselves. The wizard Shazam determines something is wrong, and giving the option to the present Captain Marvel (the father) the choice is made to return to the original timeline. Mary soon after decides to share her power with Freddy in order to save his life, although this creates some friction between the three.
During the events of Genesis when the Godwave rolls through the universe, the Marvels are unable to transform back into their mortal counterparts. As a result, Mary and Billy feel they must reveal their secret to the Bromfields (Mary’s adoptive parents), who then begin to wonder how they will cope with raising two super powers beings, and worry every time the pair fly away into danger. Many of the other magic based heroes on Earth are left powerless, and those who have retained their powers, find that they either no longer work properly or consistently. Eventually, it is learned that Darkseid is attempting to gain the powers of the Godwave for himself, and that is the true cause of everyone's powers being messed up. Heroes from all over the universe gather together with the New Gods to battle Darkseid and stop his evil plan. Mary and Billy are chosen to be a part of a group that first travels to New Genesis, and then Mary goes with a smaller group as they make an attempt to penetrate the Source Wall. The key to preserving the universe is believed to be in entering the Source, and confronting the destructive forces at work directly. They succeed, and Mary returns to New Genesis, and then to Earth. The wizard Shazam stays behind on New Genesis to spend time with Highfather and commune with the Source. Mary and Billy are each given a Mother Box with which to better control and channel the power of the gods during Shazam's absence. During the course of this adventure, the Marvels learn that the Source (and its resulting Godwave) is the origin of not only their power, but that of all magic users, divine powers, Guardians Of The Universe (and their Green Lantern Corps) powers, the Speed Force, and many others.
In the next story arc the Marvel family battles Mr. Mind in the return of the villainous Venusian worm. The Bromfield house and all of is destroyed in an explosion, and Mary confronts Mr. Mind. He eventually takes control of a Marine and mans a sets of armour which allows him to go head-to-head against the Marvels. He is eventually apprehended with the help of Bulletman, Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner.
Some time later Mary joins the superhero team, the Superbuddies, after her brother turned down an invitation from L-Ron to join a new super team. Despite what the wisdom of Solomon told her, and her invulnerability to boot, believed she would get radiation poisoning from Captain Atom. As a result, Mary avoided Atom as much as possible. The Superbuddies touted themselves as the "Heroes for the Common Man," and were often subject to the ire of the neighbourhood residents around them. The group faced numerous threats, some serious sone less so, such as the "E Street Bloodsuckers," a superpowered gang that lived a thug life, but spoke and otherwise acted like highly educated thespians, and Roulette, the illegitimate daughter of Terry Sloane. Roulette kidnapped the most powerful members of the Superbuddies, and forced them to become gladiators in her intergalactic arena, a place where criminals and aliens placed bets on who would win each battle. Mary was forced to battle Captain Atom after being hypnotized by Roulette. Mary inadvertently ruptured the skin of Captain Atom and almost killed fire before she came to her senses. Ironically, Captain Atom is now leaking radiation, serving to be a radioactive danger to Mary for the first time by her own hand. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold rush Atom to a hospital while the alien overlord Manga Khan arrives at Earth to reclaim L-Ron. Khan offers to give Max Lord the canine Green Lantern Gnort in exchange, but Lord refuses. After Booster accidentally damages Khan's sentries, the alien declares war on earth. The Superbuddies are unable to defeat the overlord until the real Justice League arrives and saves the day.
The actions of this story arc cause Captain Atom to leave the team and Power Girl is recruited in her place. The team accidentally is transported to Hell when Booster used one of Doctor Fate’s items incorrectly. They almost rescue Ice, long since dead but in the end they escape with only themselves. Upon returning they discover themselves in an alternate reality where their counterparts are thugs-for-hire. Eventually Dr. Fate, who has been searching for the lost Superbuddies, finds them and brings them back home to their proper universe.
For a while Mary traveled with Linda Danvers and Buzz looking for the Earth Born Angel. There mission lead them from Las Vegas, to Mexico. There Mary fought Quetzalcoatl and sent him back in time. There mission then took them to the Garden of Eden there Mary was stabbed by a Hell-Spawn Dagger, and died. She was brought back from the dead by Twilight.
Following the events of Identity Crisis, Mary and the remaining Superbuddies embark on a mission to try and avenge Beetle's death (which happened at the hands of Maxwell Lord.) The team is ultimately unsuccessful when they are confronted by the The OMAC Project. Then, the world continues to fall apart as the Spectre, coerced by Jean Loring who is under control of Eclipso, goes on the warpath against magic and magic users. Among the first group of magic users killed by the Spectre are two old friends of the Marvel family. Mary's brother Billy takes on the Spectre, but the Spectre eventually overcomes Billy. The Spectre gets away and makes it to the Rock of Eternity to confront Shazam. Shazam is defeated, and the Rock of Eternity is blown to bits, but not before Shazam can lay the seeds of Spectre's defeat. Spectre is finally defeated after he kills Nabu, the final Great Lord of the Ninth Age, attracting the personal attention of the Presence. Spectre is forced back into a mortal host body, that of Crispus Allen. The Marvels now deal with the death of their benefactor and the new wildness of magic. Spectre has now broken the "book" of magic and changed the nature of how it works. They begin rebuilding the Rock of Eternity and trying to guard the ways of magic. Eventually the Marvels find their situation changed entirely. Billy is now called upon to take up the mantle left behind by the wizard Shazam, and becomes the protector of all the magic in the universe. Billy moves into the Rock of Eternity full time, and Mary and Freddy are left drifting somewhat.
Following the events of Infinite Crisis, one of Mary's old enemies had reformed and joined the JSA. Black Adam then leaves the team and becomes the dictator of Kahndaq, an ancient country next to . After a potentially horrible start, Teth Adam finds love in a woman. He, in turn, petitions his gods to bestow on her the powers of Isis, and then gives some of his own power to her mortally wounded brother, turning him into Osiris. Finally finding happiness, Adam becomes a beneficent ruler over his country, and weds . Mary and Freddy attend the wedding as witnesses with Billy officiating. The idyllic life does not last long, for less than a year later, Osiris is killed and eaten by Sobek, and the Four Horsemen are unleashed on Kandaq, killing Isis and millions of citizens. In his grief and despair, Black Adam goes on the rampage, tracking down the creators of the Horsemen to the "science island" and its master, the evil Egg Fu. He is captured by the evil scientists, but is eventually freed by the combined efforts of the JSA and Will Magnus. Once free, Black Adam goes on a worldwide destructive jihad and is unable to be stopped. With the Earth's heavy hitters either missing, off the planet, or in hiding, there is nearly no one to stop Adam. Even the Marvels are incapable of stopping his rampage. Billy petitions the Egyptian gods to take away Adam's powers, but they refuse. Mary, when she tries to go head to head with Adam, is knocked to the Earth unconscious, and left in a coma.
Mary eventually regains consciousness months later. Unknown to Mary, Billy cannot leave the Rock of Eternity, because he has taken up the mantle of Shazam. Also, the "Books of Magic" have changed since the last Crisis, and she cannot just call on the name of the old wizard, but must earn the powers in series of tests and trials. The next week, Mary goes to visit Madame Xanadu to see if she can learn the whereabouts of Freddy. Xanadu is unable to divine his location, but does want to speak to Mary about her power. She tells Mary that she has had the magic word stripped from her, a fact which Mary affirms with quite a bit of frustration. The interview continues, with Mary growing more and more agitated over Xanadu's continued insistence to speak about her own problems. Xanadu warns Mary that great power does lie in her future, but if it is from a good or ill source may depend much on the decisions she makes in the near future. The next week, Mary is in , and is chased into an old Gothic building by some common street thugs. Inside, the attackers are killed by an enraged Black Adam, who is surrounded by many other dead bodies, those who had trespassed on his territory. He is about to kill her, but she tells him that she is only there by accident. Mary is in search of her brother Billy, and comes to believe she has been led there to help Teth Adam. He scoffs at this idea, and move in for the kill. While he is laughing, she asks what is so funny. He says that he has been cursed by his powers, while Mary counters that they are a gift. Adam says the powers do not make up for the loss of his family, but is also believes it was not an accident that she found him. He grabs her by the neck, slams her against the wall and says hope is only a sick delusion. Asking her if she wants to die, she says she just wants her old life back, her life with her family and her powers. Adam says they both know that isn't possible, but he says he can ease her loneliness. Adam cries "Shazam", and lightning strikes them both. Adam tells her that he has given her all his power, having lived with the burden long enough. Mary discovers she now not only wields the Marvel powers (though from different gods), but also the powers that had given to Teth-Adam upon her death earlier in the year. She finds that she now feels as if she is made of living magical lightning, and is more sensitive to the flow of magic in the world around her.
When the Rock of Eternity had been shattered and showered with fragments, the world's heroes had tried to find them all, but a few still remained scattered about. Mary runs across a small coven of five pregnant women on the roof of a hospital, sitting in a pentagram with a Rock of Eternity fragment floating in the air before them. The group sacrifices themselves before Mary can reach them, the fragment exploding in a blast of red light. In their place stands the demon Pharyngula, the "Harvest of the Stillborn," a creature literally made of unborn babies. Mary promptly engages the demon in battle, tearing up the neighborhood around the hospital in their fury. Smashing the beast with a car, Mary finally gains the upper hand and engages the demon face to face. Before she can land her next blow, lightning falls from the heavens, knocking Pharyngula unconscious on the ground. Mary has disappeared without a trace. Mary materializes on the other end of the magical lightning inside the Rock of Eternity. For the first time in over a year, she is reunited with her brother Billy, who she finds radically changed. Billy explains that he's no longer only what Captain Marvel was, but everything that Shazam was as well. Somehow, he is the Rock of Eternity and the Rock is him. He also shares the news of Freddie being on a quest to complete his trials to become the new Captain Marvel and take Billy's place on Earth. Mary asks where he fits into the plan after the great change they've experienced, and Billy says that why he brought her to the Rock. Mary has become a problem, a big one. Billy shares his concern about how brutally savage Mary had been during her fight with Pharyngula, and how much his sister had changed, even to the point of her racy new uniform. She reveals that she received her power from Black Adam, and Billy is shocked and warns her of the danger of such a transfer of power. In anger, Mary disagrees and bursts out of the Rock of Eternity, vowing to pursue her destiny alone whether Billy approves or not.
During Final Crisis Mary Marvels body is taken by the New God Desaad and uses it to fight other heroes. She is later freed of this control and returned to her mortal form. Soon thereafter Mary is recruited by Black Adam to fight against the Justice Society. The wizard Shazam is revived and removes the powers from the Marvel family, after expressing a great disappointment in their actions. Billy and Mary are later seen wandering the streets of (and later still during the events of Blackest Night) unsure of how they got to where they are.
Powers & Abilities
In the golden age pre-Crisis stories Mary’s powers come from a different group of gods than Billy’s. Mary’s powers are from a group of goddesses (these are depicted as goddesses even though all are not – Zephyrus is a male, and Hippolyate is not divine):
- Selena, who gives her Grace
- Hippolyta, for great Strength
- Ariadne, who imparts Skill
- Zephyrus, who gives her Fleetness
- Aurora, who grants Beauty
- Minerva, for bestowing Wisdom
In post Crisis stories they come from the same group of heroes and in fact share the power, so that when both are transformed they are at half strength (though they are so powerful this is of mostly negligible importance):
As with all the Marvel family characters, speaking the name Shazam unleashes a magical lightning bolt which transforms the character. Mary is usually depicted as the only character who maintains her appearance.
The granted power break down as follows:
S is for the wisdom of Solomon. The wisdom of Solomon gives Mary great knowledge as well as a photographic memory. Solomon is actually able to speak to Mary during her times of need. The wisdom of Solomon makes Mary omni-lingual and makes her a very skilled war tactician. Through this endowment Mary also possesses a vast amount of knowledge about facts that she had no encountered previously. Mary is able to make guesses about subjects that she had no prior knowledge to but is able to answer with incredible accuracy. She also has the abilities of limited clairvoyance and hypnosis. The wisdom also makes her fairly level headed and optimistic.
H is for the strength of Hercules, depicted as strongest of the gods. Mary is empowered with Hercules' nearly limitless superhuman-strength which is often compared to and rivals that of Superman. As such, Mary Marvel's strength is of the highest level and is sufficiently vast enough that it enables her to lift/move unbelievably massive and/or heavy objects possibly on a planetary scale or higher with little effort. Mary often attempts to use only as much force as is necessary so is not often seen moving objects of a planetary scale accomplishing such tasks are well within her abilities.
A is for the stamina of Atlas, the ancient Titan who bears the heavens on his shoulders. This gives her substantial durability and endurance. Mary doesn't fatigue during or after any exertion and is also near-invulnerable. This is also sometimes linked to Achilles, which grants her inner strength and confidence.
M is for the speed of Mercury. This grants Marvel her super speed and her power to fly. This power is also responsible for her sorcery skills.
Additionally Mary Marvel is able to call down the lightning that gives her powers in order to heal her body if she is injured. Mary Marvels healing factor is also of a godly level and is able to heal herself from almost all injuries in an incredible amount of time. It should be noted that the members of the Marvel family maintain an ingenuity even when in their mortal form in which they mange to stay free of danger.
Alternate Mary Marvels
In the Kingdom Come universe, Superman and Captain Marvel share the spotlight, but Mary and Freddy Freeman also figure prominently behinds the scenes. The wizard Shazam is active as a part of The Quintessence, a group of god-like beings who are overseeing the workings of the cosmos. Mary and Freddy are married with a child in this case. They are known as King Marvel and Lady Marvel, but do not seem to be anywhere near as powerful as Billy in this place. Mary's costume is very much like the one her mother wore in the regular continuity when the time line was altered. Their child is also superpowered, and is known as the Whiz.
Mary plays a small part as a group of heroes which Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Gorilla Grodd take control of. This spurs on her brother to action, although he has to fight off the effects of mind control at the hands of Brainiac.
In this retelling of the Shazam/Marvel family mythos Billy Batson is once again been called upon by the wizard Shazam to be his champion. Similar to the usual origin story he must find his sister. A similar course of events occur prompting her into superheroism, except in this version the super-powered Marvels are different character altogether from the depowered Batsons, though Mary remains in her child form when transformed.
52: Earth-5 Mary
During Rip Hunter and Booster Gold's recent jaunt through the newly-formed multiverse, a version of the Marvel family was seen battling a giant "Bulleteer" style robot. In this new multiverse, it seems that many of the earths that existed before the first crisis have been reborn. This new earth, Earth-5, has great similarity to Earth-S from the pre-Crisis days. The difference here being that it must have a history and future all its own, and events that happen there most likely will not have much (if any) direct bearing on the current Earth-1. Though the Marvels were from a different universe entirely before the Crisis, they were molded into the collapsed universe like everyone else who survived the Crisis. In this case, the new multiverse is not a splitting of the old multiverse back into its disparate parts, but rather a creation of 51 addition universes that are divergent from the former amalgamation created after the first Crisis. Future interaction between these two sets of Marvels remains to be seen.