First Appearance: Captain Marvel Adventures #18
Key Appearances: Wow Comics #9;
Mary Marvel Comics #1;
The Power of Shazam #4;
The Power of Shazam #28;
Formerly Known as the Justice League mini-series;
Countdown weekly series


Mary Marvel made her first appearance in 1942's Captain Marvel Adventures #18. Born Mary Batson, the twin sister of Billy Batson was seperated from her brother after the death of their parents. The Batson's nanny, a woman named Sarah Primm, substituted the baby Mary for another baby she was nanny to, when that baby suddenly died. Raised as Mary Bromfield by rich parents, Mary never knew about her brother Billy, who had been raised in an orphanage until he met the Wizard Shazam and was given the powers of the gods as Captain Marvel.

Years later, Billy was the host of a radio program and secretly Captain Marvel. The show, The Mental Marvel Quiz, featured the young Mary Batson as a contestant. The former nanny of Mary and Billy, Sarah Primm, in a death-bed confession tells Billy of his long lost sister and her substitution for the Bromfield baby. Before the two are able to reunite, Mary is kidnapped. When Billy and Freddie Freeman - as Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr. - rescue Mary, they also reveal their secret identities to her and the fact that Billy and Mary are twin siblings.

The kidnappers, now revived, take advantage of the transformed Marvels, trapping them. In a chance use of phrase, Mary utters the magic word, Shazam!, and is instantly tranformed into Mary Marvel! She saves her brother and Freddy and the three travel to the abandoned subway home of the Wizard Shazam, who reveals that it was destiny that the twins be reunited and share the power of the gods. The wizard further reveals that Mary's powers are derived from the following gods:

S - Selena for grace
H - Hippolyta for strength
A - Ariadne for skill
Z - Zephyrus for speed
A - Aurora for beauty
M - Minerva for wisdom


Created by Otto Binder with art by Marc Swayze, Mary Marvel went on to many adventures with Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.

One of the first female spin-off/derivations of a male super-hero, Mary proved popular quickly, becoming the lead character in Fawcett Comics' Wow Comics and eventually getting her own series, Mary Marvel Comics, all while still appearing monthly in Captain Marvel Adventures and The Marvel Family series. Eventually, Mary Marvel would have a fan club of her own and even rivaled the Big Red Cheese's popularity. The character set the standard for later female iterations of popular super-heroes like Batgirl and Supergirl (also co-created by Binder) and could arguably be said to have been as popular or more so than Wonder Woman in the late 1940s.

With the disintegration of Fawcett Comics, however, after a years-long legal battle with National Comics (later DC) over likenesses to Superman (National v. Fawcett), all of the Captain Marvel comics and characters were gone from comic racks and dime stores before the middle of the 1950s. It wouldn't be until the early 1970s, when DC paid for the right to use the Marvels, that Mary would see print again. Those appearances were in the short-lived Shazam! comic that featured both new and reprint stories of the Marvels by C.C. Beck, Dennis O'Neil, Elliot S! Maggin, Kurt Schaffenburger and others.

After the cancellation of that title, reprints continued to appear sporadically in both Adventure Comics and World's Finest Comics, but no new Marvel adventures appeared until 1985's Shazam! The New Beginning which followed DC's epic Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series. Mary and the rest of the Marvel Family, however, were absent from that mini and wouldn't appear again on the printed page until 1994's graphic novel, The Power of Shazam! (written and drawn by Jerry Ordway.)


Only appearing as Mary Batson in the graphic novel, it wasn't until the fourth issue of the follow-up series of the same name (The Power of Shazam!) that Mary changed into Mary Marvel. Re-christined as Captain Marvel (and often referred to as the lady Captain Marvel by the series' characters), Mary went on to be as important a character to the series as her brother Billy, the original Captain Marvel. Mary's new origin in the post-Crisis DC Universe involved her gaining her powers before Freddie Freeman became Captain Marvel Jr. and the use of Mr. Talky Tawney as her spirit guide to finding her brother Billy. The revised history still involved the seperation of the twins after their parents' death, but this time made the nanny, Sarah Primm, the sibling of Captain Marvel's arch-nemesis, Theo Adam/Black Adam!

After the cancellation of Ordway's Marvel title, Mary appeared sporadically over the next decade, showing up as a powerful ally to the Justice League, the Teen Titans, and others. Eventually, the charater was used as a replacement for her brother in the "Bwa-Ha-ha" mini-series Formerly Known as the Justice League by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and artist Kevin Maguire. Mostly a comedic look at the heroes of the 1980s version of the Justice League written and drawn by the same creative team, the book placed Mary Marvel as an extremely powerful character and established that she was a 16 year old girl when not in Marvel form. Mary appeared breifly in both of DC's status-quo shattering mini-series Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis.


As part of the tie-ins to Infinite Crisis, the mini-series and one-shot Day of Vengeance established a new age of magic in the DCU. With a mad Spectre rampaging throughout the known universe and beyond, it fell to the Wizard Shazam to stop him before the Spectre destroyed all existence. While the Wizard was succesful, it cost him his life and his home, the Rock of Eternity which was destroyed in the battle. The Spectre was beaten, but magic in the DCU had been thrown into a state of flux.

Post-Infinite Crisis, the DCU shot ahead one year (in comicbook time) and quickly established a new status quo for all of its heroes. In the world of the Marvels, it was revealed that Billy Batson had reassembled the Rock of Eternity, but in order to maintain the Rock, he had to become the new Shazam. As a result, Billy was invested with ALL of the Marvel gods' powers, leaving both Freddie Freeman and Mary Batson powerless. Unfortunately for Mary, that loss of power happened when she was three miles above Earth in the middle of a fight with a demon. She survived her fall, but was in a coma until the first issue of the weekly series, Countdown.

The first few weeks of this year long weekly series (check out all my Countdown Rundown articles for a recap!) have featured Mary prominently. Awakened from her coma, she finds herself powerless and with no one to turn to. She has no idea that Billy is now the replacement for the Wizard Shazam or that he is going by the name Marvel and is stuck on the Rock of Eternity. Freddie Freeman has also abandoned Mary, leaving only a note that asks her not to try and find him (he's on his own journey to regain his godly powers in The Trials of Shazam!)

Alone, powerless, penniless, and desperate, Mary has started a journey to find her missing powers and the people she cares most about in the world. So far, that journey has taken her along a darker path than she has ever traveled before. In the most recent issues of Countdown, Mary has crossed paths with Black Adam in Gotham City and in a surprise to readers, Black Adam actually handed all of his gods-given powers to Mary!

The future doesn't exactly look bright for Mary Batson, but it certainly promises to be interesting for readers! This article covers far from all of the adventures and trials that Mary has faced, but hopefully it has intrigued you as readers to seek out more on the erstwhile teen hero and her Marvel-ous family!

Tune in tomorrow for my regular weekly column, The Countdown Rundown!

Reading suggestions: The Trials of Shazam (curently published bimonthly by DC Comics; written by Judd Winick with art by Howard Porter); Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil (4 issue mini-series by Bone creator Jeff Smith); DC Archives: Shazam and Shazam Family (3 volumes and 1 volume, respectively); Countdown (weekly from DC Comics until May 2008; various writers and artists)

Sources: Wikipedia; The Marvel Family Web (the best Captain Marvel website on the entire interweb!); Don Markstein's Toonopedia Mary Marvel entry; years and years of reading DC Comics!