The Comics To Read Before ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam! Fury of the Gods will continue Billy Batson’s and his family’s magical misadventures as they face the Daughters of Atlas. From the look of the trailers, Fury of the Gods aims to be bigger and better than its predecessor, and considering how great the first film was, that’s a tall order. Hopefully, it’ll also inspire viewers to hit up their local comic book shop for more Shazam stories. If you’d like a good starting point, I’ve rounded up a collection of Shazam comics that either have a similar feel to Fury of the Gods or are great standalone stories in their own right. Or both!

Shazam! By Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

The comic with the most influence on the Shazam! films is…well, Shazam! by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Launched as a backup story during Johns’ run on Justice League, the comic reinterpreted Billy Batson’s origins for the “New 52” era. Many elements of this comic are present throughout the first Shazam! film, including Billy’s adoptive family and their sharing of his mystical powers. But one major change was made to the storyline. In the comic, Billy ends up battling Black Adam. But in the film, he faces off against Dr. Thaddeus Sivana; ironically, the not-so-good doctor was responsible for freeing Adam from his tomb in the comic. Given James Gunn and Peter Safran’s plans for DC Studios, we may not see Billy and Adam clash on the screen for a while.

Shazam! And The Monster Society of Evil

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam’s enemies, including Sivana and the diminutive Mister Mind, have often joined forces to battle Earth’s Mightiest Mortal as the Monster Society of Evil. The appropriately titled Shazam! And The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith puts an all-ages spin on the concept, blending Billy Batson’s origin story with a story that’s laced full of magic and danger. Smith’s cartoony style, which he perfected with his magnum opus Bone, fits the world of Shazam like a glove, and I yearn for the day when this is considered for an animated adaptation.

Superman/Shazam: First Thunder

Whenever Superman and Shazam cross paths, an epic story isn’t far behind. That’s especially the case with Superman/Shazam: First Thunder. The miniseries from Judd Winick and Joshua Middleton retells the first meeting between Billy and the Man of Steel and the unholy alliance forged between Sivana and Lex Luthor. Winick, who is best known for resurrecting Jason Todd as the Red Hood, zigs when you expect him to zag with the story. For starters, the standard “superheroes fight over a misunderstanding” is completely averted — Superman and Billy become good friends! Middleton’s art has an otherwordly vibe that fits the story’s mystical elements.

The Trials of Shazam!

Winick would continue to shake up Billy Batson’s world with The Trials of Shazam!, this time teaming with legendary artist Howard Porter. After the events of Infinite Crisis, Billy took up the mantle of the deceased wizard Shazam and tasked his friend Freddy Freeman with becoming the new champion. However, Freddy had to undergo a series of trials to gain power. Once again, Winick shook up a character’s established mythos with surprisingly interesting results. And Porter, having given life to DC icons such as the Flash and the Justice League, manages to craft art that’s worthy of Shazam. The first issue alone has pages you’ll want to hang on your walls.

The New Champion of Shazam!

If there’s one person known for wielding the power of Shazam more than Billy, it’s his adoptive sister Mary Bromfield or Mary Marvel, as she was once known. When Billy made a heroic sacrifice to save the world, magic was left without a champion. It falls to Mary to protect the world as the new Shazam while juggling her freshman year at college. Josie Campbell and Evan “Doc” Shaner deliver a story that hews closely to the roots of Shazam (Mary is assisted in her adventures by a talking bunny named Hoppy) while also pushing the story forward.

With over 75 years of comics history, these titles exemplify the legacy that fuels Shazam. Whether you’re looking forward to Fury of the Gods or just need something to add to the reading list, these are great places to start.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods premieres in theaters on March 17, 2023. All of these titles are available to purchase via Comixology.

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