Though each was originally meant to become Captain Marvel if the "real" Billy were killed before he could be called, one of Sivana's many plots against the good Captain was actually responsible for their becoming the Lt. Marvels. However, unlike when "real" Billy calls out the old wizard's name and becomes the adult Captain Marvel, the Lieutenants become older teenaged versions of themselves when the call on their powers.
Dudley Batson, Billy's legal guardian, is Merrill Batson's older brother and is a recovering con-man blessed with a heart of gold. While many folks will dismiss Dudley as a “bumbling fool” on sight, he’s actually quite sharp and can spot a phony a mile away. Among his many talents, Dudley happens to be very good at electronics, dabbles in stage magic, illusion and escape artistry, and he can and has picked his way out of a pair of handcuffs in about 10 seconds flat without looking. He knows he’s not the best role model in the world for them, but the kids love him anyway.
He finds out Billy, Mary and Freddy’s secret identities by accidentally reading his young niece’s diary, which she leaves at his home, and decides to make himself a costume so he can “help them out” from time to time. Mr. Morris offers Dudley his own kids show on WHIZ-TV, where he’ll spend most of his time when he’s in his “Uncle Marvel” suit. When not working at WHIZ-TV, Dudley will spend time working on a pair of animatronic cartoon rabbits he’s named Hoppy and Millie, who will wind up appearing on the show. Easygoing and laid back, he has seen and experienced much in his life, but hasn’t let them make him jaded or embittered. He has the same faith in humanity and sense of wonder as a much-younger person.
Shazam, the ancient wizard who blessed the Marvel Family with their incredible powers, resides in a palace he built on the fabled Rock of Eternity, where he keeps an ostensive eye on his “family” and chronicles their adventures in the massive tome that rests near his throne. Since the old wizard was nearly a god at the time of his “death”, he knows everything that has happened and will happen throughout the world from the highest to the lowest. The reason is that he is about 10,000 years old, give or take a century, and in his very long life he has seen much, done much, and has been a trusted friend, teacher and counselor to rulers and deities alike.
For some 3,000 years before becoming a wizard, Shazam battled evil as the Champion of the Lumerian people, until the island nation sank beneath the waves and the gods he knew were forgotten by all save himself. Not much is known about the centuries between his last appearance as the Champion and the wizard Shazam’s emergence in the court of King Djer, Egypt’s second king, but legends tell that he travelled far and wide, learning all the secrets of White Magick he could.
Exactly when and why he left Egypt is not certain, but Shazam travelled to Israel in the time of wise King Solomon. Later, he was in Greece during its Heroic Age, becoming friends with Zeus, Hermes and the Titan Atlas and the heroes Hercules and Achilles. Centuries later, when Achilles and Solomon were long dead and free from the corruptions of the living, Shazam asked their spirits to join Zeus, Hermes (renamed Mercury by the Romans), Atlas (freed from his duties of supporting the heavens) and Hercules (now a god) to do good in the world.
Before creating the Marvel Family, Shazam entrusted two others with both his powers and his secrets, only to see that trust cruelly betrayed. The first one was Khem-Adam, or Black Adam, his first heir to the role of champion. Out of greed and jealous rage, Adam murdered his cousin, King Djer, then slew Djer’s wife and most of their children and, with the aid of a corrupt priest named Seth-Kerak, usurped the throne for himself. The second was a vain young wizard named Oggar, whom he tried to teach compassion and to use his powers to help others, but the lessons both Shazam and the spirit of Solomon tried to teach him fell on deaf ears.
Ultimately, Oggar felt he had no further use for either Shazam or his teachings. He found a new master in the form of the sorceress Circe, whom he gave the gift of immortality, then turned against the old wizard and his fellows. With a heavy heart, Shazam defeated his former protégé even as Circe struck down the vain young sorcerer with a five-fold curse. She cursed him with the horns, legs and hooves of a goat, the inability to use a spell more than once and the inability to use his powers against any female of any age.
Over the centuries, Shazam became a great adept at Magick; so great, that he was at last virtually a god - but not quite. Eventually, he had to die. In Eternity, Shazam took residence in the temple he built on the Rock of Eternity. From Eternity, one can reach any era or alternate dimension, so the members of the Marvel Family use it in order to travel through time. As a spirit, he commands even greater Magickal powers than he did in life, as well as dispatching his magic lightning bolts and advising the Marvel Family. Shazam relies on a bracelet made of a magickal element called Shazamium to maintain his spirit form. The Shazamium bracelet can also send anyone who puts it on instantly to the Rock of Eternity.
Going further with our heroes, and the kids are the real heroes of this story, Billy, Mary and Freddy will learn to work together as well as alone, and that the old maxim, “there is strength in unity, and in unity there is strength,” is true. And while some of the Marvel’s great wisdom carries over to their mortal forms, they are far from perfect; they foul up, sometimes badly, but they always try to put things right in the end. They have the capability to become the world’s most powerful heroes, and the Marvel Family will learn the full scope and potential of their gifts, and quickly too, for they will need it.
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