DC Universe: Challenge of Shazam, Chapter 1: Heirs of Black Adam

by Starsky Hutch 76 and Doc Quantum

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Black Adam sat at the outdoor table in a small restaurant on the streets of Cairo. He wore plain clothes over his uniform to hide his identity. He had chosen to lay low since his last defeat by the accursed Marvel Family. (*) It had shaken him.

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Marvel Family: Black Adam Strikes Back.]

Victory had been within his grasp, but the accursed Captain Marvel Junior, a mere boy, had defeated him. It did not seem possible. Perhaps his battle with Captain Marvel had left him weakened. Perhaps they had outside help. Whatever the reason was, he knew he could not simply rush into his next confrontation with them after escaping from the authorities. His next encounter would require more strategy.

The server brought his food, and he began to eat. When he looked up from his food, he was surprised to see a robed figure taking the seat opposite him.

“Who dares disturb my meal?” Black Adam growled menacingly.

“Someone who can give you that which you seek,” an ancient voice said.

“All I seek is to eat in peace,” the large man snapped, spraying bits of lentils and goat meat.

“Is it really, Teth-Adam?” the stranger said in ancient Egyptian, startling him.

“How…?” Black Adam sputtered.

Your enemies are my enemies,” the robed man said. “Let us work together and put an end to them.” His hand shot forward and grabbed Black Adam’s hand. When Black Adam tried to pull back his own hand, he was alarmed to discover he could not.

“Who are you?” Black Adam said in alarm.

“A friend… family… perhaps both,” the stranger said. Black Adam looked closely at the face beneath the hood. For a split second, he thought he was looking at the wizard Shazam. The eyes were wrong, though. They were cruel and malevolent. The long white beard was also marked by a streak of black.

The stranger reached into a bag tied at his waist and pulled out a ceremonial dagger. He dragged it across Black Adam’s palm, cutting him and delivering another shock.

“What are you doing?” Adam yelped.

“Watch and learn,” the old wizard said. He squeezed Adam’s palm, and the blood began to drizzle downward. Rather than hit the table, it hovered in the air, forming a pool that began spreading outward.

“What’s happening?” Adam asked.

“We are looking along your bloodline,” the old wizard said. “Teth-Adam sired children before Shazam exiled him, did he not?”

“Yes,” Adam said, mystified.

“And they sired children, and so on and so on,” the wizard continued. “Ah, this is interesting.”

Inside the red pool, they could make out a young, olive-complexioned girl being dressed down by her employer at the record store where they worked.

***

“…and another thing, besides the nose ring, you’ve gotta do something about that attitude, Sheba. Customers don’t come in here to be ridiculed for their musical tastes. That girl left here in tears!”

“Debbie Gibson is cheesy garbage,” Sheba said, rolling her eyes.

“I happen to like Debbie Gibson,” the manager said. “Are you going to tell me that I’m cheesy?”

Sheba said nothing. Her sneer said it all for her.

“That’s it,” the manager said. “Turn in your vest. You’re through at Turtles Records and Tapes.”

“Here’s what I think of your stupid job,” Sheba scoffed. She was about to take off the vest and throw the vest in her face, when a strange feeling came over her.

“Well?” the manager said. “I’m waiting.”

Sheba’s mouth opened, and one word escaped from her. “…Shazam…”

A lightning bolt came out of nowhere, striking her. Her clothing suddenly changed from a green vest over ripped jeans and a Souxsie and the Banshees T-shirt into a black and gold tunic bearing a gold lightning bolt upon the chest held together by a gold sash and gold slippers. She felt supercharged, as if she could take the record store apart with her bare hands. She contemplated doing just that.

A voice suddenly spoke from out of nowhere. “Save your petty revenge for later. If you want to keep the power you now hold, you must perform a task…”

She listened to the voice within her head for a few seconds, nodding as it spoke. From his place upon the floor, the record store manager looked at her in terror. The manager was now beneath her notice.

***

In Cairo, Black Adam and the wizard watched as Black Sheba took to the air, flying right through the roof of the record store. “She is but the first,” the wizard said, smiling.

A cruel smile came onto Black Adam’s face. No longer would his accursed enemy, Captain Marvel, have the advantage of numbers. He would now have a family of his own to fight by his side.

***

Mary Batson cursed herself. How could she have let herself oversleep like that? Now she might miss her psych exam. She tried to keep a healthy balance between her life as the hero, Mary Marvel, and the student, Mary Batson. Unfortunately, there were times like this, when she had to spend the night before an exam cramming because a case had cut into her studying, that the imbalance was all too evident. She rushed out of her dorm and across the UCLA campus.

In her panicked state, Mary failed to see the dark figure streaking down toward her. A hand suddenly clamped over her mouth, and she found herself lifted off the ground.

“Nothing personal, sister,” a female voice said into her ear, “but these powers are too big a rush to give up, and you just happen to be what I gotta pay for them with.”

***

“By what magicks do you accomplish such a thing?” Black Adam said, grinning evilly.

“Are you displeased?” the wizard asked him.

“No… far from it.”

“Then question not where my power comes from,” the wizard replied. “Only be glad that I am offering it to you.”

“For what price?” Black Adam asked him suspiciously.

“Oh… my price is very simple, and one which you may find agreeable. All I ask is that you use this newfound ‘family’ of yours…”

“Yes?”

“…to kill the Marvel Family…”

“Ah, yes,” Black Adam said with a smile.

“…and the wizard Shazam.”

“Excellent.”

“Now let us continue,” the wizard said. “Observe…” He passed his hand over the pool of blood on the table, and the scene changed.

Black Adam now observed a young, swarthy-skinned man with facial features remarkably similar to his own, who had jet-black hair slicked back with greasy kid stuff and who wore a leather bomber-style motorcycle jacket and sunglasses. He was riding a motorcycle down the highway without a care in the world.

***

Just then, a police car passed the young man, then turned around and began following him, its lights flashing and siren blaring as it went. Dionysius “Dean” Adams spat an epithet and groaned as he was pulled over.

The policeman, a short, overweight bald white man with oversized sunglasses, looked him up and down as he walked over to him and said, “Where you goin’ in such a rush, boy?

“I was planning on going down this highway,” Dean answered.

“You givin’ me lip, boy?” the cop snarled.

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

“That’s some funny accent you got, boy,” the cop said after a moment. “You some kinda’ Libyan terrorist or somethin’?”

“Not quite,” he replied. “I am partially Arabic, but I was raised in New York. My father’s a professor of Middle Eastern studies.”

“Terrorist. I thought so.” The cop frowned and checked him over again. “You wouldn’t a happen to have stopped in Lilysville on your way here, did you, boy?”

“All these hick towns look the same to me,” Dean answered.

“That a fact? Well, there just happened to have been an armed robbery back in Lilysville just over an hour ago. But I’m sure you wouldn’t know anything about that, would’ja, boy?”

“You have me mistaken for someone else… sir.”

“Get the hell off that bike, boy!” the policeman said, his gun drawn. “I’m placin’ you under arrest! Get your hands up in the air!”

Dean Adams muttered an epithet he’d learned while on one of his father’s archaeological outings and began to raise his hands. Strangely enough, though, he suddenly had a powerful urge to say something else, something really kind of strange. Finally, he gave in.

“Uh… Shazam?

The lightning bolt was sudden and startling. The fat police officer fell onto his back, and a shot fired into the air. Dionysius Adams’ motorcycle had been completely destroyed by the lightning, but he now wore a black shirt with a lightning bolt across it, with a golden sash and boots. His leather jacket remained, although it now had a lightning bolt on the back. He felt stronger than he’d ever felt before.

“What the hell–?!” the fat cop shouted, still on his back.

Black Dionysius grinned as he stepped over to the cop and, with one quick motion, picked up the heavy man and lifted him up with one arm. He felt as light as a feather. He stopped, though, as a voice thundered through his head. He listened and reluctantly dropped the fat cop back onto the ground, then flew away in silence. The police officer took off his sunglasses as he watched the kid fly off into the sky. A second later, he fainted.

***

Freddy Freeman sat in on a lecture at Columbia University, though he could hardly keep his mind on his studies. It was his first semester, and he was finding it difficult to get used to. Finally, he decided to leave and get a bite to eat. “Hey, can I grab the notes off of you later, Jeff?” he asked a fellow classmate.

“Sure thing, Fred.”

Freddy smiled and got himself up with his crutch. He tried to call as little attention to himself as possible as he exited the lecture hall.

A few minutes later, outside the cafeteria, he opened his mouth to bite into the burger he’d ordered, when he felt a hand clamp like an iron vise over his mouth.

“Freddy Freeman, I presume?” Dionysius said. Freddy nodded. “Listen, guy, I don’t care who you are, or why I’m supposed to kidnap you like this, but there’s a price to be paid for these powers of mine. Nothing personal, you understand.”

Freddy mumbled something in response.

***

Paris, France:

Dr. Theodore Adams sat up from his desk at the university and frowned, his concentration on the notes he had been making on Amazon history ruined. He suddenly felt as if someone had walked over his grave. He made a mental note to call his ex-wife as soon as he could, maybe ask how Dean was doing. After all, even though his son wasn’t on speaking terms with him at the moment, he was still hoping for some kind of reconciliation with him someday.

The moment passed, and he realized that he was late. He had agreed to meet Princess Celia and Promethea for dinner at that Italian restaurant they’d seen while walking along the Rue de la Paix. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Whiz: Thunder Girl: Child of Thunder and Lightning.]

***

Uncle Dudley stopped in his tracks as he realized what he’d just seen. Freddy Freeman had just been abducted by a young flying man in a costume not unlike that of the Marvels’ old foe, Black Adam. So much for surprising Freddy at school today. He dropped his drink and McHappy Meal and began running in his own way (that is, huffing and puffing) back out to the street to hail a cab. He had to get to Billy Batson as fast as possible.

“There ain’t no cure for Shazambago,” he mumbled to himself sadly as he stuck a hand in the air, wishing somehow he had the power to help Freddy right now.

***

Mary Batson, who was also known by her adoptive name, Mary Bromfield, found herself in a dark cavern. She had passed out from lack of oxygen when she was abducted, and she had since been tied up and gagged. She squirmed around to see what she could, but there was nothing doing. She rolled onto her back and pushed herself like a worm along the cave floor, her arms feeling like they were rubbing raw against it. Tears welled up in her eyes from the pain. Finally, she made her way far enough over to see where the source of light was coming from. However, all she could see were endless clouds. No land was anywhere in sight. Where could she possibly be?

Just another episode in The Perils of Mary Batson, she thought to herself with a grimace.

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