by Starsky Hutch 76, Libbylawrence and HarveyKent
The Marvel Family stared in horror at the reanimated corpse of Fat Billy Batson, his face twisted into a malevolent grin, his eyes glowing a fierce red.
“Yes, this form will do nicely,” said the evil wizard Mazahs. “With some adjustments.”
Suddenly, the waistline of Fat Billy began to shrink. His shoulders grew broader, and his chest and arms became more muscular. He also grew three inches in height.
“Much better,” the evil wizard said. “How anyone could let themselves get that way is beyond me.”
Looking down at the tunic that had become untucked, he said, “Well, this won’t do.” With a wave of his hands, the bodysuit had become gold, with a black lightning bolt and fit his new shape. The cape had become an open black robe. His hair was now black and hung past his shoulders. A goatee now graced his face. If it weren’t for the evil leer, Captain Marvel mused that this would be what a young Shazam would look like.
“Now, where was I?” Mazahs asked. “Ah, yes. I was about to take this world of young heroes and turn it into a teenage wasteland.”
The evil wizard known as Mazahs exulted in his powerful new form. He had altered the corpse of the Lieutenant Marvel called Fat Billy until that heroic champion’s lifeless form now looked healthy and deadly.
Uncle Marvel whistled softly as he wrestled the now-helpless Dora Keene, alias Darkling, down to the ground. “The man could make an honest fortune through weight-loss magic if he’d only give up his evil ways!” he said.
Captain Marvel, Tall Marvel, and Hill Marvel exchanged startled glances as the wizard shoved past them with the speed of Mercury, combined with a greater awareness of the many twisting passages within the Rock of Eternity.
“Holy moley! He’s like a linebacker from you know where!” gasped the Captain.
“He’s gone!” cried Marvel Bunny. “He could have exited out any of an infinite number of tunnels that, in turn, lead to any number of locations.”
“Shucks!” said Hill Marvel. “It’s just as well. He was like a cornered weasel, and he could have done any number of bad things if we had tried to fight him here and now. I think we better regroup. We ain’t had a bit of time to mourn for Fat Billy!”
“Mr. Keeper says Billy is happy and well now,” said Kid Eternity. “He’s beyond all pain or strife!”
“That’s swell, since we have to take up the chase now, anyway,” said Captain Marvel. “Mazahs is bent on taking over the world, and we have to stop him!” Turning to Uncle Marvel, he said, “Unc, how about taking Dora to jail and seeing about Billy’s funeral arrangements while we form a plan?”
“I’ll do it,” assured Uncle Marvel. “Never fear, lad!”
Suddenly, four newcomers emerged from the shadows to greet the heroes. A restored Mary Marvel stood beside an equally cured Captain Marvel Junior, while a slightly smug-looking Cool Marvel stood nearby with his arms crossed and his baseball cap turned backward on his head.
“Mary! Junior! I’m sure glad to see you two are back to normal!” cried the Captain as he rushed forward to welcome back his partners after their dark transformation.
“Shoot! Mary Marvel, Hoppy Marvel, Tall Marvel… Who’s next? Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon Marvel? I’m just glad Sha-dude, here, was able to restore these two to their old selves. Not that Ms. Marvy Mayhem wasn’t a stone fox in that nightie!”
Mary blushed and lowered her eyes, while Junior glowered at Cool Marvel.
Shazam himself said, “It was simple to cleanse these children of the tainted magic with my own pure lightning. Now, my friends, you must act swiftly. Much work must be done!”
Meanwhile, if such a word could have meaning when talking about the Rock of Eternity, Black Adam and his family were proudly standing on the rooftop of the building housing Station WHIZ.
“We will rule this world as we choose, but remember always that I shall rule this family!” declared Black Adam.
A green flash of energy struck him and his new family, and in seconds, all of the evil group stood still like so many dolls or puppets devoid of free will.
“And thanks to my mind-control ray, I will rule you all! Ho-he-ho!” roared the hulking figure of King Kull the Beast-Man.
Kull smiled with broken yellow teeth as he studied his new slaves. “First, we will divide up. Two of you will destroy all life on Earth by melting away all the oceans of the world with my infernal machine, while the rest of us will journey via your Marvel-like might to the dawn of time, where we will prevent the cursed human race from wiping out my own sub-men! My race will survive this time, and history will date the moment of my triumph as only the first of many changes!”
In ancient Egypt, the time-tossed Mister Scarlet and Pinky the Whiz Kid made their way into an impressive structure, where they soon were brought before the regal figure of old Shazam.
Pinky whispered, “He looks as old now as he does in the future!”
“I have witnessed your deeds in this land via my Historama, and I notice the box you hold as well,” said Shazam. “You must not blame yourself for loosing the evil I contained within yon vessel. Destiny cannot be ignored in a place such as this. That foul essence will not be able to harm the world unless some truly cosmic event transpires. Still, should such be the case, I will gladly return you to your own era, and I will retain this prison for future use!”
Mister Scarlet nodded and said, “Thank you, great sir! I fear many of our allies have also been wrongly displaced in time.”
“So shall they find their way home as well,” said Shazam. “Do not fear, my son!”
The two red-clad champions vanished as the old wizard’s magic swept over them. They blinked through the light that enveloped them and saw that the cityscapes they knew so well had replaced the pyramids and dinosaurs of their recent past.
“We’re home!” said Mister Scarlet. “I’d say we’d better call Wainwright and have him catch us up on the news. Possibly, the Marvels have handled the evil wizard by now. If not, we’ll let them know we’re back, and then we’d better patrol our own city!”
“I’d hate to have the others think we punked out on them,” said Pinky.
Mister Scarlet agreed thoughtfully. “Yeah, we ought to try to make our way back to them.”
“Why didn’t you tell old Shazam that his double was solid and up to serious evil?” asked Pinky.
“Chalk it up to the science fiction writer in me, but I hesitated to create a time paradox by telling him what had happened before it actually did occur,” said Mister Scarlet. “I don’t want to alter history, if that can, in fact, be done.”
“Gives me a headache to think about,” said Pinky. “I’d rather just kick Doctor Death around!”
As Fazhoul and Ingrit sat across from Mr. Tawny, clad as Bastet, they watched in both fascination and horror as he ate. “By Ra’s light, Aunt Ingrit, did you summon the cat goddess or the pig one?”
“Quiet, nephew,” Ingrit hissed back in alarm. “She’ll overhear you and smite us both!”
“How can she hear us with her face shoved in her food bowl like that?” Fazhoul said.
“Shhh!” Ingrit cautioned.
Tawky Tawny raised his head up from the wooden bowl. “I’m sorry. Did you say something to me?”
“No!” both Fazhoul and Ingrit exclaimed in alarm. Mr. Tawny shoved his face back in the bowl and continued eating.
“You could have at least offered me the last goat kabob,” Fazhoul sniffed. “You always offered it to me before.”
“That was before the goddess came,” Ingrit said. “I had to offer it to her first. Her jealousy is legendary!”
Indeed, her jealousy was legendary. And the real Bastet was watching them through from a nearby window.
“Would you look at that!” the offended cat goddess said. “The way the imposter basks in their adulation. Ingrit is one of my most loyal worshippers!”
“It’s a disgrace, mother,” the lion-headed god standing next to her said.
“I know it is, Mihos,” Bastet said haughtily. “But don’t worry. I won’t let it continue much longer.”
“The first thing we must do,” Shazam intoned, “is to find Mazahs before he can sow any more evil.”
“Yo, I’m hip, Shaz-dude,” Cool Marvel said. “But you got the four-one-one on how we can do that? I mean, these tunnels make the New York subway look like an empty room, you dig?”
“Cool Marvel is right,” Captain Marvel said. “It would take, pardon the pun, an eternity to find him.”
“Then begin searching,” Shazam said simply. He pressed the palms of his hands together, and a bright light shone between his fingers. When he opened his hands, six golden jewels rested in his palm. “Hoppy will stay with me, in case the evil wizard should return here. Each of the rest of you take one of these. They will lead you back to me, should you get lost. If you find Mazahs, use the gem to summon me, and I will bring all the others to your side to engage him. Do not try to battle him alone! He is evil power incarnate!”
Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, Tall Marvel, Hill Marvel, and Cool Marvel each took a gem.
“You heard the wizard, Marvels,” Captain Marvel said authoritatively. “Let’s go!”
In a flash, six figures streaked into the tunnels faster than the eye could follow.
“Cool Marvel was right,” Tall Marvel said as he flew down the winding tunnels. “These things seem to go on forever, and in here, maybe they do! Hey, what’s that?”
The Lieutenant Marvel glanced at a tunnel wall, to see letters crudely scratched into the rock. “A.S.,” he read. “Wonder what that means? Oh, well, no time to wonder about it now.”
The flying Tall Marvel turned another corner. “Maybe I’ll be the one to find Mazahs,” he mused, “and stop him all by myself, without any help from that others! What a boost to my career that would be!” Tall Marvel chuckled derisively to himself. “Yeah, I should be so lucky.”
As the cocky Lieutenant Marvel turned another corner, a blast of blue-black energy leaped out of the shadows and struck him square in the chest. Screaming in agony, he crashed to the floor. He watched in horror as the golden gem, his one link to Shazam and the other Marvels, flew out of his grasp and clattered away into the shadows.
“Well, well, well,” the sibilant voice of Mazahs hissed. “Look who’s come after us — the pretender. Well, one of them, anyway. Tall Marvel, isn’t it?”
Summoning up courage he did not feel, Tall Marvel rose to his feet and pointed at the evil wizard inhabiting the body of his slain friend. “Better surrender, Mazahs,” he demanded. “The entire Shaz — uh, you-know-who’s Squadron of Justice is after you. There’s no escape!”
The evil wizard threw back his head and laughed.
“You witless fool!” he spat. “Your pitiful Shazam’s Squadron of Justice is doomed! I created the Black Adam Family as an evil match to the Marvel Family’s might. Why would you think I would stop there?”
Tall Marvel watched in horror as Mazahs raised his hand, and a sickly blue light illuminated the cavern, revealing costumed figures that the Lieutenant Marvel had been unable to see in the shadows. They looked somewhat like his friends, but different… malevolent. Their very eyes crackled with barely restrained evil.
“Allow me to introduce the Mazahs Masters of Evil,” the wizard sneered. “From left to right, we have .45 Caliber and his lovely partner .22 Caliber, Falcon the Fearsome, Spy Master, Captain Black and his associate Inky, and Redcoat. They’ve been itching to get their hands bloody, and you have the honor of being their first victim.” Mazahs paused briefly. “You should be so lucky.”
Tall Marvel swallowed as the grinning villains slowly advanced toward him.