Young Kent Nelson had made his choice, and now he waited — for what, however, he did not know. He was starting to get impatient.
“Hey! Voice? Are you there?” he called out. “I’ve made my choice, just like you wanted me to.”
Several minutes passed, and there was no answer. The boy was beginning to think that he had imagined the whole thing. Maybe it wasn’t even magic that was providing him light. Maybe magic wasn’t even real.
“Magic is real,” the voice said suddenly.
This gave Kent little comfort. “I chose,” the boy said. “What do I get?”
The light began to fade, pushing Kent to the edge of panic.
“Fear not,” the voice said. “Only in the darkness shall you be able to see.”
Kent quickly learned that the voice spoke the truth. As the light began to dim, faintly glowing outlines appeared in the floor. He realized that he would have never noticed them if the light hadn’t faded.
Kneeling down, the boy began to trace the outlines. The first outline looked like a cross with a loop at the top. It was what his father had once called an ankh. Kent didn’t lift his finger until he had completely traced the outline. When his finger touched the spot he had started, the block in which the outline was carved vanished. In the now-visible hole lay a golden amulet. Carefully, he removed it from its resting place and put it around his neck.
A second ankh was carved in the stone behind him. Repeating the tracing, Kent soon found himself holding a golden helmet. Without hesitation, he placed it on his head.
“Cool.” His voice echoed within the confines of the helmet. It makes me sound older, he thought.
The final carving was different from the first two. Kent studied it for a moment, then began to trace it. It, too, vanished to reveal an item. Reaching into the hole, the boy pulled out what appeared to be a large stone. When he got a closer look, he discovered that it was a scarab, a gem carved in the shape of a beetle. Unlike the first two items, which were gold, the scarab was blue.
Kent looked down at the amulet hanging from his neck. Raising the scarab to his chest, he tried to imagine which would look better. As the scarab neared the amulet, the boy was startled when the legs of the beetle latched onto the amulet. After tugging it a couple of times, he realized that it wasn’t coming off. He didn’t have time to give it much thought, however, because the voice spoke again.
“Speak my name.”
“How am I supposed to know your–?” Kent started to ask. When a name popped into his head, he left the question unfinished.
“Kaji Dah,” Kent whispered.
And everything exploded.
Nabu realized, too late, that he had been lured into battle without his items of power.
With the memory of his defeat fresh in his mind, despite the passage of time, pure rage flooded his being at the sight of Black Adam and Shazam. However, the sight of Ibis the Invincible, or, rather, the Ibistick, filled him with a lust for power that he envisioned being within his grasp. Both feelings led to his downfall.
Despite the power at his command, Nabu was no match for the combined might of the three men. Upon his defeat, the old wizard began to weave spells of containment around the Cilian.
Black Adam and Ibis watched on, knowing that Shazam was focusing all of his concentration on the task at hand. At a critical moment in the incantation, Black Adam struck. With the speed of Anpu, the villain pulled the Ibistick from its owner’s grasp and struck him in the jaw.
Ibis felt his jaw shatter under the impact of the punch, even as he was knocked several feet through the air. He hit the ground in a spray of blood and agony. It was only his magic that kept him from being killed instantly. Though his words were unintelligible, he couldn’t help but ask about the vow.
“Surely your mumbling must be an inquiry as to the vow,” Black Adam said, guessing what the man was trying to say. “I swore that vow to keep the alien from gaining the Ibistick; I said nothing about not taking the thing for myself.”
Black Adam turned toward the kneeling Shazam. “Since you no longer have the power to stop me, and that milksop Captain Marvel is a continent away, I shall finally put this old fool out of my misery. With his death, perhaps I shall finally be rid of the entire Marvel Family. I shall finally take my rightful place as ruler of the world.”
Ibis’ eyes were rapidly swelling shut. The last sight he saw was the outline of a man emerging from the tomb.
“Don’t count on it,” were the last words he heard before slipping into unconsciousness.
Black Adam ignored the voice of the newcomer, knowing that he would never get another chance to rid himself of his former master. He was a mere handbreadth away from the old wizard’s neck when a bolt of eldritch energy struck him in the side and sent him sprawling.
“Cool,” the newcomer whispered beneath his golden helmet.
Egypt’s former protector picked himself up out of the sand and turned his attention to his attacker. He knew in an instant that this was not an enemy to be taken lightly.
The man before him appeared to be his physical match in all aspects. Even without the crested helmet that covered his face, Adam knew this man would be one of the few who could look him square in the eye. A bodysuit of blue and gold clung to his sculpted frame like a second skin. Around his neck hung the amulet that once numbered among Nabu’s possessions, the only difference being the addition of the azure scarab. Taking a couple of steps toward the newcomer, Adam could see that the blue of the man’s outfit appeared to some sort of scale mail. Another couple of steps, and he realized that the scales were actually the hard, shell-like outer wings of thousands of beetles; instinct and divine insight told him that this armor was in no way as fragile as it looked.
“Tell me the name of the fool who opposes me,” Adam said as he narrowed the distance between the man and himself, “that I might carve it on your tomb after I kill you.”
“I’m…” The man had given no thought as to what he should call himself. Suddenly, a thought popped into his mind. “I’m Captain Scarab.”
Boy, the man thought, that sounded a lot cooler before I said it out loud.
“Well, then, Captain Scarab, prepare to die.” Black Adam lunged at his foe.
Captain Scarab was surprised by the ferocity of the attack, but he reacted like a warrior born. Grabbing the man’s wrists, he crossed them as he stepped to the side. Adam went down like steer in the grip of a champion wrangler. His own momentum caused him to roll several yards. He let his roll carry him back to his feet.
Instead of charging his foe a second time, Black Adam dusted himself off and watched to see what his opponent might do next. He made a couple of false lunges at the man. Before each lunge was complete, the man was already in a defensive stance. Instead of wasting his energy on another useless attack, Adam slowly lifted into the air, then shot up into the stratosphere.
“This was too easy,” Captain Scarab muttered. “He’s up to something.”
Arcane words began to fall from his lips as he stretched out his hands. Bubbles of magical force formed around both the unconscious Ibis and the old wizard who still worked his spell of containment. The words continued, and a powerful sandstorm engulfed the area, obscuring everything.
Whether it was the magic that he commanded, or his own enhanced senses, Captain Scarab wasn’t sure, but he heard something slicing through the air from above.
Launching himself into the air, he burst through the upper levels of the sandstorm just as Black Adam was about to enter it. With magically enhanced reflexes, Captain Scarab caught the villain by the ankles and spun him around. Taken completely by surprise, Adam felt his own control of gravity slip from his grasp and the earth’s gravity reassert its control over his body. He was plunging through the sandstorm to the desert floor below.
The sandstorm vanished a mere second before the impact. A geyser of sand erupted into the sky as Black Adam slammed into the ground.
Before he could recover, a giant hand composed of pure magic plucked his barely conscious form from the hole. The next thing Adam knew, he had been tossed high into the air. He wouldn’t regain control of his own incredible abilities until long after he had passed beyond the orbit of the moon.
The corrupted wisdom of Zehuti told Black Adam that this was a battle to be continued at some other time. He was already planning his revenge when he was once again flying under his own power.
Captain Scarab knelt down and picked up the fallen Ibistick from the sand as the bubbles that surrounded Ibis the Invincible and Shazam faded. Glancing over from where he knelt, the man saw the mystically bound figure of Nabu vanish.
“Where have you sent him?” Captain Scarab asked, as he and Shazam stood up.
“Somewhere he will be dealt with,” Shazam replied.
The two men turned their attention to the unconscious Ibis. Within moments, he was sitting up, although very much in pain.
“Speak my name.”
Captain Scarab looked at the two men, trying to determine which had spoken to him. He quickly realized that neither man had said a word, and knew what he must do.
As the two men watched on, the blue of their savior’s outfit seemed to come alive and crawl into the scarab that now adorned the golden amulet. The remaining bits of gold, like water, flowed up the man’s body and into the helmet. His body itself began to shrink until the ten-year-old Kent Nelson stood before them. The helmet, amulet, and scarab disappeared.
“Ah, the children of this world never cease to amaze me,” Shazam said.
A screech from above caused the three to look skyward. A great hawk circled overhead, then drifted down and landed lightly on the boy’s shoulder; a small beetle was clinging to the feathers on its back.
“What in the world?” Kent started to ask.
A quick spell revelation by the old wizard told the story of all that had happened in the tomb. When it ended, the little boy fell to his knees and began to weep over the deaths of his father and their friends.
“Can you change them back?” he said, looking at the hawk and the beetle.
“I’m afraid not,” Shazam said. “I don’t understand enough of the Cilian’s magic. I’m sorry.”
The wizard knelt and laid his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I might be able to cast a spell that will allow you to communicate with them. Would you like that?”
“Please,” Kent replied. “They are all that I have left.”
“Don’t you have a mother?” Ibis asked.
The boy shook his head.
Ibis the Invincible put his hand on the boy’s other shoulder. “It will be all right,” he promised.