The Marvel Family
Crying Time Again
Part 7 of Revenge, Inc.
The Weeper makes his big move, causing everyone in the United States to become crippled by emotion! And even the Marvel Family is unable to say the magic words that transform them to their mighty selves! But the Horned Hood, leader of Revenge, Inc., has a secret that will make the Weeper cry real tears!
At station WHIZ-TV, young Billy Batson began his nightly broadcast.
“Hello, folks! Billy Batson here with tonight’s news! Our lead story concerns a scandal involving Senator Doane and a Las Vegas entertainer named Bubbles McKenzie! The married politician apparently skimmed money from various charities he oversaw to support his close female companion! Ha-ha-ha!” Laughter suddenly erupted from his lips.
Billy’s eyes widened with surprise. This story is sad, not funny. Yet I can’t stop laughing! Holy moley! he thought.
Finally catching his breath, he returned to reading the news. “Singer Chiffon has announced that she will give half of her royalties from her next single to the battle against various diseases. Wah! Sob!” he sputtered as tears poured from his eyes.
As the station switched to a taped story, Sterling Morris ran over and confronted his star broadcaster. “Jumping cats! Billy, what’s wrong? If you act like this, we’re be ruined! Ha-haw-haw!” he said as laughter filled the studio.
Looks of horror crossed the faces of the crew members and staffers alike. No one understood why they were all laughing, but none of them could stop. either.
The more I think of how grim it is that someone or something is manipulating our emotions and making us cry at happy things and sob at happy news, the more I want to laugh! thought Billy as he rushed out of the studio and entered his small dressing room.
“Got to say the magic word! Sha-bawl!” he gasped as tears poured from his eyes. Can’t say the old wizard’s name, no matter how hard I try! he realized as every effort to speak the word Shazam ended in tears or giggles.
Mary Batson Bromfield faced similar problems at college, when her every effort to listen to a sorority sister’s tale of failed romance ended in bursts of loud and raucous laughter.
Veronica stalked out of the room in anger. “Well, my loss makes you happy! I’ll never speak to you again!”
By the time Veronica reached the campus green, she was bent double with guffaws. “Archie dumped me! I caught him with that blonde witch! Ha-ha-ha!” she gasped.
Meanwhile, as Mary found herself crippled by giggles and tears, her friend Freddy Freeman held his aching sides as his own efforts to speak the magic name Captain Marvel failed as well. Something is making me cry when I think of how swell business is going! mused the newsstand owner. When I become solemn, then I break down laughing! And it gets even worse when I try to say my magic words.
The problem reached national proportions, as the entire nation found their natural reactions to daily events or emotions had been altered in a weird and powerful way.
However, one gaunt man in a gray suit remained unaffected. His nom du crime was the Weeper, and he was the mastermind behind the entire scheme. He clutched a wet hanky and rubbed at his red eyes as a man in a black silk hood sat rigidly before him in a luxurious home.
“I am very glad you immunized me before you began to broadcast the emoto-rays,” said the Horned Hood. “I want to enjoy our victory when we bring the country to its knees!”
The Weeper grimaced and tossed down a soggy hanky. “I could not let you be altered, since you alone can appreciate my little efforts. All of our allies in Revenge, Inc. have fallen to the dregs of bitterest defeat!”
“Be that as it may, if you succeed, then my efforts to house and finance your various schemes will be well worth my own involvement,” said the Horned Hood.
The Weeper blew his nose and said, “I’m touched! I could simply cry!”
Meanwhile, Billy Batson had been busy. Although he could not speak his magic word, he could still think. He knew that anything that altered a whole nation’s emotional responses had to be broadcasting from space. He also knew that only so many satellites could be accounted for in terms of legal weather, military, or commercial purposes.
Holy moley! The Johnny Ray Corporation launched one week ago! he mused. The real Ray was a pop singer. His big hit was a song called “Cry!” I know he has nothing to do with this company. This has to be a plot by the Weeper!
Billy realized as well that almost all of his allies in Shazam’s Squadron of Justice were equally vulnerable to the emotion altering rays. Minute Man, Spy Smasher, Ibis the Invincible — all of them could be rendered helpless by the rays, too, he thought. I need help from the one person no amount of emotion can affect! He made a call, and he soon faced a small boy who literally appeared in his office from thin air.
“Golly! Good to see ya, Billy!” smiled Atom Blake, boy magician.
Billy began to sob as he saw with pleasure how the magical child was immune to the effects of the ray. “Atom, I knew you could resist the rays,” he said. “I figured your innate sunny disposition would make you safe! Can you block the rays for me?”
Atom Blake was a small boy who did not age. He also commanded powerful magic all his own. Billy had met him years before and thought of him as a loyal ally. “Sure! I think it’s funny how you all have become such crybabies! I can make you normal just like this!” said Atom with a hearty laugh.
Billy smiled and said, “Shazam!”
As thunder boomed and lightning flashed, Billy became the world’s mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel. Atom’s magic had indeed freed him from the crippling emoto-rays. “Thanks, Atom! Now, I’d say you need to take a nap!” he said.
Atom yawned, trying to conceal it with a small hand. But the boy’s odd metabolism required him to sleep for inordinately long periods of time. “Ah! You sound like a nanny! See ya, Cap!” said Atom as he popped out of view.
Captain Marvel wasted no time. He zoomed into space and smashed the Johnny Ray Corporation satellite to scrap metal. Holy moley, I was right! That satellite was full of weird gadgets! he thought. Now to take care of the Weeper with the help of a few buddies!
Back at the mansion, the Weeper rung his hands in woe. He knew his plans had been suddenly ruined, but even he had no idea how Captain Marvel had resisted the rays long enough to change.
“Hood, my dear friend, Hood!” said the Weeper. “What can we do? The emoto-rays were my masterstroke!”
A sultry voice said, “Poor thing! Too bad you put all your eggs in one basket!” A sexy blonde entered the room, wearing a revealing red gown and high heels.
“Dark Angel! I thought Mister Scarlet had defeated you!” gasped the Horned Hood.
A powerful-looking blonde in white and black followed the slinky siren. “Illyria!” wept the Weeper as the Axis warrior princess stomped into the room.
The women were merely leading other villains from Revenge, Inc. into the house of their benefactor. The man in the black rodent costume turned to face the others. “I, the Black Rat, have returned!”
A man in a white lab coat scowled. “Doctor Death needs no announcement like the others!”
A hooded figure called the Murder Prophet whispered, “I knew he’d say that!”
The Weeper seemed pleased in his unique way to see their former allies assembled again.
“How did you all escape? I read that all of you failed!” sputtered the Horned Hood.
Dark Angel jumped on the table, crossed her legs, and purred, “You seem nervous! Could it be that you wanted us all to end up in jail so you would be left with no rivals?”
The Black Rat shattered a chair and said, “I think he wanted to play us against the heroes. If we killed Captain Marvel and company, then so much the better for the Horned Hood. If the heroes locked us up, then he’d also benefit by having fewer criminal rivals!”
“Now, now, don’t be hasty!” stammered the Hood.
Illyria tossed down her blonde wig. “Surprise!” she cried, revealing the wholesome features of Mary Marvel. The Black Rat collared the squirming Hood and took off his mask to reveal Captain Marvel Junior’s boyish grin. The Murder Prophet’s discarded robes hid the red and gold costume of Captain Marvel.
The fake Dark Angel placed her blonde wig on the head of the now-frightened Weeper. “Bulletgirl! That’s right. You can say it. I won’t bite,” she laughed.
“We’ve been set up,” said the Weeper. “Hood, is it true? Did you want us all to fail?”
Doctor Death wiped away makeup to reveal the handsome features of Minute Man. “Instant face lift!” he quipped.
Captain Marvel Junior grinned and unmasked the Horned Hood. “Yep, you guessed it, Weeper. This fake Hood assumed the role of the old criminal and set you all up in schemes in which he’d benefit, no matter if you won or lost. He did it to please his dad.”
The Weeper wept. “Dad? You mean–?”
“Yes,” said Mary. “See? The fake Hood is really Sivana Junior!”
The boy blinked sheepishly as Captain Marvel Junior held him in the air by his collar. “Heh-heh-heh! You big rats!” he said. “I did set the real villains up like these creeps said. I wanted to either see you do-gooders die or get rid of the riffraff that thought they could rival my family.”
“We assumed as much,” said Captain Marvel. “That’s why we played dress-up. Seemed the best way to pay you back.”
“You goofed up badly when you put this house under your own name!” said Minute Man.
Sivana Junior shrugged. “Bah! I figured you roughnecks would never enter a courthouse library. I mean, those bureaucrats are worse than any Monster Society!”
Bulletgirl leaned over the Weeper as he glared out from under her discarded wig. “Why, Weeper, you look better as a blond! Cheer up!” she joked.
The laughter of the heroes filled the room as justice triumphed once more.