The Marvel Family
Farewell to a Friend
A Challenge of Shazam story
Fat Billy Batson, known as a comedic performer and college football player, always had a kind word for friend and foe alike. But as he is remembered at his memorial service, only a few in the audience know that Fat Marvel of the Lieutenant Marvels has died with him.
The day was sunny and warm; it was the sort of day that, under other circumstances, many of those present would have rejoiced in, maybe even have had a picnic in the park, gone swimming, or just sat and enjoyed the sun’s rays. But this was not the time nor place for such activities. This was a cemetery, and despite the cheerful weather, there was a air of sorrow and gloom here.
Here, in suits and casual clothes, depending on the individuals, were assembled many of the finest heroes of the planet, although no one looking on would have known that. Also included were a number of famous, once-famous, and unknowns from the world of show business, as well as a number of family members and friends, including a sizeable contingent from a college football team that was missing its former member.
“William ‘Fat Billy’ Batson was a good friend to many, a delightful man who reveled in life and enjoyed creating laughter wherever he went,” the elderly minister said to the mourners.
“As an extra-turned-actor who was well known in the entertainment industry as a reliable comedic performer, his career spanned several decades, and while he was one of a number of people trapped in Suspendium for twenty years, his fame as an occasional performer continued in the movies, radio shows, and television appearances he had made.”
People nodded, some of them remembering a particular two-reel comedy, an old radio show, or a black and white television show preserved on kinescope.
“When he was able to restart his career, he jumped into it with both feet, picking up where he had left off, and once more made the world a better place,” continued the minister.
“In more recent years, William took a break from acting to go to college, where he pursued his dream of playing college football, and he rose to great heights in that sport. Many of his friends from his old team swear up and down that he could have — would have — had a career in pro football ahead of him, if it hadn’t been for his bad heart and persistent weight problems.”
As the minister continued to speak, a few present also remembered times when their comrade had earnestly tried to help the world, not as a performer or on his college football team, but as a red-clad member of the Lieutenant Marvels, a trio of heroes who shared the secret of a magic word that transformed three ordinary young men into super-heroes.
One young man, deep in thought, considered that he would not even be here if this man had not died. It was a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, he now had a chance to be a hero like many here. On the other, that role came about because of the death of a good man who had passed on a legacy he, Willie “Cool Marvel” Batson, would not soon forget.
“Let us remember William ‘Fat Billy’ Batson as he was in life, a friend to all, and a person who never left a room without making somebody laugh.”
Well, thought Billy Batson, alias Captain Marvel. At least not often. His mind recalled a time when the Marvel Family had been working on a particularly tough case, and it was Fat Billy who not only brought good spirits and humor to the heroes’ planning sessions, but after they had caught the villains and were taking them to jail, he actually went out of his way to joke with the bad guys and make them laugh.
If Fat Billy had ever hated anyone, Captain Marvel couldn’t remember it, not even Dr. Sivana, Hitler, or any of their foes. It wasn’t that he couldn’t get outraged or even fiercely angry at injustice, however. For example, the time that the Marvel Family had helped liberate a Nazi prison camp and had seen firsthand the effects of the cleansing program of the evil that had corrupted a once great nation. But instead of tearing apart the surrendered guards, Fat Billy had, with tears in his eyes, flown to the nearest medical unit and brought back much-needed supplies, including chicken broth — “Kosher as kosher can be,” he had quipped — and clean water. Then he had worked to exhaustion to help these people out, even entertaining the children with some clumsily-done-on-purpose magic tricks.
The minister was finishing up. “I knew him personally. Many was the time he would come to my church and entertain the youth and the adults at no charge. May God bless you, William Batson, and hold a special place in his palace for you!”
“Amen,” many said.
In memoriam of William “Fat Billy” Batson, alias Fat Marvel of the Lieutenant Marvels. May he rest in peace.