Two months after the funeral of Fat Marvel:
Despite her reassurances that everything was all right, Caitlin O’Malley began to withdraw from her new friends not long before Christmas. She had made amends with Cool Marvel, the newest member of the Marvel Family, she was beginning to get more sleep after long bouts of insomnia because of recurring nightmares, and she was continuing her role as the lovely assistant to Uncle Dudley in his children’s show, but the spark was gone. Sure, she looked fine, but Billy Batson himself could tell she was perhaps affected the most from their battle with Mazahs.
Cait told Billy she had made a new long-distance friend, and her voice would briefly brighten up just mentioning that, and she would seemed happiest around Billy. Still, Cait would go for long periods of time without communicating with anyone.
In the present, Billy Batson looked back at his captor. Could he somehow be connected with Caitlin’s current condition?
She’s a powerful white witch, as well as a Marvel, thought Billy. So how could Black Magician take control of her?
Outside Caitlin’s apartment, Willie B was looking around to see if there was anything out of the ordinary. He noticed the flooded waterbed and then the footprints in the mud by the window.
“Yep. Looks like Master B was here, all right.” Then he noticed the light on in the far corner inside, and then possibly a shadow moving around slightly in the light.
“Hmmm… Don’t know if they’re just talking to each other or if something else is up. I don’t know if I should cut in on the witch or Master B, ’cause if nothing’s up, I’ll be looking mighty foolish, and I ain’t no one’s fool. Though if I don’t do anything, then what?”
Willie remembered an incident shortly after the funeral, his first battle after the Mazahs incident, when King Kull returned again.
One month after the funeral:
“Ha-haa-ho! Puny mortals! My sub-creatures will wipe out everything!” chuckled King Kull as his sub-creatures dug up the ground, making cars and buildings crumble into the holes as the citizens of Fawcett City ran in terror on this chilly November day.
In no time at all, the Marvel Family — Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, Mary Marvel, and the newest addition, Cool Marvel — came calling and were wiping up the creatures easily. That was when Cool Marvel decided to go after King Kull by himself, despite the Captain telling him to wait.
“Why not, Cap?” said Cool Marvel. “We’re stronger than that furry-backed, horned freak! I’ll take him myself.” Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t familiar with the mind and trickery of this arch-nemesis.
During his chase, Cool Marvel accidentally said the name of the wizard, and upon changing back to Willie B, he found himself in mortal danger. Only by quick timing and some trickery of their own were the Marvels able to save him and defeat King Kull once again.
“I know. I messed up big time,” said a dejected Willie. “Maybe I’m not meant to be a hero.”
But Billy, Freddy Freeman, and Mary Batson comforted their new friend. “We all make mistakes,” said Billy. “The trick is to learn from them and be a better person for that.”
“You were given the power of Shazam for a reason,” said Freddy, his kind words a surprise to Willie after the way they had butted heads at first. “Ours is not to question why, but to fulfill the wizard’s wishes to be his champions and protect good from evil.”
“You’re one of us now,” concluded Mary. “Once we learn more of each other and start feeling more comfortable as a team, you’ll find that as your greatest reward.”
From that point on, Willie became very good friends with everyone, something that he had sorely lacked growing up, and he felt a better person for it. His parents noticed it as well and knew their son was maturing as a young man.
Now Willie checked the doorknob to Cait’s apartment and found it unlocked. He slowly turned it and opened the door, a slight creak emanating from the hinges.
In the other room, the Black Magician heard the creak. “Sounds like another visitor has come. I’ll give whoever it is a welcome they won’t soon forget.”
“Yo! Master B? Witch? You guys hangin’ in here?!” Though there was a light from the room, the whole living room itself was still dark. As Willie started walking toward the hallway to the lighted area, suddenly a shadowy figure came from the light. It was Caitlin O’Malley.
“Whoa, witch! You scared a year’s growth outta me!” yelled the startled young man. “What’s going on with you, and where’s Billy at?”
Caitlin stood silent, not answering back. However, her eyes were slightly glowing with mystic energy.
“Witch? Cait? What’s wrong? Why won’t you answer?”
Then she raised her hands, and a bolt of energy shot out. Willie ducked behind the sofa as the bolt shot over his head and hit the far wall with a bang, leaving a smoking hole in it.
“Yeow! Cut it out, witch! That magic of yours is going to stunt my growth!” As Willie crawled across the floor, trying to make it to the front door, Caitlin gestured with her left hand, and with that, the door slammed. Then a gesture of her right hand sent an extension cord from behind the television flying toward Willie. In mere moments, Willie was hogtied by the cord.
“Ugh! Never thought I’d be roped like a cow at a rodeo in my lifetime!” mumbled Willie as Cait stood once again frozen in place. As Willie looked at his friend, he saw another figure slink into the living room behind her.
“Well done, Miss O’Malley,” said the newcomer. “I assume you’re a friend of hers and of my other captive, Billy Batson. Let me introduce myself. I am the Black Magician, and like Caitlin, you will be used in my revenge against Captain Marvel and his merry band of heroes.”
Willie B gave the arch-mage a puzzled look. “Never heard of you in my life, B.M.! Must’ve been a minor footnote in the Marvels’ career.”
That remark angered the villain, and he slapped Willie across the face. “You dare mock me?! When I’m done with you, you’ll be another puppet under my control, as will everyone in Fawcett City. Captain Marvel will have no choice but to surrender to me in fear of his friends being harmed, or worse!” Then he turned to Caitlin. “Slave, take the boy to the bedroom and tie him up with Billy. I’ll decide what to do with them in a bit.”
Using once again the magic under her command, Cait dragged Willie into the room. In the corner was Billy, still bound and gagged to the chair.
Great! thought Willie. Billy has that gag in his mouth, so he can’t call on the wizard, and if he can’t do it, I can’t do it, either. We’re in a jam here! Calling out for the wizard Shazam wouldn’t do him any good, for his powers could only be accessed while another member of the Marvel Family did so at the same time.
Now both Billy and Willie were tied up as Caitlin returned to being a statue, unmoving and devoid of any emotion. Willie, not having a gag like Billy, tried to talk to the young Wiccan.
“Witch! You have to fight that dude’s control!” he urged. “You need to zap his punk ass back to where he came from. Cait?! Answer me! Snap outta it!”
“Heh. Shout all you want, my young friend. She is in my complete control, and nothing can change that,” said the Black Magician as he reentered the room.
Willie answered back with anger in his voice, “How did you get to her, man? I know the witch! She couldn’t have her mind hacked like that!”
The villain looked at both hostages. “Ah, the time-honored tradition of stalling for time. Since the end is near, I might as well tell you it wasn’t easy. I was very surprised to find out she was a Wiccan, and she resisted any and all attempts at mental manipulations… at first. She was intended to be my first victim. However, no matter what I tried, she wouldn’t even notice what I was trying to do. I wasn’t sure if I had any magical powers like my father, like it was a fruitless attempt at following in his footsteps.”
Billy rolled up his eyes and thought, What a nutcase.
The Black Magician continued his story. “Then came that battle with the other-dimensional wizard, Mazahs. It made me more determined to learn even more powerful spells, and then I then saw why my powers weren’t working on Caitlin O’Malley. She was a witch and was helping the other heroes in battle. I figured, after the end of that battle, she would be a bit more vulnerable. It took several attempts of using post-hypnotic suggestions on her. Admittedly, she appeared to be devastated by something personal, which may have been a factor in my success.”
Willie looked over at her. That was because Fat Marvel was killed during the battle, he thought. She took it the hardest but hid it from us. I wish we kept in better touch than we had been.
The Black Magician put his hand on Cait. “Though there was a tragedy that made her vulnerable, there was something strange. At times, she seemed impervious to everything. Through what little of her mind I could read at the time, it was as though she was talking to someone, except no one else was around. It made her incredibly happy and powerful at the same time. Fortunately, it didn’t last long, and soon she was in my complete control.”
“Talking to herself? That doesn’t sound like the witch I know!” said Willie as the magician stared back at him.
“Now that my tale is done, and your curiosity satisfied, I have changed my mind about making the both of you my mindless slaves,” said the Black Magician. “So I’ll say this: Caitlin O’Malley, I want you to kill Billy Batson and… er… uh… I don’t know this one.”
“It’s Willie B, and don’t you forget it, sucker!” the youth angrily yelled back.
“Very good,” said the villain. “I’ll make sure it’s written correctly in the obituaries. Of course, when the police find two dead bodies and the young lady standing over them, she’ll get the death penalty for sure, and my revenge on Captain Marvel will have begun. Since I can’t stand the sight of blood, I’ll step out into the other room while Caitlin completes my command.”
The Black Magician handed Caitlin a long dagger and left the room. Once the door shut, she headed toward the two she had known as her friends.
Billy Batson looked at his close friend Caitlin walking toward both him and Willie B with a dagger in her hand, her face a total blank, devoid of all emotions. He struggled in his bonds, but it was no use. Holy moley! he thought. How many times have I found myself in this position? There has to be a way out of this! And beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
Willie, also bound next to Billy but minus the gag that prevented him from calling down the magic lightning, was doing his best to talk Caitlin out of doing a most terrible deed. “Witch! Stop this! It’s me, Willie. Come on, Cait! Snap out of it! Don’t turn us into Swiss cheese!” But it was no good, as she slowly headed toward Billy.
“Nuts! Saying Shazam won’t do me any good!” said Willie. “I can’t change unless someone else also does, and it looks like they aren’t going to be yelling for the wizard anytime soon.” It was true; as one of the Lieutenant Marvels, Willie could not transform into a Marvel without the presence of other members of the Marvel Family saying the wizard’s name at the same time.
Willie could only look on in horror as Cait raised the knife above Billy. However, as she began to lower her arm for the strike, she hesitated. A pained look appeared on her face, as though her mind was in conflict.
Billy looked at her and thought, Her conscience is fighting back. She has never killed before. It’s against her nature to do so. But how long can she fight it? Then she continued on with her thrust toward Billy’s heart with the dagger, but before it could reach him, a bright light appeared between Billy and the blade. The next moment, the dagger whizzed by Billy’s face, cutting the gag and leaving a deep gash on the right side of his face.
“Owww!” yelled out Billy, blood dripping from his wound. But keeping his head, he turned to Willie. “Say the word! Now!”
Both of them yelled out the same word at the exact same time.
Twin bolts of lightning struck down, one hitting each of them. With a flash of light and the roar of thunder, the two boys were transformed into Captain Marvel and Cool Marvel, two powerful members of the world’s mightiest family. The force of the transformation knocked Caitlin back to the door as the Black Magician opened up and saw before him the hero he wanted to take revenge upon.
“No! It’s Captain Marvel!” cried the villain. “How did you find me? Where is Billy and that other guy?”
Captain Marvel answered back, “The boys are safely away from here.”
Cool Marvel interjected, “What do you mean ‘other guy’? Man, I hope you put up a fight, ’cause I feel like pounding something!” He stood cracking his knuckles.
The Black Magician was clearly scared now. “Damn! I need to escape. Come, my slave — we need to leave, posthaste!” On his command, Caitlin followed the villain out the back door of the apartment. But standing out in the backyard was Captain Marvel. The Black Magician turned around back to the house, only to see Cool Marvel standing in the doorway.
“Looks like you’re surrounded. Give up and let Miss O’Malley go!” ordered Captain Marvel.
Now completely terrified and on the verge of panic, the Black Magician took out his wand and grabbed Caitlin. “Let’s combine our powers and create a shield around us!” A transparent shield then formed around the two.
The Captain rolled his eyes. “That won’t keep us out. Why must you do this the hard way?” Then, with a mighty swing, Captain Marvel punched the shield, and to his surprise — as well as the Black Magician’s — it repelled his force, instead knocking the hero down.
“Holy moley! It’s stronger than it looks!” said the startled Captain Marvel.
Cool Marvel took a running start at the shield, striking it at full speed. Just as it did with the Captain, it knocked him back. “Wow! That’s a toughie, there, Cap. What’s the next plan?” asked Cool Marvel as he picked himself up from the ground.
As the two heroes conferred with each other on their next plan, a wide smile grew on the face of the Black Magician. “There seems to be a deep, hidden power within you, Miss O’Malley. I don’t know what it is, but I seemed to have tapped into it. It’s strong enough to hold back Captain Marvel and that other Marvel guy. Now all I need to do is come up with a spell that will trap the two here and allow me to escape.”
Captain Marvel and Cool Marvel struck the shield several times, and each time the shield resisted their mighty punches, but the sound emanating from them began to unnerve the arch-mage within his protected barrier, making it hard to concentrate. Caitlin’s eyes, which were staring blankly due to his mind-control, blinked for a moment, and then she heard another voice within her.
“Free your mind, my friend. Now is the time.”
As seen earlier by Billy, there was again a small flash of light. Captain Marvel, seeing that light, told Cool Marvel, “Now! Hit the shield with all your might!”
The two Marvels hit it, creating a thunderous sound. The Black Magician screamed in pain, his ears ringing from the loud bang. Caitlin looked confused for a moment, then spoke a single word.
A bolt of lightning struck the young lady, instantly shattering the shield. The Black Magician was thrown to the ground, face first. As he picked himself up, the first thing he saw was a girl dressed in green and yellow, standing over him. It was Lady Marvel, the magic lightning having transformed Caitlin O’Malley into the least-known member of the world’s mightiest family.
The villain picked himself up from the ground and raised his hands. “I give up! Take me away! I surrender!”
With her right hand, Lady Marvel grabbed him by the neck and lifted him off the ground, while she used her left hand to grab the wand out of his hand and shattered it with her super-strength.
Captain Marvel was worried when Lady Marvel held up the now-helpless villain, and he pleaded with her. “Lady Marvel, don’t do anything that you’ll regret,” said the Captain. “It’s all over now.”
Without saying a single word, Lady Marvel dropped the Black Magician and walked away.
Captain Marvel went to console Lady Marvel as Cool Marvel took custody of the semi-conscious Black Magician. “Cool Marvel, could you take him to the authorities?” said Captain Marvel. “I’m sure Jim Barr will know what to do with the likes of him. I’ll stay here and make sure Caitlin’s all right.”
“That’s cool. I’ll make sure I take my time coming back. Hope it turns out OK, big Captain.” On that note, Cool Marvel took to the air with his prisoner as Captain Marvel went to Lady Marvel.
“Everything will be all right, Caitlin,” was the only thing he said as she began to cry uncontrollably in his arms.