“Open up to love. Could it get any better?”
Mary Batson, an attractive girl with brown hair and a demure but stylish dress, softly sang the words from the song playing on a small portable cassette player. She sat at a table within a simple wooden building and enjoyed a rare moment of relaxation.
Goodness, it’s nice to be home on break from college! she thought. It will be fun to see the other girls again. We haven’t had a club meeting in such a long time!
A perky girl with blonde hair and a winning smile entered the clubhouse and called out in pleasure. “Mary, you look wonderful! I really like your hair!” she gushed.
Mary hugged her and said, “Thanks, Goldie! You look great, too! How’s Sunny doing?”
Goldie Sparkle smiled and said, “My brother is fine. He loves working at the Marvel Family Museum when he’s not in class. Of course, everyone loves him as well!”
Mary nodded. She knew Sunny Sparkle possessed an almost supernatural charisma. His sister Goldie lacked his odd power, but she didn’t really need it, since she was vivacious and lovely.
Soon, three other girls filed into the clubhouse, and loud chatter echoed through the cozy building.
Mary stood up and said, “Now that we’ve had some small talk, I declare this meeting of the Mary Marvel Fan Club to be in session!”
Barbie Kendall raised her hand and said, “I think while you are home on break, we should all do something together. Maybe we could catch a movie?”
“I agree, but I’ve got another idea,” said Mary. She held up an empty cassette case, which displayed a pretty teen girl on the cover. “I have tickets to the Jennie Lowell concert! Why don’t we all catch her show?”
The other girls agreed readily. Jennie Lowell was the current pop princess on the music charts, and they all enjoyed her music.
The ever-perky Goldie said, “That will be a blast! I love her song Shake My Heart.”
“Then it’s agreed!” said Mary. “We’ll have a lot of fun!”
A few days later, Mary Batson posed in front of a mirror as she slipped into a sweater and jeans.
She nodded in approval and then hurried down the stairs of the Bromfield mansion. While Mary was actually the foster daughter of the Bromfields, she had always been showered with love and care, and she was very happy in her home. She had grown up in comfort and security. She had also experienced an amazing amount of adventure and danger as the world’s mightiest girl Mary Marvel, since all Mary had to do in order to transform into the super-powered heroine was to speak the name of the Shazam, the ancient wizard who had granted the powers of the elders to both Mary and her brother, Billy Batson.
“It’s a shame Billy and Cissie can’t join us tonight. He has to work,” she said to herself. “And Freddy doesn’t even like Jennie’s music, so I couldn’t drag him to the show, either!”
“Indeed, Miss Mary?” said a proper-voiced man in a dapper suit. “I had formed a rather disparaging opinion of young Frederick’s musical tastes. I will duly revise my view!”
“Oh, Jives, you’ll have to learn to loosen up! I’ll make a pop lover out of you yet!” laughed Mary as she teased the loyal family butler.
Jives tried to conceal a smile as he rolled his eyes in mock dismay and said, “Oh, dear. Next, you’ll be listening to that dreadful Perry Como person.”
Mary Batson joined her friends at the Civil Auditorium, where a packed crowd of eager music fans had assembled. The crowd consisted of fans of all ages, but most of them were teens or young adults.
“You know, Jennie’s new album Generation Shock is due out next month!” said Goldie.
Mary nodded and said, “I bet she’ll do some material from it tonight!”
She settled back and enjoyed the exciting concert. Young Jennie put on a dynamic show with her combination of ballads, up-tempo numbers, classically trained voice, and charismatic showmanship. It would have been a perfect night if the super-villains had not come.
Just as Jennie was finishing her encore number, Alligator Jam, a group of six colorfully clad women watched from backstage.
The crew and the security team were sprawled everywhere behind the scenes. Charred equipment and broken furniture completed the altered appearance of the area.
“Did you have to break that guard’s jaw?” said a pretty but rather severe blonde woman in a gold bodysuit that left her legs and arms bare.
A stocky woman with vivid red hair and a matching costume smirked coldly and said, “Naw, Celeritas, I didn’t have to break his jaw. I just did it for fun! Girls just wanna have fun, ya know!”
A studious beauty with shocking blue hair and glasses shook her head and said, “Virago, you know I frown upon needless violence. Such brutality does nothing to enhance our chances for success. In the future, merely follow my orders to the letter without your roughneck embellishments.”
A tall woman with green hair laughed harshly and said, “Virago got in trouble!”
Virago turned to the woman called Dauntless and said, “Watch your mouth! I didn’t mean nothing by it!”
Sibyl, the blue-haired leader, said, “Very well. In any event, we have removed the security team from the scene. Dynamoll’s electrical blast stunned most of them.” She placed her hands on her hips and smiled. “When little Miss Lowell comes back stage, we will abduct her and demand a heavy ransom from her mother/manager!”
Virago nodded eagerly. “Yeah! The Rainbow Squad rotted in jail for too long. (*) It’s about time we made our mark on the criminal world!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Rainbow Squad,” Shazam! #31 (September-October, 1977).]
Jennie Lowell departed the stage and ran down the steps to the backstage area. She was tired, but she also felt a real sense of exhilaration as she completed another successful show.
That was awesome! she thought. The kids loved Everything is Possible. I was worried the change in style might not go over too well!
She turned to look for her bodyguard and gasped as Dynamoll grabbed her from behind and generated enough current to knock her cold.
Virago tossed the stunned pop star over her shoulder and said, “Got her! Now let’s make tracks!”
Meanwhile, Mary Batson had turned to her friends with a final surprise.
“I also managed to get a backstage pass for us all! We’re going to get to meet Jennie!”
“Totally outrageous!” cried the redhead named Kimber.
The girls showed their pass to a guard who stood in front of the stage and had no idea that he was one of the only guards still conscious. He gestured and directed them around the back into an area behind the stage.
Goldie frowned. “Look! That’s Jennie, but she’s being carried off by that odd woman!”
They saw the Rainbow Squad exiting the arena, and Mary swiftly realized exactly what had occurred. “Girls, we’d better head back out front and alert security! I’ll see if I can find help back here!”
The frightened girls rushed off to obey their leader as she glanced left and right, then cried, “Shazam!”
Magical lightning flashed and thunder boomed as demure Mary Batson was transformed into the heroic Mary Marvel. She looked the same in terms of her hair and features, but she now wore a white and gold cape, gold slippers, and a short red minidress with a bright lightning bolt on the chest.
“Mary really was going to get help, but it won’t come from the staff. It’ll come from Mary Marvel!” she vowed, flying off in pursuit of the gang. They had boarded a van, and now they drove off into the night.
I don’t want to risk a fight while Jennie is in the van! thought Mary. I’ll wait until they reach their base before I take action! Captain Marvel told me about this gang before. Each of them possesses some power that is a rough approximation of one of our own powers. Virago has super-strength, Gibralta is invulnerable, et cetera.
Meanwhile, within the van, the evil women of the Rainbow Squad laughed in pleasure as they drove toward their base.
“We’ve come a long way, ladies!” said Dauntless. “I can still recall when we were just a bunch of working stiffs plucked off the streets and given super-powers by a gorgeous blond hunk! Man, when we found out Mr. Wonderful — the dreamboat who gave us our powers — was nothing more than Mister Mind, a worm from outer space, I figured we were done for as crooks!”
“It rather disturbs me that you can refer to alien worms with such nonchalance,” said Sibyl. “But then, if we wanted normalcy, we could have remained as clerks at the DMV!”
“Right! One form of evil is as good as another!” said Dynamoll.
Gibralta, the quiet woman with orange hair, said, “I still don’t know how you did it, Sibyl. Where did you get that wacky machine that beefed up our powers when we got out of jail?”
Sibyl crossed her legs and sat straighter in a rather smug manner. “I created it. I was given a brilliant mind. I have wisdom of the ages at my disposal!”
Virago sneered and elbowed Celeritas. “But she still can’t get a decent date!” she said.
Sibyl sniffed dismissively and said, “I’ll have you know Thaddy called me just the other night!”
“Girl, tell me you’re just leadin’ that little geek on!” said Dynamoll. “I can’t believe you see anything in Sivana’s bratty son!”
“He and I enjoy intellectual discussions,” said Sibyl. “It is a higher type of relationship!”
“Was that what you were doing in the backseat of his atomic plane?” said Dauntless.
“Enough of this witless prattle,” said Sibyl. “Thaddy helped me design the machine that I used to improve our powers. That was worth a few clumsy embraces!”
They reached an abandoned warehouse near the river and quickly carried Jennie inside the cavernous structure.
“Funny, when crooks get a hideout, it’s always an abandoned warehouse by the river. I wonder if they all use the same realtor!” joked Mary as she zoomed down and smashed through the wall to confront the startled gang.
“Mary Marvel! Swiftly, dispatch her!” cried Sibyl.
Virago and the others frowned and hesitated. “Huh? Stop using those egghead words! We don’t get you!” yelled Virago.
Mary smiled and noticed Jennie was safe but bound to a chair. “I think she wants you gals to rough me up, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t understand your loquacious leader,” she said with a grin. “I’ll personally make sure the prison library has a brand new dictionary waiting for you! Why, I’ll toss in a thesaurus myself!”
“Thewhatiss?” said Virago. “Is that some kinda dinosaur? We’ve had enough of weird reptiles!” She charged toward Mary and connected with a powerful punch that failed to even muss Mary’s hair.
“My, you are strong, but then, I’m invulnerable!” explained Mary Marvel.