Shazam, also known as Captain Marvel, is a fictional superhero who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a boy who, by speaking the magic word "Shazam", can transform himself into a costumed adult with the powers of superhuman strength, speed, flight, and other abilities. His name is an acronym of the six mythological figures from whom his magical powers derive: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.
Created in 1939 by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker, Captain Marvel first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940), published by Fawcett Comics. Based on book sales, Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero of the 1940s, outselling even Superman, and Fawcett expanded the franchise to include other "Marvels", primarily Marvel Family associates Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., who can share Billy's powers. Captain Marvel was also the first comic book superhero to be adapted into film, in a 1941 Republic Pictures serial titled Adventures of Captain Marvel.
Fawcett ceased publishing Captain Marvel-related comics in 1953, partly because of a copyright infringement suit from DC Comics, alleging that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman. In 1972, DC licensed the Marvel Family characters from Fawcett and returned them to publication, acquiring all rights to the characters by 1991. DC has since integrated Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family into their DC Universe, and have attempted to revive the property several times with mixed success. Due to trademark conflicts over another character named "Captain Marvel" owned by Marvel Comics since 1967, DC Comics renamed their character "Shazam" after relaunching their comic book line in 2011.
Captain Marvel was ranked as the 55th greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard magazine. IGN also ranked Captain Marvel as the 50th greatest comic book hero of all time, stating that the character will always be an enduring reminder of a simpler time. UGO Networks ranked him as one of the top heroes of entertainment, saying, "At his best, Shazam has always been Superman with a sense of crazy, goofy fun".