When it comes to Shazam, it’s all about family. Billy Batson’s world is full of powerful heroes, terrifying villains, mysterious wizards and occasionally a talking tiger in a tweed suit. However, it’s also a world of robot servants, superhero frauds, nutty professors and questionable employers. On the eve of Shazam’s latest big screen adventure, here are some of his supporting characters that have faded into obscurity. Some of them deserve a comeback, while others are gone for good reason.
1) Uncle Marvel
First Appearance: 1943’s Wow Comics #18
Last Seen: The New Champion of Shazam #4
Dudley H. Dudley is one of the wildest characters in the Shazam Family. He’s more or less a fraud who pretended to be Billy Batson and Mary Bromfield’s uncle. That would be bad enough, but he also falsely claimed to have superpowers of his own, taking on the heroic identity of “Uncle Marvel.” Of course, in a world of superheroes, this sort of lie presents an immediate problem, so whenever a situation called for him to use his nonexistent powers, Uncle Marvel would say that his “shazambago” was acting up.
The best part was that the Shazam Family knew he was lying, but they were all too polite to say anything. They would privately laugh at what a fraud he was, but accepted him as their fake uncle. Uncle Dudley slowly faded into obscurity, but thanks to a recent appearance in The New Champion of Shazam, he might be making a comeback.
2) Sterling Morris
First Appearance: 1940’s Whiz Comics #2 (reprinted in Shazam: A Celebration of 75 Years)
Last Seen: The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1
Sterling Morris is the owner of WHIZ Radio, the broadcasting station that employed Billy Batson. By the way, when I say “employed Billy Batson,” I don’t mean as an intern or delivery boy. Mr. Morris gave Billy a job as an on-air announcer. This businessman saw no issue with hiring a young boy who barged in from the streets asking for a gig. Fake it until you make it, right? (Maybe Uncle Marvel had more of an influence on Billy than we realized!)
Sterling regularly appeared throughout the Golden Age, acting as Billy’s boss and surrogate father figure. He even survived the Post-Crisis continuity transition, becoming a presence in The Power of Shazam series. After that series wrapped, however, he mostly disappeared. Perhaps his radio station went out of business because of his impulsive hiring practices.
3) The Sivana Family
First Appearance: 1940’s Whiz Comics #38
Last Seen: The rest of the Sivana siblings have faded into obscurity, but Georgia was recently featured in The New Champion of Shazam limited series.
Shazam’s nemesis Doctor Sivana used to be accompanied by his various children. His daughter Beautia was the first one introduced, and she didn’t share her father’s evil heart. She had a crush on Captain Marvel and would occasionally sabotage her father’s plans to defeat him. Oh, also, at one point she was queen of the planet Venus. Sivana’s son Magnificus was an Adonis-like figure who considered himself Shazam’s friend and who seemingly had no shame that his name was freakin’ Magnificus.
Sivana also had twin children named Thaddeus Jr. and Georgia. They were the splitting image of their father, which was a bit unsettling. Unlike Beautia and Magnificus, the twins gladly participated in their father’s evil schemes, even though it always ended in pain. The Sivana Family made a few appearances in Post-Crisis continuity, before slowly fading into obscurity. However, Georgia has recently been seen mixing it up with Mary Bromfield in her recent limited series. Perhaps her siblings aren’t far behind?
4) Professor Edgewise
First Appearance: 1942’s Captain Marvel Adventures #9
Last Seen: World’s Finest #277 (reprinted in Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume 3)
Every superhero needs a wacky scientist to make their life more interesting and for the Shazam Family, that man is Professor Edgewise. This professor had a condition which caused him to see things backwards and upside down. He solved this problem by putting everything in his apartment on the ceiling and placing multiple mirrors throughout each room. To prevent it from getting lost, his address was sown into every piece of his clothing. Memorizing it was apparently too much to ask.
As you have probably gathered, this scientist was a bit high maintenance. He hasn’t been seen since the Pre-Crisis era ended, which is a shame because his silly brand of science is missed.
5) The Lieutenant Marvels
First Appearance: 1941’s Whiz Comics #21 (reprinted in Shazam: A Celebration of 75 Years)
Last Seen: The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1
The origin of the Lieutenant Marvels is so simple and nonsensical that it’s practically poetry. One day, Billy Batson befriended three other boys that had the same name as him. He reasoned that since they were also named Billy Batson, they probably had the power to transform after shouting “Shazam!” as well. Even though they hadn’t met the ancient wizard Shazam or anything.
I guess when you spend all your time in a floating rock, this sort of stuff just makes sense to you.
And wouldn’t you know it, Billy was right! His three new buddies transformed into what became known as the Lieutenant Marvels. The tall Billy Batson called himself Tall Marvel, the portly Billy was Fat Marvel, and the southern Billy decided on Hill Marvel. Before you start scratching your head over that last one, I should mention that Hill Marvel called himself “Hill Billy” (read it aloud) when he wasn’t transformed. The Lieutenant Marvels really embraced the concept until Crisis on Infinite Earths revamped the Shazam Family history. Since then, the Lieutenant Marvels have been mentioned and briefly seen as Easter eggs, but otherwise they’ve remained in limbo.
6) Cissie Sommerly
First Appearance: 1942’s Captain Marvel Adventures #12
Last Seen: All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-58 (reprinted in Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume 2)
Cissie Sommerly was the teenage niece of Billy Batson’s employer Sterling Morris. Billy had a crush on her, but didn’t have the nerve to ask her out himself. Instead he transformed into Shazam, and had the adult hero tell Cissie that Billy wanted to date her. This likely clued Cissie in on the whole secret identity thing, but if it did, she was too polite to say. Cissie Sommerly became Billy Batson’s first girlfriend, regularly appearing in his Golden Age adventures.
Cissie returned in the Bronze Age when DC acquired the rights to the Shazam Family. However, she soon faded into obscurity and has never appeared in a Post-Crisis story. Since then, Billy Batson has been romantically linked with other characters, such as the Justice Society’s Courtney Whitmore. Perhaps it’s time for him to look up his first love?
7) Timmy Tinkle
First Appearance: 1951’s Captain Marvel Adventures #125
Last Seen: 1974’s Shazam #13 (reprinted in Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume 1)
Timmy Tinkle was a robot who wanted to be a human. His biggest ambition was to be a television camera operator, which is kind of a sweet dream for a robot to have. From time to time, Timmy would be framed for some crime and Shazam would accuse him of being an evil robot. This seems pretty judgmental on Billy’s part, but fortunately, the misunderstandings always worked out in the end.
Timmy worked with Billy at WHIZ Radio, acting as somewhat of a robot servant, before finally working his way up to cameraman—his dream job. It’s my firm belief that every young superhero could benefit from having a quirky robot sidekick, but sadly, it’s been almost fifty years since Timmy’s last appearance. Hopefully he’s somewhere behind a camera, living his best robot life.
8) Freckles Marvel
First Appearance: 1945’s Wow Comics #35
Last Seen: The Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam! animated series
Mary Dudley (niece of Dudley H. Dudley, aka Uncle Marvel) just kind of showed up one day, demanding to join the Shazam Family as a superhero. She didn’t have any powers, but she wore a costume similar to Mary Bromfield’s and tagged along like a little sister. Since there were now two people with the name Mary in the Shazam Family, Mary Dudley took on the persona of Freckles Marvel.
Freckles appeared as Mary Marvel’s sidekick throughout the Golden Age before fading into obscurity. She was seen in a single episode of The Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam! back in 1981 before disappearing for good. I think the Shazam Family collectively decided that they needed stricter membership requirements.
What are the odds of these characters showing up in Shazam! Fury of the Gods? I wouldn’t bet on any surprise cameos, but in the DC Universe nobody stays forgotten forever. Perhaps someday in some form, we’ll see old friends like Freckles Marvel and Timmy Tinkle return to the Rock of Eternity. Because if we’ve learned anything from Billy’s new foster family, it’s that there’s always room for more!
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DC.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.