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Shazam is a comic book character created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck for Fawcett Comics. He is an ancient wizard (Whiz Comics #2 gives his age as 3,000 years) who gives young Billy Batson the power to transform into the super hero Captain Marvel. Because DC Comics has billed Captain Marvel's adventures under the name Shazam! since 1973, the superhero is often mistakenly referred to by his mentor's name.
Shazam informs Billy that he has been using his powers for many centuries to fight the forces of evil, but that he is now old and not long for this world. He therefore passes along part of his power to Billy, who shouts his name--"SHAZAM!"--to transform into Captain Marvel. Although Shazam is killed--as prophesied--by a giant granite block falling upon him, Billy/Marvel can summon the ghost of Shazam for guidance by lighting a special wall sconce in Shazam's lair, the Rock of Eternity. More superheroes soon joined Marvel in carrying on the legacy of Shazam, including Marvel Family members Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr., and the Lieutenant Marvels.
When Billy first meets him, Shazam tells Billy that his name is an acronym for the six gods and mythological figures who empower him with certain attributes: The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. The 1990s comic series The Power of Shazam!, written by Jerry Ordway, further explored Shazam's origins, giving him a backstory in which he was a young sheepherder who becomes Vlarem, one of the world's first super heroes in ancient Canaan over 5,000 years ago.
At one point, Vlarem is seduced by a demoness disguised as a beautiful woman, and the two of them conceive two half-demon offspring, Blaze and Satanus, much to the displeasure of the gods. Vlarem later creates the Rock of Eternity from two large rock formations--one from Heaven and one from Hell--to hold the "Three Faces of Evil", a dragon-like demon, captive.
Many centuries later, Vlarem, now going by the name of Shazam, feels the need to pass along his powers to a successor, and gives the pharaoh's son Teth-Adam the power to become the super-powered Mighty-Adam by speaking the word "SHAZAM!" As her mother did, Shazam's daughter Blaze takes on the form of a beautiful woman and seduces Adam, convincing him to kill the pharaoh and take over the kingdom. An angry Shazam draws Mighty-Adam's powers out of him and into a large jeweled scarab, thereby killing Adam. A wicked re-incarnation of Teth-Adam named Theo Adam would steal the scarab many centuries later, and use the power of Shazam to become Black Adam.
Eons later, the wizard resurfaces as an aide on the 1940 Malcom Expedition, one of many archaeological expeditions into the tombs and pyramids of ancient Egypt. The sarcophagi of Ibis the Invincible and his mate Princess Taia are uncovered and brought to the United States; Shazam keeps an eye on the sarcophagi and, once they are on display at the Fawcett City Museum, uses ancient spells to resurrect Ibis, who joins Bulletman, Spy Smasher, Minute-Man and others to fight evil during the World War II era. In 1955, a thug knocks Shazam across the head with a crowbar and causes him to lose his memory.
A clueless Shazam wanders around Fawcett for the next 40 years until C.C. Batson, a young man Shazam had met on the Malcolm Expedition, recognizes the old man, brings him to the museum to restore his memory. Shazam feels that he has truly found his successor in the upstanding Batson, but he and his wife Marilyn are murdered by a possessed Theo Adam. He therefore decides to enlist C.C. Batson's young son, Billy, as the successor to his power.

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