I got this question via Twitter today:
— Jamie Andreassen (@WiccanBeyond) April 8, 2016
Thanks a ton for asking Jamie!
Since Twitter is a limited forum (literally; 140 characters) I thought I’d use this space to answer more thoroughly and give others a chance to read it via this site. [By the way, if any of you reading aren’t familiar with DC’s Rebirth concept you can find out more here.]
My answer comes in tiers because I have both great dreams and limited optimism.
Tier 1 would be the ultimate package: we get a Captain Marvel whose historical identity has been restored. He’s named Captain Marvel, he’s working with the spirit of a Wizard named Shazam, and the creative team (specifically involving Doc Shaner) loves the character and is writing in the long established ethos of the character. We’d also get Mary, CMJ, and the rest of the Captain Marvel family back throughout the series. Cap is a sometimes member of the Justice League and gets called in from time to time, not always to settle down a rogue Superman.
Tier 2 would be (my attempt) at a compromise position. We’re stuck with the current Shazam name it appears, based on DC’s stated intentions. That means we also have a Wizard named… Wizard I guess. However, the creative team would calibrate the character according to Ordway’s Power of Shazam!, Morrison’s Thunderworld, and Shaner’s Convergence (which means they also wouldn’t buy the apparent editorial mandate at DC that everything be grimy in appearance and morally shady in narrative), providing the classic and yet modern take on Marvel’s characterization that has created generations of fans.
Tier 3 is the level at which I’ll become furious with the project if DC doesn’t have enough sense to incorporate (not at my suggestion but rather for the sake of sanity).
And here it is, the absolute bare minimum standard that DC Comics can and should do, both in their own interests and the interest of fans:
Have a Billy Batson who isn’t a self-centered jerk.
Look, I can force myself to stomach their choice to call Captain Marvel by the Wizard’s name. I can even handle the New Gods alternative power-set (temporarily, I hope, and by reading it as an Elseworld‘s title).
But please, for the love of all things good in comic book history, can we please have a Billy who has a moral compass and remains both optimistic and big-hearted despite his circumstances? Please? I’m begging.
There has been plenty of time to listen to the fans and realize how wrong-headed their new Billy has been. There has been plenty of time to realize that Billy is one of the most unique and viable characters in comics. There has been enough time to realize they made a mistake in creating an arc about the greatest wish fulfillment story in modern narrative fiction that they named The Curse of Shazam.
As another Billy famously sang, Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage. Since I’m not the owner or editor of DC I’m stuck, dependent upon them for better stewardship of a flagship comic book property. Will they do anything like I’ve outlined above? As I said above, I’m not optimistic. But I can hope, right?