Hero is not the same as before!
Future State, the final phase of DC Comics comics, continues to unfold and show the future of its most famous heroes and villains, ushering in a new era in the publisher’s universe. Some of them have undergone major changes, like Shazam !, which the first edition of his solo comic revealed a major change in the hero status quo (via ComicBook).
The mysterious killer
Future state: Shazam! The # 1 starts with the hero waking up from a terrible nightmare. In a bad mood, he ignores calls from the rest of the Shazam family! and other superheroes, leaving shortly after on a mission to Iron Heights alongside the Justice League. There, they face Giganta and a battle robot, who have been hired to free the creepy villain and hand him over to Black Adam.
After defeating the enemies, the League leaves, but Crawler is brutally murdered. It is not shown who killed him, but the team of heroes have the theory that his death could be linked to several others that have happened recently, all villains. Shazam! then he visits Johnny Trovoada, who was being held prisoner in an abandoned building, and suggests that they fight again, putting their lives on the line. The fight is not shown, but Shazam is seen! waking up in bed the next day, totally bloody.
League members then deduce that it was Shazam himself! who killed Crawler, and confront him with any other murder he may have committed. This is where we are taken to a flashback, where the hero is shown facing the demon Neron in Hell.
Survive in hell
Neron tells the hero that his powers cannot do anything in his domain, and tells him that Billy Batson, and not Shazam !, must remain in Hell watching its doors, to have an innocence unmatched in all this dimension of evil. Shazam! then she tells him it’s impossible, since the two are the same being, and when he becomes Billy again, the powers revert to the Eternity Stone. Considering this, Neron simply separates Billy Batson and Shazam! into two separate entities.
Faced with the new and unlikely situation, the boy accepts his fate of becoming the Guardian of Hell, telling his heroic counterpart to return to Earth and fight for justice. Plus, he does Shazam! promise that no matter what, he’s got to make sure Billy never leaves his post.
This represents a major change in Shazam! within DC, but that’s not necessarily a positive thing: existing now as a separate entity, the hero no longer has the sense of innocence and optimism of yesteryear, which Billy gave him.
The split explains his recent wicked murders by him, and while he doesn’t justify them, it shows how disastrous his powers can be when not used from a child’s perspective.
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