Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Tony Stark: Iron Man #13
The superhero Shazam may have a complicated history with Marvel Comics, but time may be changing... now that Iron Man has just confirmed the magic champion Billy Batson is famous in the Avengers universe, as well.
While the Shazam! movie made reference to Captain America, it's his teammate and rival Tony Stark who shows love to Shazam in the pages of his own comic. After Tony was plucked out of his usual brand of techno-villainy, and put up against a dragon (yes, a real dragon), he soon realizes that the best course of action is to embrace the fantasy. Including a magical catchphrase of his own, obviously.
The moment of truth comes in Tony Stark: Iron Man #13, when the hero unleashes a magical lightning attack against his giant opponent foe, and realizes such a surprise attack demands a punchline. After considering the options, Tony decides that there's only one mystical word he can think of for the occasion: "Shazam." It's a terrific and unexpected moment, banking on the reader recognizing that Tony is referencing the hero Billy Batson, and his own utterance of the word 'calling down the lightning' to transform into Shazam. Technically, the first Spider-Man movie beat Iron Man to the punch, but it doesn't make his attack any less triumphant.
The question fans are now sure to ask is just which version of Shazam Tony Stark is familiar with. Does the young Billy Batson only exist in the pages of superhero comic books, also explaining how Iron Man knows Superman's weakness, as well? And if so, is DC Comics the leading publisher of the medium in Marvel's reality (a cruel twist of fate for the longtime Marvel/DC rivalry). On the other hand, it's possible that in a world where the Avengers are actual crimefighters, it's Zachary Levi leading the Shazam! movie franchise in theaters through Marvel's world. In fact, the comics have poked fun at Batman v Superman before, so it would make sense.
The fans have writer Gail Simone to thank for this collision of comic universes, taking every chance to show some love to DC's heroes... where it would make sense for Tony Stark to, of course. You can't argue with the effectiveness of Tony's own version of the 'Shazam!' lightning bolt, and if you're going to use magic as a weapon, why not copy the best? We recommend fans pick up their copy of the book to enjoy the moment themselves, but for now, check out the solicitation details and plot synopsis below:
- TONY STARK: IRON MAN #13
- Writer: Gail Simone
- Artist: Paolo Villanelli
- Cover: Alexander Lozano
- WAR OF THE REALMS TIE-IN! HOW TO FIGHT YOUR DRAGON! The concluding chapter to this special WAR OF THE REALMS story, as Iron Man finds himself struggling against the ancient mystical forces he has the LEAST power to resist. Tony fights an ancient winged calamity AND his own technology with the lives of everyone at STARK UNLIMITED hanging in the balance!
Tony Stark: Iron Man #13 is available now at your local comic book shop, and direct from Marvel Comics.