The Marvel Family: Black Adam Strikes Back
By Cynthia Finnegan
Captain Marvel & related characters © 2009 DC Comics, Inc. Used without permission and not for profit.
It was a chilly, late-February afternoon as Billy Batson walked from WHIZ-TV to meet his twin sister, Mary, and their friend Freddy Freeman at a small neighborhood diner for lunch. And after a week of battling a bad case of the flu, it did the teen good just to get out. Though Spring was rapidly approaching, the air was still cold enough for Billy to see his breath as he exhaled, and it irritate his lungs enough to make him cough when he breathed in.
It had been a busy few months for the boy broadcaster. First, there was the Marvel Family and Kid Eternity's fight with Ibac, Sabbac, Darkling and Master Man. Then that battle with Mary's adopted father, whom a demon had transformed into a monster to fight the Marvel Family. Then there was Chain Lightning, who had ambushed the kids and Mr. Morris and caused the media mogul's car to crash. Finally, the flu bugs which struck Freddy first, Mary a few days later, and then Billy himself a couple of days after that. Mary and Freddy gotten better quickly, but this microbe seemed to be holding on to Billy's system with all the tenacity of a pit bull.
The trio all had the same symptoms: nausea, headaches, joint pain (which was especially hard on poor Freddy), chills and a fever. Freddy's recovery had been the quickest because he let his temperature rise until he nearly collapsed, basically letting the virus burn itself out. It worked, but he'd worried his landlady, Mrs. Wagner, greatly. And Mary had her foster-mother to cosset her until she hadn't so much as a shiver. But Billy, being a bit of a workaholic, went back to work before he made a full recovery, and now his body seemed to be getting even with him for it, because he had started shivering by the time he reached the diner.
Billy noticed Mary and Freddy waving to him from the booth as he removed his overcoat and scarf, hung them on the rack, then stuffed his gloves into one of the pockets. The pair had already ordered their lunches, and Mary scooted herself and her soup over so she could make room for her twin brother and sit a little closer to Freddy. The sight and smell of food was causing Billy to feel queasy, so he was looking a little bit green by the time he reached their table.
Anyone looking at the trio would see three ordinary fourteen-year-olds, but in reality, they were much older. Unless the casual observer was over the age of fifty, no one would believe that the teens had actually been born in the early 1930's, or that the reason they were still so young was that they had spent many years trapped in suspended animation.
"Billy, are you all right?" Freddy asked, concerned. "You look awful."
"Guess I still have a bit of the flu," Billy replied, rubbing his temples. "I can't seem to shake it."
"Here, allow me," Mary said as she put her hand on Billy's cheek. "Hmm… you do feel a little warm, Billy. I think you're right; you might be having a relapse."
Before Billy could comment, the waitress serving their table came over with a glass of ginger ale which had a pale, yellowish powder floating in it. She set it and a menu in front of the boy reporter, then pulled an order pad and a pen out of her apron and readied herself to take his order.
"I saw you come in," she remarked as she set the glass down. "There's some extra ginger in that soda. It's an home remedy for sick stomachs. Had the same bug two weeks ago and the only things I could keep down were that and applesauce. You wouldn't want some applesauce with that, would you?"
"No, this is fine for right now. Thank you," Billy said, then took a sip of the soda. She was right; it did settle his stomach. Not enough to eat a huge meal, but it was sufficient to watch his twin sister and best friend eat without feeling nauseous.
"Okay. If you kids need anything else, just holler. My name's Diana."
"Thanks, Diana," Mary replied. She then thought, I'm going to give that lady a nice, big tip.
Meanwhile, two miles above and several hundred miles away from New York City, a black and gold clad figure returned to the world he had been born on five millennia ago. He cursed that little crystal-spinning demon for keeping him trapped for so many months, and he burned for revenge against not only it, but his three foes as well.
Neither knowing nor caring where on Earth he was, or even which Earth he was on, the black-garbed man flew eastward. He calculated that, with the swiftness of Anpu, he'd arrive at his destination in ten to fifteen seconds at the most. And then, he would deal with any so-called "heroes" as he saw fit, especially if those heroes were the Marvel Family. He grinned savagely at that thought.
Black Adam was back.
Back at the diner, Billy watched as Mary and Freddy ate their lunches, his own stomach still too queasy to keep much more than some chicken broth and the odd bite of lightly buttered toast down. Breathing was getting difficult, too; it felt as though someone had put a band vice around his ribcage and slowly began tightening it, and coughing didn't help, either. If anything, it just seemed to make matters worse.
After another minute, he gave up eating altogether, but as he watched his twin sister and best pal eating and talking, he noticed a thick envelope set down by Freddy's cup of coffee. The letterhead on it was from a local private school that had an arts-intensive college prep program. Apparently, the old couple who tried to adopt Freddy during the Second World War had left him enough to manage his expenses, meager though they were.
"You got accepted?" Billy asked.
"Not yet," Freddy replied nonchalantly between bites of his sandwich. "That's just more paperwork to be filled out. Scheduling, what I have to do to keep my scholarship, and "legal guardian" stuff. Not that I really have a legal guardian, unless you count Mrs. Wagner as one."
"Rat!" Mary teased, playfully slapping Freddy's arm. "Why didn't you tell me you're going to Binder Prep?"
"Because it's not final yet. Anyway, even if I am accepted, I won't be starting 'til August. Shoot, school's not out 'til June, so I'm in no big hurry."
"So what do you need to do to keep the scholarship?"
"Keep my grades above a "C" level, which won't be that hard, turn in all my homework on time, keep my nose clean. You know, the usual crap."
"At least you'll be on your way to earning a degree," Billy said sourly, then took another sip of his soda.
"Billy, you have a degree. In Journalism," Freddy retorted sagely.
"An honorary one, Freddy. I didn't go to school and earn it; they just gave it to me, and it still feels like a cheat."
"Brother-mine, what are you babbling about?" Mary chimed in, growing impatient with her twin. "Honorary or not, you earned that degree a dozen times over by … by busting your hump for how long?"
" 'Busting my ...' what? Sis, where on Earth did you hear that one?"
She wasn't about to tell her brother that she first heard that term when Mr. Scarlet's teenaged partner, Pinky, asked her out on a date recently. After politely refusing his offer, he stated jokingly, "if I'd known I'd be busting my hump up here just for a rejection, I wouldn't have bothered!". Instead, Mary simply smiled sweetly and said, "I get around."
"I'll just bet," Freddy commented with a grin, to which Mary stuck her tongue out at him. Of course, he knew how she came by that comment, he'd been there when it was made, but he wasn't going to snitch on her.
Mary and Freddy finished their meals in fairly short order, then Mary pulled a twenty out of her wallet and slipped it under the plate her soup bowl sat on, wishing that she could see the blonde waitress' expression when she saw her tip. She then took the receipt to the front counter and paid the bill while the boys got their coats. After Mary put her own coat on, the trio walked out of the diner and headed towards WHIZ-TV.
At that moment, Black Adam appeared, hovering over the city. When he sighted one familiar landmark, the WHIZ-TV building, he knew that he was on his Earth. The World's Mightiest Villain swooped down for a closer look, and as the approached a diner near the station, he recognized the three teenagers exiting the restaurant and streaked towards them as they crossed the street.
Billy saw the black and gold streak above them out of the corner of his eye. In an instant, he grabbed both Freddy and Mary's arms and pulled them both out of danger, back-pedaling as fast as he could. The black streak smashed into the tarmac where the trio stood mere moments ago, leaving a smoking, six-foot wide crater in the middle of the street. The tremor caused by the collision was powerful enough to knock the teens off their feet.
"Billy, how did you ... ?" Freddy asked, gaping at the hole in the pavement.
"Saw … him coming," Billy gasped in response, which elicited a worried look from Mary. Billy wasn't just out of breath; he was wheezing like an old fireplace bellows, causing her to think that he was a lot sicker than she first thought; that this wasn't just a relapse of his flu, but the onset of pneumonia.
She looked around to make sure there was no one nearby. Conveniently, at that moment, the crowd that had gathered to see what was going on were looking at the gaping hole in the street, not at them.
"Okay, guys," Mary said, gathering her wits, "let's say our words before whoever it is reaches street level again …"
"SHAZAM!" She and Billy shouted in unison, their bodies automatically taking the stance of well-trained warrirors.
"CAPTAIN MARVEL!" Freddy yelled a split-second later. In response, bolts of magic lightning struck each of the three teens, transforming them into their other forms of Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Junior as the black and gold clad form flew back up to the street.
"Black Adam!" Captain Marvel exclaimed in shock.
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic: this story is an out-of-continuity parody based on the SHAZAM! Comics written by E. Nelson Bridwell and illustrated by Don Newton. It is neither steeped in nor is it connected with the current continuity of DC Comics. DC's current continuity lacks imagination. And guts. Hey, I offered DC good money for the Fawcett heroes, but they seem to be damned and determined to ruin them beyond redemption.
I do not claim any rights to the Marvel Family or the characters associated with them. Those rights belong to DC Comics (damn it all). I offer my thanks to C.C. Beck, Bill Parker, Otto Binder, Mac Raboy and Marc Swayze for creating such "marvelous" characters for me to terrorize.