Marvel Comics' next big crossover event, Infinity Countdown, kicked off with the newly-released Infinity Countdown Prime #1 today and while the issue reveals the new holders of the six Infinity Stones, it also tucked in a couple of clever Easter eggs -- including one about DC Comics' Shazam.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Infinity Countdown #1
Infinity Countdown Prime is full of information on Marvel's upcoming crossover event, but while the issue stuns readers with Ultron holding an Infinity Stone after cutting down Magus, Adam Warlock's evil side which everyone expected to hold the Soul Stone, the issue also tucked in some clever Captain Marvel Easter eggs, the big one being what might just be a sly reference to a different Captain Marvel. In the issue, readers are caught up on the location of all the Infinity Stones following the multiverse reset in Secret Wars. Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers is shown with the Reality Stone, but we're told by the narrator that versions of Captain Marvel across the multiverse each have their very own Reality Stones as well. We're shown Monica Rambeau's version of Captain Marvel as well as the original, the Kree warrior named Mar-Vell -- two characters that will appear in next year's Captain Marvel movie. DeWanda Wise will play Rambeau and Jude Law will be playing Mar-Vell.
While that's a clever little nod to the upcoming movie, it's the Captain Marvel who is mostly off panel that is the real gem (pun intended.) If you look carefully you'll notice that the costume of this obscured Captain Marvel looks a lot like a certain DC Comics hero getting his own movie -- Shazam! While the colors on the hidden Captain are a little off, the details are too similar to miss. Marvel's version has the distinctive two-tiered cape, the buccaneer boots, and even the arm bands so familiar on DC's Shazam!
It's interesting that Marvel has chosen to hint at Captain Marvel/Shazam! as being one of the characters in the far-flung multiverse largely because of the character's complicated history. The name Captain Marvel doesn't have the most straightforward of stories. Before either DC Comics or Marvel Comics existed -- at least as we know them now -- Bill Parker and C.C. Beck created Billy Batson, the boy who transformed into a hero by saying "shazam" for Fawcett Comics. The character, called Captain Marvel, ended up in some legal limbo when the future DC Comics -- then National Comics -- felt Captain Marvel was too much like Superman. By the time the legal dust settled, Marvel had already trademarked their own "Captain Marvel" character which forced DC, which had by then licensed all of Fawcett's characters, to rename Billy Batson's hero Shazam.
The Captain Marvel/Shazam history came back into conversation late last year when news broke that Zachary Levi would be playing the DC hero in David F. Sandberg's upcoming film. Levi made a comment that Shazam was "the original Captain Marvel" causing some fans to assume the actor was throwing shade when he was, instead, simply telling the truth.
As for Infinity Countdown, if these Captain Marvel-related Easter eggs are any indication, readers will definitely want to keep their eyes peeled as Marvel works its way towards its "Fresh Start" relaunch.
Infinity Countdown Prime #1 is on stands now.