As Billy Batson learns about what he did in Future State, one of his Justice League dreams is dashed by a Justice League curse.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Shazam! #4, on sale now from DC Comics.
As any young kid who becomes a real-life superhero would, Billy Batson dreams about having a place in Justice League history. He already fulfilled one of these dreams when he was made a member of the League, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking of something bigger. As he reveals in the latest issue of his very own miniseries, he wants to start his own Justice League. Too bad that dream is destined for disaster.
Earth’s Mightiest Mortal learns more about new time-traveling Black Adam (Teddy for short) who’s come to stop Future State threat the Unkindness in Shazam! #4 by Tim Sheridan, Clayton Henry, Marcelo Maiolo, and Rob Leigh. Unfortunately, their chat leads Teddy to reveal some unsavory truths about Billy’s future.
Learning that he’s the cause of everything wrong with the Rock of Eternity, a bunch of murders, and the inevitable apocalypse, Billy explains that he never wanted any of this. What he really wanted to do was help people with the power of the Rock of Eternity. Doing so, he believes, will let him restore the Shazam family, finish school, and, potentially, start his own Justice League. Teddy is delighted to inform him that this latter, more outlandish thing on his to-do list will eventually happen. The bad news is, Billy will kill some of them too.
Teddy is of course referring to the events of Future State: Shazam! by Tim Sheridan, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Marcelo Maiolo, and Rob Leigh. This story continued the tragic tale that began in Future State: Flash and Future State: Teen Titans. Though Shazam founded his own Detroit-based version of the Justice League in a broken world, he was ultimately responsible for its tragic fate.
Thanks to a bargain he struck with the demon Neron, Billy Batson stayed in Hell to keep the Unkindness sealed away whilst his magical alter ego continued to protect Earth. Without Billy’s innocence, however, Earth’s Mightiest Mortal was vulnerable to Neron’s temptations and turned into a serial killer. He even killed members of his own team that found out this horrible truth. When the Justice League found out what their leader had done, they tried to stop him by turning him back into Billy Batson. They succeeded in doing so, but that meant that the Unkindness was released, and in possession of the power of Shazam now too. All of which would eventually lead to the end of all life in Teddy’s future.
Billy Batson’s horrifying Future State fate actually carries on the cruel tradition of the Justice League’s Detroit branch. In the mid-80s, the Justice League of America disbanded and reformed in Detroit, having abandoned their space-based satellite for a home in the city. This new team consisted of many lesser-known names to try and reimagine the League as a more grounded force for good.
The team wasn’t especially well-received by readers, leading to a very dramatic end for the Detroit League. In a fight with Professor Ivo, Vibe was brutally killed and Steel was mortally wounded, with Gypsy badly injured too. The entire incident shook the team to its core and led them to disband, with the Justice League International soon taking their place.
It seems then that any Detroit League is cursed to suffer the same deadly fate. For the 80s group, it was Vibe and Steel, and for the Future State version, it was Jakeem Thunder and Martian Manhunter. Hopefully having learned how the future unfolds from Teddy, Billy won’t go down that path now. Just to be on the safe side though, perhaps he shouldn’t start a League of his own – and definitely not one in Detroit.
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