Monday, February 3, 2020

Shazam and Superboy-Prime

He's back.

God help us all, he's back.

Shazam #10 featured the surprising return of a DC villain who hasn't really been seen in over a decade, and that's how most of us preferred it! The solicits for the release of Shazam #13 even had Superboy Prime on the cover having decimated the main cast (as shown above). Surprisingly none of them are missing limbs, implying that he must've held back. Of course he'd be on the cover for unlucky #13.

Prime's appearance deserves a mention on Super-Bloggers since he's ostensibly a Legion villain, whether we like it or not. Below I'll be offering a refresher on Prime's history, why he's connected to the Legion, and how his appearance in Shazam #10 went down.

Superboy-Prime is a survivor of the original DC Multiverse who went from a forgotten counterpart of Superman to one of the most pathetic, dangerous, and unintentionally laughable villains DC owns. Driven by his obsession with how he thinks the DCU should be and bitter about the life taken from him when Earth-Prime was destroyed, Superboy-Prime has racked up one of the biggest body counts of any DC character. He was even held responsible for the continuity changes that resulted in Kara Zor-El's reintroduction to the DCU and the creation of the Threeboot Legionnaires... by punching a wall in reality.

Y-yeah let's not get into that.

The fandom is largely in agreement over Prime being one of the absolute worst characters DC uses, both in the sense of being a bad person AND a bad character. What really makes him so detestable is how DC propped him up as a parody of the most rabid, obnoxious fanboys complaining over change ruining everything from their childhood. He fails for these two reasons:

A: DC Editorial has no problem using him to get rid of the characters they specifically hate. Many of the initial characters Prime killed off in Infinite Crisis were minor Titans such as Pantha and Baby Wildebeest and many of the New Bloods.

B: NO ONE in charge of DC has a right to mock fans complaining about change, when the man who runs DC Comics at this very moment is a petulant Silver Age fanboy who's spent literal decades trying to destroy legacy characters such as Dick Grayson and Wally West and any semblance of families among DC's characters. You all know who I'm talking about.

As of right now, Superboy-Prime is still being held responsible for the murder and mutilation of multiple heroes and villains as well as the total destruction of Earth-15 in Countdown to Final Crisis, despite how DC Editorial eventually decreed that most of that book's events were non-canon.

Prime's last three major appearances were in Legion of 3 Worlds, Adventure Comics, and Teen Titans.

In L3W Geoff Johns retconned Prime to be the inspiration behind the founding of the Legion of Super-Villains. Manipulated by the Time Trapper, Prime reformed the LSV and expanded its membership to include the Fatal Five, the Justice League of Earth, and several solo villains like Black Mace, Mordru, and Universo. Prime is responsible for murdering Rond Vidar, Kinetix, and Element Lad and Sun Boy of the Threeboot Legion. L3W also revealed an older version of Prime to be the current incarnation of the Time Trapper. Earth-Prime had indeed been reborn when the Multiverse was reformed, and the Threeboot Legion is the Legion of Earth-Prime!

Prime briefly appeared in Adventure Comics during Blackest Night and was attacked by several Black Lanterns, including the Threeboot versions of Jan and Dirk. The story ended with the implication he was going to be killed by the Black Lantern version of his former girlfriend, Laurie.

J.T. Krul brought Prime back into the main DCU for the finale of his Teen Titans run, reestablishing a new Legion of Doom made up of Titans villains such as Elise Kimble, the third Persuader, and Sun Boy's descendant Sun Girl. The story ended with Superboy and Supergirl trapping Prime in the Source Wall to put an end to his reign of terror and that's where many of us hoped he was staying.

The current Shazam series being written by Johns and (mainly) illustrated by Dale Eaglesham has largely rewritten the Shazam mythos after it all became so convoluted up until the end of the Post-Crisis DCU. The current story-line has slowly featured segments focusing on Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind exploring the Magiclands, the realm where the power of Shazam now originates from.

Shazam #10 has the two villains reaching an area called the Monsterlands and they've begun exploring a prison built to house some extraordinarily dangerous villains. Captain Marvel fans might recognize nods to a couple of classic villains like Mr. Atom and King Kull. Sivana notes, however, one doorway in the prison is rather small compared to the rest. Mr. Mind explains the particular prisoner behind the S-crested door will not be joining their ranks.

Inside the cell, we see a familiar, red-eyed figured hunched in a corner and yelling at the two bad guys. The panels reveal a scar on the boy's chest in the shape of Superman's "S" symbol.

Somehow, Prime's once again survived the destruction and rebirth of the Multiverse, this time at the hands of Barry Allen and Doctor Manhattan. And somehow the slash he gained on his scar at the hands of Superboy in L3W is gone. It's not clear how Prime wound up in the Magiclands or how long he's been held prisoner there, but Prime clearly hasn't changed. His memory of the past versions of the DCU remains unaltered; he refers to Mr. Mind's original backstory (a Venusian worm) and his current backstory (from the Wildlands). He's also still aware of the fourth wall and asks how any of us readers are still supporting DC after everything the company's done in the past decade.

Prime's appearance ends with him swearing he'll do something horrible to Billy Batson.

Aside from his prominence as an enemy of the Superman Family, Johns clearly implied there would have been more stories featuring Prime and the Threeboot Legion had his turn writing the Legion lasted any longer. It's anyone's guess if there's a shred of hope whether the Threeboot Legion, or ANY of the other Legions, might be mentioned in future Shazam issues.

The only sure bet is that Prime is going to do some horrible stuff and complain about how it's not his fault until he somehow gets tossed away again.


  1. Yeesh.

    If it has Superboy Prime, I'm not buying it. Granted, that won't mean much because DC has so irritated me that they get very little of my money these days, but I have to draw the line somewhere.