By Craig Byrne
Summary: A concept based on the comic book graphic novel "The Power of Shazam," by Jerry Ordway, but which asks the question, "What if the orphan who became Captain Marvel also happened to be Jack's brother?"
This is the very first fanfiction I have done, so bear with me. The concept is based on the comic book graphic novel "The Power of Shazam," by Jerry Ordway. I put a major spin on things, by asking the question "What if the orphan who became Captain Marvel also happened to be Jack's brother (from "The Foundling")?" SPECIAL NOTES: Nowhere has it been revealed what Jack and Denny's last name was. So the name "Batson" was made up, a nod to the comic book Captain Marvel, Billy Batson. Also, the name of the orphanage worker Dick Van Patten played in "Season's Greedings" was never revealed, so I named him Bradford Thomas, a "nod" to the name of his character on "Eight is Enough," Tom Bradford. This story features several characters from previous episodes of L&C, including "The Foundling" from season 1, and "Season's Greedings" and "Individual Responsibility" from season 2. This story was done with space for commercials so it reads like a true L&C episode. The characters of Captain Marvel and Shazam were created in 1939 by C.C. Beck. They were recently "revamped" by Superman comics creator, Jerry Ordway. So here it is…
The scene opens on Coates Orphanage. The man who runs the orphanage, Bradford Thomas, makes his rounds down the hallway corridor, to make sure all nine of the children are there. "Goodnight, Mary, Susan, Joannie, Nancy, and Elizabeth! Goodnight, Tommy, David, Nicholas, and—wait a minute!!" He enters the room. With a very surprised look on his face, he notices only three of the four beds are occupied. "Where's Denny?"
"Uh… I'm not sure, sir." said 14-year-old David, the oldest boy of the shared boys' room, "He was here a second ago."
"This is not good," responded the orphanage worker, "He's got to be here somewhere."
The scene goes to the fire escape of the orphanage, with young Denny climbing down the ladder and jumping down to a nearby alleyway.
(fade to opening)
Across the city, ace reporter, Lois Lane, is enjoying one of her precious few moments away from work. She is lounging on her sofa in front of a TV with a bowl of Rocky Road in one hand and a banana in the other. 'I wonder what's on,' she wonders to herself as she turns on the TV. She then stops. 'What am I doing?' She thinks to herself. 'It's bad enough that I'm sitting around eating bananas and rocky road, watching reruns of the Love Boat, but this is pretty bad. Just because Clark decided to go home to Smallville for the weekend, doesn't mean I'm going to have to sit around.' With that thought, Lois picks up the phone. "Perry?" she asks, "I was wondering… would you and Alice like to go downtown tonight?"
"That would be a great idea, Lois," said Perry, otherwise known as Perry White, managing editor of the Daily Planet, "but unfortunately, Alice is down with the flu and I promised Jimmy I'd buy him some burgers."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear about Alice," said Lois, "but, well… why doesn't Jimmy come along with us?"
"That would be a great idea, Lois," responded the Chief, "tell you what… I'll meet you at Metropolis Square, on the Jurgens Boulevard side. OK?"
"Great!" Lois responded before she hung up the phone. She then gets dressed into something more presentable than her oversized T-shirt and sweat pants, and decides to head out and hit the town. "I won't let Clark's vacation ruin my evening," Lois says to herself.
Right before Lois's arrival in the square, young Denny, brother of Jack, is enjoying his freedom from the "prison" of the orphanage. He had been in a foster home for a few months, but that didn't work out, so he was placed in the orphanage. He seemed to like it there, but he liked living on his own with his brother even better. Now, he didn't even know where to find Jack. He is afraid that if he calls the Daily Planet to find out where Jack is, they'll report him to the head of the orphanage and he'll be sent back to "prison."
Suddenly, Lois is walking towards Metropolis Square and she bumps into young Denny. "Watch where you're going, kid!" Lois remarks. Denny looks at Lois, recognizing her. He then does not know what to do, so he runs. "Wait!" Lois yells to him, but it is too late. Denny is long gone.
'I think I lost her,' Denny thinks to himself, as he decides to sneak down an alleyway. Suddenly, a man in a trench coat approaches him. "Follow me," says the figure, placing his hand out for Denny to follow. Denny has no choice but to follow him. Ever since their parents died, Denny's brother Jack always told him to keep away from those people he did not know. But, for some strange reason, Denny felt as if he knew this person. Soon, the strange man opened a door on the side of a building, leading to a large flight of stairs. "Come." Denny, although nervous, followed. At the bottom of the flight of stairs stood a very strange looking train.
The new scene opens at the orphanage. Bradford Thomas is on the phone with the police. "I think he might have been kidnapped," said Thomas, "One second, he was here, the next, he was gone. Oh, well, okay. I understand." Hanging up the phone, Mr. Thomas has a very down look on his face. "If only my wife, Joan, was still with me. She'd know what do to."
Meanwhile, on the town, Lois, Perry, and Jimmy stop to eat some hot dogs. Perry began with one of his stories about how Elvis once ran a hot dog stand when he was a young boy. Suddenly, Lois got up the nerve to mention her earlier rendezvous. "Hey Perry, you remember Jack, right?" she inquired. "Of course, yes. Nice kid, but he did have an attitude. Catching him with that girl in the closet was the last straw though. That stuff is not supposed to happen in my building," he responded.
"Well, didn't Jack have a brother?"
"Yeah, I think I remember him talking about him before. Danny—Billy—what was his name?"
"Well, I think I saw him today."
"Really? I heard he was in a foster home in Coast City."
"Guess he's not anymore."
All three of them passed it off as a common occurrence. After all, Denny's foster family could always have been visiting Metropolis for the weekend. Perry then proceeded into telling another story about Elvis's youth.
The scenery changes back to Denny and the mysterious man, who enter the subway car. "Where are we going?" Denny asks. "Don't worry," said the man, "Once you get there, all will be explained."
The subway car stops. "I cannot go any further. Good luck, young Denny Batson." Denny sees a cave, with seven statues of the deadly enemies of man on the side. He slowly continues, until he sees an old bearded man on a throne in front of a very bright light.
"Who are you?" Denny asks, nearly blinded by the light.
"I am Shazam!"
"In my peak, I had the wisdom of Solomon… the strength of Hercules… the stamina of Atlas… the power of Zeus… the courage of Achilles… and the speed of Mercury!"
"You sound like you were a lot like Superman!"
"No, not quite. But what I am is part of a never-ending struggle… the world is dying… people are dying… I have power, but I am quickly growing old. I need a successor! Superman is not enough! Speak my name, Denny Batson!"
Suddenly, Denny speaks. "Atchoo? No, that's not it. Shazaan? No, that's not it either. What's your name again?"
"Oh, yeah, sorry. Shazam!"
Where Denny Batson once stood is a towering figure in a red costume and a yellow thunderbolt on his chest. Power surged through Denny; it felt great! "What? What's happened to me?" Denny asks.
"You are Captain Marvel, the world's mightiest mortal! Please save the earth, before it is… totally… corr…upt…ed*." With that, the wizard Shazam dies, and his body disappears into thin air.
"What's going on?" Denny asks. "Damn it, don't die on me! How am I supposed to get out of here? What have you turned me into? What am I supposed to do?" In a mad rage, Denny punches a wall, putting a big hole in it. 'Did I do that?' He wonders. "Yow!" Denny starts laughing. 'This isn't so bad after all,' he thinks to himself! He jumps up into the air, still very happy. He ends up going 10 feet upward, and he's not going down. "Whoa, I can fly! I CAN FLY!" Denny continues with joyous laughter.
Meanwhile, in a secluded place in the mountains, 50 miles away from Metropolis, woodsman Lenny Trellins was digging when suddenly he hit something hard. He continued digging until he found that it was a glowing red rock. (Little did he know that it was the piece of red Kryptonite that Superman threw out of Dr. Friskin's office, thinking he'd never see it again). He picks up the rock. "I've never seen anything like this before… I bet this is worth something!"
"I think you shall hand it over," said a masked man, with a gun to Trellins' back.
"Who are you?" Trellins asked.
"None of your… damn… business." replied the mystery man. He then shot Trellins in the back, and stole the red K. "With this crystal, I will be able to dispose of Superman once and for all!"
In Smallville, Kansas, Clark Kent is spending some leisure time with his parents. "Clark, we're so happy that you came out here, but you look somewhat upset—what's wrong, honey?" asked Martha Kent, his mother.
"I don't know, Ma, I guess I just miss Lois," he responds.
"Honey, that happens a lot. I can't stand to be away from your father more than a day at a time," says Mrs. Kent, "It's a fact of life… get used to it."
"Yeah, I guess so, Ma," Clark says, turning on the television set, "I need to relax."
Soon Clark's rerun of the "Andy Griffith Show" was interrupted by a special report, from none other than Clark's old friend Cat Grant. "This is Catherine Grant, WGBS News. There have been several sightings of a 'flying man' flying through Metropolis in a red costume with a white cape. Has Superman decided to get a change of clothing, or is this someone else altogether? Keep it locked on GBS for more late- breaking news."
Clark thought for a second. 'That isn't me,' he thought, 'and my imperfect 'clone' is gone. Who could it be?' he wondered. 'I need to get back to Metropolis right away.'
"Ma, something really important just came up. Tell Pa that I'll be home before midnight," Clark said, going out the door, "I need to look into this 'red-suit' thing. I think this is a job for Superman!" With that he flew out the door—literally.
Elsewhere, still in the form of "Captain Marvel," Denny Batson flew over to the window of the Daily Planet building, hoping to get a glimpse of his brother, who he believed was still working there. Soon someone spotted him, and came to the window. It was Ron Troupe, one of the newer reporters for the Planet. He opens the window. "Can I help you?" asks Troupe.
"Uhh, umm, er, ah—have you seen Jack Batson around lately?" asks the Captain.
"Jack Batson?" asks Troupe, "Never heard of him."
"Are you sure? He was about 6 feet tall, brown hair, 18 years old—are you positive you haven't seen him?"
"Nope, sorry. Hey, you related to Superman?"
"Umm… I don't think so."
Captain Marvel flies off. Denny realizes that having great power is a lot of fun, but it's not if you have no one to share it with. He flies into the abandoned building that he and Jack used to live in. "Why can't I find him? Why can't you help me, Shazam?" By saying the magic, Denny becomes regular 13- year-old Denny Batson again. "Oh, man…" Denny says, extremely upset.
The scene changes again, this time to Superman, flying over Metropolis, looking for any signs of a "flying man." Unfortunately, he doesn't have any luck in the situation. Suddenly, his super-hearing picks up something. "Hey, Superman, down here!" Superman flies down to investigate.
"Yes?" Superman enters a window to talk to the caller, and he sees a masked man with a strange box in his hand. "Come closer, Superman." says the man. "What do you want?" Superman asks, coming closer. The masked man opens the box to reveal the Red Kryptonite.
"Get that away from me!" is Superman's first impulse. The mystery man takes off his mask, revealing himself to be none other than Lex Luthor! "Bow to my red kryptonite, Superman, and watch!" Lex walks into the next room and says, "Oh, and by the way Superman, don't expect your friends at the 'Daily Planet' to bail you out this time—with the exception of Clark Kent, who is vacationing in Smallville, I've got all of your friends—RIGHT HERE!"
Superman sees all of his friends chained to a wall. "Get rid of the kryptonite, and give me those people back," Superman says, "Then again, what do I care? Let someone else rescue them!" Irresponsibility, the main effect of the Red Kryptonite, has affected Superman once more.
Superman looks around. He sees Lois, Perry, and Jimmy chained to a wall. He sees his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, standing in front of him with kryptonite in his hand. Yet—he does nothing. The Red Kryptonite is apparently affecting Superman. "I've got your friends, and your weaknesses, Superman—what do you have to say about that?" asks the fiendish Lex Luthor. "Eh, I don't care!" says Superman, brushing them off.
(fade to opening)
The show opens with young Denny Batson roaming the streets. 'I am so confused,' he thinks to himself, 'I get these cool super-powers, and then I lose them, and no one knows where my brother is. This really bites.' Suddenly, someone comes up behind him. "Hey, kid, what's up?"
Elsewhere, in the building rented by the villainous Lex Luthor, the core of the Daily Planet staff is held hostage. "This is what happens when you say 'no' to me, Lois Lane," says a vengeful Lex Luthor, "And you—Jimmy Olsen—you little twerp. I'm sure there isn't a person around who will be here to attend your funeral. And Perry White—I hear you're infatuated with Elvis—seems you may be visiting him soon."
"You won't get away with this, Luthor," says Perry. "Ah, but I already have," responds Lex, "Superman, go get me some cappuccino, will you?"
Superman walks towards the cappuccino bar in Lex's room. Suddenly, a cage falls over him—lined with fragments of the Red K! Superman does not see a need to get out, so he just sits there. Lex's plan is complete—the only other person he needs to exact his revenge upon is Clark Kent!
Back to the streets, Denny's friend is revealed. "What's up, brother?" It was Jack. "Jack!!" said a happy young Denny, "where have you been?"
"Well, I was working at the 'Planet' for a while, until Perry White, the editor, caught me—umm… never mind."
"Caught you what?"
"I'll tell you when you're older."
"So where have you been since then?"
"Well, for a while I was working at a shipyard in Gotham. You wouldn't believe the stuff that has been going on there. When I got sick of working on a pile of holy rusted metal, I decided to come back here to Metropolis. I meant to visit, but I didn't know where to find you. Where were you?"
"I got sent to a foster home for a while. When the man and woman I was staying with began… having problems, it was decided that I had to go. I ended up at the Coates Orphanage."
"You mean the one run by that Tom Bradford guy?"
"Actually, his name was Bradford Thomas. Close enough bro'. So where have you been since you returned to Metropolis?"
"I've been staying with this guy, Bibbowski… his friends call him 'Bibbo.' He runs a restaurant and boarding house for homeless kids like me."
"I wish I knew about it."
"But you're not homeless—hey, wait a minute…"
"I can explain! Well, first I escaped from the orphanage, until I ran into Lois Lane. I ran, and some guy in an alley took me someplace when I met this wizard named Shazam."
Suddenly, Denny Batson was gone, and where he once stood again stood the heroic Captain Marvel.
"Cool! I've got the powers again!"
"Denny, is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me… long story…"
'How come is it that every person I hang out with ends up being some kind of super-hero,' Jack wonders to himself.
"Well, we'd better get out of here before everyone notices a guy in red tights. Wanna lift, bro'?" Denny asks to his brother.
"Sure," says Jack. Denny picks him up and they fly out of sight.
(the scene opens with Captain Marvel flying at high speeds in the air, with his brother Jack holding on to his back. In the background you hear the theme music from "The Greatest American Hero.")
Captain Marvel and Jack land—on top of Gotham Dome, about 300 miles away from Metropolis. The usually quiet Jack speaks up. "Did you hear about the time that kook Two-Face tried to blow this whole place to Doomsday? There were a few circus performers killed down there. Wiped out the almost the entire Grayson family, except for a friend of mine, Dick Grayson… of course, he's living in the lap of luxury now in the mansion of Bruce Wayne, and me… well, even with the help of Bibbo, I've still been left on the streets. I wish I had that kind of opportunity, to live with some millionaire, after our parents were killed. Dick Grayson probably doesn't have a care in the world anymore…"
"Jack, did you think of me?" asked the inquisitive Denny.
"Of course, all the time… I figured you were okay, you're a tough kid," replied his brother.
"Well… Jack… inside this shell of a mighty super-hero, I'm still a normal person. I bet even Superman is a normal guy sometimes," Denny responded.
"You'd never know," replied Jack with a grin on his face as if he knew more than he was letting on, "you'd never know…"
"Well, we'd better get back to Metropolis… not like they need us there, surely Superman's got things under control…" Denny responded.
The scene changes to an alley in Metropolis. Charlene Gutentag is held at gunpoint by a gunman intent on taking all of her money. She struggles. "Help! Superman!" she screams. Suddenly, a caped figure shows up behind her. "Let her go." It wasn't Superman—but it was the next best thing—Captain Marvel!
"What the #$ #%$?" says the armed gunman. "Go to hell, super-hero!" he says, as he shoots at Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel swiftly dodges the gunfire. The gunman continues shooting until he is completely out of ammunition. "Finished yet?" asks Captain Marvel. "Jack, if you would be ever so kind…"
Jack walks up from behind. "Sure thing, C.M." He takes the gun from the robber. "Lady, you'd better run. We'll take care of him," said Jack. The lady proceeds out of sight. "Anyways, what should we do with this creep?"
"I'll fly him to the 87th Precinct of Metropolis. They'll know what to do with him. I'll talk to you in a little bit," replied Captain Marvel.
"'Later." responded Jack.
As Captain Marvel flies the felon to jail, he starts to wonder… 'Where was Superman through all of this? I thought HE of all people would be able to handle this… guess he had a date or something…'
The scene: Lex Luthor's room in an abandoned building in Metropolis. Superman sits in his little Red K cell reading an Animaniacs comic book, apparently not caring that his friends are all held captive. "Superman, snap out of it, dude," yells Jimmy over to the hero, "Fight it! You've gotten past this Kryptonite stuff before, do it again!"
"What are you talking about, Jimmy? I'm fine… really…" responds Superman, turning the page of his comic. "Pinky & The Brain crack me up all the time," he says with a chuckle.
"Maybe Clark will show up, and notify the police that we are missing," says Perry.
"No, he's in Smallville with his parents for the week. There's no way he'd come back to Metropolis early," Lois replies, dismissing the idea.
The scene shifts to Coates Orphanage, where a frustrated Bradford Thomas sits. "Maybe those reporters—Lane and Kent—will be able to help me find that young boy. My reputation as an orphanage owner will be greatly damaged if that boy does not show up." He picks up the phone, to call Lois's beeper number.
Up in Lex's rented space, Lois's beeper goes off in her pocket. "Put it away, Lois…" says Lex, "We don't have time for those things." Lex takes the beeper out of her pocket, throws it on the floor, and steps on it like an old cigarette. "Now, if you'll excuse me… I have more important matters to attend to…"
Lex puts on a blond wig and a false mustache. He looks completely unnoticeable as Lex Luthor. "Oh, and if you get hungry… I guess it will be a shame… we don't want you to go through anything like what I went through when I was 'deceased,' do you?" Lex walks out of the room, and out of sight.
Lois looks over towards Superman. "Superman, you've got to save us! Please! Don't you remember us—how important we are to you? We're your best friends! Without you we will all die!"
"Lois, calm down… it's not that bad… Luthor's given me a bunch of comics to read, so I don't think I'll get bored." responds Superman.
Unbeknownst to them, Captain Marvel and Jack land about 2 blocks away from where the Daily Planeteers are held. Captain Marvel hides behind an alley and turns back into Denny. "Interesting…" says a blond-haired, mustached man who walks up to Denny and Jack, "I don't know how you did that, but of course you will tell me all. What's your secret, young man? Magic? Or are you from the same planet as Superman?"
"Huh? That was only a hologram," said Denny, trying to B.S. his way past the man. The armed man said to the Batsons, "You're coming with me." He then took them up to where Lois, Perry, and Jimmy were held.
"Lois? Perry? Jimmy? SUPERMAN?!?!" said Jack, "What are you doing here?"
"Help us… this madman wants us to starve to death! Get Superman out of that cage," responds Lois!
"He's not doing anything," responds the armed man, taking off his wig and mustache revealing that he is indeed Lex Luthor.
"Oh, yeah?" responds Denny, "Shazam!"
Lex Luthor is confused and stunned by the transformation. In the confusion, Jack takes the gun from Lex. "Good try, Luthor."
"Save us!" says Lois.
"No problem, lady," Captain Marvel responds, unchaining Lois, Jimmy, and Perry at super-speed. "Now, for me to get rid of this red kryptonite cage…" He breaks it apart, and throws it out the window, much like Superman mistakenly did weeks before. Luckily, this breaks Superman out of the uncaring spell he was in. "Thanks." responds Superman.
"Now what do we do with Luthor?" asks Jack to the two caped heroes.
"Let's take him back to where he belongs… Metropolis Prison." responds Superman, flying the villain away.
Relieved, everyone stands together in Lex Luthor's rented space. "Thanks a bunch," says Perry to the two, "and Jack… I hope there are no hard feelings about the whole Daily Planet thing. I just don't think it's very appropriate for people to be doing the wild monkey dance in the Daily Planet offices. We're a respected institution, I don't think people would take too kindly to that stuff happening. Hope you understand."
"No problem, gramps… besides, I think Denny and I will go to work at Bibbo's restaurant, in exchange for a warm home and meals on the table," Jack responds.
"Hey, man, it was nice seeing you again…" says Jimmy to his friend.
"Nice to see you—all of you—again too, but one thing Jimmy… did you have plastic surgery or something? You look a little… different than I remember you." Jack says.
Jimmy has a confused look on his face. "Oh well… so what's next for Captain Marvel?"
"Who knows," responds Denny, "Who knows…"