Monday, November 7, 2016

The Mystery of Billy Batson's Birthday

One of the things I like about older comics is they had a section where they printed fan mail and answered reader's questions.  I recently bought a copy of Shazam! #26 (published August 12, 1976) and started reading the "Shazamail!" letter page.  The last question/answer on the page knocked me for a loop!

The question from Sharon Porper was, "Can you settle an argument?  Is Captain Marvel's birthday April 1 (Billy's) or is it the day he was first created (whenever that was)?  That's a great question and one that Captain Marvel fans have asked many times!  The answer is given by E. Nelson Bridwell, a great DC comic continuity expert and was the writer of many Shazam! comics.  Mr. Bridwell answers that Captain Marvel's chose to celebrate his birthday on February 29.  That is a fact, in Whiz Comics #52 Captain Marvel chooses February 29 as his birthday.  (You can read my article about that here.)

But what got me really confused is that Mr. Bridwell says that Billy's birthday is December 23 and that the story about his birthday being April 1 was an April Fool's joke!  Well, I guess I'm an April Fool because I wrote an article that Billy's birthday was on April 1!!  Then, to top it off, Bridwell states that Billy first became Captain Marvel on November 8!

I have not read all of Captain Marvel's golden age comics, and I've read most of the 1970's Shazam! comics and I've never come across anything that would indicate Billy's birthday was December 23.  Also, I'm really curious how Mr. Bridwell came up with November 8 as the day Billy first transformed into Captain Marvel.  

I know Mr. Bridwell was an expert on character continuity, so now I am trying to find out how he came up with the date for Billy's birthday and the date Billy first was transformed by the magic lightning into Captain Marvel.  Once I find anything I'll update this article!  Until that time, Billy's birthday remains a mystery to me - although I am holding to his April 1st birth date for now!!