In the pages of Shazam! #3 (March 15, 1973) we have one of my favorite stories, "A Switch In Time!" Here's the lead in to this adventure from the front page, "Holy Moley, folks! There's something wrong here! We're seeing boy newscaster Billy Batson as a man -- and Captain Marvel as a boy! This could lead to trouble!"
The adventure begins with Billy Batson at a dance. He's trying to meet kids his own age but is feeling like an outsider - even though he's wearing some groovy '70s threads! Billy's bummed because, thanks to Sivana's placing Captain Marvel in suspended animation, Billy's a boy out of time. He doesn't understand the dances or the language of his modern-day companions. Billy says to himself, "My problem is, I only look like a boy! Actually I'm twenty years older - because I was in suspended animation for twenty years!" Billy continues, "It's not fair! I've missed growing up! The joys...the sorrows...the heartbreak and laughter...I'll never be normal! I'll always be behind my time..a freak!" Then Billy has an idea - he'll go see the wizard Shazam who might be able to help him.
Saying the magic word, "Shazam!" Billy is transformed into Captain Marvel who then makes his way to the ancient throne room where he first met Shazam. Captain Marvel explains Billy's plight to the kind old wizard and asks if Shazam can help Billy. The wizened wizard warns, "I can accelerate his personal time stream...but I warn you...meddling with time streams can be risky! It may affect you, too!" Heeding the warning, Captain Marvel states that he accepts the risk and is willing to take the chance to help his buddy Billy. (Note: The exchange between Captain Marvel and Shazam show that Cap and Billy are two different people!) Shazam has Captain Marvel grasp an enchanted hourglass and say the magic word, "Shazam!" Magic lightning strikes and transforms Cap into Billy Batson - but this time Billy is a full-grown man!
Meanwhile, back at TV station WHIZ, a wizard school reject named Shagg Naste is rejected by the station. He runs across Mr. Morris, owner of WHIZ and threatens to put a spell on him if he doesn't give the nasty Naste a television show! Mr. Morris laughs in his face and doesn't take the threat seriously. Shagg Naste proves his threat is real by saying a magic word, "Alakazamboola!" and turns unsuspecting newsboy Freddy Freeman (Captain Marvel, Jr) into stone! Shagg Naste continues his threatening demands - he wants his own TV show, a big cast, lots of dancing girls, and a big salary!
What makes this a great story is how it deals with what someone would go through in Billy's situation. Think about it - what if you had been in suspended animation for twenty years? What was once your present situation is now history. It reminds me of the Captain America movie and the struggles Steve Rogers had adjusting to modern times.
The story also shows what a great and self-less friend Captain Marvel is. He's warned that he might be impacted by Billy's desire to be an adult. Cap is willing to pay the price to help out his friend.
I think it's funny to see Billy as an adult and Captain Marvel as a teenager, that's a great plot twist that I don't recall being used in the golden age comics!
Finally, the story also gives us insight into Shazam's powers. We learn that he can manipulate the time stream and uses an enchanted hourglass as his tool to do that.
A switch in time taught is a great story that proved the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it!"