By Adam Crohn
MAZAHS! I thought I’d get the elephant in the room out of the way right off the bat. With all the hype around the upcoming Black Adam movie and the recent trailer drop for Shazam 2, I get the feeling that DC might try to build their latest attempt at a shared movie universe around the star power of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Or not. The recent merger of Discovery and Warner Bros. leaves more up, up in the air than a bunch of capes.
Regardless of what the future holds for the DC movie universe, the movies will still have an effect on directly related comic books as well as ancillary characters and titles. When a new movie is announced many comic investors clamor for the character that’s getting the spotlight, but some look to the left or right, maybe see who the guy behind “The Guy” is. As is the case with Mazahs! Actually, he’s the guy behind the guy, behind the family, and from another Earth.
Making his comic book debut in the pages of DC’s New 52 Justice League #23 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis (technically the character of Mazahs first appeared in the LEGO DC Super-villains game), Alexander Luthor, Sr. is the reverse Shazam of Earth-3, aka, Mazahs. On Earth-3 Mazahs was THE guy. In 2014’s ‘Forever Evil’ by Geoff Johns and David Finch (the first line-wide event of the New 52 era) the evil version of the Justice League, The Crime Syndicate, come to Earth-0 to claim it as their own after their home of Earth-3 was destroyed by Mazahs. As the “reverse Shazam” Mazahs can absorb the super powers of those he kills, whereas Shazam and Black Adam can only share their powers with others. This ability made Alexander Luthor the most powerful being of Earth-3, and a problem the Crime Syndicate very much wanted to dump on to someone else’s doorstep. Somehow, they managed to capture this guy, throw a sack over his head and magic lasso him up. Honestly, if it were me, I would have let him have that Earth and left him there. But as we see the story unfold, we find out Mazahs is the father of Superwoman’s unborn child and leaving him was not an option. She then reveals that her loyalty lies not with Ultraman but with Mazahs, and that together they plan to overthrow he and Owlman for control of the Crime Syndicate.
Luthor Sr. makes his first appearance as Mazahs in Forever Evil #6, but I’ll leave the rest of the story for you to read because it’s a good one that became maligned after its release due to delays and a lack of autonomy from the stories Johns was writing at the time. Some folks had grown tired of a lack of closure with DC events, and story lines merely serving as open-ended roads to the next. That said, it’s a compelling script and some of Finch’s best work on interiors.
I don’t see DC/WB/Discovery cutting The Rock loose any time soon, and the movie actually looks interesting. If they can get their live action universe on some solid ground, I could see maybe another movie or two down the road wanting to give Shazam and Black Adam someone else to beat on other than each other. And comic book movies love analogues, especially analogues of Superman. I’m a big fan of Marvel’s Robert Reynolds, aka, The Sentry, and I’ll never forget reading Bendis’s re-introduction of the character in New Avengers #3. Mazahs gave me a similar vibe, albeit an opposite and evil one. I think if cast right, a hulking The Rock sized, grizzled, bearded, flying megalo-maniac could be a terrifying sight to see in the sky. And I just want to see some dude yell out “MAZAHS!!!”
Adam Crohn is a freelance writer, character and concept designer, and toy maker from Chicago. He has been marinating in a stew of pop-culture and geeknicity for most of his life. He loves Hall and Oates and you can find his work at his portfolio here.