I have fond reminiscences of childhood hours spent watching truly terrible cartoons on VHS tapes, among them, Shazam! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the official name--perhaps the inspiration for a certain soon-to-be relic of a search engine?). But today I learned something new, browsing the legitimately LOL-worthy* cracked.com [H.T. Marginal Revolution]:
The origin of Shazam! is that young Billy Batson, a 12-year-old homeless newsboy, follows a mysterious stranger into a secret subway tunnel and boards an empty train that takes him to the lair of a wizard who gives him the secret word "Shazam!" The word is an acronym for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury who all lend their respective powers to whoever yells the word with the least amount of shame.But although Mercury is included in this list, it is another hero who doth receive his gifts. This was the Sub-Mariner--also in our excellent collection--of whom Cracked writes, worthy of a quote in full:
Yes, you've read correctly, Captain Marvel in all of that skin-tight clothing, with his rippled muscles and dangling package is actually a 12-year-old boy who, thanks to a secret magic word he learned only by talking to strangers and following them into abandoned subway tunnels, has the amazing ability to instantly transform into the legal age of consent.
Namor was the bastard offspring of a ship's captain and a member of a secret undersea race. We might be tempted to call him a mermaid, but the comic book insists he is technically "Homo Mermanus." A piece of advice for budding comic book writers, if you'd like to avoid cheap gay jokes at your hero's expense, perhaps including the words "homo" and "anus" in your character's scientific classification is a bad idea.
Namor has pointy Spock ears, can communicate with aquatic life, breathe underwater, possesses an enhanced physique to deal with the high pressure depths and, of course, has the obligatory tiny wings on his ankles that enable him to fly.
What's that you say? That last one seems a little out of place? Why would an aquatically themed superhero flit about on delicate little calf-wings? According to the creators: Fuck you, that's why.
*I laughed out loud, many times. Does that pardon of such a delightfully corny expression? No, no it certainly does not.