Happy Birthday: Uncle Marvel
Sure, everyone knows that Billy Batson, Mary Batson, and Freddy Freeman could say their magic words and transform into Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, Jr., three of the World’s Mightiest Mortals, also known as the Shazam family.
Yet in their regular lives, they were mere children, and often needed a protector and mentor. They found him in the guise of their uncle Dudley, who was actually not related to any of them. Very little is known about Dudley before he joined the Shazam family. He may have been a failed stage magician and a confidence artist at some point, and he had been married but was since divorced.
Dudley discovered the Marvels’ secret by happening across Mary’s Good Deed Ledger and returned it to her, claiming to be her long lost uncle. He also claimed to have magic powers of his own and wore a Marvel costume he had made himself—when Mary transformed Dudley stripped off his regular clothes to reveal the costume and become Uncle Marvel. He established a business, Shazam Incorporated, to channel money from the Marvels’ deeds into charitable organizations, though he did pocket a little of the money for himself.
The Marvels quickly found out about his scheme, and that he was not related to them and didn’t actually have any powers. But they liked Dudley, who was otherwise a good person, and so they allowed him to maintain the charade. Dudley explained his lack of powers after that by saying he had lost them due to a bad case of “shazambago.”
Despite having no powers Dudley could often trick opponents into defeating themselves, and he did provide a caring paternal figure for the three young orphans.