Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Loves Me Some Shazam!

Like just about anyone on the planet, I wish DC was able to call its book Captain Marvel. The whole Shazam! thing is very difficult to explain to non-comic book fans. That being said, it was great that DC resurrected the Big Red Cheese in the 1970s, and I grab books from this series whenever I see them in bargain bins. The 100 Page Spectaculars are a treasure trove of Fawcett goodness, anchored by a new tale. Shazam! #15 is a perfect example. The lead story will give continuity freaks a headache as Lex Luthor is transported to Earth-F (did the Fawcett City universe ever get a proper name?). Zoologists may also be disturbed by the interpretation of a hammerhead shark here. The reprints are good ones, collected from a variety of titles and E. Nelson Bridwell’s passion for the material is obvious from the features, especially the two pages devoted to Captain Marvel’s travels through America.

Unfortunately, the 100-Page era was relatively short-lived, but there are still plenty of great issues to devour. Shazam! #30 is another of my favourites. Have you ever noticed how many issues from this series featured Superman on the cover? He doesn’t actually appear in this story, but it is jam-packed with Marvels, included the rarely seen Lt. Marvels. The Big Red Cheese has his hands full with the mythical steelworker Joe Magarac. I never thought I’d see the work ‘jackass’ in a Captain Marvel story, but even that’s in here. After getting some advice from Atlas and some support from Team Marvel, Cap is able to disguise himself as a steel covered Superman and track down Sivana. It’s nutty but tons of fun. There are many, many good stories in this series, and I look forward to sharing them with my kids.


Scott Keith said...

The Fawcett earth was Earth-S, as in Shazam, naturally.

Scott M said...

That's right! I knew that but my brain wasn't working yesterday. I kept think about Quality's Earth-X. I really should try to do some research and stop relying on mushy brain.

Man of Bronze said...

When I first started to get interested in comics and superheroes as a young child, with no knowledge of the Golden Age era, we all thought that "SHAZAM" was the Big Red Cheese's name. After all, his comic books were named this way, the Mego doll was advertised as such, and the saturday morning TV show was named that way.

It didn't help that we were french candians with only a partial knowledge of english.

And "Shazam" was a much cooler sounding name than the rather "passé" "Captain Marvel". They were too many "captains" anyway. "Shazam" was unique.

Mark said...

Some of the Shazam comics had a special letter page devoted to whether Superman or Captain Marvel would win in a fight. I remember reading them as a kid and thinking, "There are even bigger dorks in the world than me."

Graeme said...

The 100 page Shazam issues were the best, because they had so much Fawcett material and it frankly is the best comics the 1940s produced. I loved reading those as a 5-6 year old, partially because I could follow the action better but partially because they were so damn fun.

And the 1970s stuff isn't great, but not bad. I really liked the Luthor visit to Earth-S.

Anonymous said...

A Bridwell story in Shazam #7 spoofed the legal problem that kept DC from using "Captain Marvel" as the title. A rumor spreads that saying "that name" will cause a disaster (long story), and one bystander says, "Must be a lawsuit or something."