I have mixed feelings about the unheralded return of Captain Marvel in the DCU. I’m going out on a limb here when I say that Captain Marvel remains THE most criminally underused character in the DCU. We have to look all the way back to the year 1996, when Mark Waid and Alex Ross gave us Kingdom Come, to see how wonderfully entertaining the Captain Marvel character can be, when he’s written properly. Thank you, Mark Waid and Alex Ross, wherever you might be. DC Comics brought back Captain Marvel in issue #7 of Justice League. Where’s he been? Why was he seemingly on the sidelines? And why is DC Comics no longer calling him Captain Marvel anymore? So many questions! What do you make of all this, Tollah?I. A. Tollah:
I believe they went with Shazam over Captain Marvel because of marketing. I think some folks (me included) assumed his name was Shazam because of that 70’s tv show with the same name. I totally forgot he was Captain Marvel til the other day when Tim sent me some propaganda on the new rockin’ Shazam look. I am looking forward to this, as they made him look much tougher, and being a San Diego Charger fan, I like lightning/electricity/bolts of anything.
I also get confused because of a certain Nega-Band-wearing Kree warrior with the same moniker. In fact, when Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) died back in the day, that was really the first time a super hero died and stayed dead…. prompting the phrase “he’s Captain Marvel Dead” which really lacks the same punch since he’s back (even though it’s technically an alternate universe version, or… wait, what?)
Ahhh, good old Mar-Vell. I have fond memories of reading his tales in the 1970′s, and I still remember when Jim Starlin snuffed him in the 1980′s. That’s a great read, by the way. If you haven’t read The Death Of Captain Marvel, you really ought to. It’s poignant in all the right places. It’s as entertaining as a popular character’s last mile can be. And, the best thing is that it still holds up today, which isn’t something that can easily be said about most mainstream comicbooks from the 1980′s. Getting back to Captain Marvel in the DCU though, did you know that his comicbooks actually outsold the Superman comicbooks in the 1940′s? Captain Marvel (Shazam) was so incredibly popular at the time, he even beat Superman to the silver screen, appearing in his own serial motion pictures, known as The Adventures Of Captain Marvel. DC is sitting on a gold mine today, with this Shazam character, and they seem to be blissfully unaware of it.
I thought the whole Shazam/Captain Marvel thing was just a way to annoy the “legal eagle” boys at Marvel by marketing a character that uses their company name. Shazam is way more marketable for sure, but I think the DC boys were having fun at Marvel’s expense…an expense that probably resulted in the Shazam/DC/Captain Marvel being more popular than dead-or-alive Marvel’s Captain Marvel. Where has he been? That’s easy. Every time DC called him, his cellphone got zapped by that damn lightning bolt every time he said “Hello, Shazam speaking”.
This character is screaming for a total re-vamp! I couldn’t agree more. He has the potential of being a huge moneymaker for DC. Just think of the lines of merchandise. I could be drinking coffee every morning out of my Shazam coffee cup, while wearing my red tee w/ a yellow lightning bolt! Bring it!
Red with a yellow lightning bolt? Isn’t that already taken? I never understood why the scarlet speedster and the wizard’s pupil looked so similar.
A really, really big lightning bolt!
Can any hero/villain really die in a comicbook? Or do they just get written out, due to the many new minds out there, who are creating heroes/storylines with more of a timely edge that can compete? I think that’s what happened to Shazam/Captain Marvel. Bringing Shazam back is nice way to stir up some memories of the good old days, but how will his story work with today’s heroes? What if the Shazam story doesn’t reach the mind of young comicbook readers, or older comicbook collectors who are almost ready to see some more edge? What if Shazam don’t sell? Will the powers-that-be write another way for Shazam to get lost or die, beacuse he isn’t making money for DC Comics? I will try to keep up to date with Shazam’s new story, just because he’s a classic hero, and one of the best. At the heart of it all, I’m still a kid waiting for things to happen whenever I hear Captain Marvel say the magic word: Shazam!
I have a fun idea for the Shazam character. Who remembers Mary Marvel? When last we saw Mary in the DCU, she had lost her powers and returned to living the life of a normal (and powerless) teenage girl. Who remembers Freddie Freeman, a.k.a. Captain Marvel Jr? When last we saw Freddie in the DCU, he was stripped of his powers by Osiris. Harrumph! Let’s see Billy Batson/Captain Marvel/Shazam reunite with the Marvel family in the DCU somehow, and let’s see them set a new standard for family-style crimefighting. Wouldn’t that be something?
Old Luddy Gordy:
All good points. I’m under the impression it’s called SHAZAM because it’s starting from the discovery which will lead to everyone’s MARVELous magical strength. After all, no one would have powers if not for the wizard. The reason could also be that there is no Cap yet and it is being built up as a team (can’t really say “book” right now so I’ll just say…) story. How will these disparate young characters, who are already stricken with hard times, handle what is to come as a unit? On a bigger note, the complete change in Billy’s demeanor is a whole different ball game. For the longest time, the character has been known as a “gosh-golly” nice kid in an all-powerful body. Most of the allure was in that strange/humorous juxtaposition. It’s what made the character so lovable. You wanted him to win because, as a comic reading kid, you could live vicariously through him. Any little boy or girl could be a grown-up super hero when the time called for it (and you could still retain your youth at the end of the day…how cool is that?!). This time, though, it seems they are going for the complete opposite…a complete 180 (a brat with power akin to Superman). It’s a hard pill to swallow, but maybe it is put in place to give the character a hard transformation not only of body, but of spirit as well. Perhaps this new supportive/stable family setting and the need to adjust to the responsibility of powers greater than himself might just shape Billy into the boy we remember him as. Who says “Gee, Gosh!” anymore anyhow? At any rate, I’m loving the Sivana angle they’re going with! With the way Johns turned Green Lantern into an epic masterpiece (and also with the way Johns is giving Aquaman some respect), I have to offer the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he’s doing!