Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Blue Boy

Before long Captain Marvel was given his own solo comic book (one issue of which was written and drawn disposably by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, creators of Captain America), and a spin-off character was created, Captain Marvel Jr., This character was a lame boy, Freddy Freeman, who had the power to turn into a mighty hero with the powers of Captain Marvel, except he looked exactly the same (apart from the costume, of course). This hero was drawn more realistically, with an aesthetic established by Mac Raboy. His adventures were more personal, its mood more sensitive than Captain Marvel's. It is said that Elvis Presley was such a fan of Captain Marvel Jr. that he used his hair as a model for his own. Further evidence of this Elvis-Shazam connection included the lightning bolts on his airplane and his “TCB” ring, and the short capes that he affected with his jumpsuits. The magic word for this character's transformation was “Captain Marvel,” thus making Captain Marvel Jr. the only superhero who could not say his own name without losing his powers.

The difference between Billy Batson/Captain Marvel stories and Freddy Freeman/Captain Marvel Jr. stories was a deliberate and smart decision by Fawcett. Billy lived in a world that was always bright, where the biggest problems were those that required a hero like Captain Marvel to solve (mad scientists trying to take over the universe, alien invasions, etc). Billy was a successful and popular radio news reporter, independent with none of the troubles one would expect an orphan to have.

Freddy, on the other hand, was more of a sad case. He sold newspapers on the street, dressed in rags, limped on a crutch, and lived in a run-down boarding house. Many of his cases were on a more personal level, dealing with personal tragedies and struggles with sensitivity and heart. While Captain Marvel was a beloved celebrity that could always count on the support of the authorities, Captain Marvel Jr. was more of a lone wolf, a solo operator who would have to rely on his own abilities to help the underdog get out from their oppression.

Next: Something About Mary...

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