Thursday, December 13, 2018

MARVELMAN! It's a Miracle! The British Capt. Marvel rip-off! (Part 8 of the Blog History of ALL Captain Marvels)

This history makes reference to material that can be found in the following books:

As we have already seen, in 1953 Fawcett settled the lawsuit with the company now known as DC Comics and agreed to never publish Captain Marvel comics ever again.

It turns out, however, that L. Miller & Son had been publishing black-and-white versions of these stories in the United Kingdom for years. The material was supplied by Fawcett and the books were printed in the UK. When word reached these publishers of the imminent cessation of material, they realized they had to do something, because Captain Marvel was extremely popular!

So writer-artist Mick Anglo created Marvelman, a new superhero with remarkable similarities to the Big Red Cheese, not the least of which was his name. His alter ego was young Mickey Moran, a copy boy for the Daily Bugle (I have found no evidence that Stan Lee ever saw this comic before writing Spider-Man), who met the astrophysicist Guntag Barghelt, who gave him the super-scientific word "Kimota" ("atomic" misspelled backwards) which, upon utterance, would turn the boy into the mighty hero...Marvelman!

Marvelman was super-strong, invulnerable, and could fly. He wore a blue suit with no cape and had a blonde crew-cut with a superman-style spit-curl forelock. His face was a dead ringer for the World's Mightiest Mortal. Micky Moran, likewise was a carbon-copy of Billy Batson, but with the same blonde crew-cut and forelock as the hero into which he would transform.

Marvelman's debut was presaged by a brief promotional campaign in which Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr, in their respective L. Miller & Sons comics, stated that they were taking a break, but to watch for something new in the coming issues. After a few issues of this, the titles of these comics were changed to Marvelman and Young Marvelman, respectively, and thus were the names of the new heroes that appeared inside.

Young Marvelman was a uniformed messenger boy who gained the power to turn into a superhero version of himself by saying the name of Marvelman.

Marvelman's arch enemy was Dr. Emil Gargunza, who was essentially Dr. Sivana with hair. The stories followed the basic patterns of Captain Marvel stories, and even some covers and panels were direct copies of Captain Marvel pictures. However, being in Great Britain, it can safely be assumed that neither Fawcett nor DC noticed or cared.

In time there was even a Kid Marvelman and a Young Gargunza, and even supervillains named Nastyman and Kid Nastyman. A Marvelman Family comic contained stories of the whole team.

Original stories were written and drawn for most of the decade and enjoyed a great degree of popularity. Thwn, in 1959, certain laws were changed that allowed the full-color American comics to be imported to the UK. followed by a few years of reprints, until the line of Marvelman and family comics was cancelled in 1963. by this time original comics from the US were reaching the British markets, and there was no longer as much interest in this old hero.

 Marvelman stories were reprinted in Italy and Australia, and also in Brazil, where the hero had the name "Jack Marvel." The Brazilian reprints were printed in Marvel Magazine and the "MM" logo on the hero's chest was erased.

Some parts of this history are a bit confusing. Apparently, Mick Anglo also created a character named "Captain Universe," which existed in two issues of an eponymous comic published by Len Miller's son in 1954. Threat of a lawsuit (it is unclear from whom) shut it down.  Mick Anglo left Len Miller in 1960, and saw that some of his Marvelman stories were reprinted or redrawn with the character named "Captain Miracle" or "Miracle Man" with a different costume.

Then, in 1981, Warrior Magazine in the UK published a revival of the character, written by Alan Moore. We will cover this revival in the next chapter.

Note: this is a basic overview. A well-researched, lengthy, and detailed history of the character and many issues surrounding him at

A lot more detail about the creation of Marvelman, with a focus on the ownership of the intellectual property rights, can be found at

Another, more brief history can be found at

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

RIP: William Goldman. Wrote many great movies, and a SHAZAM! movie script

William Goldman's SHAZAM! script.

William Goldman was one of the great novelists and screenwriters of the second half of the 20th century. He wrote many of the modern classics that either redefined or reestablished how great and how much fun a movie could be. These included many that I have seen and enjoyed and a few I want to, such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Stepford Wives, The Great Waldo Pepper, Marathon Man, All the President's Men, A Bridge Too Far, The Princess Bride, Twins, Misery, A Few Good Men, Last Action Hero, and Good Will Hunting.

Of course, not every one of these screenplays was an Oscar-winning hit, and he did a bunch that were never used, such has screenplays for Flowers for Algernon, Papillon, Grand Hotel, The Sea Kings, The Right Stuff, and one comic book property that goes under the title SHAZAM!

Of course, plenty of writers have written screenplays that were never produced. But beyond that, there have been plenty of writers who have written or started to write scripts for SHAZAM!

But of them all William Goldman is the one who died most recently (Nov. 16, 2018), and is the one with the most accomplished career, so I thought I would take a moment to discuss his place in Captain Marvel history.

The story of the script is pretty simple, keeping with the general pattern of superhero origin movies as they had been established in the latter part of the 20th century. Billy is lured into the hall of the old wizard, gets the power to become a hero, battles the villain, Dr. Sivana, wins the day. There are further details, such as the fact that Billy is a foster kid/ problem child who has a close friendship (foster sibling/potentially more?) with an older girl, Jenny, who can be characterized by the same terms (this girl happens to be the one who found him in the snow as a baby and brought him to the orphanage). Dr. Sivana's two beautiful children are part of the story. Captain Marvel has a battle against the son, Magnificus, but the daughter, Beautea, eventually rejects her father's objectives and falls for Captain Marvel.

Like many movie adaptations of comic book properties, there are dome deviations from the source material. these include:
Billy in a foster home.
The character of Jenny.
Billy finds Shazam through a museum incident.
Jenny's romantic attraction to Captain Marvel.
Billy gaining the powers of the Elders one by one, as he needs them.
Captain Marvel has super-breath.

There is one very cute reference to the original Fawcett comics: in one scene Billy is taking a test. He whispers the magic word, and the ghostly visage of Captain Marvel shows up to give him the answers.

Some readers of the script claimed it was the greatest superhero movie ever. Certain, more recent reviewers, such as Scriptshadow and SHAZAMAHOLIC! have been less kind.

It is not a perfect script, even if you discount the differences from the comics. There is too much exploring of the powers and not enough superheroics. A fight between Captain Marvel and Magnificus has a lot of creative dynamics to it, but the triumphant climax to the movie, while clever, is not a visually exciting feat (unless you find chemistry visually exciting).

This was neither the first, not the last, time an acclaimed non-comics writer wrote a superhero movie script. Remember, Mario Puzzo wrote Superman: the Movie. While long considered (and deservedly so) the greatest superhero movie ever made, that film, which kicked off the modern age of superhero movies, is a bit uneven and has a plot hole you could push Krypton through.

The trouble is that great writers, great as they may be, may not have the life-long understanding of a comic book property that can enable them to make such necessary departures from the comic book canon as the medium and differing audience of the medium of film may need and still serve the message of the original character or enamor the fans who go to see something with which they are already familiar.

David Hayter on the other hand, was able to write a script for X-Men that made the departures specifically relevant. Most notably, the character of Rogue and her relationship with Wolverine..

In the comics, Rogue was a young woman who had been part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She had stolen the powers and memories of Carol Danvers (at the time Ms. Marvel, today Marvel's current Captain Marvel), but left the Brotherhood to join the X-Men.

Also in the comics, Wolverine had a sidekick, a teenage girl named Jubilee, whose superpower was shooting dazzling light shows from her hands.

In the movie, Rogue was a young teenage runaway who had discovered she had the power to absorb people's minds when she touched them. She freaked out and ran away after nearly killing her boyfriend the first time she kissed him, and wound up being a sort of sidekick to Wolverine.

Replacing Jubilee with Rogue enabled Rogue's powers to be a sort of metaphor for the alienation of youth, particularly those youths who felt themselves "different" because of their gender identity, homosexuality, race, interests, etc. The X-Men, a team of mutants,. were always about being a metaphor for disaffected youth, afraid of hurting their loved ones with what made them different, hunted by a word that feared what they did not understand.

The stories of both of these movies, however, where created based  on the characters, but not a specific story about the characters that had appeared n any comic.

Now, the upcoming SHAZAM! movie will probably not need much in the way of "departures from canon" for the purpose of constructing a story, mainly because it is an adaptation of the specific story that appeared as a back-up to several issues of Justice League from DC Comics. It was, however, directed by someone who admitted having no experience with the hero before getting this job. Though he apparently did a lot of research, they are going with the New 52 version of the hero.

It is interesting to note, at this point, that there are actually some things in the Goldman script that are in the New 52 version, particularly the orphanage origin and Billy's resistance to getting adopted. Also the focus o the value of family, and how "family" does not have to be the one you were born with. I'm reasonably certain this is a coincidence (where else is an orphan going to live?), but interesting that more than one writer has decided to go this way with the character.

Here Are 10 Commandments On Writing From William Goldman:

  1. Thou shalt not take the crisis out of the protagonist’s hands.
  2. Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist.
  3. Thou shalt not give exposition for exposition’s sake.
  4. Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise.
  5. Thou shalt respect thy audience.
  6. Thou shalt know thy world as God knows this one.
  7. Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better.
  8. Thou shalt seek the end of the line, taking characters to the farthest depth of the conflict imaginable within the story’s own realm of probability.
  9. Thou shalt not write on the nose — put a subtext under every text.
  10. Thou shalt rewrite.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


So, on Monday Night Football last week, Marvel dropped their new trailer for their movie about Carol Danvers as a superhero, "Captain Marvel." And it is a doozy...for a few reasons.

First off, it shows some pretty impressive special effects. Not just that they are convincing, but they show that some pretty impressive things are happening. There are lightning bolts going into a girl's brain, energy blasts coming out of the hero's hands, explosions, etc. It could be pretty impressive.

But this trailer also reveals what may be the crux of the entire plot (or at least the character arc).

When we last saw Our Hero, she was crash-landing through the roof of a Blockbuster video store in the 1990's, punching out an old lady on a public transit conveyance, having flashbacks to herself in the US Air Force and as a small girl falling down and getting up a lot, getting zapped in the head by energy, shooting energy bolts from her hands on the top of a commuter train, and sharing enigmatic one-liners with Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D...with two whole eyes).
This debunked the fan theory that Carol Danvers was the 22-year-old schizophrenic referred to in the beginning of Dr. Strange (Why a schizophrenic? Because Carol Danvers and Ms. Marvel were a split personality in her the first year or so of the hero's presence in Marvel Comics). But it did seem to confirm that Carol Danvers is going to have been an Air Force pilot, just like she was in the comics.

There were also snatches of shots of Danvers in a helmet and some other alien sets and characters that, combined with a bunch of photographs released to Entertainment Weekly, revealed that she would be part of a Kree superhero commando team called Starforce. Jude Law's character appeared but was unnamed, and IMDB persisted in saying that he would be Captain Mar-Vell/Walter Lawson. Ben Mendelssohn was revealed as playing a Skrull named Talos.

This time, we learned more of her story.


Since I started writing this article, news has reached me that two Funko Pop figures have revealed two character names. A character that appears to be Brie Larsen in the green-and-black uniform and helmet of Carol Danvers is named "Vers" and a white, male, helmeted character in green-and-black (and only Jude Law fits that description so far), is "Yon-Rogg."

Carol Danvers grows up as a tomboy and speed freak, playing baseball and racing go-karts. She joins the US Air Force and becomes friends with a woman who would become the mother of Monica Rambeau. She becomes a test pilot and, somehow, she crash-lands on a planet or a deserted part of Earth and bleeds blue blood through the nose. She also has lost her memory. The Skrull warrior Talos tries to kill or kidnap her, but she is rescued by Kree. They find a fragment of her Air Force dogtag that includes part of her last name, "...vers," and use that as her name. They put her through a Kree "Six Million Kree Imperial Monetary Units Woman" procedure and make her into a leader of their super-powered enforcement squad, Starforce. Yon-Rogg is her mentor, and Ronan is some sort of supreme commander-type.

In the course of an adventure (possibly being pursued by Skrulls), her ship blows up and she crashes to Earth into a Blockbuster Video store in Los Angeles in the mid-1990's. She explores the subway, then starts to head out to the western US desert, where she blows up a storefront and meets Samuel Jacks...I mean S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (who has two eyes). The two of them go to a S.H.I.E.L.D base hidden in a mountain, where Danvers' thumb accesses a room in which are files about her military career (so she must have been a S.H.I.E.L.D agent somewhere in there).

The Kree come to get her and she finds out more about her past. Yon-Rogg reveals the true depth, meaning, and motivation of the Kree imperium. She decides to reject the Kree and fight for Earth.

Some things that I don't know and wonder about are as follows:

Is she a Skrull? The answer is not as obvious as I first thought. The first thought is, of course, "no." But then I got to know, we got Skrulls here, and Skrulls are shapeshifters.. and then I thought of a recent Marvel Comics epic crossover storyline...

Secret Invasion was Marvel's big epic company-wide crossover event for 2008. In it, it was revealed that many, many people on Earth were Skrull agents. More than that, many of them were disguised as superheroes, and that they had been altered by Skrull science to be completely undetectable and not even know that they were Skrulls...until they either died, or a certain triggering mechanism was activated (usually a phrase or image).

The one who was disguised as Mar-Vell, however, was a special case. He was one of the first subjects of this process, and they went a little too far on him. The Mar-Vell memories and personality they had imprinted on him were too strong. The triggering mechanism did not work, and even when faced with a Skrull who told him exactly who and what he was, he rejected it. Instead, he embraced his Mar-Vall persona and fought against the Skrulls in space until he died in battle.

Well, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already adapted the Captain America - Iron Man Civil War epic, company-wide crossover event, why not Secret Invasion, which followed hard upon it?

Where is Mar-Vell? Marvel Comics' first Captain Marvel (as regular readers of this blog should well know) was Captain Mar-Vell of the Kree. His superior officer was Yon-Rogg, who kept on trying to screw him over so he would have a shot at his girlfriend, Medic Una. He was sent to spy on Earth, disguised himself as rocket scientist Dr. Walter Lawson, and became close with Carol Danvers, who was then security chief at Cape Kennedy. Later, an explosion of a Kree device during battle with Yon-Rogg sent Mar-Vell's Kree DNA mingling with Danvers' which later turned her into the superhero Ms. Marvel. Mar-Vell later died of cancer, but returned years later to help save the universe (long story. In fact, much of this is a long story), but he died again, after which Danvers took on the mantle of Captain Marvel herself.

Somehow, this origin story was said to be too much like Green Lantern's. Let's see, what is similar about this? In GL, an alien cop crash lands on Earth, seeks a man without fear, who turns out to be a test pilot. He passes a magical ring to the test pilot before dying, and the test pilot replaces him as space-cop for that section of the galaxy.

So...we have an alien coming to Earth, we have some power being passed to a human with some relation to airplanes, and we have the human becoming a superhero (who, in the case of Carol Danvers, was created to be a feminist icon). That's the depth of the connection I see. Not a lot. In fact, when a human test pilot becomes an enforcement agent for an intergalactic empire and a mentor figure turns out to be a bad guy, I am seeing more Green Lantern, not less.

So, was it decided for Mar-Vell to not exist in the MCU? Then from where does Carol Danvers get the name "Captain Marvel"?

What's with the cat? Well, that's not a cat. In the comics, anyway, it's a flerken, an alien race that looks like cats. They lay eggs. They contain "pocket dimensions" within themselves. And they also can release an amazing set of teeth and tentacles to devour adversaries, should they feel a need to do so.

So why is there one named "Goose" in this trailer?

Well, in the comics, there was this orange cat that Carol Danvers, as Captain Marvel, threw at a magical supervillain named Warren Traveller. But this wasn't as the Captain Marvel we know now, but one in an alternate reality created by Scarlet Witch in the 2005 epic Marvel Comics company-wide crossover event called House of M. The relevant part of this alternate reality is that Carol Danvers, as Captain Marvel, was the greatest superhero in the world.

When she threw the cat at Traveller (a villain who did not exist in the regular Marvel Universe) he tried to escape by casting a time travel spell. He did disappear, but the cat went with him. A few days later, after the the world went back to normal, the cat showed up in Carol's apartment. Traveler materialized seconds later, and chaos ensued. Long story short, Traveler was (eventually) defeated, but Danvers kept the cat and named it "Chewie," short for "Chewbacca," the wookie from Star Wars.

A couple of years later, Carol Danvers, now Captain Marvel again, but this time in the "regular" Marvel Universe, was traveling though space , and met up with the Guardians of the Galaxy (the version on which the recent movies were based). When Rocket Racoon saw the cat, he went apeshit, calling it a "flerken" and screaming "Kill it with fire!" while pursuing it with deadly abandon.

Chewie hid in a closet, and when she was found, she was surrounded by over 100 purple eggs. The eggs soon started to hatch kittens. then it revealed the aforementioned teeth and tentacles, ridding the space ship of a particular menace. Rocket then fell in love with the flerken.

And none of that really answers what this cat named "Goose" is doing in this movie.

(Yes, "Goose" is probably a Top Gun reference, but that movie was about Navy flyers and this one is about Air Force flyers, I just wanted to end this post with the above sentence, because even that bit of info does not fully answer the question. And it is probably not a reference to the motorcycle cop in Mad Max).

Here are some videos that attempt to identify "Easter Eggs" and other clues from this trailer:

Friday, November 23, 2018


One quick break in the "Blog History of All the Captain Marvels" to share the news that Warners/DC has released a NEW SYNOPSIS for their upcoming SHAZAM! movie, featuring a hero based on the original Captain Marvel.

As reported by Heroic Hollywood (and I don't have time to do another Clickbait Roundup on it), this is the text of the new synopsis:

“We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Zachary Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou). Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).”

The differences between this and the previous version of the synopsis are few. They have added the phrace "...a ripped, godlike body...", stated that he is "having fun" with his new powers, and estabished that he is facing the challenge of "master(ing) these powers" so he can "fight the deadly forces of evil."

None of these are unexpected details of a superhero film, they seem more like simple expansions of the concepts expressed in the previous synopsis and are hinted at in the trailer. But there is one detail that makes official something everyone already knew except for those people unfamiliar with he character: Dr. Sivana will be the villain!

Those of us who have been following the production have known Dr. Sivana, described in the original comics as "The World's Wickedest Scientist" and self-described "Rightful Ruler of the Universe," would be involved. Mark Strong has been cast in the role, on-set photos revealed him working with Zachary Levy (the hero), and there is a shot in the trailer of him catching the hero's fist and his eyes glowing.

In the original comics, Sivana was short and ugly. He was physically no match for the original Captain Marvel, and used science and chicanery to try to find ways to outwit, out-position, and overcome the hero's opposition to him taking his place as Ruler of the Universe. But somehow the Big Red Cheese was always able to overcome these challenges and obstacles, often because Sivana forgot one little detail that left him vulnerable. Such a character could have been brilliantly played by Armin Shimmerman.

But this version of the hero is based on the New 52 version. For those who may not know, the "New 52" was a 2011 complete re-vamp and re-boot of the entire line of DC Comics. The character who had been known as Captain Marvel ever since he was created for Fawcett Publications in 1939, and had been re-vamped and re-booted at least three times by DC from the 1980's to the 2000's, was put through his most drastic reimagining ever.

As regular readers of this blog should know by now, for trademark reasons, DC could not put the hero's name on the cover of the comic instead deciding to use his transformative magic word, "SHAZAM!" (all caps, with the exclamation point) as the title of the comic and the trademark for merchandising. This confused enough people that for the New 52, the name of the hero to be marketed under that title and trademark would match that title and trademark.

With this change of name also came a change in costume, power set, origin story, and living situation. It also came with a change in the arch enemy.

Dr. Sivana, in the New 52, is a tall, handsome, wealthy man obsessed with finding the secret of magic. He finds the tomb of the ancient wizard Shazam and absorbs the ability to "see magic," as well as use it. It also, eventually started eating away at his body, and he was last seen becoming smaller and uglier, perhaps eventually turning in into the short, ugly character of the original comics.

Mark Strong is a perfect physical type and has a body of work that indicates that he would be a very good choice for this new interpretation of the villain. On top of the increased height and charisma of this new version, the movie is also giving him a degree of physical ability that the comics did not (this is presumably because in the comics Black Adam served as a co-villain to go toe-to-toe with the hero, but that character, announced to be played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, will be making his debut in another film) which is also well within Mark Strong's wheelhouse.

So, to sum up: The specificities added to this new synopsis pretty much confirm what was already known or obvious, and those who were hoping for a movie about the original Captain Marvel will have to be satisfied with a re-imagined character loosly based on him.

Sort of like the upcoming Robin Hood, but that is an essay for another time.

Please post your comments below, and subscribe to this blog for history and insight on all things involving ALL Captain Marvels!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The True Story of ALL the Captain Marvels! DEATH AND ENERGY! (part 7 of a bunch)

Some of the sources of and publications mentioned in this post can be found among these fine products:

By the early 1980's, comic books had regained a lot of the creative diversity that had been lost since the establishment of the Comics Code in the 1950's and were exploring new territories of creativity and publishing formats. Independent comics companies were publishing stories with creator-owned characters that included content that would not have passed the Comics Code. Writer/artists like Will Eisner and Gil Kane were creating stories in formats that came to be called "graphic novels." Marvel Comics decided to get in on this trend.

For several years, Marvel had been producing Epic Illustrated, a slightly toned-down version of the adult sci-fi/fantasy magazine Heavy Metal (itself an American version of the French Metal Hurlant). Now they decided to launch a new line of comics with creator-owned properties under that same "Epic" imprint. At the same time, they decided to launch a line of "graphic novels," which would basically be large, premium format, self-contained, novel-length comic books.The first of these would be The Death of Captain Marvel.

Jim Starlin, who had made a name for himself, and Mar-Vell, with his Thanos War, agreed to take the job, provided Marvel would publish his creation, a character and comic series named Dreadstar, in their new Epic Comics line (This was the latest of a continuing epic that had been preceded by an ongoing series in Epic Illustrated called Metamorphosis Odyssey and a graphic novel called The Price). Starlin had been the one who had given Mar-Vell his cosmic awareness in the Thanos War, and was the writer-artist most strongly identified with the hero.


Starlin used the job the help him deal with the recent death of his father by cancer. In the story, Mar-Vell succumbed to a cancer he had contracted, ret-conned into an incident in which he had sealed a poison gas canister with his hands. The graphic novel is very highly regarded, often making it into top-ten lists.

So Marvel Comics had this trademark, but no living character to cover it. It was noted that the name was no-gender-specific, and there were not many black female superheroes around, so it was decided to make the new Captain Marvel a black woman.

First appearing in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 (1982), Monica Rambeau was a New Orleans harbor patrol officer facing the "glass ceiling" (for her gender, not race, as was apparent because her boss was black). In the course  of investigating suspicious doings on an off-shore rig, an explosion bathed her in extra-dimensional radiation that gave her the power to become electromagnetic energy (visible light, x-rays, gamma rays, ultra violet, etc.). A Mexican guard had overheard a friend calling her "Mon Capitain" and, slipping into unconsciousness after witnessing the explosion, mumbled "El Capitan es un maravilla..."

 The next day the newspapers read "Who is Captain Marvel?" and the name stuck. She was invited to join the Avengers as a "probationary" member, but proved herself quickly enough. She studied all the records of their foes and was able to direct the battles against them. Eventually Captain America selected her to replace him as leader of the Avengers.

In my personal opinion, she made a better feminist role model than Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel. She was strong and independent without being socially aggressive. She dealt with her uncertainties (should she be a superhero? Should she lead the Avengers?), maturely, seeking opinions from those she trusted, making up her mind, and not losing sight of her objectives. She also did not have that whole "Schizophrenia" thing that Carol Danvers had in her early days as Ms. Marvel. Or any of Danvers' soap opera drama, for that matter.

In time, however, the decision-makers at Marvel wanted to bring back Captain America as the leader of the Avengers. This bothered Roger Stern, whiter of the book and co-crater of the character. He did not feel it would look good to get rid of a black, female superhero from the lead position of Marvel's premiere superhero team. Stern quit the book, and a story was concocted about how a character named Dr. Druid used mind powers to manipulate events to get himself elected leader. As part of that storyline, Monica lost her powers and nearly died battling a sea-creature, and was a wasted husk of herself afterwards.

She eventually recovered and regained a slightly altered version of her powers...but that is a story for another time.

NEXT: The Crisis of 1986!

The below items also contain material mentioned in this post:

Friday, November 2, 2018

The true history of ALL the CAPTAIN MARVELS! Part 6: What happened to Carol Danvers?

In our last episode, we saw how the original Captain Marvel was revived by DC. In the preceding episode, we met Captain Mar-Vell of the Kree space fleet and made passing reference to Carol Danvers. We now pick up Ms. Danvers' story...

Some of the sources for this history can be found in these fine products...

In a few months Brie Larsen will play the lead character in a movie titled Captain Marvel. This will be the second mainstream theatrical movie led by a female superhero, the first from Marvel. But she was not always Captain Marvel, and as we have seen, was not even Marvel's first Captain Marvel.

In a previous post, we saw how Carol Danvers was head of security at The Cape when the alien Kree Captain Mar-Vell first appeared in the form of Dr. Walter Lawson, and how she became a sort of "Lois Lane" between Lawson ("Clark Kent") and ("Mar-Vell").

As Mar-Vell's fortunes went awry, he went from being a hero to a security threat to The Cape, and Danvers' inability to apprehend him cost her her job. She later became a kidnap target of Colonel Yon-Rogg in his plot to exact revenge against Mar-Vell for foiling his dastardly plans.

In the course of this, she wound up in a cave with a Kree machine called a "psyche-magnitron" as Yon-Rogg and Mar-Vell battled it out. The machine exploded, and Mar-Vell chose to save "the girl" rather than his fellow Kree. Little did anyone know that this event would be ret-conned into the source of her future superpowers.

Years later (as time is measured by readers) Carol Danvers was hired as editor-in-chief of Woman magazine, a Daily Bugle publication. She fought to make it a progressive, empowering magazine as publisher J. Jonah Jameson insisted on it being filled with recipes, fashions, and housecleaning tips.

At this same time, Ms. Marvel made her first appearance, fighting bank robbers and other threats to law and safety. Strangely, she did not know who she really was, and ironically, she had blackout in her memory, and was never seen in the same place at the same time as Carol Danvers, who was having blackouts in her memory as well.

It turned out that these two people were one and the same; a split personality meant by writer Gerry Conway to be a parable for the conflict within the female identity between "equality" and "femininity." there was some critique of having a man write about a feminist character (although Conway's wife got "assisted by" credit) and after a few issues Chris Claremont took over the writing chores, despite the fact that he was also a man (and ever since almost every female character he has written has had some degree of intense inner conflict).

The scanty costume and impractical scarf also seemed incongruously un-feminist for a feminist superhero, and in time the costume was modified. Danvers' split personality was resolved. It was revealed that she got her powers through the radiation from the psyche-magnitron, and that her suit was a sort of exoskeleton. But eventually the powers became a part of her and she no longer needed that suit. She joined the Avengers. She changed her costume. She got fired from her job. Eventually, the Ms. Marvel comic was cancelled, and she was seen exclusively in the pages of the Avengers and occasional team-ups.

During her time with the Avengers, she was kidnapped into Limbo (that is, the literal extra-dimensional space called Limbo), mind-controlled, and impregnated (RAPED) by Marcus, the son of the supervillain Kang the Conqueror, so he could be born to her on Earth (yes it is confusing). This led to a messed-up situation where she went back to Limbo with Marcus, where he died of accelerated ageing (see the pages below), and she found her way back to Earth, where she was attacked by the  young mutant named Rogue, who stole her powers and memory.

In time, and with the help of Professor Xavier of the X-Men, she gained back much of her memory. But, soon after, while in space with the mutant team she gained new powers and became "Binary."

We will return to this character after we visit that happened to some other Captain Marvels...and discover some new ones!

NEXT: Death and Energy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The true history of SHAZAM! and all the Captain Marvels: The DC Revival! (Part 5 of a whole bunch)

Part 5: The Magic is Back!
This is a continuation of the Blog History of the Many Captain Marvels, part of the Captain Marvel Culture Project. Follow the links below for the previousparts:
Part 1. The First Marvel and the World's Mightiest Lawsuit
Part 2.  The Silver Influence
Part 3. I Gotta SPLIT! XAM!
Part 4: Marvel's first Marvel!

Some of the information in this article can be found in the following sources:

Studying history is funny. you may go all your life believing something you read once. Then someone will tell you something that explains an aspect of it you did not know. Then someone comes along and says something the blows everything you think you know out of the water. That's what happened to me with this story, and it seems very, very difficult to find two people who agree on it.

As we have seen, the company now known as DC Comics sued Fawcett Publications, the creators of the original Captain Marvel, for copyright infringement. Long story short, Fawcett settled and shut down their comics division, including Captain Marvel and the entire extended Marvel Family.

As a result of this, there was no reason for anyone to expect that the original Captain Marvel would ever be seen again. He would be confined to the realm of fond memories in fanzines like Fawcett Collectors of America and the occasional satire in publications like Mad magazine and Marvel's Not Brand Echh When Jules Feiffer wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in 1965, the publisher's legal team determined that they could only print one page of the Captain Marvel's origin story without running afoul of the legal agreement between Fawcett and DC.

But then, in 1972, DC announced that they would be reviving that great hero in the pages of his own comic. How could this happen?

That depends on whose story you believe. In DC's publications, the individual source of the decision to bring back the original Captain Marvel was never revealed. When I started researching the project, however, I had a chance to talk with Carmine Infantino, who was the publisher of DC Comics at the time (Carmine was a frequent guest of the Big Apple Comic Con, and I was working for that convention).

Carmine told me that it was his idea. I asked him "did  you just wake up one morning and decide to bring back Captain Marvel?" and he said that yes, he called Fawcett and asked what it would cost to get the rights, and that Fawcett said "Make us an offer."

"Frankly, I think they were glad to get rid of him," he told me. This makes sense, as they couldn't make any money off of him any more. And so a deal was struck. And thus, that is how  thought the story went.

Then came the Internet.

Through the Internet I was able to communicate with Mark Evanier. Mark was working with Jack Kirby at DC Comics in the early 1970's. He told me that he was present when Jack Kirby suggested to Carmine Infantino that DC revive the original Captain Marvel.

The full story of how this suggestion came about and what developed will wait until another time, but long story short, DC contacted Fawcett and licensed the original character, restarting his story in a new comic book begun at the end of 1972. They even got C.C. Beck, chief artist for the Big Red Cheese back at Fawcett, to draw the new stories.

Now is where the trouble begins.


As you may recall, Marvel Comics secured "Captain Marvel" as a trademark in the late 1960's. This meant that no other comic book company could produce a comic book with the title "Captain Marvel." So the smart folks at DC put their heads together and realized that since this comic would include all those characters who gained their powers from the old wizard, making the magic word that brought that power be the title might work. And perhaps they could even "pull a fast one" to sneak the hero's name on the cover!

So with a cover date of Feb, 1973, the title of the first issue to continue the adventures of Billy Batson and the entire Marvel Family was:

the ORIGINAL Captain Marvel

DC got away with this for a while (until issue #14, in fact) but the prevailing story nowadays is that Marvel sent a cease-and-desist letter to DC, telling them to stop that. It turns out that any appearance of Marvel's trademark on the cover of a comic, even if not the title itself, is a violation of that trademark.

So on the cover of issue #15 the title was:

the World's Mightiest Mortal


This title would be abbreviated to "SHAZAM!" (all caps, with the exclamation point) in the corner of the cover, in subscription solicitations, the TV show, T-shirts, and the packaging for action figures, T-shirts, toy cars, Halloween costumes, View-Master slides, and even Underoos.

The World's Mightiest Mortal was even the first superhero introduced in the Hanna-Barbera's Legends of the Superheroes TV special on NBC in 1979. He was played by Garrett Craig, and two of his villains, Dr. Sivana (played by Howard Morris) and Aunt Minerva (played by Ruth Buzzi).

DC Explained the 20-year absence of he Big Red Cheese and the Marvel Family by saying that they had all been gathered together for a special award ceremony, when Dr. Sivana trapped them all in sa globe of "suspendium," which would put them into suspended animation. But a mishap drove Sivana's ship into the globe, and both the heroes and the villains were trapped, frozen, for 20 years. Eventually they drifted closer to the sun which thawed everything out, and the heroes got everyone back to Earth safely.

There was a brief attempt to play Billy Batson and Captain Marvel as "people out of their time," like Captain America, but that went away after two issues. They all fell back  into the same routines that they had during the Fawcett years. DC even made a point of reviving every Marvel Family character they could over these years.

C.C. Beck was disappointed with the quality of the stories and quit the book in less than a year. He was replaced by Kurt Schaffenberger (after a few fill-in jobs by Bob Oksner) who defined the look until 1979.

From 1974 to 1977 Filmation produced a Saturday morning live-action TV show on CBS, with the hero, played at first by Jackson Bostwick, then later by John Davey, with Michael Gray as Billy Batson and Les Tremayne as "Mentor." They traveled the highways and byways of America helping people in need with a thoughtful moral lesson at the end of each episode.

The series proved to be very popular (and this Captain Marvel is still the only comic book superhero to ever have a live-action Saturday morning TV show) and elements of the show were incorporated into the comics. Uncle Dudley (Uncle Marvel) adopted a leisure suit and grew a mustache (a la Tremayne), calling himself Billy's "mentor" as Billy's employer, Station WHIZ, have him a camper and sent him to tour America to celebrate the Bicentennial.

In 1980 a SHAZAM! cartoon was a feature of the Kid Super Power Hour With SHAZAM! This was a Saturday morning TV show about a bunch of high-school-age superheroes-in-training, bumpered by live-action comedy skits and musical numbers by the superheroes. The cartoons were produced by Filmation and recycled the music from the SHAZAM! TV show (and a lot of the animated footage). The look of the cartoon was surprisingly faithful to the original comics in style, and even adapted some stories from the comics, such as "The Return of Black Adam" from The Marvel Family #1 from 1945!

Significantly, in this run of the hero, DC brought back Black Adam, a one-shot villain from that story in 1945. His alter-ego was Teth Adam, an Egyptian who had been given the power to transform into a mighty hero by the old wizard Shazam 5,000 years ago (Shazam was old then, too). His magic word/acronym used Egyptian gods.

In 1978, there were changes in the works at DC. It was felt that the Schaffenberger style was not reaching the fans, so he was replaced as penciler of the book with Alan Weiss, inked by Joe Rubenstein, then the following issue with Don Newton, inked by Schaffenberger. This gave the comic a "dynamic new look."

After issue #35, the book was cancelled and SHAZAM! continued as a feature in the "DC Dollar Comic" World's Finest, holding down the last eight pages of the book until 1982. The tile would appear as a back-up story in Adventure Comics for a while and the "SHAZAM! Family" would guest-star in several issues of DC Comics Presents and All-Star Squadron until 1986.

And that was The Year That Changed Comics

But first: Captain Marvel is Energy!  - Next Post!