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Saturday, July 23, 2022

"SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods" first trailer!

  After the positive reviews and reception of the first SHAZAM! movie (not stellar, but positive), we now have the sequel. We still don't see Black Adam in it (Dwayne Johnson is such a big star and the character is so popular in the comics that they decided to give them a stand-alone origin picture before putting him in the same movie with the SHAZAM! family), but instead we have a couple of highly regarded actresses (Hellen Mirren and Lucy Liu) playing ancient gods, a theme of "family" so self-aware that the Fast And Furious movie franchise is even mentioned in the first trailer (with a funny pay-off), the return of the Old Wizard, but in apparently a more "down-to-earth" role, some powerful magic people who might be allies or villains, a dragon, meta-recognition of the Shazam-Flash costume similarities (thanks, Carmine Infantino), super-feats, and some self-doubt and insecurity from the titular hero.

It looks fun, it looks funny, and it could be very exciting. It is always hard to tell with trailers. It could go too far into the comedy, but the original Captain Marvel was never meant to be all dead serious and stuff. The action clips are very short, so we can;t tell how much there will actually be. The progression from insecure hero to fighting evil with the family is not presented at all, so we can only hope that it is a convincing Campbellian hero's journey.

But let's not forget that this is only the first trailer, designed to get the "sizzle" out. We will have to wait for the movie to get the steak.

There is no hint of Dr. Sivana or Mr. Mind (the work from the post-credit scene from the first movie), no emphasis on the tiger motif that was all over the first film (though the cabochons holding his cape still have the tiger face on them), and we only see one shot of the foster parents, but at least we do see all the kids both in and out of their heroic personas.

As a fan and scholar of all characters who have been, are, or will be named Captain Marvel, I am looking forward to this movie and hoping that I am entertained as much as I was by the first one. Though I don't feel the jump=out-of-my-seat thrill I would have liked, there is enough potential between the lines here for me to be positive about it.

IF I have time, I will post up some of the myriad of "reaction videos" that are already out there.

CLICK HERE to watch SHAZAM! from AmazonPrime!

CLICK HERE to watch SHAZAM! with the bonus features from AmazonPrime!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Carol Danvers Continued; Part 19 of the Blog history of ALL the Captain Marvels)


When last we left Carol Danvers, it was 1982, and she had just gained the power of a "white hole" (a theoretical astronomical phenomenon that must be the opposite of a "black hole") and became the superhero "Binary" while in outer space with the X-Men.
First appearance of Carol Danvers as Binary.

She returned to Earth where, with the help of Professor Xavier, she regained most of her memories, and started to regain her Ms. Marvel powers.

In 1998, she rejoined the Avengers, went back to her second costume (the black leotard with the lightning bolt), and started to lose her Binary powers. She changed her superhero name to "Warbird," became an alcoholic, and was court-martialed out of the Avengers.

Carol Danvers picking her name with a little help (Avengers #4)

Carol Danvers explaining why she turned to drink (Iron Man #7)

Carol Danvers' court martial not going well (Avengers #7)

Carol Danvers getting the wake-up call. (Avengers #7)

She then recovered from her alcoholism and joined S.H.I.E.L.D, switching to a more militarily-practical costume with utility pockets and an armored vest.

She eventually returned to the Avengers, redeeming herself and regaining her status with the team.

In 2005, Marvel Comics' big company-wide, history-changing crossover event was "House of M," an alternate reality created by the mentally unstable Scarlet Witch in which mutants had become the dominant species. In this world, her friend Carol Danvers was Captain Marvel, who, despite being of human birth, was the greatest hero in the world. In short, she was this reality's Superman.

When the storyline concluded and reality was shifted back to normal, she remembered what it felt like to be that successful, confident, and popular. She liked it, and felt that if she could be that there, she could try to be that here, too. She changed her superhero name back to Ms. Marvel, got a publicity agent, and struggled to fight threats cosmic and terrestrial.

In the 2006-7 company-wide crossover event "Civil War," she sided with the government, supporting superhero registration, despite an appeal from Captain America.

It was during this last event that a return apparently occurred. Captain Mar-Vell.

The person who seemed to be the once-dead hero appeared through what appeared to be a hole in time, and he had come to the present day from before he died. He was given the assignment of guarding the orbital prison for unregistered superheroes while he wallowed in melancholy about why he was in a future in which he was dead.


More on this in the next chapter...

Some of the titles in which these stories can be found are taken from a very thorough list about 

How to Collect – Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel

Monday, July 26, 2021

Dwayne Johnson's Farewell to the Crew of "Black Adam" and How I feel About the Movie So Far.

In the above Instagram post, The Johnson thanks the cast and crew of the upcoming Black Adam movie on his last day of filming. We can see his monster physique is covered by a loose tunic that drapes about him like a tent off of those massive shoulders. In addition to his words being very gracious, generous, and thankful towards the crew, it also really sounds like this role is a very big deal for him.

He also posted the following text:  Honored and proud to say that’s an official wrap on BLACK ADAM⚡️

I knew many years ago, the opportunity for me to make BLACK ADAM would be a ONCE IN A CAREER EVENT.

It has been my true honor to go shoulder to shoulder with over 1,000 brilliant and hungry crew of filmmakers and storytellers to bring the antihero known as, BLACK ADAM to life.

This has been one for the ages and easily the hardest labor and toughest grind mentally and physically of my entire career.

Worth. Every. Second.

Love you all.
Thank you all.
And I’ll see you down the road.
Now go have some fun with that $10,000 🤣💰

The hierarchy of power in the DC UNIVERSE is changing.

Black Adam⚡️

I recall back in the mid 2000's when an MTV survey asked whether he should play Captain Marvel or Black Adam (rumors had him pegged as either one) he responded to the result (Black Adam) by saying that he would be interested in talking about it (or words to that effect). It was apparent that he was not so familiar with t he character. Here is an article about the results of that poll. Through the years that the project was in pre-production hell, however (repeatedly being delayed with directors and writers being hired and fired), he would talk about the character as being important, and meaningful. When Peter Segal and John August were tapped as director and writer, things were really looking up for the project, and when a comedy that they worked on featuring Johnson was released, some folks were trying to deconstruct it to see what it revealed abut how they would work together for the SHAZAM! movie. Since then, Johnson had become such a big star that it was decided to give him his own stand-alone Black Adam movie. This makes sense, because Johnson's presence in the movie would distract from the lead characters, Billy Batson and his super-hero alter ego. Besides, with two movies instead of one, the DCCU will have more entries into the superhero film realm, and potentially more profits. So I am interested and excited to see this movie. The cast of characters alone is fascinating (Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Isis, particularly) showing that DC is not afraid to put lesser-known, even obscure superheroes in their movie, trusting that the overall popularity of superhero movies, and the specific quality of this movies will be strong enough to overcome the unfamiliarity of the characters.

But they have also cast some popular names in the movie as those characters (Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan, and Sarah Shahi), meaning that the actors believe in the project and the studio is willing to spend that kind of money on it. It would be easy to say that everything about this movie is just being built around the star power of Dwayne Johnson, but why does he have such star power? Because enough of his recent movies have been entertaining, and he has been entertaining in them. He has proven himself to be likeable, with charisma to burn, and just good enough an actor to pull off most of the roles that he has been given. I saw him as very much an Errol Flynn type in "The Scorpion King," and that franchise has suffered without him. H did well as a villain type in his debut in "Star Trek: Voyager" and "The Mummy Returns," so we will see how he does as the "anti-hero" that DC has developed Black Adam into since his revival in Jerry Ordway's "The Power of SHAZAM!"

As a footnote, there are some interesting possible clues to the movie visible. We don't know for sure if that tunic Johnson is wearing is costume or is hiding/protecting his costume, but a couple of other actors are wearing what could be some kind of fantasy/sci-fi outfits that could be Kryptonian, for all I know. The background is a cyclorama of a cloudy sky with patches of bright white clouds popping up randomly. The actors have cables attached to their back, so this may have been a flying scene. Many of the crew are wearing Hawaiian shirts and leis. I don't know if that is because the scene is set in (or above)Hawai'i or if it was thee party theme of the day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

"X" Marks the Mar-Vell! The Blog History of ALL the Captain Marvels, Part 18

The largest and most extensive of the realizations of an Alex Ross idea, the "high-water mark," if you will, of these limited-series extrapolations of possible alternate futures of the superhero universe, was undoubtedly Earth X and its follow-ups, Universe X and Paradise X, and a Captain Marvel or two were right in the middle of it.

Captain Marvel appears in various forms on selected covers of Earth X, Universe X, and Paradise X.

This Captain Marvel's story was intimately intertwined with death (which may or may not have been ironically deliberate, being as, at this time in the regular Marvel Universe, Mar-Vell was still dead). However, the story was so big and complex and convoluted, with so many characters doing so many bizarre and universe-shattering things and changing in so many ways, told over massive numbers of pages in three 14-issue limited series in a combination of sequential art and prose, that I can't honestly say that I fully understood it the first three times I tried to read it.

Mar-Vell did appear in two distinctive guises: One of them was the dead Kree warrior in the afterlife, leading an army of dead Kree warriors into battle, inspiring them with a speech to convince them that they were actually dead, though their enemy told them otherwise; The other was a 5-year-old child battling the Supreme Intelligence and pining over his late lover, Una.

The child and dead versions of Mar-vell in Earth X

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

DEEP DIVE: DC's reprint of "SHAZAM! The World's Mightiest Mortal #19-35"...

Here is the second part of my "deep dive" into Volume 2 of DC's new reprint edition of their 1970's "SHAZAM!" series, reviving the original Captain Marvel.
#captainmarvel #shazam #dccomics #marvelfamily #comicbookreview

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

DEEP DIVE: DC's reprint of "SHAZAM! Th World's Mightiest Mortal #19-35"

Here is the first part of a three-part "deep dive" into DC's new full-color, hardcover reprint of their 1970's comic book series "SHAZAM!" #19-35, reviving the original Captain Marvel. It provides background to the history of the character and places this series in its historical context.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

HAPPY BIRTHDAY C.C. BECK! (An appreciation)

C.C. Beck was the first man to draw the original Captain Marvel. According to all available evidence, it was he who designed the costume (although the coloring may or may not have been the choice of an anonymous colorist) and who established the definitive look of the hero and the stories of Captain Marvel/Billy Batson.

He was a 30-year-old staff artist for Fawcett Publications when he was tapped to do the job. According to his own words, he never really thought of cartooning as serious business. But he did it with a professionalism that was expressed in his writings as the "Crusty Curmudgeon" in later years.

His deceptively simple style was unsuccessfully imitated by a series of artists for Fawcett in the early years, until Beck's shop became the sole source of Captain Marvel art, and eventually the house style was cleaned up ad a certain stability in quality level achieved.

I have found it hard to give a fair assessment of the full arc of Beck's art development for the character, considering the scarcity of reprints available until recently and the prohibitive pricing of the original comics. Most of the reprints DC made available were originally drawn in 1945 or later, by which time the style and quality level was pretty much set. But the "Archive Editions" DC put out showed every single Captain Marvel story from the first couple of years of his publishing history.

The earliest stories were kind of rough. Beck's art was deliberately simple. He was a fan of such newspaper strips as Little Orphan Annie and Barney Google, and it shows in the charicaturistc renderings of certain characters. Captain Marvel's face was said to be based on Fred MacMurray,and was pretty well-defined from the beginning, but Billy Batson was little more than a small mouth, a small nose, and two dots for eyes. Figures seemed awkwardly positioned, layouts rough and simplistic. Some stories, like the origin of Dr. Sivana, showed Beck at the top of his craft, but others must have been done in a mad haste or by staffers.

When at the top of his game though, as he was after those first few years, a close examination of  his work reveals an undercover sophistication and depth that is truly underappreciated by many comics fans today.

Clarity was his watchword, and he believed that everything on the page should advance the story. Thus, nothing that didn't advance the story should be on the page. This meant that excessive detailing, shadows, wrinkles, etc, were not necessary. The linework was always clean, not sketchy.  Sometimes there was no background at all. But if you took a moment to look, you would notice that the perspective, very deliberately chosen, was drawn with precision. Little details, like a telephone on a desk, grain in wood, or a wrinkle in a carpet would give the image an touch of authenticity. There would be a key shadow under an armpit or highlights on the golden wristbands of the hero that gave the figures depth.

Landscapes would show true depth of field. Longshots used to establish a scene would show details like certain types of trees that would indicate the location. A long shot over the ocean would include cloud formations. A sunset might show silhouettes of palm trees.

And oh, those clouds and smoke! If ever Beck had to draw smoke from a fire or the clouds around a bolt of lightning, the billows would roil like a Wagnerian opera!

Space ships and fortresses would have a Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers art-deco style that gave them a fantastical, yet believable appearance.

His anatomy was impeccable.With just a few lines he could establish a person's figure and character from any angle. Ofttimes Captain Marvel would be shown flying, with his feet in the frame, and the feet were always drawn perfectly, with appropriate perspective. The difficulty of this was highlighted by the awkward, inexpertly drawn feet of other artists that drew attention to themselves like a blemish on the page. But Beck's feet were so perfectly drawn that they almost disappeared.

His animal anatomy was likewise fully believable. He was even able to show a gradual evolution of Mr. Tawny, the talking tiger, evolve from his natural, four-legged stance to his anthropomorphic, two-legged stride in just a few pages. The effect was so subtle you wouldn't even think about it.
Two pages showing the evolution of Mr. Tawny from four-legged beast to anthropomorphic tiger.

His sparing use of shadows in most of his work was a deliberate choice, keeping the images clear and whimsical, but he showed true mastery when he did use them. A scene on a city street at night would show the dark shapes of blackness that would be cast by a shadow in lamplight.
Three pages from Capain Marvel Adventures #100 showing C.C. Beck's work at it's finest:
Note ease of following the story left-to-right, top-to-bottom, use of perspective, expressive gestures, anthropomorphic animal anatomy, judicious choices of how much background and foreground elements, use of silhouette and shadow, and juxtaposition of close-up, medium, and long shots.

After the 1953 shutdown of Fawcett's comics line. Beck never returned to comic full-time except for a brief revival in 1966 and his return to Captain Marvel in the 1970's But his legacy had been established through those 13 years of Captain Marvel and the Marvel family, and even still is underappreciated for those little things that made his art so perfect.