Captain Marvel (DC Comics)

Captain Marvel (DC Comics)

Infobox comics character

character_name= Captain Marvel
caption= The traditional Captain Marvel, painted by Alex Ross.
character_name= Captain Marvel
full name=Gary Keith Barbour
publisher=Fawcett Comics (1939–1953)
DC Comics (1972–present)
debut="Whiz Comics" #2 (February 1940)
creators=C. C. Beck
Bill Parker
alliances=Marvel Family Justice League Justice Society of America
aliases=Captain Thunder, Marvel, Shazam
powers=Magically bestowed aspects of various mythological figures which include: vast super-strength, speed and stamina, physical and magical invulnerability, flight, fearlessness, vast wisdom and enhanced mental perception, control over and emission of magic lightning and vast untapped magical powers.
cat = super
subcat = Fawcett Comics
hero = y
villain =
sortkey = Captain Marvel
addcharcat1 = DC Comics superheroes

Captain Marvel is a fictional comic book superhero, originally published by Fawcett Comics and later by DC Comics. Created in 1939 by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker, the character first appeared in "Whiz Comics" #2 (February 1940). With a premise that taps adolescent fantasy, Captain Marvel is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a youth who works as a radio news reporter and was chosen to be a champion of good by the wizard Shazam. Whenever Billy speaks the wizard's name, he is instantly struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into an adult superhero empowered with the abilities of six mythical figures.Citation | last = Beatty | first = Scott | author-link = Scott Beatty | contribution = Captain Marvel | editor-last = Dougall | editor-first = Alastair | title = The DC Comics Encyclopedia | pages = 70-71 | publisher = Dorling Kindersley | place = New York | year = 2008 | ISBN = 0-7566-4119-5 | oclc = 213309017] Several friends and family members, most notably Marvel Family cohorts Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr., can share Billy's power and become "Marvels" themselves.

Hailed as "The World's Mightiest Mortal" in his adventures, Captain Marvel was nicknamed "The Big Red Cheese" by arch-villain Doctor Sivana, an epithet later adopted by Captain Marvel's fans. Based on sales, Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero of the 1940s, as his "Captain Marvel Adventures" comic book series sold more copies than "Superman" and other competing superhero books during the mid-1940s.cite web | last =Tipton | first =Scott | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =The World's Mightiest Mortal | work = | publisher = |date=2003-04-01 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2005-06-17 Excerpt: "I’ve always felt that it was this origin story and concept that made Captain Marvel instantly popular, to the point that it was outselling every comic on the stands for several years throughout the '40s."] cite web | last =The Museum of Comic Book Advertising | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Comic Book Success Stories | work = | publisher = | date = | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2005-06-17 ] Captain Marvel was also the first comic book superhero to be adapted to film, in a 1941 Republic Pictures serial ("The Adventures of Captain Marvel").

Fawcett ceased publishing Captain Marvel-related comics in 1953, due in part to a copyright infringement suit from DC Comics alleging that Captain Marvel was an illegal infringement of Superman. In 1972, DC licensed the Marvel Family characters and returned them to publication, acquiring all rights to the characters by 1991.cite newsgroup |author=Mark Waid |date=1995-01-04 |accessdate=2007-07-06 | id=3efse3$pi6$ |newsgroup=rec.arts.comics.misc |title=Re: HELP!! FAWCETT question |url=] DC has since integrated Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family into their DC Universe, and have attempted to revive the property several times. However, Captain Marvel has not regained widespread appeal with new generations, although a 1970s "Shazam!" live-action television series featuring the character was popular.

Because Marvel Comics trademarked their "Captain Marvel" comic book during the interim between the original Captain Marvel's Fawcett years and DC years, DC Comics is unable to promote and market their Captain Marvel/Marvel Family properties under that name. Since 1972, DC has instead used the trademark "Shazam!" as the title of their comic books and thus the name under which they market and promote the character. Consequently, Captain Marvel himself is sometimes erroneously referred to as Shazam.

Publication history

Development and inspirations

After the success of National Comics' new superhero characters Superman and Batman, Fawcett Publications decided in 1939 to start its own comics division. Fawcett recruited writer Bill Parker to create several hero characters for the first title in their line, tentatively titled "Flash Comics". Besides penning stories featuring Ibis the Invincible, Spy Smasher, Golden Arrow, Lance O'Casey, Scoop Smith and Dan Dare for the new book, Parker also wrote a story about a team of six superheroes, each possessing a special power granted to them by a mythological figure. Fawcett Comics' executive director Ralph Daigh decided it would be best to combine the team of six into one hero who would embody all six powers. Parker responded by creating a character he called "Captain Thunder."cite web | last = Hembeck | first = Fred | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Johnny Thunder and Shazam! | work = | publisher = The Hembeck Files |date=2003-06-18 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2005-06-22 ] Staff artist Clarence Charles "C. C." Beck was recruited to design and illustrate Parker's story, rendering it in a direct, somewhat cartoony style that became his trademark.

The first issue of the comic book, printed as both "Flash Comics" #1 and "Thrill Comics" #1, had a low-print run in the fall of 1939 as an ashcan copy created for advertising purposes. Shortly after its printing, however, Fawcett found it could not trademark "Captain Thunder," "Flash Comics," or "Thrill Comics," because all three names were already in use. Consequently, the book was renamed "Whiz Comics", and Fawcett artist Pete Costanza suggested changing Captain Thunder's name to "Captain Marvelous," which the editors shortened to "Captain Marvel." The word balloons in the story were re-lettered to label the hero of the main story as "Captain Marvel." "Whiz Comics" #2, dated February 1940, was published in late 1939. Since it was the first of that title to actually be published, the issue is sometimes referred to as "Whiz Comics" #1, despite the issue number printed on it.

Inspirations for Captain Marvel came from a number of sources. His visual appearance was modeled after that of Fred MacMurray, a popular American actor of the period. C. C. Beck's later versions of the character would resemble other American actors, including Cary Grant and Jack Oakie. Fawcett Publications' founder, Wilford H. Fawcett, was nicknamed "Captain Billy," which inspired the name "Billy Batson" and Marvel's title as well. Fawcett's earliest magazine was titled "Captain Billy's Whiz Bang", which inspired the title "Whiz Comics". In addition, Fawcett adapted several of the elements that had made Superman, the first popular comic book superhero, popular (super strength and speed, science-fiction stories, a mild mannered reporter alter ego), and incorporated them into Captain Marvel. Fawcett's circulation director Roscoe Kent Fawcett recalled telling the staff, "give me a Superman, only have his other identity be a 10 or 12-year-old boy rather than a man."cite book
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first = P.C.
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As a result, Captain Marvel was given a twelve-year-old boy named Billy Batson as an alter ego. In the origin story printed in "Whiz Comics" #2, Billy, a homeless newsboy, is lead by a mysterious stranger to a secret subway tunnel. An odd subway car with no visible driver takes them to the lair of the wizard Shazam, who grants Billy the power to become the adult superhero Captain Marvel. In order to transform into Captain Marvel, Billy must speak the wizard's name, an acronym for the six various legendary figures who had agreed to grant aspects of themselves to a willing subject: the wisdom of Solomon; the strength of Hercules; the stamina of Atlas; the power of Zeus; the courage of Achilles; and the speed of Mercury. Speaking the word produces a bolt of magic lightning which transforms Billy into Captain Marvel; speaking the word again reverses the transformation with another bolt of lightning.

Captain Marvel wore a bright red costume, inspired by both military uniforms and ancient Egyptian and Persian costumes as depicted in popular operas, with gold trim and a lightning bolt insignia on the chest. The body suit originally included a buttoned lapel, but was changed to a one-piece skintight suit within a year at the insistence of the editors (the current DC costume of the character has the lapel restored to it). The costume also included a white-collared cape trimmed with gold flower symbols, usually asymmetrically thrown over the left shoulder and held around his neck by a gold cord. The cape came from the ceremonial cape worn by the British nobility, photographs of which appeared in newspapers in the 1930s.

In addition to introducing the main character and his alter ego, Captain Marvel's first adventure in "Whiz Comics" #2 also introduced his archenemy, the evil Doctor Sivana, and found Billy Batson talking his way into a job as an on-air radio reporter. Captain Marvel was an instant success, with "Whiz Comics" #2 selling over 500,000 copies.cite web
last =The Museum of Comic Book Advertising
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Excerpt: "By the middle of the decade, Captain Marvel had received a self-titled comic book, "Captain Marvel's Adventures" (sic), which had a circulation that reached 1.3 million copies per month. Captain Marvel's circulation numbers exceeded National's Superman title and the rivalry between the companies led National to sue Fawcett for plagiarism."] By 1941, he had his own solo series, "Captain Marvel Adventures", while continuing to appear in "Whiz Comics" as well. He also made periodic appearances in other Fawcett books, including "Master Comics".

Fawcett years: the Marvel Family, allies, and enemies


Detail from "The Marvel Family" #2 (June 1946), cover art by C. C. Beck. From left to right: Captain Marvel; Lt. "Fat" Marvel; Captain Marvel, Jr.; Lt. "Tall" Marvel; Lt. "Hillbilly" Marvel; and Mary Marvel. Uncle Marvel can be seen seated at the piano in the background.]

Through his adventures, Captain Marvel soon gained a host of enemies. His most frequent foe was Doctor Sivana, a mad scientist who was determined to rule the world, yet was thwarted by Captain Marvel at every turn. Marvel's other villains included Adolf Hitler's champion Captain Nazi, an older Egyptian renegade Marvel called Black Adam, an evil magic-powered brute named Ibac, and an artificially intelligent nuclear-powered robot called Mister Atom. The most notorious Captain Marvel villains, however, were the nefarious Mister Mind and his Monster Society of Evil, which recruited several of Marvel's previous adversaries. The "Monster Society of Evil" story arc ran as a twenty-five chapter serial in "Captain Marvel Adventures" #22–46 (March 1943 – May 1945), with Mister Mind eventually revealed to be a highly intelligent yet tiny worm from another planet.

In the early 1940s, Captain Marvel also gained allies in the Marvel Family, a collective of superheroes with powers and/or costumes similar to Captain Marvel's. (By comparison, Superman spin-off character Superboy first appeared in 1944, while Supergirl first appeared in 1959). "Whiz Comics" #21 (September 1941) marked the debut of the Lieutenant Marvels, the alter egos of three other boys (all also named Billy Batson) who found that, by saying "Shazam!" in unison, they too could become Marvels. In "Whiz Comics" #25 (December 1941), a friend named Freddy Freeman, mortally wounded by an attack from Captain Nazi, was given the power to become teenage boy superhero Captain Marvel, Jr. A year later in "Captain Marvel Adventures" #18 (December 1942), Billy and Freddy met Billy's long-lost twin sister Mary Bromfield, who discovered she could, by saying the magic word "Shazam," become teenage superheroine Mary Marvel.

Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr. were featured as a team in a new comic series entitled "The Marvel Family". This was published alongside the other Captain Marvel-related titles, which now included "Wow Comics" featuring Mary, "Master Comics" featuring Junior, and both "Mary Marvel Comics" and "Captain Marvel, Jr. Comics". Non-super-powered Marvels such as the "lovable con artist" Uncle Marvel and his niece, Freckles Marvel, also sometimes joined the other Marvels on their adventures. A funny animal character, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, was created in 1942 and later given a spin-off series of his own.

The members of the Marvel Family often teamed up with the other Fawcett superheroes, who included Ibis the Invincible, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, Spy Smasher, Minute-Man, and Mr. Scarlet and Pinky. Among the many artists and writers who worked on the Marvel Family stories alongside C. C. Beck and main writer Otto Binder were Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Mac Raboy, Pete Costanza, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Marc Swayze.

Copyright infringement lawsuit and cancellation

Through much of the Golden age of comic books, Captain Marvel proved to be the most popular superhero character of the medium with his comics outselling all others, including those featuring Superman. In fact, "Captain Marvel Adventures" sold fourteen million copies in 1944,Citation
last = Lavin
first = Michael L.
author-link =
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author2-link =
title = Comic Books And Graphic Novels For Libraries: What To Buy
newspaper = Serials Review"
pages =34
year =1998
date =Summer
url =
excerpt:"In 1944, the best-selling comic book title ("Captain Marvel Adventures") sold more than fourteen million copies for the year."] and was at one point being published weekly with a circulation of 1.3 million copies an issue (proclaimed on the cover of issue #19 as being the "Largest Circulation of Any Comic Magazine"). Part of the reason for this popularity included the inherent wish-fulfillment appeal of the character to children, as well as the humorous and surreal quality of the stories. Billy Batson typically narrated each Captain Marvel story, speaking directly to his reading audience from his WHIZ radio microphone, relating each story from the perspective of a young boy.

Detective Comics (later known as National Comics Publications, National Periodical Publications, and today known as DC Comics) sued Fawcett Comics for copyright infringement in 1941, alleging that Captain Marvel was based on their character Superman. After seven years of litigation, the "National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publications" case went to trials court in 1948. Although the judge presiding over the case decided that Captain Marvel was an infringement, DC was found to be negligent in copyrighting several of their "Superman" daily newspaper strips, and it was decided that National had abandoned the Superman copyright.Ingersoll, Bob (31 May 1985). "The Law is a Ass" Installment #66. Comics Buyer's Guide issue #602. Retrieved from on 19 June 2005. Detailed summary of the cases and rulings related to "National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publishing".] As a result, the initial verdict, delivered in 1951, was decided in Fawcett's favor.

National appealed this decision, and Judge Learned Hand declared in 1952 that National's Superman copyright was in fact valid. Judge Hand did not find that the character of Captain Marvel itself was an infringement, but rather that specific stories or super feats could be infringements, and that the truth of this would have to be determined in a re-trial of the case. The judge therefore sent the matter back to the lower court for final determination.

Instead of retrying the case, however, Fawcett decided to settle with National out of court. The National lawsuit was not the only problem Fawcett faced in regards to Captain Marvel. While "Captain Marvel Adventures" had been the top-selling comic series during World War II, it suffered declining sales every year after 1945 and by 1949 it was selling only half its wartime rate. [Wright, p. 57] Fawcett tried to revive the popularity of its assorted Captain Marvel series in the early 1950s by introducing elements of the horror comics trend that gained popularity at the time. [Wright, p. 156] Feeling that a decline in the popularity of superhero comics meant that it was no longer worth continuing the fight, [Gore, Matthew H. " [ The Origins of Marvelman] ". Retrieved 17 June 2005. Excerpt: "With avenues of appeal still open but their outcome obvious after the first court ruled for National Periodicals, Fawcett Publications settled out of court in late-1953. Fawcett agreed to cease publication of all Captain Marvel related titles. However, Fawcett's decision to give up the legal battle came when all of the company's superhero titles were reporting greatly diminished sales was no circumstance."] Fawcett agreed to never again publish a comic book featuring any of the Captain Marvel-related characters, and to pay National $400,000 in damages. [" [ The World's Mightiest Mortal & Big Red Cheese] ". "The Museum of Comic Book Advertising". Retrieved 17 June 2005. Excerpt: "In 1953, the case was finally settled out of court when Fawcett agreed to quit using the Captain Marvel character(s) and pay DC the sum of $400,000."] Fawcett shut down its comics division in the autumn of 1953 and laid off its comic-creating staff. "Whiz Comics" had ended with issue #146 in June 1952, "Captain Marvel Adventures" was cancelled with #150 (November 1953), and "The Marvel Family" ended its run with #89 (January 1954).

"Marvelman" (and "Miracleman")

In the 1950s, a small British publisher, L. Miller and Son, published a number of black and white reprints of American comic books, including the Captain Marvel series. With the outcome of the "National v. Fawcett" lawsuit, L. Miller and Son found their supply of Captain Marvel material abruptly cut off. They requested the help of a British comic writer, Mick Anglo, who created a thinly disguised version of the superhero called "Marvelman". Captain Marvel, Jr. was adapted to create "Young Marvelman", while Mary Marvel had her gender changed to create the male "Kid Marvelman". The magic word "Shazam!" was replaced with "Kimota", "Atomic" backwards. The new characters took over the numbering of the original Captain Marvel's United Kingdom series with issue number 25.

Marvelman ceased publication in 1963, but was revived in 1982 by writer Alan Moore in the pages of "Warrior Magazine". Moore's black and white serialized adventures were reprinted in color by Eclipse Comics under the new title "Miracleman" beginning in 1985, and continued publication in the United States after "Warrior"'s demise. Within the metatextual storyline of the comic series itself, it was noted that Marvelman's creation was based upon Captain Marvel comics, by both Alan Moore and later "Marvelman/Miracleman" writer Neil Gaiman.

DC Comics' "Shazam!" revival

When superhero comics became popular again in the mid-1960s in what is now called the Silver Age of comics, Fawcett was unable to revive Captain Marvel because in order to settle the lawsuit it had agreed never to publish the character again. Eventually, they licensed the characters to DC Comics in 1972, and DC began planning a revival. Because Marvel Comics had by this time established its own claim to the use of "Captain Marvel" as a comic book title, DC published their book under the name "Shazam!" Since then, that title has become so linked to Captain Marvel that many people have taken to identifying the character as "Shazam" instead of his actual name.

The "Shazam!" comic series began with issue #1, dated February 1973. It contained both new stories and reprints from the 1940s and 1950s. The first story attempted to explain the Marvel Family's absence by stating that they, Dr. Sivana, Sivana's children, and most of the supporting cast had been accidentally trapped in suspended animation for twenty years until finally breaking free.

Dennis O'Neil was the primary writer of the book; his role was later taken over by writers Elliott S! Maggin and E. Nelson Bridwell. C. C. Beck drew stories for the first ten issues of the book before quitting due to creative differences; Bob Oksner, Fawcett alumnus Kurt Schaffenberger, and Don Newton were among the later artists of the title.

With DC's Multiverse concept in effect during this time, it was stated that the revived Marvel Family and related characters lived within the DC Universe on the parallel world of "Earth-S". While the series began with a great deal of fanfare, the book had a lackluster reception. The creators themselves had misgivings; Beck said, "As an illustrator I could, in the old days, make a good story better by bringing it to life with drawings. But I couldn't bring the new [Captain Marvel] stories to life no matter how hard I tried." [Benton, p. 77] "Shazam!" was canceled with issue #35 (June 1978) and relegated to a back-up position in "World's Finest Comics" (from #253, October-November 1978, to #282, August 1982, skipping only #271 which featured a full-length origin of the Superman-Batman team story) and "Adventure Comics" (from #491, September 1982, through #498, April 1983; only #491 and #492 featured original stories however, the rest containing Fawcett era reprint stories). With their 1985 limited series "Crisis on Infinite Earths", DC fully integrated the characters into the DC Universe.

Captain Marvel in the late 1980s

The first post-Crisis appearance of Captain Marvel was in the 1986 "Legends" miniseries. In 1987, Captain Marvel appeared as a member of the Justice League in Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis' relaunch of that title. That same year, he was also given his own miniseries titled "Shazam! The New Beginning". With this four-issue miniseries, writers Roy and Dann Thomas and artist Tom Mandrake attempted to re-launch the Captain Marvel mythos and bring the wizard Shazam, Dr. Sivana, Uncle Dudley and Black Adam into the modern DC Universe with an altered origin story.

The most notable change that Thomas, Giffen, and DeMatteis introduced into the Captain Marvel mythos was that the personality of young Billy Batson is retained when he transforms into the Captain. The Golden Age comics, on the other hand, tended to treat Captain Marvel and Billy as two separate personalities. This change would remain for most future uses of the character, as justification for his sunny, Golden-Age personality in the darker modern-day comic book world.

This revised version of Captain Marvel also appeared in one story arc featured in the short-lived anthology "Action Comics Weekly" #623–626, released from October 25, 1988–November 15, 1988. At the end of the arc, it was announced that this would to lead to a new "Shazam!" ongoing series, which failed to materialize.

"The Power of Shazam!"

DC finally purchased the rights to all of the Fawcett Comics characters in 1991. In 1994, the unpopular revision of the character from the "Shazam! The New Beginning" was retconned again and given a revised origin in "The Power of Shazam!", a painted graphic novel written and illustrated by Jerry Ordway. This story became Captain Marvel's official DC Universe origin story (with his appearances in "Legends" and "Justice League" still counting as part of this continuity).

Ordway's story more closely followed Captain Marvel's Fawcett origins, with only slight additions and changes. For example, in this version of the origin, it is Black Adam (in his non-powered form of Theo Adam) who killed Billy Batson's parents. The graphic novel was a critically acclaimed success, leading to a "Power of Shazam!" ongoing series which ran from 1995 to 1999. That series reintroduced the Marvel Family, and many of their allies and enemies, into the modern-day DC Universe.

Marvel also appeared in Mark Waid and Alex Ross's critically acclaimed 1996 alternate universe Elseworlds miniseries "Kingdom Come". Set thirty years in the future, "Kingdom Come" features a brainwashed Captain Marvel playing a major role in the story as a mind-controlled pawn of an elderly Lex Luthor. In 2000, Captain Marvel starred in an oversized special graphic novel, "Shazam! Power of Hope", written by Paul Dini and painted by Alex Ross.

"The Trials of Shazam!" and beyond

Since the cancellation of the "Power of Shazam!" title in 1999, the Marvel Family have made appearances in a number of other DC comic books. Black Adam became a main character in Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer's "JSA" series, which depicted the latest adventures of the Justice Society of America. Captain Marvel also appeared regularly in "JSA" in 2003 and 2004. He also appeared in Frank Miller's graphic novel "", the sequel to Miller's highly-acclaimed graphic novel "The Dark Knight Returns".

The Marvel Family played an integral part in DC's 2005/2006 "Infinite Crisis" crossover, which began DC's efforts to retool the "Shazam!" franchise. In the "Day of Vengeance" limited series, which preceded the "Infinite Crisis" event, the wizard Shazam is killed by the Spectre, and Captain Marvel assumes the wizard's place in the Rock of Eternity. The Marvel Family made a handful of guest appearances in the year-long weekly maxi-series "52", which featured Black Adam as one of its main characters. The Marvel Family also appeared frequently in the 12-issue bimonthly painted limited series "Justice" by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Doug Braithwaite, published from 2005 to 2007.

"The Trials of Shazam!", a 12-issue limited series also written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Howard Porter (issues one through eight) and Mauro Cascioli (issues nine through twelve), began publication in August 2006. The series redefines the "Shazam" mythos, the characters and their place in the DC Universe. "Trials of Shazam!" features Captain Marvel, now with a white costume and long white hair, taking over the role of the wizard Shazam under the name Marvel, while Freddy Freeman attempts to prove himself worthy to the individual gods so that he can become their new champion and herald under the name Shazam.

Other appearances

A four-issue Captain Marvel/Superman limited series, "Superman/Shazam: First Thunder", was published between September 2005 and March 2006. The miniseries, written by Judd Winick with art by Josh Middleton, depicted the first meeting between the two heroes.

A second Captain Marvel limited series, "Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil", written and illustrated by Jeff Smith (creator of "Bone"), was published in four 48-page installments between February and July 2007. Smith's "Shazam!" mini-series, in the works since 2003, is a more traditional take on the character, which updates and re-imagines Captain Marvel's origin. According to Smith, the story is in continuity and takes the place of the character's previously established origins as depicted in the "The Power of Shazam!" graphic novel. [Warmoth, Brian. " [ The Strategum of Smith] ". "Wizard" magazine. Retrieved March 4, 2007. Excerpt: "The Monster Society of Evil goes back to Batson’s early years, and Smith has ensured the book won’t be labeled an alternate history or imaginary tale. 'When I was asked to do it, I was asked to relaunch Captain Marvel, and I have a clause in my contract saying that this is continuity,' Smith states. 'This is continuity. This is not an All-Star version.'"] However, this has not been confirmed by any secondary sources.

A new Captain Marvel comic, "Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!", debuted in July 2008 under DC's Johnny DC youth-oriented imprint. Following the lead and continuity of Smith's version, it is written and drawn by Mike Kunkel [Pumpelly, Danny (August 11, 2007). " [ WWC: DC NEW WORLDS ORDER] ". Retrieved August 26, 2007.] .

Powers and abilities

When Billy Batson says the magic word "Shazam!" and transformed into Captain Marvel, he was granted the following powers:

In current comics continuity, Marvel has assumed the throne of Shazam at the Rock of Eternity, and now has access to the dead wizard's greatly enhanced magical powers and abilities. However, Marvel is required to remain on the Rock of Eternity, and can only be away from the Rock for twenty-four hours at a time.

Alternate versions

Captain Thunder

In "Superman" (first series) #276 (June 1974), Superman found himself at odds with Captain Thunder, a superhero displaced from another Earth and another time. Thunder had been tricked by his archenemies in the Monster League of Evil into doing evil, and Thunder therefore was made to do battle with Superman. Captain Thunder, whose name was derived from Captain Marvel's original moniker, was a thinly veiled pastiche of Marvel; down to his similar costume, his young alter ego named "Willie Fawcett", and a magic word ("Thunder!") which was an acronym for seven entities and their respective powers.

At the time of "Superman" #276, DC had been publishing "Shazam!" comics for two years, but had kept that universe separate from those of its other publications. The real Captain Marvel would finally meet Superman in "Justice League of America" #137 two years later.

In the alternate universe Elseworlds book "" (1998), Captain Marvel is depicted as a bald African-American man.


In the final issue of the maxi-series "52" (#52, May 2, 2007) , a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated Earth-5. As a result of Marvel Family foe Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-"Crisis" Earth-S, including the Marvel Family characters. The names of the characters are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but a character visually similar to Captain Marvel appears. [Comic book reference | title=52 | issue=52 |date=May 2, 2007 | publisher=DC Comics | page=12 | panel=5 ] Based on comments by "52" co-author Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-S. [cite web
url =
title = The 52 Exit Interviews: Grant Morrison
accessdate = 2007-05-12
last = Brady
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publisher = Newsarama

upporting cast

Captain Marvel often fights evil as a member of a superhero team known as the Marvel Family, made up of himself and several other heroes: The wizard Shazam who empowers the team, Captain Marvel's sister Mary Marvel and Marvel's protégé Captain Marvel, Jr. Before the "Crisis on Infinite Earths", the Marvel Family also included part-time members such as Mary's non-powered friend "Uncle" Dudley aka Uncle Marvel, Dudley's non-powered niece Freckles Marvel, a team of proteges (all of whose alter egos are named "Billy Batson") known as the Lieutenant Marvels, and the funny-animal pink rabbit version of Captain Marvel, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny.

Through his adventures, Captain Marvel gained an extensive rogues gallery, the most notable of whom include the evil mad scientist Doctor Sivana (and, pre-Crisis, the Sivana Family), Shazam's corrupted previous champion Black Adam, Adolph Hitler's champion Captain Nazi, and the mind-controlling worm Mister Mind and his Monster Society of Evil. Other Marvel Family foes include the evil robot Mister Atom, the "World's Mightiest Immortal" Oggar, and Ibac and Sabbac, demon-powered supervillains who transform by magic as Captain Marvel does.

The Marvel Family's non-powered allies include Dr. Sivana's good-natured adult offspring Beautia and Magnificus Sivana, Mister "Tawky" Tawny the talking tiger, WHIZ radio president and Billy's employer Sterling Morris, Billy's girlfriend Cissie Sommerly, Billy's school principal Miss Wormwood, and Mary's adoptive parents Nick and Nora Bromfield.

Other media

"The Adventures of Captain Marvel" film serial

The first filmed adaptation of Captain Marvel was produced in 1941. "The Adventures of Captain Marvel", starring Tom Tyler in the title role and Frank Coglan, Jr. as Billy Batson, was a twelve-part film serial produced by Republic Pictures in 1941. Often ranked among the finest examples of the form, its release made Captain Marvel the first superhero to be depicted in film. Whitey Murphy, a supporting character in the serial, found his way into Fawcett's Captain Marvel stories, and elements of the serial's plot were later worked into DC's "The Power of Shazam" continuity. "The Adventures of Captain Marvel" (which, ironically, was originally pitched to National Comics as a Superman film serial) predated Fleischer Studios' "Superman" cartoons by six months. Witney, William. "In a Door, Into a Fight, Out a Door, Into a Chase: Moviemaking Remembered by the Guy at the Door". (McFarland & Company) ISBN 0786422580]

"Shazam!" on Saturday morning and other TV appearances

Over thirty years later, Filmation produced "Shazam!", a live-action television show which ran from 1974 to 1977 on CBS. From 1975 until the end of its run, it aired as one-half of "The Shazam!/Isis Hour", featuring Filmation's own "The Secrets of Isis" as a companion program. The "Shazam!" TV show was a more indirect approach to the character; it told of Billy Batson/Captain Marvel making road trips, instead of flying across the USA to combat evil. "Shazam!" starred Michael Gray as Billy Batson, with both Jackson Bostwick (season one) and John Davey (seasons two and three) as Captain Marvel. Instead of the wizard Shazam, Billy was given instructions by the animated "Immortal Elders" Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury (but mostly Solomon) [, Retrieved on 2008/07/18.] . An adapted version of Isis, the heroine of "The Secrets of Isis", was introduced into DC Comics in 2006 as Black Adam's wife in the weekly comic book series "52".

Shortly after the "Shazam!" show ended its network run, Captain Marvel, played by Garrett Craig, appeared as a character in a pair of low-budgeted live action comedy specials, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions under the name "Legends of the Superheroes" in 1978. The specials also featured Howard Morris as Doctor Sivana, and Ruth Buzzi as Aunt Minerva, marking the first appearance of those characters in film or television. Filmation revisited the character a few years later for an animated "Shazam!" cartoon, which ran on NBC from 1981 to 1982 as part of the "Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam!". The rest of the Marvel Family joined Captain Marvel on his adventures in this series, which were more similar to his comic-book adventures than the 1970s TV show. Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind, Black Adam, and other familiar Captain Marvel foes appeared as enemies.

Although Captain Marvel did not appear in Hanna-Barbera's long-running Saturday morning cartoon series "Super Friends" (which featured many of the other DC superheroes), he did appear in some of the merchandise associated with the show. []

Other appearances

Billy Batson has a non-speaking cameo in the episode "Obsession" from the Kids' WB's "". Actors portraying Captain Marvel make "cameo" appearances in both a dream-sequence from an episode of "The Drew Carey Show", and in the Beastie Boys' music video for "Alive". In 2005, Captain Marvel guest starred in the June 11, 2005 episode of Cartoon Network's animated series "Justice League Unlimited". The episode, entitled "Clash", featured Jerry O'Connell as the voice of Captain Marvel, with Shane Haboucha as Billy Batson. A climactic fight sequence between Captain Marvel and Superman pays homage to the Superman/Captain Marvel battle from Mark Waid and Alex Ross' "Kingdom Come" mini-series.

Captain Marvel has a cameo appearance in the animated film "". He is shown during President John F. Kennedy's famous speech.

Taito's 1987 "Superman" arcade game featured 2-player cooperative gameplay, and if two players were active in the game at any time, the second "Superman" was modeled after Captain Marvel in a not-quite-subtle fashion. The same character model was used, but the sprite was colored in red, gold, and white, identical to Captain Marvel. [] The only inaccuracy was the chest emblem, which remained the traditional Superman "S" as opposed to the Shazam lightning bolt.

Captain Marvel will make his first official video game appearance as a playable character in the upcoming "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" video game, to be released on November 11, 2008 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 game consoles.

"Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam!" motion picture

New Line Cinema began development of a "Shazam!" live-action feature film in the early 2000s. Formerly based on a screenplay by William Goldman & Bryan Goluboff, the film, to be titled "Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam!", [ [ - Movie News, Reviews, Interviews and More! - Exclusive: Peter Segal's Shazam Gets a New Title! ] ] is now being written by John August. Peter Segal ("The Longest Yard," "50 First Dates") is attached as director, with Michael Uslan set as producer. The film will be distributed by Warner Bros., and is currently expected to be completed for a 2009 release. Although no casting choices have been made for Captain Marvel or Billy Batson, actor and former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has agreed to appear in the film as Black Adam. [Lee, Patrick. " [ Johnson Is Shazam!'s Adam] ". "Sci-Fi Wire".]

Cultural impact

Captain Marvel vs. Superman in fiction

Captain Marvel's adventures have contributed a number of elements to both comic book culture and pop culture in general. The most notable of these is the regular use of Superman and Captain Marvel as adversaries in Modern Age comic book stories. The National Comics/Fawcett Comics rivalry was parodied in "Superduperman," a satirical comic book story by Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood in the fourth issue of "Mad" (April-May, 1953). In the parody, inspired by the Fawcett/DC legal battles, [Wright, p. 146] Superduperman, endowed with muscles on muscles, does battle with Captain Marbles, a Captain Marvel caricature. Marbles' magic word is "SHAZOOM", which stands for Strength, Health, Aptitude, Zeal, Ox—power of, Ox—power of another and Money. In contrast to Captain Marvel's perceived innocence and goodness, Marbles was greedy and money-grubbing. While publishing its "Shazam!" revival in the 1970s, DC Comics published a story in "Superman" #276 (June 1974) featuring a battle between the Man of Steel and a thinly disguised version of Captain Marvel called Captain Thunder, a reference to the character's original name. ["Superman" #276 (first series, June 1974)] Two years later, "Justice League of America" #135-137 featured a story arc which featured the heroes of Earth-1, Earth-2, and Earth-S teaming together against their enemies. It was in this story that Superman and Captain Marvel first met, albeit briefly.

Following this "Justice League" story, DC followed "Mad"'s cue and often pitted Captain Marvel and Superman against each other for any number of reasons, but usually as an inside joke to the characters' long battles in court; they are otherwise staunch allies. Notable Superman/Captain Marvel battles in DC Comics include "All-New Collectors' Edition" #C-58 (1979), "All-Star Squadron" #36 & 37 (1984), and "Superman (vol. 2)" #102 (1995). The Superman/Captain Marvel battle depicted in "Kingdom Come" #4 (1996) served as the climax of that miniseries. The "Clash" episode of the DC-based animated TV series "Justice League Unlimited", which included Captain Marvel as a guest character, featured a Superman/Captain Marvel fight as its centerpiece.

Captain Marvel in popular culture

In pop culture, Billy Batson/Captain Marvel's magic word, "Shazam!", became a popular exclamation from the 1940s on, often used in place of an expletive. The most notable user of the word "Shazam!" in this form was Gomer Pyle, a character from the 1960s sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show". Foxxy Cleopatra from the 2002 film "Austin Powers in Goldmember" is also fond of the word. In another 2002 movie, "Spider-Man", Peter Parker shouts "Shazam!" while trying to control his powers. Years after the character disappeared in 1953, the superhero was still used for allusions and jokes, in films such as "West Side Story", TV shows such as "The Monkees", "M*A*S*H", "Family Guy", and "American Dad!", and songs such as "Shazam" (1960) by Duane Eddy. Elvis Presley was a fan of "Captain Marvel, Jr." comic books as a child, and later styled his hair to look like Freddy Freeman's and based his stage jumpsuits and TCB lightning logo on Captain Marvel Junior's costume and lightning-bolt insignia. [cite web| url =| title = Elvis and Captain Marvel, Jr.| accessdate = 2006-09-13| last = Reed| first = Robby| date = | publisher = Dial B for Blog] The Academy of Comic Book Arts named its Shazam Award in honor of the character's mythos. The Beatles mentioned Captain Marvel in their song "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" (1968).


Ongoing series

*"Whiz Comics" #2–155 (Fawcett Comics, February 1940–June 1955)
*"Captain Marvel Adventures" #1–150 (Fawcett Comics, Spring 1941–June 1950)
*"America's Greatest Comics" #1–8 (Fawcett Comics, March 1941–Summer 1943)
*"Shazam!" #1–35 (DC Comics, February 1973–May-June 1978)
*"World's Finest Comics" #253–270, 272–282 (DC Comics, October-November 1978–August 1982)
*"Adventure Comics" #491–502 (DC Comics, September 1982–August 1983).
*"Action Comics Weekly" #623–626 (DC Comics, October 25, 1988–November 15, 1988)
*"The Power of Shazam!" #1–47, #1,000,000 (DC Comics, March 1995–March 1999)
*"Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!" #1–(current) (DC Comics, September 2008–present)

Limited series and graphic novels

*"Shazam! The New Beginning" #1–4 (DC Comics, April–July1987)
*"The Power of Shazam!" (DC Comics, 1994)
*"Shazam! Power of Hope" (DC Comics, 1999)
*"" (DC Comics, November 2005–February 2006, collected trade paperback published 2006)
*"Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil" (DC Comics, February–August 2007, collected hardbound volume published 2007)

Reprint compilations

*"Shazam! From the Forties to the Seventies" (1977). Hardcover collection reprinting thirty-seven Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel, and Marvel Family stories from the original Fawcett comics and DC's 1970s "Shazam!" series. Stories by Bill Parker, Otto Binder, and others; art by C.C. Beck, Marc Swayze, Mac Rayboy, Kurt Shaffenberger, and others. Forward by E. Nelson Bridewell, published by Harmony Books (ISBN 0-51753-127-5).
*"The Monster Society of Evil - Deluxe Limited Collector's Edition" (1989). Compiled and designed by Mike Higgs. Reprints the entire "The Monster Society of Evil" story arc that ran for two years from "Captain Marvel Adventures" #22-46 (from 1943-1945) where Captain Marvel meets Mister Mind and his Monster Society of Evil. This oversized, slipcased hardcover book was strictly limited to 3,000 numbered copies. Published by American Nostalgia Library, an imprint of Hawk Books Limited. (ISBN 0-948248-07-6)
*"The Shazam! Archives", Volumes 1–4 (1992, 1998, 2002, 2005). Hardcover volumes reprinting Captain Marvel's adventures from his earliest Fawcett appearances in titles such as "Whiz Comics", "Master Comics", and "Captain Marvel Adventures" from 1940 to 1942. Stories by Bill Parker, Ed Herron, and others; art by C. C. Beck, Pete Costanza, Mac Raboy, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, George Tuska, and others. (ISBN 1-56389-053-4, vol. 1; ISBN 1-56389-521-8, vol. 2; ISBN 1-56389-832-2, vol. 3; ISBN 1-4012-0160-1, vol. 4)
*"The Shazam! Family Archives", Volume 1 (2006). This spin-off volume features the adventures of Captain Marvel, Jr. from "Master Comics" # 23-32 and "Captain Marvel Jr." #1, as well as the origin of Mary Marvel from "Captain Marvel Adventures" #18. Stories by various; art by Mac Raboy, Al Carreno, Marc Swayze and C.C. Beck. (ISBN 1-4012-0779-0)
*"Shazam! and the Shazam! Family Annual" (2002). An 80-page paperback collection reprinting several Golden Age Marvel Family adventures from "Captain Marvel Adventures", "Captain Marvel, Jr.", and "The Marvel Family", including the first appearances of Mary Marvel and Black Adam. Stories by Otto Binder; art by C. C. Beck, Pete Costanza, Mac Rayboy, Marc Swayze, Bud Thompson, and Jack Binder.
*"Showcase Presents: Shazam! Vol. 1" (2006). A five hundred page trade paperback featuring black-and-white reprints of stories from the 1970s "Shazam!" ongoing series. Written by Dennis O'Neill, E. Nelson Bridwell and Elliott Maggin; Art by C.C. Beck, Kurt Schaffenberger, Dave Cockrum, Dick Giordano and others. (ISBN 1-4012-1089-9)
*"Shazam! The Greatest Stories Ever Told" (2008). A compilation featuring Captain Marvel stories collected from the Fawcett publications "Whiz Comics", "Captain Marvel Adventures", and "The Marvel Family", and from the DC publications "Shazam!", "DC Comics Presents", "Superman", "L.E.G.I.O.N. '91", "The Power of Shazam!", and "Adventures in the DC Universe". (ISBN 1-4012-1674-9)



*Beck, C. C. and Parker, Bill (February 1940, reprinted March 2000). "Capt. Marvel" "Whiz Comics" #2. New York: Fawcett Publications (reprint by DC Comics).
*Beck, C. C. and O'Neil, Denny. (February 1973). "In the Beginning" "Shazam!" #1. New York: National Periodical Publications.
*Benton, Mike. (1989). "The Comic Book in America: An Illustrated History". Dallas: Taylor. ISBN 0-87833-659-1
*Grogan, Walt. " [ The Marvel Family Web] ". Retrieved 16 June 2005.
*Markstei, Donald D. (2000–2004). " [ Captain Marvel] ". "Don Markstein's Toonopedia". Retrieved 16 June 2005.
*Ordway, Jerry (1994). "The Power of Shazam!" New York: DC Comics. ISBN 1-56389-153-0.
*Thomas, Roy and Mandrake, Tom. "Shazam! The New Beginning" #1–4. New York: DC Comics.
*Wright, Bradford W. (2001). "Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America". Baltimore: Johns Hopkins. ISBN 0-8018-7450-5

External links

* [ The Marvel Family Web]
* [ Captain Marvel Culture] A history of the many Captain Marvels
* [ Supermanica website entry on Captain Thunder]

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