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Captain Marvel

1. Captain Marvel is a comic book superhero created by artist C.C. Beck and writer Bill Parker in 1940 and originally published by Fawcett Comics[?].

The series began with a homeless young newspaper seller, Billy Batson, who was confronted with a dark clothed stranger who led him down a subway station. There, a strange train appeared which carried the pair to the secret lair of the wizard Shazam. There, the ancient wizard revealed that he had selected Billy to be his champion to fight for good as the world's mightest mortal.

To that end, Shazam ordered the boy to speak his name, which was actually an acronym for various legendary figures who have agreed to grant aspects of themselves to a willing subject:

  • S for Solomon for wisdom
  • H for Hercules for strength
  • A for Atlas for stamina
  • Z for Zeus for power (usually in the form of resistance to any injury)
  • A for Achilles for courage
  • M for Mercury for speed and by extension, the power to fly.

Billy complied and he was immediately struck by a magic lightning bolt, which turned him into an adult superhero wearing a bright red costume with gold trim, a short white cape and a lightning bolt for a chest symbol. He later learned that he only had to speak the word again and he instantly changed back into Billy.

With that, Shazam immediately died and Billy vowed to fulfill his bestowed role.

Through his adventures, he soon gained a host of enemies like the mad scientist Thaddeaus Bodog Sivana; a super intelligent worm called Mister Mind; an older Egyptian renegade Marvel called Black Adam; and an artificially intelligent nuclear powered robot called Mister Atom.

However, he also gained allies like a sister, Mary Batson, who could call upon the same power to become Mary Marvel, and a disabled friend named Freddie Freeman who could become Captain Marvel Jr. when he spoke the name of his favourite superhero, Captain Marvel (which also created the odd problem that he could not identify himself without changing). In addition, Billy had three cousins who could change as well, but only when they said "Shazam" simultaneously, and were dubbed the Lieutenant Marvels. Billy also had an eccentric Uncle Dudley who claimed that he was a Marvel himself, but even though he did not, his relatives liked to humour him.

Through much of the Golden Age of Comics, Captain Marvel proved to be the most popular superhero character of the medium with his comics outselling all others, including Superman. Part of the reason for this popularity included the inherent wish fulfillment appeal of the character to children, as well as the humourous and surreal quality of the stories. This popularity was probably one reason why National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics) sued Fawcett Comics for plagarism, due to the alleged similarity of Captain Marvel to Superman. After years of litigation, Fawcett agreed to stop publication in the 1950s, feeling that a decline in the popularity of superhero comics meant that it was no longer worth continuing the fight.

When superhero comics became popular again (in what is now called the Silver Age of comic books), Fawcett was unable to revive Captain Marvel because of its earlier concession. Eventually, the characters were licensed and revived by DC Comics in the early 1970s. Because Marvel Comics had by this time established its own claim to the name Captain Marvel, DC published their book under the name Shazam!. Since then, that title has become so linked to Captain Marvel that the general public has taken to identifying the character as Shazam instead of his actual name. While the series began with a great deal of fanfare, the book got lackluster reviews and was eventually cancelled and relegated to a back story series in World's Finest.

Eventually, DC Comics bought the Fawcett line of characters, and with their mini series Crisis on Infinite Earths in the mid 1980s, fully integrated the characters into the main DC superhero setting. Since then, the characters have appeared in mini series, a graphic novel called The Power of Shazam which was followed by a relatively shortlived ongoing series. In addition, Captain Marvel was a member of the later incarnation of the Justice League while Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. had memberships in the Teen Titans. Ironically, a typical use for Captain Marvel guest appearances is to be a back up for Superman when a flying strong man is called for. As of 2003, Captain Marvel is a member of the revived Justice Society of America.

Outside comics, Captain Marvel was portrayed in the 1940 movie serial The Adventures of Captain Marvel, which is widely regarded as the best example of the form. He also appeared in the live action Saturday morning TV series Shazam!, produced by Filmation, as well as an animated series by the same company. He also was a character in the low budgeted comedy special, Legend of the Superheroes in 1978.

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. In 1954, their supply of Captain Marvel material was abruptly cut off, and they request the help of a British comic writer, Sidney Anglo[?], who created a British copy of the superhero called Marvelman.


2. A number of comic book superheroes by Marvel Comics have been called Captain Marvel.

Created in the hiatus of the original Captain Marvel after Fawcett ceased publication in the 1950s, these comic book characters were created by Marvel partially to take advantage of the fact that the character name was available for copyrighting.

The first Captain Marvel character was an alien officer, Mar-Vell of the Kree empire, sent to observe the planet Earth, which was a great interest to the empire for its biological potential. Eventually, he realized the intentions of his superiors and rebelled, casting his allegiance with Earth while the Kree Empire branded him a traitor. Once independent, the officer fought to protect Earth from all menaces.

Later, he was punished with exile in the Negative Zone. The only way he could temporarily leave was to convince a young man, Rick Jones, to wear special metal wristbands called Negabands which allowed the two to switch places for a limited amount of time, much like the situation with the original Captain Marvel. Together, the pair continued the battle against evil.

Eventually Mar-Vell was freed and then became an appointed cosmic champion of space in general. However, this career was cut short because of an earlier incident when Captain Marvel stopped a villain from stealing a deadly nerve gas. In the case, he was exposed to it when its container leaked. While he seemed to have recovered after falling unconscious after successfully sealing the canister, the gas proved to be highly carcinogenic which eventually caused a fatal case of incurable cancer.

He died on the Saturn moon of Titan in the presence of Marvel Universe's superhero community in Marvel's first regular graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel. The Negabands were eventually recovered and given to a hitherto unknown son of Mar-Vell.

The second Captain Marvel is an African-American woman who possesses the power to transform herself into any form of energy. She is currently a member of The Avengers as Photon.

A third Captain Marvel also exists in the Marvel Universe. He is the son of the first Captain Marvel.

External Link

Captain Marvel Wannabees (http://shazam.imginc.com/wannabees/default.asp)



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