Thursday, August 23, 2007

1970's Flashback: Shazam!

Captain Marvel, a very popular staple of comics golden age, originally appeared in Whiz Comics # 2 (Feb. 1940), but after publisher Fawcett Comics was successfully sued by National Comics (which later became DC Comics; publisher of Superman) for copyright infringement, he disappeared from news stands in 1953.

It was with with some irony that DC comics licensed Captain Marvel and began publishing new adventures of "the big red cheese" and his eclectic supporting cast in February 1973. During the characters twenty year hiatus, rival publisher Marvel Comics had secured the trademark for his name, allowing them to introduce their own decidedly different Capt. Mar-Vell character. DC stepped around this technicality and called his new comic simply, Shazam!, after the famous magic word which young Billy Batson cried out to transform into the adult Captain Marvel.

Legendary artist C.C.Beck also returned to produce new stories for his classic hero for the first ten issues, but ultimately left after creative differences. He was succeeded by standout talents Kurt Schaffenberger and Bob Oksner. Dennis O'Neil, E. Nelson Bridwell and Elliot Maggin all wrote for the revived title, injecting just enough humor to remind readers that while having some similar powers as the Man of Steel, Captain Marvel was really all about light-hearted fantasy.

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