Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Captain Marvel vs Fear

America and the world were only a few years removed from the end of the second world war when Captain Marvel Adventures #89 was published in 1948.  The world was at peace but the nuclear age had dawned and with it new fears would arise.  I want to highlight one story out of Captain Marvel Adventures #89 against that historical backdrop.  That one story is 'Captain Marvel Faces Fear!'

While this story has its whimsical elements, as most of Cap's stories do, there is a deeper element to it than what you might see on the surface.  This story not only gives us a new adventure for Captain Marvel, it also provides kids and adults with a practical life lesson on something we all face at one time or other and that is fear.  In this story Cap comes face to face with Fear itself!

The story begins simply enough with a young boy tasked with the delivery of an atomic engine.  But before he can walk too far from the building, Fear has influenced him to think he's carrying an atomic bomb.  Sure enough, the boy spreads the news and the entire city begins to evacuate under the fear of an atomic bomb detonating soon.  The paper's headline shouts, "Atom Bomb on the Loose! Delivery Boy's Tale of Terror Shocks City!"  Yes, Fear has done his job well and has all too easily attained his dastardly desired results.

But where is Captain Marvel in all the clamor as the panic-stricken public attempts to flee the city?  Cap is there and he springs into action, trying to be a calming influence on the citizens.  Cap is starting to get things settled down when Fear decides to step up his game and throw things back into a turmoil. Captain Marvel catches a glimpse of Fear and pursues him.  Captain Marvel catches Fear and looks straight into his face....and then "for the first time in his career, Captain Marvel knows the full terrible meaning of...FEAR!" 

Fear's impact is only temporary as the World's Mightiest Mortal quickly shakes of Fear's effect.  Shortly, Cap catches up with Fear once again and this time he vanquishes him - even putting some fear into Fear!

Now this is a great story that was wonderfully written and drawn.  But if you just stop there you are missing a golden nugget of truth, the truth that fear can be faced and must be faced.  Fear can't be allowed to create chaos in our life or in our communities.  Thinking about what people were facing when this comic was first published, I wonder if they were trying to help kids come to grips with their world and give them some tips on how to handle their fears.  Regardless of the times, there are some timeless lessons presented in this periodical.

Here are the life lessons I pulled from the pages of this comic.  Some of these are direct quotes from the comic itself!

1.  "The tiny voice of reason is lost in the clamor of fear."  What started out as a small misunderstanding soon escalates into pure turmoil.  Captain Marvel and Billy Batson try to reassure Fawcett City that there is no atomic bomb, their voices are lost in the ocean of fears.  Today we are bombarded with information from the web, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc. and most of the time what we hear is negative.  When you become fearful about what you've heard, take a few minutes and really think about what you heard.  Bring that news into reality and ask yourself is it something you should be afraid of or is it something that you should be concerned about?  Is it just a case of Chicken Little reporting - the sky is falling - is it just hype?  Look for a voice of reason - even if it's small!

2.  Even the Best of Us Can Be Hit By Fear!  Captain Marvel experienced fear for the first time in his career and it gave him a temporary set back.  He shook it off and went back to his task at hand.  We need to do the same.  If we fall victim to fear don't let it get you down.  Learn a lesson from it and then press on! 

3.  Fear Fades in the Face of Firmly Held Facts!  Captain Marvel stuck to the facts when confronting fear - and Fear faded away.  Even Fear himself said, "Since the beginning of time I have existed only in the minds of people who have not known the truth.  For those who know the truth...I don't exist at all!"  Fear cannot stand in the face of truth.  

Not only was this a great adventure story, it also provides us with some life lessons on how to face fear in our life and world today.  "Captain Marvel Faces Fear!"  -  and so can we!!

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