Sunday, November 15, 2015

Captain Marvel's Moniker

I've read several articles and posts where it seems the conventional wisdom is that since most people now know the original Captain Marvel by the name 'Shazam' then we might as well call him that.  In other words, everyone knows him as Shazam, so there's no reason to refer to him as Captain Marvel.  At first I agreed, but now I don't.  

In my opinion, and based on research, referring to Captain Marvel as Shazam is a fairly new phenomenon, not one that goes back years and years ago.  And the premise that most fans know him as Shazam and not Captain Marvel isn't as precise a premise as it seems at first.  Allow me to present some facts from my research.

Fact 1:  All fans going back to the 1940's know that the Wizard's name is Shazam and Captain Marvel is his champion to fight evil.  (See my previous article here: Shazam? Captain Marvel?)  I won't get into the lawsuit between DC and Fawcett in this article and the impact it had on Captain Marvel's name, but you can read some fantastic articles about them on the Shazamcast here and here. (Please also give a listen to the Shazamcast podcast featuring Carl and Jeff as they go into depth on this issue!)

Fact 2:  When DC brought Captain Marvel back in 1973, the title of the comic was 'With One Magic Word...Shazam! The Original Captain Marvel" (Edition 1, Feb 1973).  On the inside leaf it states, "After 20 years...The triumphant return of the World's Mightiest Mortal...The Original Captain Marvel."  In future editions they would show the Wizard Shazam and Captain Marvel.  

Fact 3:  In the 31st edition of Legion '91 (September 1991) Captain Marvel is referred to as...Captain Marvel!

Fact 4:  In the Power of Shazam series that ran in the late '90s, the character is named Captain Marvel.

Fact 5:  In the August 2000 edition of Superman in Action Comics, the character is referred to as Captain Marvel.

Fact 6:  In Jeff Smith's 2007 edition of Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil it is Captain Marvel, not Shazam!

All these facts prove that fans, Fawcett and DC called Captain Marvel by his true name for over 70 years.  He has been Captain Marvel for over 7 decades!

So when did he lose the Captain Marvel moniker for the Shazam sobriquet?  That happened in 2011 when the New 52 Shazam was introduced. According to Shazam! A Celebration of 75 Years, on page 366 we are told, "For the first time there would be no mention of "Captain Marvel" and the World's Mightiest Mortal would be referred to solely by the name already used by many fans - Shazam." (Emphasis added)  That just doesn't add up for me.

Let's say, for arguments sake, that the last time DC published Captain Marvel with the name Captain Marvel was in 2007.  DC would have us believe that in the 4 years from 2007 to 2011 fans suddenly referred to Captain Marvel as Shazam - reversing over 70 years of both fans and DC calling him Captain Marvel??

I implore DC to return Captain Marvel's name to him.  It's been our beloved character's name for 75 years, a name he was given by the wizard Shazam, a name he has earned, and truly the name already used by many fans.

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