Monday, January 25, 2016

Captain Marvel's Powers: The Wisdom of Solomon

The wizard Shazam gives Billy Batson the powers/abilities of six gods.  Billy gains them by uttering the magically mystic word, "Shazam!" and transforming into Captain Marvel - the World's Mightiest Mortal!  

I want to examine Captain Marvel's wisdom, which he gets from Solomon, in this article.  Who was Solomon?  What is wisdom and why would Captain Marvel need it?  When has Captain Marvel displayed this wisdom?  I will answer those questions below!

Among the six immortals who give Captain Marvel his powers, Solomon is the only one who was a true, historical person.  Solomon was the second King of Israel, son of the great king David.  (Sorry Fawcett Comics - but while Solomon was a godly man, he wasn't immortal or a god!)  Solomon's story is told in parts of the Old Testament of the Bible, and they show him as a truly wise man.  Solomon was not without his flaws, but he was a good king and was used to write a majority of the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.

Solomon received his wisdom from God.  (Note: You can read about this in 1 Kings, chapter 3)  When he first became king over Israel, God appeared to him and asked him, "Ask! What shall I give you?”  Solomon could have asked many things, but instead he says, "Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”  Solomon simply asks God for the ability to be a good and just king for his people.  

Solomon's request pleased God and so Solomon was given great wisdom.  The Bible tells us, “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you." 

What did Solomon receive?  He was given 1) understanding to discern justice and 2) a wise and understanding heart.  Both of these attributes are needed by Captain Marvel because he became Shazam's successor to fight injustice in the world.  But Captain Marvel would also need great wisdom!

Now wisdom isn't the same as intelligence, but you do need intelligence to be wise!  I found it interesting that one definition of wisdom says wisdom "involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs...Wise people generally share an optimism that life's problems can be solved and experience a certain amount of calm in facing difficult decisions."  I can truly see Captain Marvel as the personification of this description of wisdom.  He is wise as well as optimistic in the face of the greatest of perils!  In Cap's case, his wisdom shows he possesses great intelligence and is able to apply that to the situation at hand.  

Throughout Captain Marvel's comics we see examples of his great wisdom.  Here are just a few examples.

In Whiz Comics #3, Captain Marvel becomes trapped on Venus.  How will he get back to earth?  By using the wisdom of Solomon, Cap constructs a rocket ship and makes it back to earth!

Whiz Comics #70 reveals to us that Captain Marvel can speak any language known on earth due to his wisdom!

A secret code is no match for Captain Marvel's wisdom as we learn in Captain Marvel Adventures #19!  Billy Batson intercepts an enemy secret message and he transforms to Captain Marvel to crack the code!

Captain Marvel's wisdom allows him to piece together seemingly unrelated incidents and determine that they are part of an unearthly plot!  We read about this in Captain Marvel Adventures #137.

The first power Shazam gives Captain Marvel is the wisdom of Solomon and we see Cap display his wisdom throughout his adventures.  Captain Marvel's wisdom has allowed him to do such things as build a rocket ship from scratch, speak any language known on earth, crack secret codes and and uncover unearthly plots!  Captain Marvel's wisdom is just one power that truly makes him the World's Mightiest Mortal!

Captain Marvel - Brave and Bold

You might not be aware of it, but Captain Marvel makes several appearances in season 2 of Batman: The Brave and The Bold.  What makes it especially awesome to me is that Captain Marvel looks like the golden age version - almost as if C. C. Beck had animated him!  He makes a brief appearance in the beginning of one episode ("Death Race to Oblivion!") and is featured in two full episodes ("The Power of Shazam!" and "The Malicious Mr. Mind!").

In "The Power of Shazam!" we see plot lines taken from Whiz comics #2 and The Marvel Family #1.  In this episode we have Dr. Sivana and his odious offspring, Black Adam, the wizard Shazam, and Mary Marvel.  The action takes us from here (Fawcett City) to the Rock of Eternity!  It's a fantastic episode that I've watched many times.

"The Malicious Mr. Mind!" is another throw-back to Captain Marvel's golden age as we see the Monster Society of Evil back in action.  This time they not only face Captain Marvel, but they also go up against Batman, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.  This is another can't-miss episode for Captain Marvel fans.

I would really love to see an on-going Captain Marvel animated series that looks just like these.  They do a fantastic job of capturing Captain Marvel's golden age character in an animated format.  These adventures on the small screen are worth watching!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Captain Marvel's Character: Compassion

Compassion is another aspect of Captain Marvel's character that draws me to him as a hero.  In this article I want to illustrate the compassion of Captain Marvel.

What is compassion?  Here are some brief thoughts and definitions that will help frame compassion for this article:
  • A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
  • Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts or pains of another.
  • "Compassion is passion with a heart." Tom Krause
  • "A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal."  Steve Maraboli
An example of Captain Marvel's compassion is displayed on the pages of Captain Marvel Adventures #79.  In the story, "Captain Marvel and the World's Worst Actor" we are introduced to Elroy P. Fauntleroy.  Fauntleroy is described in this way, "Elroy P. Fauntleroy has been, in theatrical language, 'at liberty' for twenty-five years.  The reason for his unemployment is simple!  He is the world's worst actor!"  We see Elroy sneaking out of his rented room (so as not to be questioned about paying the rent!) and going to station WHIZ to audition for a television role under director Billy Batson.

Due to a disrespectful comedic actor, Captain Marvel takes over as director when Elroy Fauntleroy comes to audition.  Fauntleroy's audition is horrible, and Cap gently breaks the news to him that he's not going to get the part.

As Fauntleroy is leaving, something catches Captain Marvel's eye.  He sees that Fauntleroy's pants are worn out and thinks to himself, "A patch in his pants!  He isn't as prosperous as he'd like me to believe!" Suddenly Fauntleroy faints and a doctor's examination reveals that he fainted due to not eating  "a square meal in weeks" - Fauntleroy is practically starved!

Knowing that Fauntleroy is in great financial need and in need of a steady income, Captain Marvel's compassion drives him to action.  Cap decides to hire Fauntleroy as an actor knowing that it will meet his needs.  Cap's compassion motivates him to meet the physical and financial needs of this man.

Captain Marvel's compassion is clearly seen through his actions in dealing with the unfortunate Fauntleroy.  There are many other examples throughout the pages of Cap's comics, but this stands out to me as one of the better examples.  
Captain Marvel is a compassionate hero, and that's just one more reason he's been my hero and a hero to countless others!

Did You Know...

Whiz Comics #2

Did you know that the huge statues of The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man were not just mere statues?   We first see the statues in Whiz Comics #2 when Billy makes his first visit to Shazam.  Billy walks by them in what is called the Ancient Hall of Statues.  Then, in Captain Marvel Adventures #137 we learn that they are actually seven evil gods that Shazam had turned into stone!

In Captain Marvel Adventures #137, King Kull has released the evil gods from Shazam's stone bondage and it is up to Captain Marvel to save the day!  Billy goes to Shazam to get advice from him on how to battle Kull and end his evil plot.  It is in this visit that Shazam reveals what the statues really are!

Did you know that the statues of The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man were not just mere statues but were actually evil gods Shazam had turned to stone?  I didn't know that until I read Captain Marvel Adventures #137!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Captain Marvel's Character: Loyalty

Loyalty.  This is another aspect of Captain Marvel's character that draws me to him as a hero.  In this article I want to look at Captain Marvel's loyalty.

What is loyalty?  Here are a brief thought and definition that will help frame loyalty for this article.
  • Loyalty is faithfulness or devotion to a group, cause, person, etc.
  • "There's something wrong with your character if opportunity controls your loyalty."
An example of Captain Marvel's loyalty is displayed on the pages of Captain Marvel Adventures #79 in the story, "Captain Marvel and the Ancient Crime."  In this story, Billy Batson reads from a book of Egyptian history that the wizard Shazam had stolen gold from the pharaoh.  Billy's reaction - that story must be a lie and he vows that Captain Marvel will set the record straight!

Captain Marvel visits the author on the book of Egyptian history and questions him if he's sure about his accusations of Shazam.  Even when faced with what seems like overwhelming evidence, and despite a brief waver of doubt, Captain Marvel remains loyal to Shazam and seeks to set the record straight!

Indeed, Captain Marvel does prove Shazam's innocence in this adventure.  (I wrote a brief article on this adventure, you can read it here.)  But the main thing this story shows is his loyalty to Shazam despite what experts had to say.  Cap's loyalty isn't passive - it  spurred him to action to stand up for and clear the name of Shazam!

Captain Marvel's loyalty is just one more aspect of his character that has drawn me and countless others to him as a hero.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Captain Marvel Vs Superman Graphic Novel Giveaway!

As a way of saying thanks to everyone who has supported me on my blogs and Twitter, I wanted to have my first-ever giveaway!  I'm going to be giving away 1 copy of the Superman vs Shazam graphic novel.  Below are the details:

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Superman Vs. Shazam! (Superman (Graphic Novels)). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Jan 20, 2016 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules

Thank you again, I am greatly appreciative of your support!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I've Started A New Blog

I started this blog to write about Captain Marvel and his adventures in the golden age of comics in the 1940's and 50's.  Recently, I've started writing a few articles about Captain Marvel's bronze age comeback in the early '70s when DC started publishing him again.

After giving it some thought, I've decided to create a new blog dedicated to Captain Marvel's bronze age adventures (1970s).  The reason for that is I didn't want to start blurring the lines between Cap's adventures, friends, and timelines from the golden age and bronze age.  I started this blog to write about Cap in the golden age, so I'm going to stick with that purpose here!

I hope you take some time to check out my new blog, however, it will be my secondary focus and might not have as many posts as this one.

If you have a moment, please check out my new blog - Captain Marvel's Adventures!  As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs, I sincerely hope you find them interesting and entertaining!

Monday, January 11, 2016

An Interview With TVs Captain Marvel - Jackson Bostwick!

Jackson Bostwick as Captain Marvel!
I grew up watching the Shazam! TV show which premiered on September 7, 1974.  Jackson Bostwick starred as Captain Marvel for the first season and part of the second season.  I remember watching the show and reading the Captain Marvel comics that DC had begun printing in 1973.  

I was given the complete series of the TV show on DVD as a Christmas gift and loved watching Cap in action once again.  I reached out to Jackson Bostwick and asked if I could interview him by email for my Captain Marvel blog.  Holy Moley!  I was surprised and honored that he agreed!  Here is my email interview with Jackson Bostwick - TVs Captain Marvel!!

Jeff:  What was the Captain Marvel costume you wore made of and how much effort did it take to get into it? 
Jackson Bostwick:  The body is Danskin tights. The cape, lightning bolt, belt and gauntlets are silk. The boots are leather. It would take me around 5 minutes to get it all on.

Jeff:  How physically demanding was playing Captain Marvel and did your background in martial arts help you with those demands?
Jackson Bostwick:  The different stunts had their own degree of difficulty. Nothing I couldn’t handle at the time. Being 6’3,” weighing in at 217 lbs, and participating in the different martial arts (Judo, Jeet Kune do, Budojujitsu, etc.) plus many other sports, made doing them a hoot.

Jeff:  You collected and read Captain Marvel comics as a kid, what was it about Captain Marvel that drew you to him as a hero?
Jackson Bostwick:  The Charles Atlas affect of the boy working out and eventually transforming his body into a hunk and to be able then to come back and take care of the bully who kicked sand in his face at the beach ... except with Billy, it could be done, instantaneously, with one magic word. Shazam! Also, I liked the imaginative villains that the Good Captain had to deal with each issue -- not to mention the great costume. And certainly, lets not forget Tom Tyler’s portrayal in the serial, “The adventures of Captain Marvel.”

Jeff:  Was there a particular Captain Marvel comic story that you went back to time and again?
Jackson Bostwick:  The origin legend with Billy and the wizard Shazam in the old deserted subway tunnel.

Jeff:  What is your favorite piece of Captain Marvel memorabilia that you own and why is it your favorite?
Jackson Bostwick:  I like the costume I have because of the memories of the show. I, also, like the Shazam sword that C.C. Beck made for me and, also, the Limited Collectors Edition comic that included the origin legend along with various pictures of the show.

Jeff:  In the TV show, none of Captain Marvel's nemesis (Dr. Sivana, Mr. Atom, etc.) ever appeared.  Did you ever try to get them included and written into an episode?
Jackson Bostwick:  Initially, I tried, but was told that the show was to deal with contemporary problems. When I was asked by Bob Chenault, “What would be a catchy phrase that Captain Marvel would say,” I told him “What is wrong with Holy Moley?” He said, yeah, that’s sounds great. I responded, “Bob, that’s what CM has always said in the comics.” It was spelled in those first scripts every way but correctly (Holey Molly, etc., instead of Holy Moley). No, the writers hadn’t done much research on the nuances of the Good Captain including him being shy with the ladies -- which I attempted to show in a couple of episodes.

Jeff:  I've read that some of the executives who made Shazam! were not Captain Marvel fans.  Did you have to fight with them at times to keep Captain Marvel's character intact and unchanged due to their ignorance of the character's history?
Jackson Bostwick:  With the Executive Producers ... all of the time. The worst was Norm Prescott. Lou was a little better, but not much. Bob Chenault, the producer for the first year, was great at listening. He and the crew worked with me on how we could pull off the stunts (which I did all of except wrestling with the lion). The trainer did a great job at that, but since he was a good deal shorter that me, the costume kinda fit him like a California Raisin.

Jeff:  I've read that you've been working on a biography titled, Myth, Magic, and a Mortal.  What are your plans for publishing the book - can we expect to see it soon?  Is there anything your fans can do to help get it published?
Jackson Bostwick:  I am hoping that the movie will be underway and I could then release it around the time of the opening. I am, also, debating between self publishing or using a known publisher. Big Lou Ferigno told me to self publish like he did. Of course, there’s the money aspect that that would entail. Just asking for patience from everybody, but I can tell you that it is a great read with many MARVELous photos.

Jeff:  Have you kept up with Captain Marvel comics today?  In today's comics, Billy Batson is portrayed as a smart aleck punk - what are your thoughts on how Billy and Captain Marvel are being portrayed today?
Jackson Bostwick:  After the issues from the 70’s I have not collected any of the subsequent issues. I read the first script (now scrapped) for the movie by William Goldman and he had Billy in the first 10 pages cussing like a drunken sailor. Terrible! The new look for Cap is more like the demonic alter ego of an electrified Jeffrey Dahmer rather than the “pure of heart,” Billy Batson. ARRG!

Jeff:  You became friends with C. C. Beck who drew Captain Marvel.  Did you ever have plans to work with Mr. Beck on any Captain Marvel projects?
Jackson Bostwick:  No talk of a CM project with C.C. -- just a very enjoyable friendship. We stayed in contact until his passing.

Jeff:  What did you enjoy most about playing Captain Marvel?
Jackson Bostwick:  I enjoyed being able to portray my childhood hero and tried my best to bring the spirit and fun of the Big Red Cheese to the kids of my generation just like Clayton Moore did for me with The Lone Ranger. It’s hard to duplicate the satisfaction of a feeling such as that.

Jeff:  Do you have any closing thoughts for your fans?
Jackson Bostwick:  “Never be afraid of the Universe.” Shazam!

All the Best,

I can't thank Jackson Bostwick enough for his time and the opportunity to interview him.  As you can see from the interview, he's a Captain Marvel fan and brought that with him as he took on the role of The World's Mightiest Mortal!  I hope you've enjoyed reading this interview and that it has brought you new insights into Mr. Bostwick, the TV show, and Captain Marvel himself.

Captain Marvel's Bronze Age Comeback

Captain Marvel exited comics with the last issue of Whiz Comics #155 (printed March 6, 1953) and Captain Marvel Adventures #150 (printed August 10, 1953).  For twenty years we didn't hear a peep from Billy Batson or the World's Mightiest Mortal.  Where did Captain Marvel go?  Why did he leave Fawcett City without notice!  That silence was broken on December 14, 1972 when DC published Shazam! #1!

In the pages of Shazam! #1 we discover what happened during those silent years.  Captain Marvel wasn't on vacation - he had been placed in suspended animation by none other than the world's wickedest scientist, Dr. Sivana!

You see, Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family (Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr.) were being honored by the Mayor of Fawcett City one day in 1953.  Many of the Marvel's close friends as well as most of the city were in attendance.  Suddenly, a strange ray captures the mighty Marvels along with some of their friends and draws them into deep space, taken captive by Dr. Sivana and his odious offspring, Georgia and Sivana, Jr.  

Dr. Sivana places the Marvels and friends into a globe of Suspendium, a compound crafted by Sivana that will keep the captives in suspended animation forever!  However, thanks to a mishap caused by his son, Sivana and family become trapped in Suspendium along with the Marvels.  (NOTE: If you've read Thunderworld then you've seen Suspendium in action!)

For twenty years they remain in deep space orbiting the sun while captive in Suspendium.  As they moved closer to the sun, the Suspendium began to melt away!  Captain Marvel is the first to awaken from suspended animation and immediately takes action to rescue everyone while the scheming Sivanas escape.

The Marvels get their friends safely back to Fawcett City, but after their time in suspended animation they are dazed and unaware that twenty years had passed while they were in deep space.  The friends the Marvels rescued were Uncle Dudley, Joan Jameson (Billy and Captain Marvel's secretary), Sterling Morris (WHIZ station owner), Cissie Sommerly (Billy's girl friend), Ma and Pa Potter (Billy rents an apartment from them), Professor Edgewise (lives in the same boardinghouse as Freddie Freeman), Beautia Sivana, and Tawky Tawny.  We will see more of these friends throughout the Bronze Age Captain Marvel comic series!

Shazam! #1 also retells the origin of Captain Marvel, staying true to the original story as told in the pages of Whiz Comics #2.  And who could tell it better than C. C. Beck himself??!!??

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this comic.  These were the Captain Marvel comics I grew up with and collected (and lost)! DC brought Captain Marvel back into print in a way that explained his twenty years of silence.  Captain Marvel would go on to have some great new adventures in the Bronze Age of comics!

Did You Know...

Did you know that according to E. Nelson Bridwell, the mystery messenger that brought Billy Batson to the wizard Shazam in Shazam! #1 was Mercury!

E. Nelslon Bridwell was the Associate Editor for the Bronze Age Shazam! comics.  In Shazam! #20 (June 24, 1975) in the Shazamail! section (where fans could write and have their letters printed and questions answered) a reader asked "who was the messenger of Shazam who brought Billy Batson to the Egyptian magician for the first time?"  Bridwell's response was, "...I have an answer.  Who was the MESSENGER of the gods?  None other than MERCURY - who just happens also to be one of the SHAZAM gods!"

So there you have it - according to the Bronze Age Captain Marvel comics editor, Mercury was the mystery messenger who led Billy Batson to his fateful meeting with the wizard Shazam.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When The Magic Lightning Strikes!

We have all seen Billy Batson say, "Shazam!" and that mystic word calls down a bolt of magic lightning.  That magic lightning transforms Billy into Captain Marvel, the World's Mightiest Mortal!  The comics tell us that this transformation happens so fast that people aren't aware of what has happened!

Now, thanks to the ultra-speed computer-phased photos below, we can see the transformation that takes place in .0000025 seconds!!!

Found on Pinterest
Ok, I found this gem on Pinterest and just knew I had to share it.  I've not been able to find out much about the drawing.  I know it was drawn by C. C. Beck, and one story I've heard is that he would draw these and hand them out at comic conventions.  Outside of that, I really don't know the origin of this besides finding it on Pinterest!

I do think this is a great piece of history for Captain Marvel fans.  I hope you've enjoyed seeing Billy's transformation into Captain Marvel with your own eyes!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Visiting the Bronze Age Captain Marvel

I just wanted to post a short article on a small shift I'm going to make for a little while!  My blog has focused on Captain Marvel as we know him from the "Golden Age" of comics (late 1930s to early 1950s).  Captain Marvel exited comics during the "Silver Age" (mid 1950s to 1970) and was not published due to the legal dispute with DC. (Please see the Shazamcast article for great information on this.)

Captain Marvel reappeared in comics during the "Bronze Age" (1970 to 1985) when DC published "Shazam!" #1 on December 14, 1972.  This 32 page comic retold the origin of Captain Marvel and brought us up to date on Cap's happenings while he was missing in action for the last 20 years.

I've been able to read some of these "Bronze Age" editions of Captain Marvel and I find that they tried to remain true to his "Golden Age" persona and whimsical story lines.  They attempted to keep the continuity preserved from the days of Whiz and Captain Marvel Adventures comics.  Holy Moley, they even had C. C. Beck as the main artist for a while!

While reading the "Bronze Age" comics and doing some research on them, I've found some things that I would like to share on this blog that I hope you'll find interesting.  I see these comics not as a "Captain Marvel New Beginning" but more of an attempt to bring Cap back into action from his 20 year hiatus - picking up where he was left off!  Because of this continuity, from time to time I'll sprinkle in some "Bronze Age" Captain Marvel articles but will continue with my primary focus on Captain Marvel's adventures during his golden days of the '40s and '50s.  I look forward to any feedback on these articles and - again - I hope you enjoy reading them!

(Please note that I'm going to tag these articles with the label 'Bronze Age.')

Note Cap's longer sideburns - pretty groovy!

Superman Vs Captain Marvel: A Brief Comparison

In this article I wanted to point out two differences between the Captain Marvel and Superman that might not be obvious on the surface.  Let me also state up front that I write this with all due respect to Superman and Captain Marvel fans.  I'm of the opinion that there is no need to run down and put down someone else's hero.  Heroes are like family to us, and if you mess with our hero, you've insulted us as well!  

Captain Marvel and Superman do have many things in common.  Both Superman and Captain Marvel can fly.  They both can leap tall buildings in a single bound and are faster than a speeding bullet.  Billy Batson and Clark Kent are both in the news industry.  But now consider two seemingly small differences below that truly make a big difference between the two characters.

  • Superman is always Superman - even when he is disguised as Clark Kent he continues to have his super powers.
  • Billy Batson becomes Captain Marvel.  Billy Batson has no super powers at his disposal until he says the magic word, "Shazam!" and becomes Captain Marvel,  possessing the powers of six heroes/gods.

  • Superman's powers on earth depend on the difference atmospheric/gravitational differences between the Earth and Krypton.  Superman on Krypton would not have the same super powers that he has on earth and he would not be a super man! (Note: The explanation for Superman's powers on Earth have evolved and changed over time.)
  • Captain Marvel's powers remain constant regardless of location.

Captain Marvel and Superman are both remarkable heroes.  Both have a tremendous army of fans and rightfully so.  They both have some powers in common, but they also have some significant differences that their respective fans can truly appreciate.