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!

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