Monday, April 18, 2016

Captain Marvel's Powers: The Speed of Mercury!

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

I want to examine Captain Marvel's speed, which he gets from Mercury, in this article.  Who was Mercury?  When has Captain Marvel displayed this speed?  I will answer those questions below!

Mercury is a character from Roman mythology.  Because of his winged sandals, he could fly faster than the other gods.  In Whiz #29 we are told that Mercury is faster than thought, and according to Shazam! #20 (1975) it is Mercury who led Billy Batson to his first meeting with Shazam!  Captain Marvel gets his ability to fly and immeasurable speed from Mercury.  And remember, speed is also a necessary component for power - with no speed, you have limited power.

While there are many examples of Captain Marvel's speed given to us in the pages of his comics, I'll give just a few.

Captain Marvel Adventures #2 provides us with our first example of Cap's blazing speed.  In this story Captain Marvel launches himself into the atmosphere on a trip to Mars - reaching it in about 5 minutes!  That is amazing especially considering it would take a man-made rocket about 6 months to travel from earth to Mars.  What would take mere mortals 6 months, the world's mightiest mortal can do in 5 minutes.  Captain Marvel travels faster "than the swiftest rays of light."

There is one other example to share that captures Cap's speed, and it comes to us in the pages of Captain Marvel Adventures #79.  In this adventure, the Big Red Cheese must travel back in time to clear Shazam's name of an ancient crime he did not commit.  We learn that Captain Marvel is able to fly faster than the speed of light - that is over 186,000 miles per second!  

Finally, in Captain Marvel Adventures #144 we are clearly told that Mercury gives Captain Marvel not only his great speed, but also the ability to fly!

The sixth power Shazam gives Captain Marvel is the speed of Mercury and we see Cap display this speed throughout his adventures.  Captain Marvel's speed allows him to travel to Mars in about 5 minutes, and his speed allows him to fly faster than the speed of light - giving him the ability to time travel.  Captain Marvel's speed truly makes him the World's Mightiest Mortal!

Scientific Note:  The distance from Earth to Mars is not a constant due to both planets orbiting the sun.  When Earth and Mars are at their closest point, they are 34,796,787 miles apart and at times can be as far as 62.6 million miles apart.  If Captain Marvel flew at the speed of light to the planet Mars at its closest point to earth, it would take him approximately 3 minutes!

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