Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Tools and Resources of the Wizard Shazam

We know the wizard Shazam is the protector of earth and the vast cosmos.  But what tools and resources does Shazam use?  We can find them in the pages of Captain Marvel comics!  Here are the tools and resources used by Shazam:

The Historama (Whiz comics #2):  The Historama is a "super-television screen capable of depicting past, present and future events."

The Robe of Immortality (Captain Marvel Adventures #144): Shazam's robe of immortality protects him from harm and makes him immortal.

Shazamium Bracelet (Captain Marvel Adventures #100):  The wizard's Shazamium bracelet allows him to adopt ethereal form, and to travel back and forth between the Rock of Eternity in the wink of an eye.

The Book of All Knowledge (Captain Marvel Adventures #93):  In Captain Marvel comics you can often see Shazam use the phrase, "For as it is written, so it must be!"  And, there are times when Shazam says things have happened because that's how they were written (see Captain Marvel Adventures #80 and #144).  What was Shazam referring to?  I believe he was referring to The Book of All Knowledge.  Shazam himself tells us that The Book of All Knowledge "was written long, long ago...That book contains all the knowledge that will ever be granted to mankind!  All the wisdom of the past, the present and the future is gathered in its pages..."  Shazam uses this book to help him protect the earth and the cosmos!

An example of Shazam saying, "So it was written..."

Magic (Captain Marvel Adventures #18):  Magic is the best known tool Shazam uses.  We are told that, "There is no magic greater than that of the all-powerful Shazam!"  He has also taught Captain Marvel how to use this magic as well!

Shazam uses his powerful magic for good

The wizard Shazam has these awesome tools and resources at his disposal making him a great protector of earth and the vast cosmos!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Introducing Tawky Tawny!

Mr. Tawky Tawny is a talking tiger and good friend of Captain Marvel.  While Mr. Tawny first appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures #79 (Sept 26, 1947) in the story, "Captain Marvel and the Talking Tiger!", we didn't get Tawny's origin until Captain Marvel Adventures #82 (December 31, 1947)  in "Captain Marvel and the Return of Mr. Tawny!"

Mr. Tawny was just a cub when a hunter killed his mother, making him an orphan (just like Billy Batson!).  Tawny escaped the hunter's grasp, and was taken in by Tom Todd, the son of a missionary.  Tom and the tiger cub were the closest of friends, Tom even had the cub sit on his lap during school!  It was Tom Todd who gave him the name, Mr. Tawny.  

Mr. Tawny grew, but he and Tom were still great friends.  Then, one day a man was found killed in the village - his death came at the hands of a tiger.  All fingers pointed to Mr. Tawny as the killer.  Tom defended Mr. Tawny but the village decided he must die, so Tom and Tawny ran away far into the jungle.  Tom just knew his feline friend was innocent.  He said, "You didn't kill that man, did you?  I'm sure you didn't!  But if you could only talk and say so...If you could only tell them you didn't kill anybody!"  Just then a hermit approaches them and asks Mr. Tawny to drink a serum he had just created and wanted to test on a wild animal.  The serum would energize the animal's brain and enable him to use his vocal cords for speech!  The tiger drinks the serum and then Mr. Tawny tawks - I mean talks!  And not only can he talk, he can now verbalize all the knowledge he absorbed as he went to school with Tom!!

Tom and Tawny leave the jungle and return to the village to search for the real man killing tiger.  Tawny finds the killer and after a ferocious battle he brings the defeated man killer to the village and proves his innocence.  Mr. Tawny is cleared of the crime!  Later, Tom left the jungle when his dad was reassigned and Mr. Tawny lived with the hermit.  That's the story of how Mr. Tawny became a talking tiger, but now we need to know how he came to become friends with Captain Marvel. 

Despite the hermit telling him civilization is no good, Mr. Tawny made up his mind that he wanted to leave the jungle and "mingle with human beings."  He wants to try ice cream, watch movies, and wear clothes!  Tawny makes his way to the coast and becomes a stowaway on a ship bound for the United States.  When the ship makes port the stowaway tiger jumps ship determined to make it to the city.

The second person Mr. Tawny encounters is Billy Batson (the first person he encountered ran away scared to death!).  Upon seeing the tiger and not knowing Tawny is a gentle, talking tiger, Billy says the magic word, "Shazam!" and transforms into Captain Marvel.  Cap knocks Tawny unconscious and ensures he makes it safely to the zoo.  

Mr. Tawny escapes his cage at the zoo, and after a brief adventure he once again encounters Captain Marvel.  But this time Cap realizes Tawny is a civilized tiger and in short order gets Mr. Tawny a job at the local museum.  Despite a rocky start, Mr. Tawny and Captain Marvel become great friends!  

We know that Tom Todd gave Mr. Tawny his name, but how did he get his first name Tawky?  He got the name Tawky thanks to fans who responded to Captain Marvel and Mr. Tawny's appeal for suggestions for his first name.  Thousands of suggestions poured in and in Captain Marvel Adventures #90 Mr. Tawny revealed he chose the name Tawny!  (I wrote about this previously, you can read it here!)

Let me share a brief comment* from Otto Binder, creator of Tawky Tawny.  In an interview Mr. Binder said, "As far as I can recall, Tawny was my own concept, which Wendell Crowley - and C. C. Beck in particular - thought was a good concept...Beck did such a great job personifying the tiger that he caught on with readers immediately.  A flood of letters came in on the first story, so we continued him.  Captain Marvel was really just a minor character in all of his stories, the tiger's sidekick.  We made Tawny as lovable and bumbling as we could...He always had great dreams, with unfortunate results.  I wouldn't say Tawny stories were satires...they were more like parodies of human life, showing our weaknesses."

That's the origin of Mr. Tawky Tawny and how he came to know and be friends with Billy Batson and Captain Marvel.  Mr. Tawny would have many adventures of his own in Captain Marvel's comics and has become one of comics most beloved characters.  

*I found Otto Binder's comments on page 64 of the book The Fawcett Companion: The Best of FCA edited by P. C. Hamerlink (Copyright 2001, TwoMorrows Publishing).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Captain Marvel's Most Embarrassing Moment!

Let's face it, we all have embarrassing moments we would rather forget!  Fortunately for us those moments are seen by relatively few people.  In the pages of Whiz comics #50 we are able to have a look at Captain Marvel's most embarrassing moment!

The fun begins on the very cover of this comic!  We see Captain Marvel dressed only in a barrel hollering at someone running away with his uniform.  "Hey!  Come back with my suit!" Cap shouts, while the costume snatcher taunts him with, "Ha! Ha!  Come and get it!"  The cover does a great job setting up the fun and adventure on the pages inside.

The comic begins with Billy letting us in on a secret, he's finally going to tell us about Captain Marvel's most embarrassing moment.  It all began when Billy took a summer vacation at a mountain resort.  Billy almost falls off a bridge and says the magic word, "Shazam!" and transforms into the world's mightiest mortal.  Captain Marvel notices how cool and refreshing the water looks and decides he can't resist the temptation to jump in for a swim.

Cap hangs up his uniform and dives head first into the refreshing water.  After some well-earned relaxation, Cap returns and is shocked to see someone has stolen the skinny-dipping super hero's uniform!  Captain Marvel transforms back into Billy Batson and takes off hot on the trail of the uniform thief.

A summer storm pops up and Billy looks for shelter in a house in the woods - he looks in the window and sees Cap's uniform draped over a chair inside.  Under the cover of the thunder and wind, Billy sneaks in the window to recover Cap's clothes.  Once inside, Billy transforms back into Cap but just as he's about to get his uniform it is blown into an adjacent room by a gust of storm wind.  Cap covers up in a bear skin rug and creeps closer to the room.  He hears voices coming from the room - and to his horror he hears the voice of a woman!  "A lady, too!  I've got to get away from here!" and with a "Shazam!" he transforms back to a fully clothed Billy.  Eavesdropping on the voices in the room, Billy soon learns that Cap's uniform has been taken by a gang of 3 that plan on robbing the vacation resort.  Since they have Captain Marvel's uniform, they don't expect him to interfere - unless he has a spare uniform!!

As the adventure continues and the drama unfolds, Billy finds a local tailor shop and tries to have a Captain Marvel uniform made.  He tries transforming into Captain Marvel so the tailor can get the exact measurements, but ends up destroying the barrel he was trying to use to cover up Cap.  Billy does find out from the tailor that there is a big masquerade party happening at the vacation resort.  Billy heads back to the resort in an attempt to talk with the manager and warn him of the crooks' plans.

Billy asks a doorman to speak to the manager but is unaware that the doorman is one of the gang of thieves!  The doorman shows Billy the door to the manager's office and promptly locks him in.  Hearing the gang members speaking just outside the door, Billy recognizes their voice and calls on Captain Marvel to get him out of the manager's office by busting a hole in the wall.

Billy finds one of the gang members on guard duty outside of the manager's office and with the help of Captain Marvel he captures the gang member.  Not only does he get the gang member to let him know where his uniform is, he also uses the gangster's costume to go outside and retrieve his uniform!  As the remaining gang members try to make a run for it, the run right into Captain Marvel.  The story ends with the crooks in jail and Billy saying, "Holy Moley!  I don't know whether I've been on a vacation or a merry-go-round!"

This Captain Marvel adventure is one of my all-time favorites.  It shows Captain Marvel and Billy Batson working together to solve a dilemma, with both of them needing each other.  What was supposed to be a few moments of relaxation for the world's mightiest mortal turned into his most embarrassing moment, and I'm so glad Billy and Captain Marvel decided to share that with us!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Power of Hope

I wanted to share this brief thought that I wrote several years ago during a time of great personal loss.  I share it with the hope it gives encouragement to any who read it.  

One thing that can never be taken away from you is hope. Hope - there is a chance. Hope - there is another way. Hope - keep fighting and keep punching and refuse to give up.

It doesn't matter what the bad news is or what are the odds. Those things have nothing to do with hope. The only time hope will be extinguished is when you decide to give it up.

Hope gives strength. Hope gives strength to face another day or face another minute. Hope gives strength to not give in to despair. Hope gives strength to fight another round. Hope gives strength.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Indestructable Captain Marvel

I've written before about Captain Marvel's power coming from Zeus.  And, I've written that Captain Marvel's indestructibility comes from the stamina of Atlas.  After reading Captain Marvel Adventures #144 I've just learned that what makes Captain Marvel truly indestructible comes from the power of Zeus!

In Captain Marvel Adventures #144, Sivana has just launched an atomic rocket strong enough to blast through two and a half mountains.  Captain Marvel takes the full blast of the explosion and is unharmed - except for his hair getting a little mussed!

I'm sure the stamina of Atlas can contribute to this, but for the most part it is the power of Zeus that makes him incapable of being harmed.  Now we know the true secret behind Captain Marvel's indestructibility is the power of Zeus!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Captain Marvel's Fighting Abilities

Captain Marvel gets his powers from Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury.  They give him wisdom, strength, stamina, power, courage and speed.  These powers are awesome and they set Cap apart from all other heroes.  But did you ever wonder where Captain Marvel learned how to fight?  How did he attain his master fighting skills that allow him to dispatch evil doers and enemies?  The answer to those questions is found in Captain Marvel Adventures #144.  Captain Marvels fearsome fighting skills come from Achilles!

Sivana has unleashed a huge monster to defeat Captain Marvel.  Cap's indomitable courage allows him to fearlessly face this beast.  However, it is the great fighting skills he gets from Achilles that allows him to make a monkey out of Sivana's gigantic gorilla!

While Shazam's six gods bestow great powers upon Captain Marvel, they also give him great skills as well, as evidenced by Captain Marvel's fighting abilities!