Thursday, July 21, 2016

Introducing Captain Marvel Junior!

Captain Marvel Junior, the World's Mightiest Boy, had his origin in Whiz Comics #25 (published November 28, 1941).  But to fully understand his origin, we need to take a quick look at Master Comics #21 (published November 5, 1941).  Master Comics #21 tells us the origin of the villain Captain Nazi and how he was sent to the US by Hitler himself to challenge and destroy Bulletman, Captain Marvel and other heroes.  Captain Nazi's plans are thwarted by both Bulletman and Captain Marvel, and at the end of the story he leaves Captain Marvel with a menacing message - Captain Nazi will be going to Whiz Comics to beat Captain Marvel there!

We pick up Captain Nazi's trail of destruction that started in Master Comics #21 in the pages of Whiz Comics #25.  Trying to kill Captain Marvel's friend Whitey and trying to destroy a dam/power plant are among Nazi's dastardly deeds.  Captain Marvel finally catches up to Nazi as he tries to kill a pilot flying an experimental plane.  The world's mightiest mortal sends Captain Nazi flying into the waters of the bay with a tremendous punch.

Freddy Freeman and his grandfather are fishing in the bay when Freddy notices someone (Nazi) has fallen into the water and they take off to rescue him.  After rescuing Captain Nazi, Nazi repays their kindness by killing Freddy's grandfather and mortally wounds Freddy.  Captain Marvel rescues Freddy from the water and flies him to a hospital.  Cap transforms back to Billy Batson and waits for Freddy's diagnosis.  Unfortunately, the news is grim.  Captain Nazi broke Freddy's back and he's not expected to survive the night.

Billy Batson decides to take a desperate chance, so at midnight he takes Freddy down to the subway tunnel where he first met the wizard Shazam just a few years earlier.  Billy lights a torch and the wizard Shazam appears!  (Note - this is Shazam's second appearance in Whiz Comics!)  Billy explains what has happened to Freddy and if there's anything Shazam can do for him.  Sadly, Shazam says he can't, but Captain Marvel can!  If Captain Marvel will pass on a portion of his powers to Freddy, Freddy will survive.

Billy transforms to Captain Marvel, and then Freddy wakes up to see his hero and says, "Why it - it's Captain Marvel!"  As Freddy says his heroes name, magic lightning strikes and he is immediately transformed into Captain Marvel Junior!  Junior has all the powers of Captain Marvel, and Cap tells him he must use them to fight the forces of evil.  He also tells him, "You will have to go through life in your own form, but whenever you need me, speak my name and as Captain Marvel Jr. you will be able to do the things I do..."  Captain Marvel sends Junior to Master Comics to take care of Captain Nazi there.  

Freddy wakes up feeling like it has all been a dream.  While he has been saved from a sure death by Captain Marvel, he is destined to have a crippled leg for the rest of his life.  Freddy vows to carry on and to catch Captain Nazi and put him away so he cannot hurt anyone anymore.  Captain Marvel Junior would next appear in Master Comics #22 (December 5, 1941) and would also get his very own comic.  

Freddy Freeman was rescuing a stranger from death and it cost the life of his grandfather and almost cost Freddy his life.  Thankfully he was saved by Captain Marvel and was given the powers of Captain Marvel to help Cap in his fight on evil.  That is the amazing origin of Captain Marvel Junior, the world's mightiest boy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Captain Marvel Becomes a Hobo

Whiz comics #93 asks why did Captain Marvel become a hobo?  The answer is found in the pages of this great comic!  This adventure begins with Billy walking down the street during his lunch hour and sees a fire truck responding to a house fire.  A man comes running out of the house saying his wife and child were trapped inside so there's nothing left for him in life now.  The man runs past Billy and Billy says, "Shazam!" transforming himself into Captain Marvel.  Cap wastes no time and goes into the flame-engulfed building to try and find the man's wife and child.  Captain Marvel finds them in the basement and brings them safely out of the fire!  The lady asks where her husband is and Cap let's her know he ran away thinking his family had perished but not to worry, he would return.  The wife lets Cap know he probably won't return and instead will return to his life as a hobo, the life he lived before he settled down and raised a family.  The wife pleads with Cap to find her husband and return him to them.  Despite such a daunting task, Captain Marvel agrees to find Hunky, the husband turned hobo.

Cap immediately starts searching freight cars and a 'hobo jungle' (a place in the woods where hobos can clean up and get something to eat) but gets the silent treatment from all the hobos.  With the wisdom of Solomon, Cap understands that hobos are loyal and won't rat out another hobo, therefore Captain Marvel becomes the world's mightiest hobo!  Donning some old clothes he found on a scarecrow, Cap returns to the hobo jungle and this time gets a warm welcome and information on where to find Hunky.

Cap wastes no time and takes off to catch the noon train and discovers Hunky hitching a ride on it.  Just before he can get to Hunky, some cars disconnect from the train and Captain Marvel must stop the runaway train cars.  In the process, Hunky disappears again as the train has reached the rail yard while Cap was busy rescuing the runaway cars.  Another hobo tells Cap that he saw Hunky heading for Farmland, so Cap makes his way there.

Hunky is found chopping firewood for a lady whose husband is sick, and as Hunky runs away the farmer's wife makes Cap finish chopping the wood!  When his good deed is done, Cap is back on the trail and trying to find the hobo husband.  Hunky is found sleeping behind a highway sign and Captain Marvel breaks the good news to him that his family is safe.  Hunky exclaims, "Thank Heaven!  Then I don't have to be a hobo anymore!"  Captain Marvel flies Hunky back to a happy reunion with his wife and daughter, thus ending his first - and last - adventure as a hobo!

This is one of my all-time favorite Captain Marvel stories.  I love that Cap shows persistence in finding Hunky, and he uses the wisdom of Solomon to figure out he'll need to change his tactics with the hobos if he's going to succeed!  The story lets Captain Marvel's heroic and compassionate character shine through.  With plenty of side-adventures along the way, Captain Marvel ultimately  succeeds in reuniting a family after a tragedy.