Monday, August 14, 2017

DC Millennium Edition: Whiz Comics #2

Whiz Comics #2 gave us the origin of the world's mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel!  It was published on December 1, 1939* with a cover date of February 1940.  Unless you're independently wealthy, finding an affordable copy of this comic is nearly impossible.  That's why I'm so glad that DC published a copy of Whiz Comics #2 as part of their Millennium Edition series.  The DC Millennium Edition:  Whiz Comics #2 published on January 26, 2000* and was the 14th edition in the series.

The cover has the gold embossed DC Millennium logo on the upper left and shows the cover of Whiz Comics #2. (Please note that it is not the original cover - see my article here for an explanation!)

Inside Front Cover

Inside Back Cover

On the inside front and back covers, there is a brief history of Captain Marvel's comics.  They even mention that in the golden age of comics, he surpassed Superman in sales!  The article touches briefly on Cap's return in the 1970s and mentions that Captain Marvel is now part of the DC family.

The comic wonderfully reproduces the pages of Whiz Comics #2 in full color!  Not only does it give us Captain Marvel's origin, it also includes all the stories first published in that comic (Ibis, Spy Smasher, etc.)  It even includes the Lucky Seven Cash Contest that was on the last page of the original comic! 

I highly recommend this fantastic edition to Captain Marvel fans.  It is a high quality comic that can still be found at an affordable price.  I hope you can add it to your Captain Marvel collection!!  

*According to Mike's Amazing World of Comics

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Captain Marvel Comic Cover Conundrum

Have you ever noticed that there are two different versions of the cover of Whiz Comics #2?  A few months ago I noticed some differences in what was being shown as the cover of Whiz Comics #2 on different websites.  As a Captain Marvel fan I thought it was important that I know what the true and original cover was. You can see the differences by taking a look at the two examples below.

Example #1

Example #2

Notice that in Example #1, the words 'Gangway for Captain Marvel!' are missing from the bottom right, and on the left-hand side it only shows one bad guy near the car.  In Example #2, it has the words 'Gangway for Captain Marvel!' on the lower right and has two bad guys near the car!  This made for a Captain Marvel comic cover conundrum - which one is the real and original cover to Cap's first comic?  (Note:  There are a couple of other minor differences, but I just wanted to capture the major differences!)

I've discovered that the original cover to Whiz Comics #2 is Example #2 above.  I determined that as I was doing some research on the differences and came across an auction for an original copy of the comic.  Below is a picture of the item that was up for auction.

As you can see, this is an original copy of Whiz Comics #2 and it clearly displays both the words 'Gangway for Captain Marvel!' and the two bad guys by the car!  That solved the mystery of which cover was the original and put an end to my comic cover conundrum!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Did You Know...

Did you know that Mary Marvel was once sent an extra powerful lightning bolt to get her out of a trap set by Sivana?  We learn about this in Mary Marvel #1 (published November 14, 1945*) where Sivana tricked her into wearing earrings that prevented her from gaining the Shazam powers.

We know that when Mary says the magic word, "Shazam!" she is transformed into Mary Marvel by a magic lightning bolt.  We learned in Whiz Comics #125, it's Zeus that throws the magic lightning that transforms Mary's brother Billy Batson into Captain Marvel (you can read about that here)!

In Mary Marvel #1, we find that Mary calls out to her patron goddesses to help her out of Sivana's trap and they respond!  Minerva orders Hippolyta to fashion an extra powerful lightning bolt to help Mary.  Hippolyta prepares the bolt and throws it from the heavens!  The powerful magic lightning defeats Sivana's trap and transforms Mary into Mary Marvel and restores the Shazam powers to her.  

So now we know that Zeus throws the magic lightning to transform Billy into Captain Marvel, and it's Hippolyta that throws the magic lightning that transforms Mary into Mary Marvel!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Captain Marvel Creates Marvelium!

The Periodic Table of Elements
You may have studied the periodic table of elements in school and may have had to memorize some of them.  The periodic table lists chemical elements like helium, titanium and gold.  New elements are added to the table as they are discovered by science.  However, in the pages of Captain Marvel Adventures #100 (published July 1, 1949*) we find that the periodic table of elements gets updated by Captain Marvel!  No, it's not scientists that update the periodic table, it is the World's Mightiest Mortal who has just created the world's mightiest element - Marvelium!

In fact, a total of three new elements are discovered or created.  They are Sivanium, Shazamium, and Marvelium.

Sivanium is the first new element.  It was created by Doctor Sivana, which he named in honor of himself!  Sivanium is living metal which can be "fashioned into human shape, duplicating every organ."  Sivana uses it to build an army of duplicate Sivanas!

Shazamium is the second element.  This element is still shrouded in mystery and all we know about it is from the wizard Shazam. He explains that it is an element unknown to earthly science!  With his bracelet made of Shazamium, the wizened wizard is able to adopt ethereal form and go back and forth from earth to the Rock of Eternity!  Not much else is known of this mysterious element, I presume it was created by Shazam himself!

Marvelium is the final new element added to the periodic table.  Marvelium was created by Captain Marvel himself and he uses it in this comic to foil the plot of Sivana.  Captain Marvel creates Marvelium in a lab using a cyclotron, the wisdom of Solomon, an atomic pile, and a mechanical brain machine.  In just a matter of moments, the World's Mightiest Mortal has created the world's mightiest element that can only be molded and shaped by him!

Not only does Captain Marvel create a new element, he even takes the time to update the periodic table of elements!  (I think it's pretty funny that he almost says "Shazam" when writing down Shazamium.  He catches himself and keeps from accidentally transforming back into Billy Batson!!)

Let me make a historical note concerning the periodic table that Captain Marvel has updated.  Cap makes Sivanium, Shazamium, and Marvelium numbers 97, 98 and 99 respectively on the periodic table.  Number 96 on the table, Curium, was discovered in July of 1944 at the University of California, Berkeley but was not made known to the public until November of 1945.  That's why Captain Marvel could assign the three new elements with the numbers 97 through 99.  It also must be noted that scientists created other elements in the 1940s (plutonium for example) using cyclotrons - just as Cap used a cyclotron to create Marvelium!  This gives me a greater appreciation for this comic and the obvious research done to bring some realism and current events to this whimsical adventure!

So now when one of your kids or family members need to study about the periodic table of elements, you can let them know about the three new elements introduced to us here in Captain Marvel Adventures #100!!

*According to Mike's Amazing World of Comics

Monday, June 19, 2017

Captain Marvel's Character: Grit

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

What is grit?  Here are some brief thoughts and definitions that will help frame grit for this article:

  • Firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger (Merriam-Webster)
  • Firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck
  • "Grit is passion or perseverance for very long-term goals.  Grit is having stamina."  Angela Lee Duckworth
  • "Individuals high in grit are able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods of time despite experiences with failure and adversity.  Their passion and commitment towards the long-term objective is the overriding factor that provides the stamina required to 'stay the course' amid the challenges and set-backs." (Unknown)

Just reading those definitions and quotes make me think that Captain Marvel is truly grit personified!  An example of Captain Marvel's grit is displayed on the pages of Captain Marvel Adventures #78.  Captain Marvel comes up against Mr. Atom who turns out to be one of his toughest foes to fight and defeat.  Captain Marvel not only has to stop the rampaging robot, he also needs to come up with a clever way to incarcerate this atomic ne'er do well!  Cap suffers a short-term set back in his first encounter with Mr. Atom, but his grit allows him to put that aside and come up with a plan to defeat Mr. Atom.  And, by the end of the story, Captain Marvel prevails thanks to his indomitable grit.

Captain Marvel's grit is clearly seen through his actions in defeating Mr. Atom.  While there are many other examples throughout the pages of Cap's comics, this one stands out to me as the best example.  Captain Marvel is a hero who exemplifies grit, and that's just one more reason he's been my hero and a hero to countless others!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Did You Know...

Did you know that the villains IBAC and Mr. Banjo made their first appearance in the same comic?

In Captain Marvel Adventures #8 (published February 6, 1942*) we are introduced to IBAC in the story "Captain Marvel and the Curse of IBAC!"  In this story we learn how a criminal named Stinky Printwhistle becomes the super-villain IBAC and is ultimately defeated by Captain Marvel.

The very next story in the comic is "Captain Marvel and the Amazing Case of the Code in Music!"  This adventure introduces us to Mr. Banjo, a "master criminal, an ingenious plotter of crimes" who uses his banjo as a weapon of sabotage against the war efforts of the United States.  Captain Marvel beats Banjo, thus defeating this malevolent maestro!

Both IBAC and Mr. Banjo made their first appearance in Captain Marvel Adventures #8 in different stories.  They both appeared throughout Cap's golden-age comics and have even shown up in some present day ones as well!

*According to Mike's Amazing World of Comics

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Comic of the Week - Whiz Comics #100

The Captain Marvel comic of the week is Whiz Comics #100.  This comic celebrated the 100th issue of Whiz Comics and contained the following stories:

"Captain Marvel and the Hundred Horrors!"

What I like about this story is the number 100 is woven throughout the complete adventure!!

Golden Arrow in "Jailed"

Ibis the Invincible in "The Forbidden Pool"

This story has a pretty cool villain!!

This comic was published on June 4, 1948* with a cover date of August 1948.  

*Based on Mike's Amazing World of Comics

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Billy Batson's Faux Family

From the very first Captain Marvel comic, we learned that Billy Batson was an orphan.  As time went on, we learned he did have a twin sister - Mary.  Mary is the only blood relative that Billy has.  However, as Billy's fame as a radio announcer grew, there were occasions where people sought out Billy thinking that they were true blood relatives.

Here are the examples I've found so far:

1.  Captain Marvel and His Country Cousin.  This story was published in Captain Marvel Adventures #26 (published June 30, 1943).  Willard Batson from Arkansas tracks down Billy Batson and introduces himself as Billy's cousin!  However, Billy finds out that there is no relationship at all.

2.  Captain Marvel and the Last of the Batsons!  This adventure comes to us from Captain Marvel Adventures #51 (published November 28, 1945).  Billy meets 'Wild Bill' Batson who claims to be the last of the Batsons from out West and Billy is his long-lost grandson!  But by the end of the story, Captain Marvel discovers Wild Bill's true long-lost grandson.  Once again, Billy meets a Batson that is not a blood relative!

These are the only examples I've found so far.  As I discover more, I'll update this article!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Comic of the Week - Captain Marvel Adventures #104

The Captain Marvel comic of the week is Captain Marvel Adventures #104.  This comic featured an awesome cover of Captain Marvel and Tawky Tawny - with Tawky in a Captain Marvel uniform!  This comic was a 'big 52 pages' and contained the following stories:

"Captain Marvel and the Space Dragon!"

"Captain Marvel Fights the Hypnotic Trap"

"Captain Marvel and the Missing Atom"

"Captain Marvel and Mr. Tawny's Masquerade"

This comic was published on November 2,1949* with a cover date of January.  

*Based on Mike's Amazing World of Comics

Friday, May 26, 2017

Captain Marvel Gets Struck by Lightning!

We know from Whiz Comics #125 that it is magic lightning thrown by Zeus that transforms Billy Batson into Captain Marvel and transforms Cap back to Billy.  So what would happen if Captain Marvel was struck by non-magical lightning?  We get the answer in Captain Marvel Adventures #142*! 

In the story "Captain Marvel Battles the Red Lightning Blitz" we find Cap has flown to investigate a strange phenomenon happening in the midst of the Korean war.  During his investigation, Cap is zapped by lightning from a lightning gun created by the villain the Red Crusher!   What happens?!?  Nothing!  The lightning doesn't transform Captain Marvel back into Billy Batson!

Based on this story and also based on the information in Whiz Comics #125, it appears that non-magical lightning has no effect on Captain Marvel and does not trigger any transformation!  I would also have to assume that if Billy was struck by non-magical lightning the results would be the same for any human struck by lightning!

I must note that I have seen two examples from golden-age Captain Marvel comics where Cap was transformed back to Billy by the electricity of a giant electric eel.  There's also an example of Billy being transformed into Captain Marvel from a regular bolt of lightning.  I have only seen screenshots of these so I don't know the entire story or context.  (I'm trying to find what comic they came from so I can read the full story.)  Additionally, in the 1970's Shazam! comics, there are two incidents where Billy and Cap both transformed after being struck by a form of magical lightning(Shazam! #15 and #31).  Therefore, based on the burden of evidence, I have to conclude that the electric eel and regular lightning incident are errors or gaps in Cap's continuity.  Who knows, maybe Zeus saw Billy was about to be struck by regular lightning and threw a magic lightning bolt at him to save him!!

Throughout Cap's comics, there are many times where it clearly states that it is the magic lightning that transforms Billy into Captain Marvel and back again.  And, based on Captain Marvel Adventures #125 and #142, I can safely say that the only type of lightning that has any impact on Captain Marvel is the magic lightning thrown by Zeus!  

*Based on Mike's Amazing World, this comic published on January 2, 1953.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Comic of the Week - Captain Marvel and the Good Humor Man

The Captain Marvel comic of the week is Captain Marvel and the Good Humor Man.  This comic was a one-shot, 32 page comic featuring Captain Marvel and promoted the movie, 'The Good Humor Man.'  The cover featured Cap, actor Jack Carson, and boys from the Captain Marvel Club.

The premise of the story is Captain Marvel is invited to the set of The Good Humor Man movie to act as a technical advisor for the Captain Marvel Club sequences filmed for the movie.  And, as you can imagine, there are all sorts of hijinx and adventures throughout the story.  There are also several ads for the movie as well!

This comic was published on June 2, 1950.*    

*Based on Mike's Amazing World of Comics

Monday, April 24, 2017

Captain Marvel and the Space Dragon

In Captain Marvel Adventures #104 (published November 2, 1949), we have what Billy Batson describes as Captain Marvel's greatest adventure!  It is the story of Captain Marvel and the Space Dragon!

The adventure begins with Captain Marvel sending a criminal, Bozo Smith, to jail.  Bozo repents and reforms after realizing crime doesn't pay.  Bozo uses his time wisely and begins a serious study in astronomy.  Bozo's studies catch Captain Marvel's attention, so Cap sends him a gift to help him in his studies.  (This really shows Cap's character - he shows no ill will towards criminals and will help them get a new start in life!)  

While it seems like Bozo has truly changed his ways, Billy suddenly gets an urgent appeal from the jail for Captain Marvel to visit Bozo as soon as possible as he's been sent to the violent ward of the prison.  Has Bozo been clowning around about his reformation?  Billy transforms to Captain Marvel who quickly makes his way to visit Bozo in prison.  Cap says, "Bozo has been trying hard to make a new start!  The least I can do is to help him!"

Captain Marvel meets with Bozo who informs him that the earth is in imminent danger - it will be eaten alive if action isn't taken soon!  "Holy Moley!  Poor Bozo is as nutty as a squirrel's nest!" is Captain Marvels reaction to the news!  But upon reviewing Bozo's research, Cap confirms that the convicts theory is correct.  Bozo has determined that a planet sized egg containing a monster has entered our solar system!  Once the egg hatches, the monster that emerges may destroy the world.  

To get definitive proof of Bozo's theory, Cap flies into space and to his horror he soon learns Bozo was 100% accurate.  The planet-sized egg hatches a space dragon!  Cap notices the space dragon eat a passing meteor, and then the dragon attempts to eat him!  As the space dragon makes his way towards earth, Captain Marvel swiftly gathers a batch of meteors and feeds them to the dragon to fill his stomach while Cap can take action to defeat him.

The greatest scientific minds gather to discuss the menace of the space dragon, Bozo Smith is among them.  Bozo opines it will take atomic rockets to destroy the space dragon, so Cap goes to work gathering the rockets and setting up a plan to defeat the dragon.  Captain Marvel gives the launch command and the stockpile of rockets make a direct hit on the space dragon.  Though the bombs burst in air, we see the dragon's red glare as he was unharmed by the barrage.  The dragon has even caught one of the atomic rockets and slings it towards earth!  It's the last atomic rocket and now it's hurtling towards earth!  Captain Marvel grabs the rocket, and "disregarding his own safety, Captain Marvel dives headlong into the jaws of the titanic monster!"  Cap sets off the atomic rocket inside the dragon, finally destroying it.  Cap then hurls the dragon into the Sun for cremation.

At the end of the story we find Bozo Smith, former convict, has now been appointed as a professor of Interspatial Physics at the University.  Professor Smith informs us that we are no longer in any danger of any more space dragons!

I enjoyed this story and it's one of my favorites.  Not only is it an entertaining adventure, it also shows us a new depth of Captain Marvel's character.  He befriends the very man he put in jail, encourages his reformation, and takes action to help him when no one else would.  

Another aspect of this story that I noticed is that it's very similar to an episode of British sci-fi show Doctor Who.  In the episode titled "Kill the Moon" (episode 7 of season 8 and first aired on October 4, 2014),  Doctor Who determines the earth's moon is actually an egg that is about to hatch, and if it does, the effects on earth will be cataclysmic!  I won't go into all that happens, but I wonder if the writers at Doctor Who had read Captain Marvel Adventures #104 and came up with their story?!?!  The Doctor Who/Captain Marvel connection also makes me enjoy this story even more! 

Captain Marvel and the Space Dragon truly is a great adventure and a great story of redemption and self-less heroism.  No wonder it's one of my favorite Captain Marvel adventures!