Monday, April 3, 2017

Introducing Uncle Marvel

We are introduced to Uncle Marvel in Wow Comics #18 (September 15, 1943) in the story, "Mary Marvel Meets Her Uncle Marvel!"  Uncle Marvel is Uncle Dudley, who claims to be Mary Batson's 'unknown uncle from California.'  We also learn from Wow Comics #35 that Uncle Dudley is the actual uncle of Freckles Marvel (Mary Dudley).  Is Uncle Dudley really Mary and Billy Batson's uncle?  Does he really have Shazam powers like Billy and Mary?  We'll find out as we go through the story!

Our story begins with Mary Batson feeling very sad and lonely, wishing she had someone she could pal around with.  She is also lamenting that she has lost her good deeds ledger which she uses to record her exploits as Mary Marvel.  To her surprise, in walks her 'old Uncle Dudley from California'!  Mary exclaims she doesn't remember having an uncle from California and is assured that everyone has an unknown uncle from California!  Though she is overjoyed to have a new relative, her doubts remain that Dudley may be an impostor so she puts him to the test by saying the magic word, "Shazam!"  To her surprise, Uncle Dudley has indeed changed into Uncle Marvel!

Mary Marvel and Uncle Marvel take to flight and soon happen upon a man being robbed at gunpoint.  The Marvel's quickly dispatch the ruffians, and the man offers Uncle Marvel a reward.  Uncle Marvel is happy to accept the reward but is stopped by Mary.  Mary tells Uncle Marvel that the Marvel's never accept rewards for their heroic fight against evil.  Uncle Marvel opines that the Marvel family has been wrong for not accepting rewards and tells Mary to meet him the next day at his office in the Greeley Building.

Mary goes to the 13th floor of the Greeley Building and is surprised to find a door advertising "Shazam, Inc." Inside, Uncle Dudley explains that Shazam, Incorporated will earn money to contribute to the war drive (remember, World War II was going on when this comic was published!).  Then the phone rings with Shazam, Incorporated's first customer requesting Marvel Family assistance.  Mr. Charles Beckwith pleads for all the Marvel's to come protect him from an act of terrible revenge promised by Beckwith's former butler!

Mary and Uncle Dudley say, "Shazam!" and transform into their Marvel selves.  Uncle Marvel tells Mary to fly on ahead and he will meet her at Beckwith's as his 'shazambago' is acting up!  (While other people suffer from lumbago, Uncle Marvel suffers from shazambago which is caused by "flying around on cold, damp nights!")

Mary and Uncle Marvel foil the butler's sinister plot.  Although the butler escaped, they receive a $5,000 reward for Shazam, Inc.  Mary soon discovers Uncle Marvel is a fraud when he says the word Shazam, Inc. but does not transform - no magic lightning strikes!  Just as she's about to confront him, Uncle Marvel bolts in front of an on-coming truck to save a little boy.  Knowing he's not a Marvel, Mary dashes into action and flies Uncle and the boy out of harm's way.  Mary thinks to herself, "He tried to rescue that child -- at the risk of his own life!  He may not be my uncle -- but he's a good man!  I'll pretend he's still my uncle!"

As they arrive back at the offices of Shazam, Incorporated and transform back into their non-Marvel selves, they are unaware that the escaped butler is waiting for them!  The butler ties up Mary and Uncle and gags them and lets them know he's going to kill them for ruining his plot against Beckwith.  Uncle Dudley swallows the handkerchief placed in his mouth and pulls the handkerchief out of Mary's mouth, allowing her to transform into Mary Marvel and finally put an end to the bad butler!

At the end of the story, Mary sums it all up in her good deeds ledger by writing, "That explains everything!  Uncle Dudley found the book (her good deeds ledger) -- learned my Shazam secret - and decided to become a member of the Marvel family - the naughty old fraud!  But I won't expose him -- the loveable old dear!  He's doing good deeds to, in his own way!  Maybe I'll see more of him!"  And that's how Uncle Dudley became Uncle Marvel and a member of the Marvel Family!

We learned that Uncle Dudley has no Shazam powers.  When he says "Shazam!" he simply does a quick change to become Uncle Marvel!  And as far as flying is concerned, Mary was just pulling him along as she flew - he has no flying powers!  (Uncle Marvel was once given Shazam powers for 24 hours - you can read about it here!)  

Flying with Uncle Marvel is such a drag!

Oh! My aching Shazambago!!!

Uncle Marvel didn't meet Billy Batson and Captain Marvel until Captain Marvel Adventures #43 (December 29, 1944).  The next member of the family that Uncle Marvel met was Captain Marvel, Jr in Master Comics #61 (April 25, 1945).

Uncle Dudley/Marvel would be a big part in many of the Marvel Family stories and adventures throughout the rest of the golden age.  As a matter of fact, it was Uncle Marvel who tricked Black Adam and brought about his defeat!!  Although he's not a super hero, Uncle Marvel is a heroic and fantastic addition to the Marvel Family!!

No comments:

Post a Comment