Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Discuss: Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family


Anonymous said...

Discuss ? I don't even know who they are !

Anonymous said...

Colin.........I can't stop laughing!!! Oh, that was so good!!!!

The Prowler (no really, I'm still laughing).

J.A. Morris said...

I like them, but in small doses. I haven't read many of the classic Fawcett, but I enjoyed the combination of superheroics and talking animal characters like Mr. Mind and Tawky Tawny.

Doug said...

I think I like them for the purpose they serve -- comics for children. At least that's the way I've always viewed these Marvel Family characters. I've just never been able to take them seriously as superheroes.

That being said, the Dini/Ross Shazam! story that Karen and I reviewed last year was wonderful. But even there, I think the creators captured the true nature of the characters.


Pat Henry said...

A superior concept, superior execution to Superman, from which the character was supposedly derived.

You have that wish fulfillment aspect that I imagine is central to the appeal of the Hulk (“I wish I could be big and strong with just a shout!”), coupled with a vulnerability that wasn’t just ginned up as many are (I’m looking at you, kryptonite). It is ironic that the “original” concept of National/DC borrowed [stole] so blatantly from Fawcett with their creation of “the Superman Family,” all the while crying foul as they parted out the Marvel mythos even as they acquired the property and sucked away its vital juices.

I liked CM’s depiction in the Justice League Unlimited series, where he appeared to keep the persona of an earnest, guileless kid even when transformed.

david_b said...

"Colin..? You slay me, you really do..."

I enjoyed the first dozen or so of 'Shazam' DC comics back in 1974, they were a very healthy, fun spin on classic comics. I agree with Doug that they're not to be taken too seriously, and that's just fine.

Let good fun be good fun.

For as heavy as my Marvel comics were back then (they had just killed Gwen Stacy, you know..), 'Shazam' was a wonderful breath of fresh air and charm.

But much like my remarks regarding Steve Gerber's Howard the Duck a few months back, to me Captain Marvel doesn't exist without C. C. Beck's pen. Any other artist can draw him, and I frankly wouldn't recognize him.

Edo Bosnar said...

Wow, really Colin?

As for the Marvel Family, I've read some of the original Fawcett material in reprints, and while those stories have a kind of goofy charm, I never really warmed to them.
Same with the revived DC series from the mid-'70s, of which I had the last few issues. I think the only ones I really liked were the last two, mainly because of the art by Alan Weiss and then Don Newton. I'm quite fond of the way Newton drew the good Captain and his family in those shorts from World's Finest and then Adventure Comics (and I'd really like a book that collected all of those).
So basically, I'm disagreeing with David, in that the way he was drawn by artists other than Beck, not just Newton, but also Rich Buckler, Gil Kane and others.

Doug said...

I think I'd tend to agree with David on Beck's depiction of Marvel, et al. The material lends itself to the softer, almost coloring book-type of style.

What I really don't like is when the art is mixed, such as on the cover of Shazam! #1.

And don't be so hard on Colin, everyone! I guarantee he has a whole slew of characters from the UK of which I have no knowledge!

Then again, Captain Marvel is probably in that small handful of "most important comic characters of all time"...


Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, dern, the second part of the last sentence in my comment above is supposed to read: "...in that *I prefer* the way he was drawn..."

And I hope Colin doesn't take my comment as a put-down. I'm just honestly surprised that someone who's into American super-hero comics has never even heard of Capt. Marvel. I thought he was just a notch below Supes, Bats, Spidey and Wonder Woman in terms of general recognizability.

Doug said...

Edo, that would make for a good future post -- characters known around the world.

Short list: Mickey Mouse, Superman, Tarzan... Then I'd wonder about Zorro, Tintin, and Mowgli.

I will see what I can do -- that sort of discussion would really be augmented by our non-States readers, giving me a perspective I'd welcome.


Doug said...

Ha! Edo, I love it when you do that, and I mean that sincerely.

Karen and I have said multiple times that we get these great ideas only to find out that they were great for a reason -- we've already run them!

Well, to all -- check out that post of two years ago, and if you feel so inclined, leave a comment back there!

Man, losing it...


Garett said...

I love the way Don Newton draws Captain Marvel, and need to see more of those stories. The Alex Ross story is fantastic, probably the best of that series and maybe the best comic illustrated by Ross ever.

CC Beck was a very good artist, and I love some of his covers like America's Greatest Comics #1, with Captain Marvel and 4 other heroes running to the rescue. Another famous one is Whiz Comics #3, with Captain Marvel and Billy Batson standing together. I read that Beck didn't like drawing this one as it didn't make sense that Cap and Billy could be in the same place at one time-- but super cover nonetheless.

I picked up some Shazam Archives cheap--George Tuska has some art in the early stories. As I said a few days ago, Jack Kirby drew Captain Marvel Adventures #1 (in Shazam Archives Vol 2), and he adds muscle and dynamism to the art. Beck's art reminds me of Tintin with some superheroics added in--actually refreshing compared to the overdelineated comic art today. Mac Raboy was one of the top artists of the Golden Age, and his art on Captain Marvel Jr. is excellent--proportion, anatomy, faces, shadows, cartooning. Check out Shazam Family Archives Vol 1, and some of his covers for Master Comics.

Captain Marvel is a great character, and I'd love to see more stories by top artists and writers about him. Also he has an awesome costume.

david_b said...

FYI, my personal enjoyment of Shazam/Captain Marvel is through the eyes of a 10yr new comic fan, and C.C. Beck just had such a fresh, iconic look to the 'Big Red Cheese', the stories were simple and fun.

With the price increases from 1974 to 1976, I found it tough to continue following when Marvel had such involved storylines, like Reed-Sue's breakup in FF, Thanos in Mar-Vell and Avengers, Harry's plight in ASM, and yes, 'Secret Empire' in Cap.

The DC done-in-one stories were entertaining, but compared with the early-Bronze 'House of Ideas' Bullpen storylines, well, finances were tight..

Edo Bosnar said...

Actually Doug, it's not quite the same topic, even though it veered into that territory in the comments. That's why I think an actual "proper" post is still a good idea.

Garett, I love Raboy's art, especially in the Capt. Marvel Jr. stories.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear - I feel so ignorant. Edo, I didn't take your comment as a put-down but I can definitely say that Captain Marvel is not "just a notch below Supes, Bats, Spidey and Wonder Woman in terms of general recognisability". The only Captain Marvel I know is the Kree version - and I'm mostly clueless if it's not Marvel Comics anyway.

Anonymous said...

DC comics weren't very well distributed in the UK in the 70s - at least not where I grew up - so if anyone mentioned Captain Marvel back then I'd have thought they meant that Kree bloke in red and blue (or even white and green)too.

I only became familiar with the other Captain Marvel - the big red cheese - in the early 80s thanks to the brilliant Moore/Leach/Davis revival of Marvelman who was, of course, originally based on the Fawcett character.

When this blog discussed Alex Ross' Marvel 75th anniversary art a few months back, there were quite a few "who's Marvelman" type responses.... so don't you all think some of the comments directed at Colin earlier are a bit much?


Anonymous said...

Thanks Sean but we're all friends here so I didn't mind - actually I didn't know who Marvelman was either :)

Anonymous said...

Colin - Yes, I know as I just had a quick look at the post. So I take it all back:)


Anonymous said...

Actually, thinking about it, that's probably the most interesting thing to discuss about Captain Marvel - the various characters with the same name (including Marvelman) and all the legal/trademark issues invovled. National v. Fawcett, Marvel v. Warrior and so on.... Fascinating stuff.


Anonymous said...

My introduction to Captain Marvel was through those huge oversized really big in size Treasury books. I found a place in town that carried them in their magazine section. As I read through one, I would go find another one. The two that I've recently re-read were the Super Friends one and the Captain Marvel one.

More modernly, when Byrne was doing the Legends mini-series, he used Captain Marvel as one of the heroes. He may have even been part of the League reboot? Is that right? Then he became the lynchpin of the Kingdom Come story. I don't think many of the modern writers, the grim and gritty guys, quite know what to do with him. Just my opinion.

The Prowler (When the horns blow, I want everybody on the floor. You know this groove is sexy, you ain't got no excuse no more. I wanna show 'em where we live. Siamese twins joined at the suit. Fellas, give me something to fly with).

Anthony said...

My favorite Captain Marvel will always be in Kingdom Come. The Big Red Cheese proves himself the equal of the Man of Steel in an awesome fight at the climax of the mini series. I also loved it when Luthor realized he and the others were living in fear of Billy Batson !

Fred W. Hill said...

I've never read any Golden Age Captain Marvel stories (or Silver Age, for that matter, not counting Captain Mar-Vell!), although I have read much about him, including that Beck & Binder created perhaps the first actual novel-length story in the early 1940s featuring Captain Marvel's battle with Mr. Mind and the Monster Society of Evil that ran in about 25 issues.
I did get a couple of modern Captain Marvel stories in a Starman omnibus which included a Shazam! crossover. Very well done, and I loved the depiction of Mary Marvel. When my budget allows I'll have to look up some of those non-Marvel Marvel stories.

Anonymous said...

Hah oh Colin .... Well, unlike Colin I must say that I have heard of Captain Marvel but like Edo I never warmed up to the Big Red Cheese. Every time I saw him I was like 'hey it's the guy who has Superman-like powers, only he's wearing a red costume'. Despite his status as one of the most powerful DC characters, I've always felt he was one of their most poorly developed heroes in terms of character development, sort of a second tier Superman.

I have a similar mindset to Colin - when someone says 'Captain Marvel' it's the Kree version I think of, rather than the Big Red Cheese.

- Mike 'captain mischievous' from Trinidad & Tobago.

david_b said...

Sean really hit upon the big picture with Marvel, Mar-Vell (which, sorry, it's STILL a catchy 'poke in the eye' idea..), Shazam!, etc..

I really liked the Starlin Mar-Vell, as most here did. Haven't read much of the later Milgrom issues, but the big issue I had was the Rambeau character. A big favorite among BAB readers I know, PLUS I understand the legal back room explanation for Marvel keeping a 'current Captain Marvel', but she was just 'too soon' for me, and too huge of a switch from the Kree red-and-blue fellow we've been used to. From a midwestern readers' perspective, you stole the name from a beloved hero who recently perished and smack-dabbed it on what seemed to me as an uninteresting, unrelated character/concept with a boring outfit to boot.

Business sense..? Perhaps. But also majorly disingenuous from a supposed 'House of Ideas'.

david_b said...

Ah, forgot to mention, but as for Treasury Editions, the first Shazam! one (white cover) earned it's place as one only two Treasury Editions I had ever bought back in the day; the other was the glorious 1st Marvel edition featuring Spiderman.


Garett said...

Turns out (according to Wikipedia) that Captain Marvel's original name was Captain Thunder. The first issue was all ready to go with that name, and when they found out "Captain Thunder" had already been trademarked, they re-lettered all the word balloons with a new name. Captain Marvelous was the new name suggested by artist Pete Costanza, then shortened by the editors to Captain Marvel. : )

Anonymous said...

Don Newton's artwork on the Shazam strip was a good compromise between the soft, whimsical C.C. Beck style and the more realistic (e.g., Neal Adams) style that most comic book fans would prefer.

I liked DC's tongue-in-cheek approach to the Marvel Family (and Plastic Man) in the early 1970's. But most comics fans wanted their super-heroes played straight. And adults would watch tongue-in-cheek (even campy) action-adventure in other media (James Bond movies, the Wonder Woman TV series), but they did not read comics.

Garett said...

I think Anonymous is right about the sweet blend of cartooning and realism in Don Newton's Shazam. It looks like Kurt Schaffenburger does a great job inking him as well, in Shazam #35 and World's Finest #253-59. I'm not usually excited by Schaffenburger, but the combo looks really nice.

Don Newton has a good website www.donnewton.com/
Quite a short career--only quit his teaching job at a Jr. high school in 1977 to go full time with comics. Then drew till 1984. Here's a tidbit from the site, about drawing Shazam in '78:

"Don was very excited about doing this character, not only because it was his life-long dream, but because he was given an opportunity to "redefine" the character. Don wrote:

If you like bombshells, here's one: I am going to be taking over.............Captain Marvel! More over, Jack Harris sez to draw it realistic! Finally they bring him up to date... I'm going to get rid of his "wet look" and trim him down about 10 lbs.!

I've felt for sometime, that the "funny" Captain Marvel belonged to the forties and just doesn't come off now. I trust the stories will now be in keeping with the art. So, I've "arrived"... where else can I go?"

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, thanks for the reminder on the Don Newton tribute site. It's been a few years since I last accessed it, and it looks like some new art has been posted there in the meantime. What a great artist he was - too bad he died at such a relatively young age.

Anyway, reading his comments about giving Captain Marvel a new look is even more interesting when you look at the pictures of him dressed as the good Captain on the "Who Was Don Newton" page...

Garett said...

Definitely, Edo. He was really into it dressing up and had the superhero look to him.

I have seen some of his Batman and New Gods art, also good.

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